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Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G review

    Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G review

    by
    Amaan
    Aug 27, 2021

    Introduction:

     

    It would still take quite a bit of time before foldables enter the affordable price segment. However, at the $999/€1099 for the base variant, the Galaxy Z Flip3 5G is still the most affordable smartphone with a foldable display.

     

    In addition to the lower price tag, the Flip 3 also comes with some improvements compared to its previous generation. Speaking of the generation, the Flip3 5G is the third smartphone in the Z Flip series besides the Galaxy Z Flip and Galaxy Z Flip 5G with a refreshed 5G chipset. Now the 3 in the name would make sense.

     

     

    The upgrades include an IPX8 rating for water resistance (the ‘X’ means it’s not rated to be dust-tight), the Dynamic AMOLED 2X display with high-refresh rate and a larger, more useful cover display. The latest Flip comes with the flagship-grade Snapdragon 888 SoC.

     

    Besides the fast chipset there is also a 3,300mAh battery which charges at 15W. The base model of the Flip3 comes with 128GB storage and 8GB RAM contrary to the 8GB + 256GB version of the previous generation, which definitely helped with lowering the price.

     

    Body166.0x72.2x6.9mm, 183g; Plastic front, glass back (Gorilla Glass Victus), aluminum frame; IPX8 water resistant (up to 1.5m for 30 mins).
    Display6.70" Foldable Dynamic AMOLED 2X, 120Hz, HDR10+, 1200 nits (peak), 1080x2640px resolution, 22:9 aspect ratio, 426ppi; Cover display:, Super AMOLED, 1.9 inches, 260 x 512 pixels.
    ChipsetQualcomm SM8350 Snapdragon 888 5G (5 nm): Octa-core (1x2.84 GHz Kryo 680 & 3x2.42 GHz Kryo 680 & 4x1.80 GHz Kryo 680); Adreno 660.
    Memory128GB 8GB RAM, 256GB 8GB RAM; UFS 3.1.
    Rear Camera

    Wide (main): 12 MP, f/1.8, 27mm, 1/2.55", 1.4µm, Dual Pixel PDAF, OIS;

    Ultrawide angle: 12 MP, f/2.2, 123˚, 1.12µm.

    Selfie Camera10 MP, f/2.4, 26mm (wide), 1.22µm.
    Video capture

    Rear camera: [email protected]/60fps, [email protected]/240fps, [email protected], HDR10+;

    Front camera: [email protected]

    Battery3300mAh; Fast charging 15W, Fast wireless charging 10W, Reverse wireless charging 4.5W.
    Operating SystemAndroid 11, One UI 3.1.
    MiscFingerprint reader (side-mounted); NFC; Samsung Pay (Visa, MasterCard certified).

     

     

    Unboxing:

     

    There’s not much stuff inside the box. The Galaxy Z Flip3 5G is shipped in a two-toned gray box that’s half height. Hence, you know that there’s not much inside. There is a large ‘Z’ on the box which signifies the name and its foldable nature.

     

     

    The Z Flip3 5G is the first thing you see in the box face-up in its unfolded state. underneath , there’s a paper sleeve that holds a USB-C cable and SIM ejection pin, and that’s all there is in the box.

     

    The Pre-order bundles in some regions include a 25W adapter or a wireless charger or Samsung store credit of various amounts or buy- back discounts. In some regions there is more than one of these being offered to make the deal more attractive.

     

     

    Design:

     

    The look and style are the key selling points of the Galaxy Z Flip3. Samsung itself advertises the handset by using wordings like ‘fashion statement’ and ‘turn heads’. The Flip3 was introduced with 7 colors at the time of launch - Phantom Black, Green, Lavender, Cream, White, Pink & Gray.

     

     

    The Back panel of the Flip3 is made of glass, Gorilla Glass Victus to be precise. The frame and the hinge backing are made out of what Samsung calls Armor Aluminum. The brand claims that it is the strongest aluminum material used in a smartphone, though there was no mention of the implied word ‘alloy’ anywhere.

     

    The Flip3 and Fold3 are the first foldable phones to have IP rating for water resistance. They both come with IPX8 rating, the ‘X’ means that there is no dust resistance, but it should be safe for up to 30 minutes under 1.5m of water.

     

     

    Although the two halves have the water resistance, the hinge itself is exposed to water by design, but it’s been lubricated and treated against corrosion.

     

    The 1.9-inch cover display is placed in a black strip up top, with the two cameras accompanying it. Sadly, the flash couldn’t fit in there so it sits outside the black strip.

     

    On the inside, there is a new protective film that covers the display, the brand says it is 80% more durable than the one on the original Flip and has been rated to endure up to 200,000 folds. A small advice - do not remove that film.

     

    The 6.7-inch display folds in the middle, when you unfold it and run your finger up and down you could feel the crease where the display folds. The crease is more tangible compared to its Fold3 counterpart simply because vertical swiping is how we scroll pages, the crease runs horizontal as opposed to the vertical crease on the Fold3.

     

    You may or may not feel the crease depending on your scrolling habits. The phone is tall enough that most of the scrolling might take place within the bottom half. Even if you do feel it, you’ll likely get used to the sensation in a couple of weeks of using the Flip3.

     

    The front facing camera is positioned behind a punch-hole which is aligned on the top in the middle. Above the selfie camera there is the speaker grille.

     

    The Flip3 is unarguably a phone supposed to be used with two-hands, to begin with. We say that because using both hands is the easiest and safest way to unfold the phone, and certainly the one that would make you feel least uneasy about damaging the internal display.

     

    The frame of the top half is home to the side-mounted fingerprint reader which also acts as the power button. You can see the antena line on the side frame. The fingerprint reader is positioned a bit higher than ideal. The opposite side of the frame accommodates the SIM card tray, which supports one nano-SIM, there is no second SIM slot but the phone supports eSIM. The top section of the frame has the earpiece. The bottom has the bottom-firing speaker sitting behind a grille, the USB-C charging port and the mic.

     

     

    The phone isn’t heavy per say, it weighs 183g. The phone is quite chunky when folded, so won’t fit in your pocket when wearing tight fitting clothes. That’s fine when you consider the gorgeous look of the Flip3.

     

     

    Display:

     

    One of the places where the Flip and Flip 5G were lacking is the screen refresh rate. No doubt the phones were impressive because of the foldable display, but some entry-level phones had even better refresh rate, the department where the Flips couldn’t compete. However, with the Flip3 the company not only offers a foldable display but also 120Hz refresh rate, which is twice as fast.

     

    The Flip3 has a 6.7-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X display with a resolution of 1080 x 2640p alongside 425ppi pixel density and 22:9 aspect ratio.

     

    The display of the Flip3 is quite bright, in fact as bright as the Fold3. The brightness with the adaptive brightness enabled and under direct light is recorded at 925 nits. That’s not anywhere near the 1000+ of the Galaxy S21 Ultra but is way more than Flip3’s predecessors. Adjusting the slider manually gives a maximum brightness of 503 nits.

     

     

    The display of the Z Flip3 is HDR10+ capable, meaning  you can stream videos through popular streaming platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime videos and YouTube.

     

    The Flip3 has 120Hz adaptive refresh rate with two options to choose from - Standard and Adaptive, with the later being default setting out of the box. The adaptiveness of the Flip3 acts quite a lot like the one we saw on the Galaxy S21 Ultra, meaning it’s one of the more adaptive implementations. Unlike other adaptive systems which simply switch between 120Hz and 60Hz based on the content and activity, the adaptiveness of the Flip3 can go to other values to offer optimal balance between smoothness and battery life.

     

     

    The outer display, or cover display as Samsung likes to call it, measures 1.9” diagonally which is bigger than the ones on previous Flips. It is Super AMOLED as well and has a resolution of 260 x 512p and 302ppi pixel density.

     

     

    Battery life & Charging speed:

     

    One of the less interesting things about the Flip3’s features is its battery - the 3,300mAh battery capacity which is the same as its predecessor. The battery now has to support the high refresh rate (adaptive as it maybe) and a new, more powerful chipset. The battery capacity was selected considering the limited space and weight, so the designers stuck to their priorities.

     

    Moving on to the battery life, the battery can endure 18 hours of talktime which is not as impressive as the Galaxy S21 5G which lasts for 27:30h of talktime. The Flip3 lasted 10 hours of web browsing or you can watch videos for nearly 12 hours.

     

    There is no charger inside the box, but in some markets, pre-orders will be bundled with Samsung’s 25W adapter that supports USB PowerDelivery with PPS. It’s going to be an overkill for the Flip3 which maxes out at 15W - that’s QuickCharge 2.0 and Samsung’s Adaptive Fast Charging that was introduced with Galaxy S5.

     

    With the 25W charger the numbers are the same compared to the 15W charger. Even though the Flip3 has a small 3,300mAh battery it still took 90 minutes for a full charge straight from 0%, while a 30 minute charge refuels the battery to 40%.

     

    The Galaxy Z Flip3 is rated with 10W Fast wireless charging and 4.5W reverse wireless charging which you can use to charge your earphones or earbuds on the move. With that small battery we don’t think there would be much power to spare for your accessory.

     

     

    Speaker:

     

    One of the few notable features of the Flip3 is the stereo speakers. The setup is the usual - one at the bottom and a second one on the top above the display which also serves as the earpiece.

     

    The loudness of the speaker is quite good, nearly at par with the S21+ and S21 Ultra. It sounds very similar to the S21 and S21+ too, with only marginally more pronounced treble response, while the Ultra still remains on top.

     

     

    Performance:

     

    The Galaxy Z Flip3 5G comes with Qualcomm’s flagship-grade top of the line Snapdragon 888 chipset. The Z Flip3 unlike other Galaxy smartphones or the foldables doesn’t have a regional divide and the Exynos version. The Z Flip3 comes with 8GB RAM paired with 128/256 GB UFS 3.1 storage.

     

    Moving on to the benchmark tests, in the Geekbench 5 test the phone scored 3441 and 979 points in the multi-core and single-core tests, respectively. As for the AnTuTu 9 test, the handset marked 682,223 points.

     

    The Flip3 is a great performer, although other handsets with similar hardware are able to beat it, none of them are foldables, unless you count the Fold3, which we don’t think you should.

     

     

    Camera & Photo quality:

     

    Rear Camera12MP (wide): f/1.8, 27mm, 1/2.55", 1.4µm, Dual Pixel PDAF, OIS
    12MP (ultrawide): f/2.2, 1.12µm, 123o
    Selfie Camera10 MP (wide): f/2.4, 26mm, 1.12µm

     

     

    Daylight image quality

    The photos clicked during the day with the main camera of the Flip3 are very good, although not as good as for a phone that costs nearly $1000. The photos have a signature Samsung look with vivid colors, high contrast and good dynamic range.

     

     

    The level of detail is on par with any other 12MP camera on the market. Some stuff can appear over-processed due to HDR and liberal sharpening. A bit of noise can be spotted if you go out of your way to look for it.

     

    There is no dedicated zoom camera and the shots from the 2x zoom level camera are no good. The 2x zoom camera of the Flip3 clicks images that are soft yet heavily sharpened. The photos do look okay on the screen.

     

    Moving on to the ultrawide shooter, the stills from this cam  are average, but not as good as expected from a phone in this price range. The edges have more than usual softening though images are sharp in the center. The colors are satisfactory and the dynamic range is not half bad.

     

     

     

    Low-light image quality

    In low light, the Galaxy Z Flip3 5G switches to Night mode automatically when Scene optimizer is enabled. The shots turn out to be great with quite a wide dynamic range and amazing colors. Upon close look the level of detail looks good but not great and there is still a bit of noise visible.

     

     

    With the Scene optimizer off, there isn’t much difference visible. However, careful introspection shows a fairly noticeable to virtually non-existent difference.

     

    The actual Night mode can give a significant boost to the shadows in darker scenes and bring out the detail there that is not quite visible in the photos shot without Night mode.

     

    The ultrawide camera does a decent job in the dark. Samsung has given more emphasis on tonal development at the cost of noise. The photos are well exposed and have good dynamic range along with quite pleasing colors with little to no loss in saturation. On the down side there is a lot of noise.

     

     

    There is no difference visible in the results with Scene optimizer on or off. That’s understandable, since the auto Night mode behavior doesn’t kick in for the ultrawide camera with scene optimizer on.

     

    The Night mode makes the shadows and lower midtones in the dark and contrasty scenes brighter without overexposing the highlights. Although the effects of over sharpening are visible, the trade-off seems well worth it.

     

     

    Portrait mode

    Portrait mode on the Flip3 has the advantage that the subject can look at themselves on the cover display while you are taking the shot. Obviously the frame would be different due to the difference in aspects. If you place them slightly off-center, you may need to explain why the image has half of their face cut off.

     

    The subject isolation ranges between very good to excellent, with rarely visible error around the clothes and great handling of hair. The dynamic range is quite wide and colors also look very likable.

     

     

    Selfies

    There are two ways to take selfies on the Galaxy Z Flip3. Let’s call the dedicated selfie camera the default method of clicking a selfie. It has fixed focus, which is fixed at just the right distance.

     

    The detail in the shots is very good, even though there is a bit of noise visible. The objection here is with the iffy exposure in bright light and dark faces in backlit scenes and the dull colors don’t help either.

     

    You can also take portraits with the selfie shooter. The portraits shot with the selfie camera are pretty good with great subject separation.

     

    The second method to take selfies is with the main camera, using the cover display for the framing. Keep in mind the framing is quite rough, due to the difference in aspect and orientation between the screen and sensors.

     

     

    The selfies taken from the rear-camera with the phone folded shut will come out in a square aspect at 2,992 x 2,992p (9MP), with either camera. You can deal with the square aspect photos by unfolding the phone, launching the camera and enabling the cover screen preview, and then you’ll get regular 4:3 shots. You can also use the portrait mode with the rear camera. The discrepancy between the cover screen preview and actually captured frame will remain, though.

     

    The previous Flip had the same issue, but its tiny display could give you a general idea of what you’re framing, so it’s not a huge loss.

     

    The ultrawide camera has fixed focus, it’s no good with subjects at arm’s length, but the surroundings do turn out to be sharp. The thing is if you want your face in the photo then having your face in the center of the frame is essential.

     

     

    Final Verdict:

     

    The Galaxy Z Flip3 is being advertised as a fashion statement, the look and form factor remain its main selling points. When folded, the phone fits in places normal phones won’t, and when unfolded, it’ll welcome you with one of the best displays in the market. The handset comes with water resistance rating and improved materials all around.

     

    Battery is a department in which the phone is lacking alongside the charging speed. Furthermore, it is more expensive than other smartphones which are better performers and cheaper.