Recently, Samsung announced two new foldable smartphones, including the Galaxy Z Fold3 5G and the Galaxy Z Flip3. Over the last couple of years, I have spent an immense amount of time evaluating, reviewing, and expressing my opinions on the current state and the future of foldable phones. Since Samsung’s initial foldable concept a few years ago, I have been bullish on the platform and still take an optimistic stance today. I recently wrote an in-depth piece around Samsung’s current B2B foldable strategy, and you can access that here. As of late, I have been more convinced of a vertical for business-to-business use cases as foldable displays offer more display than traditional form factors within similar dimensions. Samsung isn’t the only dog in the B2B mobile fight and has a game opponent in Apple. Apple wants business users to opt into the Apple ecosystem, but Samsung offers some aggressive initial pricing of its new Galaxy Z Flip3.
The new Foldable phones were announced at Galaxy Unpacked; shortly afterward, Samsung sent me a loaner Galaxy Z Flip3 to review. I wanted to offer an in-depth look at the smartphone, considering its competitive price and feature-rich design. Below are my thoughts.
One element of Samsung’s foldable displays that I admire is it doesn’t compromise flagship specs for foldability. The Galaxy Z Flip3 has a main FHD + Dynamic AMOLED 2X display 6.7 inches long, while its Super AMOLED cover display is 1.9 inches. The main display has a resolution of 2640 x 1080 with a refresh rate of 120Hz, while the 1.9″ outside display has a resolution of 512 x 260. The 120Hz displays that Samsung has been using in its flagship phones for the last couple of years are undoubtedly one of my favorite features. In a business use case, toggling between applications on the Galaxy Z Flip3 is smooth, thanks to its high refresh rate. Unsurprisingly, there is still a noticeable gap between the primary display when folded wholly shut. I think it will be a while before Samsung figures out how to get the crease out of the fold. It is inherent to anything that folds and the Achilles heel of foldable devices. Nevertheless, it would be the last on my list of reasons not to get this device.
The Z Flip3 comes with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 processor with 8 GB of memory and 128GB of storage. I know the eight cores will be nice when running business applications like Teams, OneNote, Word, Zoom, and other business apps. After installing all my apps, I had roughly 60GB of storage left. I imagine placing the 256GB model as the highest storage tier was a move that Samsung did for the price. I would opt for the 256GB model over the 128GB model, primarily since the thin system does not support external storage via a micro-SD card. It supports multiple networks with one eSim and one Nano SIM design—great for business travelers like myself. The Galaxy Z Flip3 also sports a 3300 mAh dual battery.
The Galaxy Z Flip3 is Samsung’s 3rd iteration of its “hamburger” style in its Z Series. The device offers a thin and light form factor with Samsung’s new Armor aluminum that feels lighter in hand compared to its predecessor. The Z Flip3 did feel a little awkward at first in my hand. I am used to holding a thicker device, and the Z Fold devices are notoriously long and skinny. Even in the fully folded position, the phone was not very noticeable in my pocket. I had to search for it a couple of times as it disappeared deep into my pants pocket.
The large outside display is four times the size of its predecessor and reminds me more of a smartwatch rather than a notification bar. I think this is more of Samsung’s intention with the outside display, similar to the cover display of its older sibling, the Galaxy Z Fold 3. However, I noticed that the outside display picked up a significant number of fingerprints the more I used it.
One thing that I appreciated about the updated design is that Samsung beefed up the durability of the Z Flip3. The Galaxy Z Flip3 comes with IPX8 water-resistance, Corning Gorilla Glass Victus, and a Samsung stretchable PET protective film. I noticed a difference in durability between the Z Flip 5G, and I think users will find the durability to be more like other flagships. Another thing that will play well into the device’s durability is that the main display remains protected when closed. When closed, it prevents your keys from digging into your primary display or cracking in the event of a drop.
The first thing I noticed when using the Galaxy Z Flip3 was the small external screen near the rear cameras. When the device is in the closed position, it offers a quick hit of some nice-to-know information pieces. It does take a double-tap from your fingertip to activate, but once activated, it will display quick items that you may need to glance at, like the customized widget, time, date, and battery level. Once, I enabled Bixby assistant, and it would display my question in the text on the screen, which is a nice confirmation without having to unfold and unlock the phone. The outside display also can sync up to your Galaxy Watch face, which is neat.
One of my favorite ways to use the foldable display is using an application like OneNote in a pop-up window while doing web research in a Chrome browser in the background. The multitasking ability allows me to take notes on web research while not toggling between different applications. This use case is one of the most significant benefits of using a sizeable foldable display versus a traditional one. I did have some issues with the display not allowing me to move pop-up windows around, but I eventually sorted it out. Another use case unique to foldable is standing the phone up handsfree vertically or horizontally by putting a fold in the display. This ability is one of those features that you don’t realize you miss until its gone. I used the messenger app to video chat with my dad, and it was convenient to lay the Z Flip3 on the desk, fold the display, and still talk without holding the phone in hand.
The Galaxy Z Flip3 has three cameras, two in the rear and one front-facing camera. Although most flagship devices support a triple-lens rear setup, I found the Z Flip3 optimal for all my camera needs for business and personal use.
Galaxy Z Flip3 Cameras:
· Ultra Wide Camera: 12MP, F2.2
· Wide: 12MP, F1.8
· Front: 10MP, F2.4
The wide-angle camera with a 1.0x zoom is excellent for traditional camera tasks like snapping notes, scanning QR codes, or taking a scenic picture. The Ultra-Wide camera with .5x zoom is suitable for wider shots of an entire whiteboard marked up with notes or taking a picture of a complete display when you’re just inches away. The 10MP front camera is suitable for video calling, and I suspect the performance of this camera will matter the most to business users. I tested it with a few different applications, including Teams, Zoom, and Messenger, and the video was crisp. The Dolby Atmos speakers on the bottom of the device were clear and loud throughout, but I found myself covering them sometimes on video calls if I held the phone.
When evaluating a business smartphone on battery life, I ask myself, can I get a full day of use on this device? I wanted the Z Flip3 to last all day while multitasking between different business software, taking video conferencing calls, emailing, and completing other critical tasks. Unfortunately, I was averaging between 5 and 6 hours on a full charge.
The small form factor doesn’t offer much room for a big battery, and the 120Hz display certainly doesn’t help either. I suspect you should receive a bump in battery life if you scale the display back to 60Hz, but you will lose some of that buttery smoothness. The Z Flip3 does offer fast charging at 15W. The wattage is lower than the 25W charging of the Z Fold3 5G, so expect a little slower charge rate of this device. Like the Galaxy S21 series, chargers are sold separately.
I don’t mean to beat a dead horse when talking about how important price is to the success of the Galaxy Z Flip3, but I will mention it again. I said before that if Samsung could get the pricing right on the Z Flip3, this could be one of its bestselling business and consumer smartphones. The initial price point of $999.99 is a good start. Samsung managed to improve the design of the Z Flip3 5G while lowering the price.
Samsung’s $999.99 price point will give the Z Flip3 a fighting chance on getting on corporate-approved device lists (ADL). Businesses are all about saving a buck where it can, and purchasing technology is almost always a significant line item on the budget.
After using the Galaxy Z Flip3 as my primary phone for several days, I am even more convinced that the Galaxy Z Flip3 should have a considerable influence on foldable popularity for consumers and in B2B. It has a great processor, durable design, and plenty of screen real estate to multitask in business applications. With an entry-level price point of $999.99, I think Samsung is disrupting the smartphone market, leaving some smartphone OEMs with their pants down. Samsung may run into some flack on battery life, but tradeoffs are necessary. I believe the company has articulated the value of a foldable smartphone very well, and there is little competition with an answer.
As we usher in the new era of hybrid work, I think this is the right time for Samsung to double down on Foldables. Foldables are hot right now, and Samsung’s ecosystem of software, security, and peripherals looks better than it ever has. For those who used the nostalgic Motorola Razr back in the day, I see the Z Flip3 being an iconic device like the Razr. It is fashionable, affordable, and able to turn heads—even away from Apple.