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Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 Review: A Strong Statement For Flip Phones in 2021
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 is the second foldable smartphone we are testing in 2021. Unlike its premium sibling- the Galaxy Z Fold 3 that focuses on enhancing mobile productivity, the Z Flip 3 is more of a lifestyle-oriented product. It comes in the much-liked clamshell design that transforms a full-sized regular-looking phone into a pocketable gadget for added convenience and style.
- Only Proper Functional Flip Smartphone In 2021
- IPX8 Water-Resistant Design & Solid Build
- Good Camera Performance
- Loud & Clear Sounding Speakers
- Bigger & Useful Cover Display
- Unbeatable Style Quotient
- Poor Battery Life & Slow Charging Speeds
- Heating Issues
- Slippery (Better Used With A Cover)
I have been using the Galaxy Z Flip 3 as my primary phone for over ten days now and sharing my experience of using the new age Flip phone with a large folding display.
Shifting To Galaxy Z Flip 3 From A Regular 2021 Smartphone
Shifting from a top-tier flagship OnePlus phone or per se any regular smartphone to a flip phone is quite exciting. You have to adapt to the clamshell form factor and might find it a little odd in the start since we have become too accustomed to regular touch screen smartphones with no folding parts. The upgraded cover display on the Z Fold 3 comes to the rescue to some extent.
The new cover display is now bigger and more functional giving you more control over the device; however, you will still find yourself opening/shutting the phone all day long which can be a bit overwhelming. You have to physically unfold the screen even for the most basic tasks such as dialing a phone number, replying to a text, setting an alarm, etc., which isn't very enjoyable.
And mind you, it's a struggle to open the device with one hand. These are some pain points you have to live with if you want something exciting and innovative because the style quotient and the portability factor (Folded state) of the Galaxy Z Flip 3 are simply unbeatable.
Moving on, you will also have to get used to people around you staring at your mobile phone more often. And they won't be staring at it to spy on your texts but to check out the unique foldable flip marvel.
Galaxy Z Flip 3 Design
The Galaxy Z Flip 3's design is very subtle and has a definite touch of innovation to it. It also meets most essential durability standards. The handset feels rock solid and is the first flip phone to offer IPX8 water resistance. It can stay in 1.5 meters of water for up to 30 minutes; however, keep it safe from dust and grit as the device won't be able to withstand the damage.
The hinge is very sturdy and allows you to keep the top folding display at any angle between the 90 and 180-degree plane. Samsung mentions that the hinge can withstand up to 200,000 folds. The phone is said to be made up of a strong aluminum frame and the exterior has a layer of the Corning Gorilla Glass Victus. Even the 6.7-inch folding display has a protecting layer on the top to avoid any possible damages.
Overall, the upgraded durability standards on Samsung's new foldable devices are truly impressive. These were much needed on foldable devices that otherwise feel rather gentle and fragile.
Flex The Way You Like
This flex mode comes in very handy in day-to-day use. I could video call without needing any accessory to keep the device at its position. Also, taking pictures and recording videos with both front and rear cameras is easier on the Flip 3 as the base becomes a built-in tripod/stand.
As for ports and connectivity, the handset has a Type-C USB charging port at the bottom, two microphones, and a speaker unit. The top right side has the volume rockers and the power button that also doubles up as a fingerprint scanner. It is very snappy and can be used to bring down the notification center with a slide. However, the placement is slightly higher than it should be and you might take some time in getting used to it.
The Z Flip 3 is extremely slippery and is best used with a case. Samsung has designed some interesting cases for the handset that you should check out. The Galaxy Z Flip 3 comes in two colors- Phantom Black and Cream. We got the black variant for review and it looks very subtle. You must check out the cream variant as it gives a very up-market feel and has a more stylish appeal to it.
Galaxy Z Flip 3 Main Display Performance
The hero feature of the Galaxy Z Flip 3 is the 6.7-inches folding screen that folds in half and transforms the handset into a cute 4.2-inch gadget. Anyone who saw the big screen folding in half was awestruck by the design and the functionality. Especially my little nieces who thought the phone is some sort of a fancy toy. But isn't it is! Even the big boys cannot resist the innovative idea and want to have a quick look.
The folding AMOLED screen also ticks most of the boxes for a good panel. It has Samsung's well-known vibrant color reproduction, supports HDR10+, and even has the trending 120Hz refresh rate. It folds and feels fluid. Moving on, the 6.7-inch real estate with full HD+ 1,080 x 2,640 pixel resolution serves well for video playback and gameplay; however, you will still have to live with the crease that can be distracting at times.
Not Very Convenient To Use
Moving on, the 6.7-inch panel has a tall 9:22 aspect ratio, which means your thumb is in no way reaching the content in the extreme corners. I have big hands and even I had issues using the handset with one hand. Thankfully, Samsung has placed a quick on-screen button at the bottom in selected native apps to help you navigate easily while scrolling.
Galaxy Z Flip 3 Cover Display Performance
A significant upgrade is the new cover display, which is now bigger and more functional when the device is folded. The cover screen on the Galaxy Z Flip 3 measures 1.9-inch in size (260 x 512 pixels) and can be used for the following functions.
- Place different interactive widgets such as music controls, weather information, today's schedule, alarm information, voice recorder, timer, and Samsung Health.
- Use the cover screen as a viewfinder to capture photos from the main camera.
- Pick up and reject incoming calls right from the cover screen.
- Check time and battery status while the phone is kept on charging.
- Customize clock widgets as per your style and convenience.
- Adjust screen brightness and change the audio profile by swiping down on the cover screen.
While these are some good functional upgrades, the cover display still doesn't support third-party app widgets. You can't make calls since Samsung hasn't modified the dialer for the smaller display. Moreover, you can't even reply to texts even with the most basic presets such as Ok, Thank you, etc. Samsung is no doubt saving these functional upgrades for the next iteration of the Galaxy Z Flip handset.
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 Camera Specifications
The Galaxy Z Flip 3 has a dual-lens rear camera setup comprising two modest 12MP sensors. The primary 12MP camera uses a Sony IMX563 sensor of 1/2.55" size and has dual pixel autofocus. It is OIS enabled can record videos in 4K30/60fps. The second 12MP is essentially an ultrawide IMX258 sensor with an f/2.2 aperture and 123˚ field-of-view. There's no telephoto sensor to offer optical zoom this time.
For selfies, the Galaxy Z Flip 3 gets a 10MP f/2.4 fixed focus sensor capable of shooting 4K 30fps videos. On the software side, the camera offers every feature one would expect from a top-tier Samsung smartphone such as a rich manual mode, portrait mode, single take, food mode, night mode, panorama, super slow-motion, slow-motion, hyper-lapse, and director's view.
The big 6.7-inch works as an excellent viewfinder, especially if you click pictures in the full-screen 9:22 aspect ratio.
How Good Is The Camera?
- The cameras on the Z Flip 3 capture good shots in daylight. Images show vibrant colors, a wide dynamic range, and have decent details if not the best.
- The sensors handle different lighting well leading to decent HDR performance; however, some shots turned out over-processed with noise easily visible upon a closer look. In fact, the noise is pretty dominant in most of the shots I captured on the Z Flip 3.
- The wide-angle shots have similar vibrant color tones but average details and unwanted sharpness. You can also notice some heavy distortion around the corners. Check out the autos at the two sides to see the distortion level.
- The handset managed to capture better shots in the low-light conditions. The night mode is activated automatically if you have enabled the scene optimizer. It captures clean and well-exposed shots with good dynamic range and colors. Noise is somehow better controlled within the low-light scenarios.
- The ultrawide mode mostly fails to impress in the low-light.
- What impressed me most is the portrait results. The Galaxy Z Flip 3 captures pleasing close-up shots with natural-looking bokeh. Skin tones don't look unnatural and colors are represented very accurately.
- The 10MP front-facing shooter captures good selfies and records crisp videos.
- The Galaxy Z Flip 3 can deliver good video recording results. The video footage comes out crisp and vibrant. You also get decent stabilization on all cameras with up to 4K 30fps resolution.
Galaxy Z Flip 3 Hardware Performance
Samsung hasn't made any chipset-level compromises with the new Galaxy Fold handsets. Similar to the Galaxy Z Fold 3, the Z Flip 3 also comes powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 SoC but there's no 12GB RAM and 512GB variant.
You can buy the flip phone in just one RAM configuration, i.e. 8GB paired with 128GB/256GB storage option. The 8GB RAM seems a bit low for the asking price of the top-end variant since most handset manufacturers are now offering 12 gigs, and some even up to 16GB at such a premium price.
Performance-wise, the Galaxy Z Flip 3 leaves no stone unturned. It's as fast and snappy as a smartphone can get in 2021. The top-of-the-line chipset, 120Hz refresh rate panel, and Samsung's well-optimized OneUI 3.1.1 makes everything buttery smooth. The smartphone can handle anything you throw at it without breaking up a sweat. Even the most demanding games run without any glitches.
Not Free Of Heating Issues
And while the phone runs without any glitches or lags, it has some heating issues. The Galaxy Z Flip 3 gets noticeably warmer from the top region of the back panel with strenuous tasks. There were times when I had to stop using some apps (Google Maps, camera, etc.) to let the device cool down. I have tested two SD888 handsets before the Galaxy Z Flip 3 but did not experience such dramatic heat issues.
Thankfully, the rise in the phone's temperature didn't affect the overall performance of the handset. Despite the device getting warmer, the UI navigation and apps response stayed lag-free. It seems the sleek profile and the SD888's power output takes a toll on the phone's internals. Games and multitasking are handled very well on the 6.7-inch folding display. You can also enjoy high-quality audio output (Dolby Atmos-enabled) with the stereo speaker setup.
Galaxy Z Flip 3 Software
The Galaxy Z Flip 3 runs on the OneUI 3.1.1 based on Android 11. The visually appealing OneUI is tweaked for the handset's folding display to enable a better multitasking experience. You can run two apps at a time in split-screen mode with two halves of the screen neatly displaying apps. Apps also work in the Pop-up mode but my most favorite is the Flex mode that lets you make the most out of that innovative hinge.
The bottom part of the display works as a control center for the supported apps. For instance, YouTube videos run on the top half of the screen whereas the bottom half lets you browse new videos, check comments, and do more. Similarly, the top half of the screen becomes the viewfinder, and the bottom half lets you switch to different modes while using the camera in the flex mode.
Besides, the very handy Edge panels make things easier on the tall screen form-factor. One feature you won't find on the Galaxy Z Flip 3 is the Samsung DeX mode, which is a slight bummer if you are fond of using the OneUI ecosystem's productivity feature.
Battery Life & Charging Speeds
If there's anything that doesn't match the other performance metrics, it is the battery life and the charging speed. The Galaxy Z Flip 3's 3,300 mAh battery died on me a couple of times during the review duration, especially on days when I actively used the handset for navigation (Google Maps), camera, gaming, and multimedia playback.
What's even worse is the 15W slow-charging speeds for a phone that costs as much as Rs. 90,000. The Galaxy Z Flip 3 takes around 72 minutes to recharge from flat to 100%. To put things in context, most phones in 2021 with considerably higher battery cells take less than half the time to get fully charged.
Placing a big battery in foldable must be challenging but Samsung could have at least offered fast-charging technology to compensate for the loss.
The Galaxy Z Flip is the only truly functional Flip phone out there in the market. It's a neat blend of style and innovation that puts you in the spotlight. Not many smartphones can do that and that's what makes the Galaxy Z Flip 3 unique. The Galaxy Z Flip 3 cannot beat most 2021 flagships in various performance parameters such as camera, battery life, and gaming; however, the style quotient of the folding display on a clamshell design is unbeatable.
If you appreciate mobile innovation and do not shy away from flaunting your handset, the Galaxy Z Flip 3 is the phone to buy in 2021. It comes in two variants- 8GB + 128GB at Rs. 84,999 and 8GB + 256GB at Rs. 88,999. The storage is not expandable and all you get in the box is a Type-C data cable.