Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 review | Foldable greatness in a compact design

by W. Andrew Powell

There are no other phones like the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3. The foldable and fun Z Flip 3 is completely refreshing, and it’s my favourite phone of the year.

Samsung’s foldable displays have come a long way since they first came out, and you can see that in the Galaxy Z Fold 3, too. The difference is that the Z Fold 3 is essentially a foldable tablet, while the Z Flip 3 is first and foremost a 5G phone that fits in just about any pocket.

So, is a folding phone right for you? Read on. The phone’s size, excellent display, and great cameras are some of the best features, but there are about a dozen things I love about the Z Flip 3.

Displays & Battery

Samsung makes the best displays, and that’s a key reason the Z Flip 3 is such a great phone.

The 6.7″ FHD+ dynamic AMOLED 2X screen looks excellent. It’s bright, with vivid colours and resolution, and the screen looks great whether you have it fully open or half folded.

The form factor of the screen is slightly narrow, compared to most devices, however at 22:9 it’s very cinematic. That ratio is slimmer than most videos, since 16:9 is the most common aspect ratio, but watching YouTube and other videos looks very good. The phone’s 120 Hz refresh rate is a big plus for gamers too, and makes the whole phone experience incredibly smooth.

On the back, the phone also has a 1.9″ Super AMOLED cover display for notifications, that you can use while it’s folded to take photos or videos. There’s more about that below.

The phone features a 3,300 mAh battery, and that was enough for me to get through most of my day, but it will depend on how many photos and videos you take in a day, how many videos you’re watching, and if you’re gaming. Heavy users may find they need to charge more frequently.

Cameras

For selfies, Samsung has a good 10 MP front camera on the Z Flip 3, while the back of the phone has a 12 MP ultra wide, and a 12 MP wide angle, with optical image stabilization on the wide-angle camera.

There is no telephoto camera on the phone, which would be nice, however both of the wide cameras are very good, and you can get away with a slight digital zoom without noticing much pixilation.

Camera features on the phone also make it an excellent pick for content creators or anyone who shares a lot on social media. For vlogging, as one example, there’s the director’s view mode, and portrait video gives you a way to put the focus on you or your subject, while creatively blurring the background.

I was also a big fan of night mode with the Z Flip 3. The results are impressive, delivering bright images, practically like you’re shooting in daylight a lot of the time, and each shot only takes about 2-3 seconds.

At some point, I’m still hoping that Samsung will support director’s view and portrait video at higher resolution, but it’s worth noting that for now, these are still HD-only features.

Design, Folding & Features

The Z Flip 3 is all about the foldable features, and the phone design. That’s where it shines, and there’s a lot to talk about here, including aspects of how the cameras work when the phone is folded.

From a design standpoint, the phone folds down beautifully, to a nice, compact size that fits perfectly in the palm of your hand. I also love that cases for the Z Flip 3 actually protect almost all of the phone’s exterior, when it’s folded down, which is not something you can say for standard cell phones.

With the screen, there is a slight ridge around the outside, and that was sometimes a little uncomfortable on my ear during calls. However, that’s not an issue when you’re using earbuds with the phone, like Samsung’s new Galaxy Buds 2 that I also tested with the Z Flip 3 (they’re excellent, and a good price, too).

When the phone is folded, there are a number of features you can still use, thanks to the cover display. By pressing the power button or tapping the screen, you get access to notifications, music, alarms, weather, and your calendar, depending on which widgets you add to the screen.

You can also take photos or video by double-pressing the power button. The display is small, so you won’t get a full preview, but it works well to capture quick shots, like selfies.

One of the big ways that the phone shines is that you can use it when it’s half-folded, or as Samsung calls it, in Flex mode. This is where the Z Flip 3 gets really interesting. For some uses, it’s a slick way to have the phone sit so you can use the top half to view content, and use the bottom half to control the device.

For instance, it’s an easy way to do video calls, for browsing the web, watching videos, and especially for using the camera.

When the phone is half-folded, the camera app puts the controls on the bottom half of the screen, while the top half is the camera view. You can even use the cover display to act as a preview, in case you’re capturing from the back cameras for selfie videos or photos.

My favourite feature is that you can also capture photos and videos in 16×9 ratio, or 9×16, even when the phone is sitting flat on a desk. So you can set the camera up half-folded and still record videos horizontally. The only drawback here is that shooting wide video while the phone is half-folded only provides HD video quality. You’ll have to actually hold the phone horizontally to capture 4K video, in other words.

That said, it’s a slick way of making videos and portraits without the need for a tripod or stand, at least in some situations.

Is the Z Flip 3 right for you?

While I’m a Galaxy Note 20 Ultra user right now, I loved the Z Flip 3. The phone is stylish, for anyone who wants to make a statement, but beyond that, the Z Flip 3 has features that make it very easy to livestream, video call, or vlog without a tripod.

I also love that I could fit the phone in any pocket, and it just looks so good.

If a telephoto camera is a must-have feature for you though, or you need to use your phone all day without charging, the Z Flip 3 may not be the right fit for you. In that case, the Galaxy S21, and especially the S21 Ultra, are the best Android phones I’m recommending right now.

Colours, Availability & Bespoke Edition

Standard colours for the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 are Cream, Phantom Black, Green, and Lavender for $1,259.99 with 256 GB of storage and 8 GB of RAM.

Samsung has also launched a new Bespoke Edition of the Z Flip 3 in a range of colours that you can customize on their website. Colour options for the front and back of the phone can be blue, pink, yellow, white and black, with an option for a black or silver frame. Samsung is offering Bespoke Edition for $1,399.99 with 256 GB of storage.

Watch my 3-minute video review of the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 below.

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