Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 review: With the Flip 4 now on shelves, is it worth buying the Flip 3?
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3: 60-Second Review
Now that Samsung has announced its Galaxy Z Flip 4 (and the best Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 deals are already offering discounts on this upgraded foldable) is it really worth spending your hard-earned cash on the Galaxy Z Flip 3? In a word – yes. While there are undoubtedly some welcome improvements to be found in the Flip 4, the Galaxy Z Flip 3 remains an incredibly solid smartphone …better yet, it is enjoying some brilliant discounts following the reveal of its successor.
If you’re frustrated by the palm-stretching size of modern smartphones, Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 remains the best way to pack a huge screen in any pocket or bag.
Coupled with the stunning selection of colours, the clever design that allows you to use the top-tier rear-firing cameras for high-resolution selfies, and the improvements to Android and its handling of folding phones being rolled out by Samsung and Google …this is a handset that’s impossible not to love.
In fact, the Galaxy Z Flip 3 is the first foldable phone that changed my mind on the future of this juvenile category. Yes, after using this pocket-sized wonder, there’s no doubt that foldables really are the future. And if you want to get a taste of the future today, the discounted Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 is one of the best options out there.
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 review
When Samsung revealed its first foldable smartphone back in 2019, I was left baffled by the whole concept. Sat in the auditorium watching the smartly dressed executives talk about the years of engineering work that went into designing a touchscreen display that could be folded in half undamaged, there was only one thought rattling around in my mind – why would anyone want to own a phone that’s so fragile you’d be forgiven for wearing jewellers’ gloves to handle it and so expensive that you could buy a new phone for your entire family for the same price?
“What a ridiculous idea,” I remember muttering grumpily to a colleague after the Samsung Unpacked keynote had come to a close. My worst fears were confirmed in the weeks following the launch when the first batch of foldable phones sent out to reviewers in the United States started to break.
The Flip 3 is IPX8 rated, so it can will handle a swim in the pool …whether intentional or not
Despite all of this, Samsung seemed sure that this was the future of smartphones, with the company launching iterative updates to its folding phones the following year. Soon enough, rumours started to swirl that a foldable Google Pixel was in the works, while whispers suggested that Apple’s engineers were diligently working on a pliable iPhone behind the scenes too.
But while Samsung’s closet rivals haven’t revealed anything publicly, the South Korean firm has been steadily iterating on its innovative design each year. And it seems to be working. At time of writing, the Galaxy Z Flip 3 is the most popular foldable ever launched by Samsung – accounting for 70% of all sales in the folding phone category. In 2021, Samsung sold almost 10 million folding phones, mobile chief TM Roh has confirmed. That’s a 300% increase on the number of foldables sold in 2020.
While Samsung didn’t convince me during that initial keynote, it’s becoming increasingly clear that Samsung has really captured people’s imaginations.
Unlike the black, white and greys that dominate store shelves, Flip 3 ships in some gorgeous colours
The new Galaxy Z Flip 3 arrived on my doorstep a few days after the Galaxy Unpacked keynote, and I must admit that I’ve become pretty smitten with this folding device.
Within minutes of opening the box, my previous grumblings were gone. The retro-style flip phone design looks stunning, plus there’s now a more expansive 1.9-inch Cover Screen that fits on the front, which lets you read messages, check the latest weather reports, set timers, and even take selfies without the need to unfurl the main screen.
That’s all great, but perhaps the most important upgrade on the Galaxy Z Flip 3 is that it’s now much more robust. To achieve that, Samsung is using Armour Aluminium and Gorilla Glass Victus, which makes it 80% stronger, but it’s also fully IPX8 water resistant. That’s no mean feat given that this phone has multiple openings, a working hinge, and a screen that folds in half.
That rating allows the Flip 3 to be submerged in water for 30 minutes without fear of a soggy circuit board. However, it’s not rated against dust… so you need to be careful if you start to see a build-up of pocket lint around the hinge.
Despite the 6.7-inch screen (perfect for watching TV shows in landscape) Flip 3 fits in any pocket
The moment you pick up the Galaxy Z Flip 3 and hold it in your hand you’re struck by just how solid this handset feels. Even when you flip it open, the device stays rigid and Samsung should be commended for some astonishing build quality.
Samsung’s gorgeous foldable phone has really impressed me, but that’s not to say it’s without faults
The strong hinge also allows you to open the case halfway – like a laptop – which looks great on your desk and offers hands-free video calls. It also means you can place the Galaxy Z Flip 3 on a table or the ground to size-up the perfect selfie or group shot, perfect if there are no strangers around to bother or you’ve left the tripod at home!
Once closed, the Galaxy Z Flip 3 fits neatly in your pocket or bag and the minute you fully open the clamshell case you get a stunning 6.7-inch AMOLED display with a 120Hz refresh rate for silky smooth scrolling.
There’s also a fast side-mounted fingerprint scanner, speedy processor, and access to the latest 5G download speeds. As you can likely tell from everything above, this foldable phone has really impressed me, but that’s not to say it’s without faults.
The Galaxy Z Flip 3’s Cover Screen is bigger (and therefore more useful) than last year
First off, I can’t ignore the horrible crease that sits right in the middle of the 6.7-inch display. Clearly, this is a foldable phone but you need to be aware that this technology creates a pretty nasty bump that stands out like a very sore thumb. It’s particularly noticeable when using the screen in daylight and is pretty distracting when having a quick binge on a Netflix boxset. Along with not looking very nice, you can also feel the bump every time you scroll on the screen. Yuck!
The next problem the fold brings is the button placement on the side of the device. Where you really want the power and fingerprint scanner is in the same place as the hinge.
That’s meant Samsung has had to move these buttons up the side of the device making them quite hard to use. There are also issues with its wireless charging as when you stand the phone on a Belkin-style dock it doesn’t work so you’ll need to make sure you have a standard wireless Qi base and nothing more extravagant.
The battery life could be better and the dual-lens camera takes solid snaps but doesn’t offer the same features as other Samsung phones. For example, there’s no dedicated Zoom lens on the Flip3 and you can’t film footage in 8K – something the S21+ has no problem with.
And the price is my final niggle as the standard Galaxy Z Flip 3 costs a whopping £949. I get that this is a new technology and Samsung is slowly making its foldables more affordable, but it’s a lot of money just to have a phone with a flexible screen.
Using the hinge on the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 to frame photos or watch YouTube works great
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3: Final Verdict
From the first flip, it’s impossible not to fall in love with the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3. The retro flip phone-stylings and gorgeous colour options – not to mention the fact that it’s a modern flagship phone that’s guaranteed to fit comfortably into any pocket or bag! Samsung has really struck gold with the amazing Galaxy Z Flip 3.
The Galaxy Z Flip 3 is incredibly clever and, while it still has a slightly annoying crease in the middle of the main display that you will feel with your fingertip every few minutes, the upgraded 120Hz AMOLED screen is an absolute stunner. Not only that, but the larger Cover Screen makes the whole device more usable. And unlike almost every other phone on store shelves, the Galaxy Z Flip 3 lets you leverage the most power cameras on the handset – the rear-facing system – to seriously upgrade your selfies.
What We Loved
- More Robust Design
- Waterproof To 1.5m
- Stunning 120Hz AMOLED Screen
- Propping Up With The Hinge To Take Photos Works Well
- Improved Cover Screen Is More Functional
- Those Colours
What We Didn’t
- Missing Some Flagship Features, Like Triple Camera
- Wireless Charging Doesn’t Always Work
For the first time with its foldable lineup, Samsung has seriously upgraded the durability with IPX8 rating, which means the Galaxy Z Flip 3 can handle being in the water up to 1.5 meters in depth for 30 minutes. That should really settle the nerves of anyone looking to spend the money on this (still very new) style of smartphone.
Using the robust hinge to prop-up the Galaxy Z Flip 3 like a laptop to frame yourself during video calls, watch YouTube videos without arm-ache, and taking photos without a tripod is genius. It really proves that the flippable, foldable nature of this handset is not a gimmick that looks cool. Although, let’s be honest, the Galaxy Z Flip 3 does look really, really cool.
Of course, if you want all the very best specs available in a £1,000 smartphone …you won’t find them in the Galaxy Z Flip 3. Due to the complex engineering required for the hinge, the small form-factor of the handset and the already high price tag, Samsung reserves its ultimate camera performance and gaming prowess for other Galaxy devices.
For the same price as the Flip, the Galaxy S21+ arrives with a better camera, faster charging, an embedded fingerprint scanner, and the option to refill the battery without wires on any charging pad. However, it’s worth noting that folding the Galaxy S21+ will result in a broken phone.
In summary, the new Flip 3 is a brilliant little phone that’s made me eat my words and change my mind on the future of foldable phones. It’s the first folding Galaxy that I’d recommend you buy, although be warned that there are still some compromises when you’re on the cutting edge.