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Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 5G hands-on: Bringing ‘Fun’ back to smartphones

A few years from now, will we all still be using phones with traditional form factors? Or settle for something like the Galaxy Z Flip 3?

Written by Anuj Bhatia | New Delhi |
Updated: August 24, 2021 8:32:59 am
samsung galaxy z flip 3, galazy z flip, flip 3 samsung, samsung flip 3, samsung foldable phones, foldable phones, galaxy z flip 3 reviewThe Galaxy Z Flip 3 is a clamshell-style folding smartphone that opens to a 6.7-inch display. (Image credit: Anuj Bhatia/Indian Express)

I saw my first foldable phone two years back at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. It was a Samsung Galaxy Fold kept safely behind a glass shield at the company’s booth at the biggest annual phone and mobile event in tech.

Two years have passed since then. The Samsung foldables have gone through three generations to reach what is the clamshell-style Galaxy Z Flip 3 5G. This is the foldable phone that costs under a lakh, and will be Samsung’s biggest push at making this form factor mainstream. That level of confidence and faith in a new form factor and product category is a positive sign for the industry which has been targeted lately for being too predictable and less innovative.

A few years from now, will we all still be using phones with traditional form factors? Or settle for something like the Galaxy Z Flip 3? I have spent about 24 hours with the Galaxy Z Flip 3 to see where the future of the smartphone is headed.

Here are my initial impressions of the Z Flip 3.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 5G price in India: Rs 84,999 onwards

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 first impressions: Portability and durability

I briefly used the original Galaxy Flip last year, and found it impressive. The folding display was superb and the clamshell-style design allowed the Z Flip to work like any other regular smartphone. It was a fun device, and at one point I did want to buy the Flip. But I dropped the idea not because the phone was half-baked or unpolished, but because it did not give me enough confidence to put my money on a folding phone yet. Samsung somewhat gauged this consumer resistance to the untested phone form factor.

With the Galaxy Z Flip 3, Samsung hopes to change the misconceptions average users have about the folding phone and its lower price might be the first step in achieving that goal. My review unit of the Z Flip 3 came in Phantom Black with a black frame that complements the grey metal chassis of the phone. Although the new Z Flip 3 has the same shape as the original version, the new model feels completely different in the hand.

samsung galaxy z flip 3, galazy z flip, flip 3 samsung, samsung flip 3, samsung foldable phones, foldable phones, galaxy z flip 3 review More than its impressive design and folding screen, the Galaxy Z Flip 3 is a fun device. (Image credit: Anuj Bhatia/Indian Express)

Think of the Google Pixel 3 XL in the foldable avatar. Samsung somehow managed to matte out the entire surface, so it’s not as slippery as other phones and hides fingerprints. It’s a beautiful phone with a matte finish on the outside, with the cover display (more on that later) and the main display protected with the Gorilla Glass Victus — which is Corning’s strongest glass ever.

The phone is also water-resistant, which is a big deal for folding smartphones going forward. The inclusion of the IPX8 rating and stronger aluminum sides at least address the issue of durability with foldable phones. I am using the phone without a case, and I will be able to give you an exact picture of how the Flip fared in my day-to-day usage in the coming days.

samsung galaxy z flip 3, galazy z flip, flip 3 samsung, samsung flip 3, samsung foldable phones, foldable phones, galaxy z flip 3 review The main 6.7-inch display is made of ultra-thin glass, or UTG. (Image credit: Anuj Bhatia/Indian Express)

The outer screen of the Z Flip 3 is much larger (1.9-inches over 1.1-inches), and it’s actually useful now. On the previous model, the cover screen was a joke. The cover screen was limited to glancing at the time and a few notifications, now it acts as an always-on display with various widgets options. In fact, I can flip through the songs on Apple Music, set the alarm, record voice memos, and get weather details without opening the phone.

The main charm of the Z Flip 3 remains its ability to fold in half like a classic flip phone. It’s magical to see the phone disappear into the pocket. The first couple of times I tried to flip the phone back and forth, it felt natural and I got used to the experience. The hinge works just as it did with the previous model. It’s stable, tight, and one can flip it up at any angle. I can confidently open the phone with one hand, and that to me is the biggest confidence booster in phones like these.

samsung galaxy z flip 3, galazy z flip, flip 3 samsung, samsung flip 3, samsung foldable phones, foldable phones, galaxy z flip 3 review The Galaxy Z Flip 3 gives the vibes of the Pixel 3 XL, which also has a two-tone design. (Image credit: Anuj Bhatia/Indian Express)

What you get inside the box is minimal. This is because you are no longer getting a charger in the box, just a USB-C charging cable and the phone itself.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 first impressions: Display and performance

As I have mentioned before, the Z Flip 3 doesn’t look too different from its predecessor and that’s okay. You will get the same 6.7-inch Dynamic AMOLED display but this time around it supports a 120Hz refresh rate (up from 60Hz on the Z Flip) at par with the displays found on traditional phones like the Galaxy S21 Plus and OnePlus 9 Pro. A higher refresh rate will make things appear smoother, especially when scrolling your Facebook feed or playing games.

The screen is made from ultra-thin glass and multiple layers of plastic and is therefore less scratch-resistant. But don’t expect the screen to be as hard as the display you find on the iPhone 12 or Galaxy S21. It’s on the softer side, and there’s still a gap between the two halves when the phone is closed. Is the crease visible? Well, it runs in the middle and you can feel it, but it’s hard to see it directly when watching a video or playing a game.

samsung galaxy z flip 3, galazy z flip, flip 3 samsung, samsung flip 3, samsung foldable phones, foldable phones, galaxy z flip 3 review Colors are accurate and contrast levels are impressive here. (Image credit: Anuj Bhatia/Indian Express)

The Z Flip 3 has a great performance based on what I have observed in the small time I have spent with the phone so far. The phone runs totally smoothly and fast enough. This may be due to the Snapdragon 888 processor and 8GB RAM. Speaking of battery life, I have charged the phone once from zero to 100 per cent and the phone continues to have juice at the time of writing. For more on the battery life and camera, you have to wait until the review goes online.

samsung galaxy z flip 3, galazy z flip, flip 3 samsung, samsung flip 3, samsung foldable phones, foldable phones, galaxy z flip 3 review One can leave the bottom half flat and have the top half at a 90-degree. This is a great way of taking photos or attending video calls. (Image credit: Anuj Bhatia/Indian Express)

Is the Galaxy Z Flip 3 the phone of the future?

While I have personally liked the approach Samsung has taken with the Galaxy Z Flip 3, I am not sure whether this particular design will become the standard for all mainstream foldable phones in the future. There are pros and cons to the clamshell-style phone form factor. The Flex mode is a well-thought-out feature as it takes advantage of the phone’s hinge, letting you position the screen up at different angles. That way you can use apps like YouTube and Google Duo in different ways but I still feel this feature is better suited for the Galaxy Z Fold 3.
Okay… this is just the beginning of me testing the Z Flip 3 and I am pretty sure I will discover more about this phone while reviewing it. Even if the Z Flip 3 is a “safe” approach to make the folding phone familiar (or rather “boring”) to a large section of consumers, using the flip-style device is fun and something different.

Do you have specific questions about the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3? Let us know! I will try to answer all your burning questions about Samsung’s so-called “mainstream” foldable phone.

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