Samsung basically rules the folding phone market right now in the U.S. and while the Galaxy Z Fold 3 gets most of the attention, it’s the Galaxy Z Flip 3 that should have a wider appeal, thanks in part to its lower price of entry and the fact that it’s a bit more manageable and sized like a regular phone. For all intent and purposes, the Galaxy Z Flip 3 is basically a Galaxy S21, having similar features, specs, and sizing but with the novelty of being able to fold itself in half like those flip phones we used to love back in the early 2000s. The Galaxy Z Flip 3 however does include some unique features not found on the Galaxy S21 and despite it not having quite the wow factor as the Galaxy Z Fold 3, it’s still a really cool phone.
Disclaimer: Samsung’s PR agency loaned us an unlocked Galaxy Z Flip 3 for us to evaluate. This particular model is the SM-F711U1 variant that was on Android 11 with One UI version 3.1.1, but was updated to Android 12 during testing.
The Galaxy Z Flip 3 doesn’t look like much when it’s open. That’s because if you were to just glance at it quickly, it just looks like any other Galaxy S-series phone that’s come out before it. The only clues of its uniqueness would be upon closer inspection where you start to notice that it has a raised border around the screen and the fact that there’s a noticeable crease right down the middle, halfway from the top and bottom of the phone. Other than that, it’s about the size of a Galaxy S21 Plus and has pretty much the same layout for the buttons, charging port, and speakers.
It’s not until you fold the phone that things get rather interesting. You’re able to fold the phone from 180° to 0° and everything in between. The hinge mechanism is just as good here as it is in the Galaxy Z Fold 3 though not quite as firm when trying to open and close it. There is still a little gap here between the two sides, but the phone is more symmetrical here because of the orientation of the fold. I don’t mind it as much here.
Like the Galaxy Z Fold 3, there is a display on the outside cover and even though it’s a 1.9″ display, it’s surprisingly useful. Anyways, this also helps differentiate it from your regular Galaxy S-series phones. Other differences include the almost flush camera lenses and the fact that the fingerprint reader is on the side of the phone and not an under-display unit.
It actually looks a bit sleeker than the larger Galaxy Z Fold 3 thanks in part to not having a camera bump. The two-tone back of the phone also looks really good especially when you choose a color other than just straight black. The one we have here is in Cream color and it looks really good in my opinion.
SPECS AND FEATURES
If you read through the spec sheet, much of it is very similar to the Galaxy S21 and even to the Galaxy Z Fold 3. You get a Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 CPU, 8GB Ram, and base 128GB storage. The display has a variable refresh rate of up to 120Hz, and a screen size of 6.7″, which is about the size of the Galaxy S21+. The cameras are also quite similar at 12MP rear and 10MP front, though there is an extra 12MP ultra-wide camera on the Galaxy Z Flip 3.
Like the Galaxy Z Fold 3, the fingerprint reader is on the side of the device combined with the power button. No under-display reader here. But unlike the Galaxy Z Fold 3, no under-screen camera.
The battery on the Galaxy Z Flip 3 however is not that great and only comes in at a capacity of 3,300 mAh which is pretty small for a phone of this size and specs. You’ll most likely find yourself having to recharge at some point during the day before you make it home. Of course, this all depends on how much you use it for. If you’re a heavy user, it won’t last long.
I will say though, despite the small battery, I wouldn’t really let that deter you from at least checking out the Galaxy Z Flip 3. While its only true competitor right now is the Motorola Razr, the Galaxy Z Flip 3 is a much better device overall. The build is a lot better and the screen is also a lot larger. Not to mention the fact that Samsung’s support of all their current-gen phones has been phenomenal lately makes this a top pick if you’re looking for a folding device.
WHAT WE LIKE
So what is there to like about the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3? Since it’s so much like the Galaxy S21, much of that carries over to here and we really liked that device. In fact, I’m still using my Galaxy S21 Ultra as my daily and the rest of my family is on the regular Galaxy S21.
- The phone is actually pretty compact once it’s folded, and normal sized when it’s not.
- It’s fairly fast and comparable to the Galaxy S21.
- The cover display is surprisingly useful and responsive.
- Can take photos without having to open the phone up.
- Much better fit in your pockets.
- Being able to watch videos without using a stand.
- Premium materials. I really like the look of the glass back panals.
- Almost flush mount camera lenses. No camera island.
- Fingerprint reader and face detection is very fast.
- Timely software updates.
WHAT WE DISLIKE
It’s not all rainbows and sunshine however as there are some areas we think could use improvement.
- The battery is too small and will not last all day for heavy users.
- Latest Samsung devices do not have expandable memory.
- The crease on the inside display is still very noticible.
- Finger print reader on the right side means you can only really unlock it with your right hand only.
- Not dust and dirt resistant.
There’s honestly more to like about the Galaxy Z Flip 3 than not to like. In fact, there seem to be a lot fewer negatives here than on the Galaxy Z Fold 3. The price is much better and more in line with the regular Galaxy S-series devices.
We’re not getting too in-depth here mainly because this phone, like the Galaxy Z Fold 3, has been out for a hot minute already. A lot of it is also comparable to the Samsung Galaxy S21 so there isn’t much new in terms of specs to speak about. The only head-turning features here in my opinion are the folding display and the cover display. It’s still a great talking point when you whip it out in public and people genuinely are curious about it. Not to mention that the cover display is genuinely very useful.
So is it worth picking up the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 over something like a Galaxy S21 or even the new Galaxy S22? That depends. You’ll definitely get more performance and battery life out of the regular S-series devices and much better battery life. However, the Galaxy Z Flip 3 does have the edge when it comes to the coolness factor. Regardless, it’s been more than six months since its release, and I’d honestly say to just go and get the Galaxy S22 instead, which just came out. Save your money and go for the better device or wait until the Galaxy Z Flip 4 comes out. Whenever that might be.
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