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Samsung’s Galaxy Z Flip3 is the first foldable phone I’d actually buy

·Technology Editor
·4 min read
In this article:
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There’s something so satisfying about slapping a flip phone shut. And while I’m hesitant to snap Samsung’s new Galaxy Z Flip3 closed as hard as I would the LG phone flip phone I had in 2002, it still managed to scratch that itch.

Available for pre-order now and on sale Aug. 29 for $999, the Z Flip3 is the second generation of the Z Flip line following the original Z Flip and Z Flip 5G. Like Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold3, which I previously reviewed, the Z Flip3 gets some much needed improvements over its predecessors including a more durable screen cover and, thankfully, water resistance.

And unlike the Z Fold3, which starts at a whopping $1,799, the Z Flip3, which costs the same as Apple’s (AAPL) iPhone 12 Pro, is meant to appeal to mainstream consumers. And while there are still some kinks to work out, the Z Flip3 is the first foldable phone I’d consider buying simply because it feels more like a phone than a conversation piece.

What it’s like to use the Z Flip3

The front of the Z Flip3 gets an all-new look and feel, sporting a larger, albeit still relatively small, 1.9-inch screen. The panel isn’t something you’ll use to watch YouTube videos or browse websites. Instead, it will let you check notifications and look up the weather or upcoming calendar appointments.

You can add additional widgets that let you browse different app updates and check the time. Some apps, like Gmail, allow you to open messages, while others, like the weather app, require you to open your phone to view additional information.

You can also open the camera app on the front screen to capture both selfie photos and videos using either of the Z Flip3’s wide-angle and ultra-wide angle lenses.

The Galaxy Z Flip3 is a foldable phone with a throwback, clamshell design. (Image: Samsung)
The Galaxy Z Flip3 is a foldable phone with a throwback, clamshell design. (Image: Samsung)

Pop open the Z Flip3 and you’ll be met by its 6.7-inch AMOLED display. Like the Z Fold3, the Z Flip3’s screen gets a 120Hz refresh rate for smoother scrolling, but it doesn’t get the same under-screen selfie camera as the Fold3.

The display does, however, get the same new cover as the Z Fold3, which is 80% more durable, making it more scratch resistant — though the company notes that you can still gouge the panel if you poke it too roughly. For power users, the Z Flip3 can run two apps simultaneously either one above the other or next to each other depending on how you hold the phone.

Shooting photos, durability and power

The Z Flip3 gets wide-angle and ultra-wide angle cameras that capture crisp photos. Low-light photos were impressive, though they were also grainier than those taken with an iPhone 12 Pro.

That said, I found that the selfie camera above the Z Flip3’s main screen took clearer shots than those taken with the Z Fold3’s under display camera.

One of the biggest sticking points about the original Z Flip, and the Z Fold for that matter, was that it wasn’t water resistant. That’s unforgivable for a smartphone in 2021, and thankfully not the case with the latest Z Flip. That’s right, you can drop the Z Flip3 in up to 5 feet of water for 30 minutes before it calls it quits — as long as it’s folded shut.

Samsung's Galaxy Z Flip3 brings an improved, water-resistant design and sturdier display. (Image: Samsung)
Samsung's Galaxy Z Flip3 brings an improved, water-resistant design and sturdier display. (Image: Samsung)

Unfortunately, the Z Flip3 isn’t dust-proof. That means you’re not going to want to take this bad boy to the beach, since sand would ruin it. You might want to avoid using it while crunching on a Nature Valley bar too. The crumbs from those things get everywhere.

As for performance, the Z Flip3 gets a Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 processor, 5G connectivity, 8GB of RAM, and your choice of 128GB or 256GB of storage. In short, this is a powerful smartphone that will handle whatever you throw at it.

As for battery life, you should get at least a day’s worth of use out of the Z Flip3.

Should you get it?

Foldable phones still have their imperfections — whether it’s the quirkiness of the way apps display on their screens, or issues like the lack of dust resistance on the Z Flip3.

That said, this feels like the first, well, normal foldable phone and less like an oddity. That might be the biggest compliment Samsung could hope for when they’re selling something that consumers will want to actually use every day.

If you’re in the market for a new smartphone, and are willing to take the dive, the Z Flip3 is the foldable to get. If you’re still nervous about the dust issue, then hold off until Samsung solves that problem.

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