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Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold3 is a foldable phone with a lot of promise, and a sky-high price

·Technology Editor
·6 min read
In this article:
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For Samsung, the future is flexible. And to prove it, the company has launched its newest foldable-screen phone, the aptly named Galaxy Z Fold3.

Available for pre-order now, and on sale Aug. 29, the Z Fold3 is the company’s latest smartphone that folds in half like a book. And while the original Z Fold and Z Fold2 had issues like fragile screen covers and a lack of water resistance, Samsung has addressed them with the latest release. It also added on some extras, like the ability to use the company’s S Pen stylus.

But there are still some shortcomings for the Z Fold3. Namely, it’s hefty price tag — it starts at $1,799 — and the fact that it still isn’t dust resistant. That said, I can’t help but love watching shows on its giant 7.6-inch display.

What it’s like to use the Z Fold3

The Z Fold3, like its predecessors, functions almost as two different phones. There’s the way you use it with the main screen folded, scrolling and tapping away at its 6.2-inch cover screen, and the way you use it when the main screen is wide open in all of its bendable glory.

The front screen, which gets a faster refresh rate for smoother scrolling, is where you’ll likely spend your time checking messages, the time, and notifications, or quickly Googling random tidbits like when daylight saving time ends. It’s Nov. 7, by the way.

The cover screen is a must-have since the main screen is folded up most of the time. And it works well for quick tasks, but its narrow design makes text look more squeezed together than it would on a wider display.

The keyboard, as before, is also cramped when typing with the cover screen, which can be bothersome when you’re trying to tap out lengthy text messages or emails. And that’s where the main display comes in.

The screen, which also has a 120Hz refresh rate, provides plenty of real estate for watching movies, TV shows, TikTok videos on home repairs, anything really. It also easily picks up where you left off with the cover screen. So, if you’re reading a long document, or setting up your fantasy football team on the front display and want a bit more room to stretch out, you can pop open the main screen and the same content will be there.

Samsung's Galaxy Z Fold3 is Samsung's latest take on a foldable phone, and gets a stronger display, and water-resistant design. (Image: Samsung)
Samsung's Galaxy Z Fold3 is Samsung's latest take on a foldable phone, and gets a stronger display, and water-resistant design. (Image: Samsung)

Samsung offers multitasking capabilities with the Z Fold3. You can drag individual apps from the recently opened app menu to the center of the main screen to open them as resizable pop-up windows. Or using the task bar, you can open two apps at once.

The Fold3’s Labs option, found in the phone’s advanced settings menu, adds even more to the offerings, letting you resize apps that haven’t yet been optimized for the Z Fold3’s larger main screen, and open all apps, in pop-up or split-screen modes.

Oh, and you can finally use Samsung’s S Pen Stylus with the Z Fold3. So if you’re partial to writing notes, rather than typing them, you’re in luck.

Of course, the Z Fold3’s large main screen means that you’ll probably need to use both hands to hold it when it’s unfolded. And when folded the phone is chunkier than, say, a Galaxy S21, which has a flat-screen design. So if you’re looking for a petite smartphone, this might not be what you’re looking for.

Taking photos with the Z Fold3

Around back the Z Fold3 has a trio of cameras. There’s a wide-angle lens, an ultra-wide angle, and a telephoto option. True to form, the photos taken with Samsung’s phone look crisp, but can look blown out, especially where bright colors meet. A close-up shot of a yellow bush, for instance, looked better on the iPhone 12 Pro than the Z Fold3 thanks to the fact that the colors look more distinct on the iPhone.

The Galaxy Z Fold3 now has S Pen support. (Image: Samsung)
The Galaxy Z Fold3 now has S Pen support. (Image: Samsung)

Low-light shots of my cat, currently in a cast after he tried to perform some advanced gymnastics while jumping from my kitchen counter to the island, looked bright, but details were softer than those in photos taken with the iPhone.

One of the Z Fold3’s more interesting features, though, is its under-display selfie camera. See, rather than a notch at the top of the Z Fold3’s main screen that holds the camera, Samsung has made it so that the portion of the display over the lens can show pixels to match whatever you’re viewing on screen, making it appear as though the camera isn’t there at all.

It’s a slick setup, but the photos aren’t exactly great. Zoom in, and you’ll notice that shots are blurrier than those taken with an iPhone’s FaceTime camera.

Durability and power

One of my biggest gripes with the original Z Fold and Z Fold2 was that they weren’t water resistant. Thankfully, Samsung has made the Z Fold3 capable of surviving taking a quick dip into 5 feet of water without turning into an $1,800 paperweight. But Samsung says the Z Fold3 still isn’t dust resistant, since it has its moving hinge, which can allow debris and make it susceptible to damage.

Inside, the Z Fold3 gets a Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 processor and 12GB of RAM. The base version also gets 256GB of storage with the option to upgrade to 512GB.

Samsung's Galaxy Z Fold3 lets you control apps using its split panel mode. (Image: Samsung)
Samsung's Galaxy Z Fold3 lets you control apps using its split panel mode. (Image: Samsung)

In terms of battery life, you can expect to get about a day’s worth of power out of the Z Fold3. It’s not going to win the award for longest-lasting phone, but it will get the job done from morning until you plug it in at night.

Should you get it?

The Galaxy Z Fold3 is Samsung’s best take on the book-style foldable phone design. Its improved durability and water resistant, not to mention its S Pen integration makes it an especially appealing option for consumers who want a smartphone with a giant screen.

That said, the lack of dust resistance, its chunky design, and sky-high price, mean that most consumers will likely keep their distance. Samsung has done a wonderful job of building on the original Z Fold and Z Fold2, now it needs to do the same with the Z Fold3 to ensure the next generation is a truly mainstream smartphone for all consumers.

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