Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 5G – Review – It’s Time To Take The Plunge
There’s something about popular culture and the foldable phone. Think back to the Nokia Communicator in the Saint or the Moto RAZR that became a 2000s style icon. There’s a big difference between those phones and the 2020s vision of a foldable. The 2020s version feature foldable displays, those were just foldable phones where the display was in one half of the fold. It’s fair to say that Samsung has been relentless in its pursuit of creating a whole new category of smartphones. Brands like Motorola and Huawei have also weighed in, but Samsung has managed to iron out (literally) some of the earlier glitches of its first gen Fold and Z Flip devices. It’s why we think that the Z Flip 3 might actually be a threshold point for the smartphone.
While Hollywood might have had a greater hold on popular culture when the RAZR reigned supreme, things are different in the 2020s. I shipped a copy of the Indian edition of Rolling Stone with Korean band BTS on the cover to a friend and die-hard BTS fan who lives in the US. Platforms like Instagram and TikTok have smashed cultural boundaries at a time when smartphones have become a fashion statement. I don’t think any phone is in a position to leverage this better than the Z Flip 3. Samsung’s range of customisable accessories are a recognition of this trend. This is a smartphone designed to trigger conversations. The Z Flip (there was no Z Flip 2, Samsung has skipped a number to maintain consistency with its other foldable – the Z Fold 3) was one of the most interesting smartphones we checked out last year for MW.
Samsung retains the same user experience with some thoughtful design enhancements. First, it’s the cover screen that goes from being a tiny strip to a 1.9-inch Super AMOLED display (260 x 512 pixels). From text and call notifications to weather to your calendar there’s a bunch of widgets you can add to this screen, allowing to quickly ‘flip’ through without opening the display. The primary 6.7-inch AMOLED 2X display (2640 x 1080 pixels) display gets a boost with a 120Hz refresh rate. The device feels more rugged (compared to its predecessor); it’s the first water resistant foldable with an IPX8 certification. It’s not entirely dust proof but overall, you don’t need to be ultra-careful with it like the first gen Z Flip.
Now, let’s get the hardware out of the way. At its heart is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 processor with 8GB of RAM (we tried the 128GB internal storage variant, there’s also a 256GB option). In terms of performance, it was very similar to the Samsung Galaxy S21+ and clocked an impressive score of 3421 (multi-core) in our Geekbench benchmark test. Battery life is not as impressive as the S21+ though. This one features a 3300 mAh battery that should get you through the average day.
More than the smooth scrolling and gameplay it’s the unique foldable display that opens up a host of use case scenarios. It’s the same with the camera that also produced similar results as the S21+ in most of our tests. The foldable form allows you to shoot cool selfies and also shoot videos handsfree. The Z Flip 3 combines a 12MP primary lens and 12MP ultra-wide lens. There’s no optical zoom though. The device shoots great images even in lowlight, but videos are certainly not in the same league as the pricier S21 Ultra that is still our pick for serious photography buffs. But then that phone can’t flip. Well, that’s the whole point of this phone.
The Z Flip 3 is actually a foldable smartphone that you might want to buy. Samsung has launched this at a price point that’s Rs 25,000 lower than last year’s Z Flip despite making significant product enhancements. Those upgrades are designed to make the phone more usable in everyday scenarios. Once you’ve flipped the phone open and start using it, it’s sometimes easy to forget that’s it’s actually foldable. It also feels good with its light heft. Will the Z Flip 3 finally see the foldable smartphone go from concept device to a mainstream device and a fashion icon in popular culture? We’re sure to find out by the year end.
The Samsung Galaxy Flip 3 5G starts at Rs 84,999 and is available in Phantom Black and Cream. Samsung is currently offering a Rs 7,000 cashback with HDFC cards.