Samsung is still the only smartphone brand that has been selling foldable phones worldwide over the past three years or so. The company’s first-generation phones were like prototypes, but Samsung has quickly solved most issues, and its newest foldable phones can actually be recommended for daily use. In fact, the Galaxy Z Fold 3 is a productivity powerhouse, and we loved it in our review. The Galaxy Z Flip 3, on the other hand, is targeted toward fashionistas, compact phones lovers, and those who miss good old flip phones.
I’ve been using this phone since it was launched in mid-2021, sometimes as my main phone and sometimes as a secondary phone for work. Let us have a look at my long-term Galaxy Z Flip 3 review and if the phone can be a daily driver for a common smartphone user.
The Galaxy Z Flip 3 looks amazing. It’s compact, it’s cute, and it’s built well. The Galaxy Z Flip 3 feels lightweight and slim when it’s opened. You don’t need to worry about dust and water getting into the phone and damaging it in any way. The phone is IPX8 rated for water resistance, and over the past few months, the dust hasn’t been a problem for the phone. The phone even handled a few nasty drops with ease.
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One complaint that I have with the phone’s design is that it is too thin and sometimes it slips out of the hand.
The device’s two-part frame is made out of strong aluminium (which Samsung calls Armor Aluminium). The two frames are connected to each other using the company’s third-generation hinge which is covered using a metal piece on the back and plastic parts on the sides. The phone’s exterior is protected using Gorilla Glass Victus.
The outer display of the phone is handy for viewing time and notifications. It can also be used to control music, check the weather and timer, or record voice. You can customise the widgets and clock as per your preferences. The display also lets you capture selfies and videos. But it is still not as big as I would’ve preferred. Hopefully, Samsung can bring a bigger and squarer cover display with the Galaxy Z Flip 4.
The inner display is protected by a hybrid material that Samsung calls UTG (Ultra Thin Glass). It’s a combination of plastic and glass. It feels like glass when you swipe on it, but it folds towards the centre. It’s not as hard as pure glass, and you should not try to use fingernails or other sharp objects on the display as that will damage the screen protection.
There is a capacitive fingerprint reader (which doubles up as a power button) and volume buttons on the right side of the phone. At the bottom, there is a USB Type-C port, microphone, and a loudspeaker.
The main display is bright, sharp, and colour-accurate. Thanks to its 120Hz Super AMOLED Infinity-O panel, everything that moves on the screen looks extremely fluid and smooth. The swipes, the animations, the transitions, you name it. The centre-aligned punch-hole-shaped cutout looks aesthetically pleasing and doesn’t get in the way while using the phone or watching videos.
The screen is HDR10+ certified, too, which means that you can enjoy HDR content from streaming apps like Disney+ Hotstar, Prime Video, Netflix, and YouTube. Even the built-in video player supports HDR10+ video playback, so you can capture and playback high dynamic range videos on the phone.
The 1.9-inch Super AMOLED cover display (1.9-inch) is rectangular and shows notifications, time, widgets, and other things. It also lets you record videos and capture selfies without opening the phone. A bigger and squarer display would’ve been even more useful.
The phone also features stereo speakers. The earpiece doubles up as the second speaker. The whole speaker setup is decently loud and offers good audio quality, perfect for watching videos on the go.
The primary 12MP camera of the phone shoots very good images. It captures a good amount of details. Colours are closer to reality and the dynamic range is pretty wide. There are no issues related to autofocus. The 12MP ultrawide camera lacks autofocus, so it cannot capture macro shots like the Galaxy S21 Ultra, but it still offers excellent colours and a wide dynamic range.
Even in low-light conditions, the phone performs admirably. Not as good as the Galaxy S21 Ultra or the Vivo X70 Pro, but most people will be satisfied with the Galaxy Z Flip 3’s low-light performance. If there isn’t enough ambient light, the phone automatically activates the Night mode even in the Photo mode. You can select Max settings by clicking the moon-shaped icon for even longer exposure and brighter/less-noisy images.
The phone lacks a dedicated telephoto camera. You can zoom in digitally using the pinch-to-zoom gesture, but I don’t recommend it unless you’re only going to post the photo on social media or messaging apps.
The 10MP front-facing camera on the Z Flip 3 is as good as any other high-end phone’s front camera. It captures detailed images with a wide dynamic range and natural-looking skin tones. If you like natural colour tones, don’t forget to select the Natural colour tone setting in the Camera app. Also, always select the Wide setting in the Selfie mode to get full 10MP images. Otherwise, the Standard mode captures 6.5MP images by default.
The Live Focus mode captures images with a background blur effect, and it works fairly well. The subject detection is accurate, but it can sometimes blur some parts of hair or ears. Still, good enough in the phone’s price segment.
When the phone was launched, it lacked the capability to shoot background blur images in low-light conditions. A few weeks ago, the phone received that capability as a part of the One UI 4.1 update, which is pretty amazing.
All the cameras on the Galaxy Z Flip 3 can record up to 4K 60fps videos. The resulting videos have a wide dynamic range, slightly oversaturated colours, and high details. The colour tuning is fairly similar across all three cameras. In low-light conditions, videos can be grainy and phones with bigger sensors do well in such scenarios.
Yes, the Galaxy Z Flip 3 might lack the absolute best camera hardware that conventional form factor phones offer for a similar amount of money, but most people will be satisfied with the Galaxy Z Flip 3’s camera quality. I hope that Samsung adds a telephoto camera with its next foldable clamshell phone.
The Snapdragon 888, paired with 8GB RAM and 128GB storage, performs satisfactorily. The Galaxy Z Flip 3 runs fast and smooth. Multitasking or heavy games are not an issue for the phone. With the One UI 4.1 update, a part of the storage space can be used as virtual RAM (RAM Plus). This new feature helps a bit in multitasking.
Sometimes, the phone appears to slow down and the UI stutters. This happens when the phone is opened after a few hours of inactivity. During heavy gaming, the phone can get hot. I played a lot of Call Of Duty Mobile on the Z Flip 3 and did not face any major issues.
The fingerprint reader is fast and accurate and even offers a swipe down gesture for accessing the notifications section of the software. I couldn’t ask for anything more. The call quality has been excellent over the past few months.
After using phones from a lot of different brands, I’ve come to the conclusion that no company does Android better than Samsung. One UI is my personal favourite. The Z Flip 3 was launched with Android 11-based One UI 3.1.1. Earlier this year, the phone received the Android 12-based One UI 4.0 update and a few days ago, it received the One UI 4.1 update. It will get three more Android OS updates.
The software is really nice. Well-designed and feature-rich. Right from the iconography to the font and the quick setting toggles, everything looks neat and attractive. With the new Colour Palette feature (based on Google’s Material You feature from Android 12), you can customise the accent colours across the UI and even third-party apps. It brings a sense of style and personalisation to an already feature-rich software.
You can find all the software features that are typically present on high-end Samsung phones. There are plenty of quick setting toggles, themes, wallpapers, icon customisation, video backgrounds for incoming calls, and more.
Since the Galaxy Z Flip 3 is a foldable phone, it comes with an additional set of features (Flex Mode), such as the ability to use the top half or bottom half of the display as the camera viewfinder and the other half for controls when the phone is in folded mode. Some Samsung and Google apps adapt to the folded state. For example, the YouTube app switches the video to the top half of the phone and the comments section to the bottom half.
There are a lot of privacy and security features, too, including privacy indicators for active camera and microphone usage, a complete Privacy Dashboard, and quick setting toggles to enable/disable camera and microphone across the system.
The only thing I hate about One UI is the amount of unwanted pre-installed apps. Samsung ships its phones with apps from Microsoft and Facebook. So, there are multiple apps that offer the same features. Want to take notes? You have Google Keep, Samsung Notes, and One Note. Want to create and edit documents? There are Google Docs and Microsoft Word. There are two different SMS apps, three different web browsers, four cloud storage solutions, three task management apps, three video calling apps, and two email apps.
If Samsung can reduce bloatware, even if they are considered great apps on their own, it would be great. If users want to use a particular service, they can download those apps through the Play Store. There is no need to pre-install Facebook’s or Microsoft’s services on phones.
The Z Flip 3’s biggest disadvantage is its poor battery life. Compared to most rival phones with a traditional form factor, the phone lasts only half as long. I understand that Samsung had to use a smaller battery (3,300mAh) to make the phone decently thin even when it’s folded, but if the phone’s battery life doesn’t last a whole day on a single charge in this day and age, people will face a lot of battery anxiety.
The phone lasts until evening with moderate to heavy usage. If you are a light user, the phone can last until dinner time, but if you are a power user, expect to charge the phone once in the night and once in the afternoon. I was getting around 12-15 hours of battery life and four hours of screen-on time on a single charge. I had personal and work profiles on the phone and a lot of apps.
Samsung could’ve at least offered faster charging to make it more convenient to bear the Galaxy Z Flip 3’s short battery life. The foldable phone only supports up to 15W of “fast charging” which takes around an hour for a full charge. That’s not fast enough. It should’ve had at least 25W or 30W fast charging, which would’ve been more useful than features like wireless charging and reverse wireless charging.
The Galaxy Z Flip 3 has an excellent design and build quality, satisfying cameras, good display, and fast performance. It even comes with long-term software update support and excellent UI. However, its short battery life and slow charging speeds stop me from recommending the phone to general users.
People who want a compact or unique phone will be happy with the Galaxy Z Flip 3, but most others should wait to see if Samsung can bring a newer foldable phone with longer battery life. Until then, it’s better to buy a conventional phone that has a 4,000mAh or bigger battery.
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3
The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 has an excellent design and build quality, satisfying cameras, good display, and fast performance. It even comes with long-term software update support and excellent UI. However, its short battery life and slow charging speeds stop me from recommending the phone to general users.
- Compact, cute, and stylish design.
- Excellent foldable display.
- Strong camera performance.
- Runs fast and fluid.
- Feature-rich and good-looking software with long-term software support.
- Stereo speakers.
- IPX8 rating and wireless charging.
- No telephoto camera.
- Short battery life.
- Fast charging is not fast enough.
- Not enough value compared to traditional smartphones.