It’s true that folding phones have, up until now, only been reserved for the super-rich or commited technophiles. Samsung’s plan with this month’s foldables launch is to push them into the mainstream consumer market. And we reckon the first device to make it there is the R22,000 Galaxy Z Flip 3.
The Z Flip 3 drops the entry price for foldables, which is a good start. Now it can compete with non-folding devices in the flagship market. Easily.
While it’s by no means cheap, it’s not near-unaffordable like its older siblings and larger counterpart, the Galaxy Fold 3. The Flip 3 focuses on style, looking cool and providing useful features along the way.
Case in point: The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 is a flexi-phone that isn’t just for nerds.
Flexing its display chops
It isn’t our first rodeo with a flip phone. Samsung released the original Galaxy Z Flip in 2020, while Motorola dropped its Razr in 2019. But it’s easy to see that the Z Flip 3 is the best-looking of the three.
It’s become increasingly evident that Samsung shifted its focus this year — especially when it comes to design. The Galaxy S21 range launched with a sleek, bold design intended to last a few years. A few months on and they still look good — so we know why Samsung continued the style in this month’s device launches. It just works.
The Z Flip brings back the nostalgic ‘compact flip’ format — it folds into a clam-like shape, about the size of a compact mirror that fits comfortably in your palm. Extend it open and it transforms into a full-sized smartphone. One of our worries with its size was the thickness, but this handheld is slimmer than you’d expect in both folded and extended formats.
Even better: you don’t even have to open it to access some basic functionality on the phone. On the front panel, Samsung includes a tiny 1.9in display on the outside. It will show you time and date, basic notification alerts, and it functions as a little viewfinder.
The usual folding phone issues remain, though. While the Flip 3 has a 120Hz Full HD OLED screen with a 6.7in panel, you can’t miss the slight deformation caused by the fold line in the middle when there’s bright overhead lighting.
As with anything malleable, you’ll need to be slightly more careful with this inner screen than other devices. Thankfully, the outer layer is tough. The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 has top-tier Victus Gorilla Glass covering the front display, aluminium sides, and the housing is IPX8 water-resistant. That’s the best waterproofing you’ll find in a phone like this, flexible or not.
Double-up on features
Samsung wants this one to be users’ first foray into foldables. The price makes it more accessible. The looks make it easier to adopt. And the features should have you sold.
The Samsung Flip 3 is powered by the Snapdragon 888 CPU — the top mobile platform available from Qualcomm today. It’s nice to gain access to a Qualcomm-fitted Samsung in our neck of the woods as it’s likely more powerful than the Galaxy S21 Ultra’s Exynos 2100.
Otherwise you’ll find all the expected features and hardware found in any other flagship Samsung — you get at least 128GB storage, with 256GB reserved for the higher-end version. The Android OS uses Samsung’s slick OneUI top layer. And while multi-tasking seems less of a necessity than it does on the tablet-like Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3, you can still run two apps at once or have one floating above another in a window.
There is, as usual, no headphone jack. And instead of an in-screen fingerprint scanner, there’s one on the side. The screen needs to keep that under-display fingerprint reader space to… you know… fold.
It’s not only foldy, but also shooty — the Flip 3 doesn’t compromise when it comes to its camera sensors and tech. It’s not the best around — but seeing as this phone is being marketed toward ‘creators’, it’s not holding back.
On the back, you get a 12MP primary camera and a 12MP ultra-wide. We played with the Flip 3 briefly and found the quality in a low-lit product room decent enough to share in Instagram — so there’s that.
Inside you get a 10MP selfie camera. But we’d probably only end up using this for video calls, given the outer cameras will offer better images, and let you feel like a style YouTuber while you take pics.
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 Initial Verdict
Samsung has finally managed to bring the price of its foldable tech down — which is exactly how tech becomes more mainstream.
Will people who aren’t die-hard nerds, crypto-mining rich kids, ultra-early adopters — and other types most people hope not to sit next to at a dinner party – actually buy one? Honestly? We don’t know.
But the intelligent design touches, the cute form factor, and the fact that you can spend the exact same amount on a normal flagship phone give the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 the best chance to break through of any bendy phone to date.