Mobile

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G

Written by Nuel

Introduction

Foldables for the masses, that’s the direction where we’re headed. Okay, maybe that’s a bit of a stretch, but at $999/€1049 for the base version, the Galaxy Z Flip3 5G is the most affordable smartphone with a bendy display.

In addition to a lower price tag, the Flip3 comes with some meaningful improvements over the previous generation. Since we’re on the topic of generations, the Flip3 is the third installment in the lineup, with the original Flip and the chipset refresh that was the Flip 5G almost making the 3 in the new model’s name make sense.

Anyway, in no particular order, the upgrades include an IPX8 rating for water resistance (the ‘X’ means it’s not rated to be dust-tight), a high refresh rate on that glorious main Dynamic AMOLED 2X display (the Flip and Flip 5G were 60Hz), and a larger, more useful cover display. There’s also the mandatory chipset upgrade that sees the Snapdragon 888 inside the new Flip.

We’re going to have to take the good with the bad, however, since there are areas where the new generation has stood still, and they are pretty important. It’s mostly the cameras that give us pause. The rear setup is headlined by a small-ish 1/2.55″ sensor that’s a descendant of the one that came in the Galaxy S7 a good while back, the ultrawide has no autofocus, and there’s no telephoto of any sort. The selfie camera on the inside isn’t overly impressive either, with a relatively dim lens and no AF.

The 15W charging capability harks back to even more distant days, though one could argue you don’t need much more with the smallish 3,300mAh battery – some consolation. The new model starts at 128GB of storage, as opposed to the 256GB-only approach of the previous generation – that probably helped with the price tag.

It may sound like more of a conclusion than an intro, but we just had to go over the key specs, and we’ve hardly made up our minds yet, writing these lines. Here are the numbers at a glance, before we get going.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G specs at a glance:

  • Body: 166.0×72.2×6.9mm, 183g; Plastic front, glass back (Gorilla Glass Victus), aluminum frame; IPX8 water-resistant (up to 1.5m for 30 mins).
  • Display: 6.70″ Foldable Dynamic AMOLED 2X, 120Hz, HDR10+, 1200 nits (peak), 1080x2640px resolution, 22:9 aspect ratio, 426ppi; Cover display: Super AMOLED, 1.9 inches, 260 x 512 pixels.
  • Chipset: Qualcomm SM8350 Snapdragon 888 5G (5 nm): Octa-core (1×2.84 GHz Kryo 680 & 3×2.42 GHz Kryo 680 & 4×1.80 GHz Kryo 680); Adreno 660.
  • Memory: 128GB 8GB RAM, 256GB 8GB RAM; UFS 3.1.
  • OS/Software: Android 11, One UI 3.1.
  • Rear camera: Wide (main): 12 MP, f/1.8, 27mm, 1/2.55″, 1.4µm, Dual Pixel PDAF, OIS; Ultra wide-angle: 12 MP, f/2.2, 123˚, 1.12µm.
  • Front camera: 10 MP, f/2.4, 26mm (wide), 1.22µm.
  • Video capture: Rear camera: 4K@30/60fps, 1080p@60/240fps, 720p@960fps, HDR10+; Front camera: 4K@30fps.
  • Battery: 3300mAh; Fast charging 15W, Fast wireless charging 10W, Reverse wireless charging 4.5W.
  • Misc: Fingerprint reader (side-mounted); NFC; Samsung Pay (Visa, MasterCard certified).

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G unboxing

There’s not a lot to unpack here. The Galaxy Z Flip3 arrives in a two-tone gray box that’s half-height – so you know not to expect to find much inside. An oversized ‘Z’ alludes to the phone’s name and its foldable nature.

The Z Flip3 5G rests on top, face-up in its unfolded state. Underneath, there’s a paper sleeve that holds a USB-C cable and SIM ejection pin, and that’s it.

Pre-order bundles in some regions will include a 25W adapter, a wireless charger, Samsung store credit of various amounts, or buy-back discounts – in some places more than one of these at the same time to help sweeten the deal. In the very box, however, you only get the bare minimum.

 

Design

The Galaxy Z Flip3 5G’s key selling point lies in its looks and style; there are no two ways about it. Samsung itself repeatedly stresses it in promo materials, using wording like ‘fashion statement’ and ‘turn heads’. The very existence of a total of 7 color variants, right at launch, means it’s no reason (the spec sheet) that will sell the Flip, but rather an emotion.

We have a small beef with the Cream review unit that we have here that all but interferes with Cupid’s work. You see, Samsung portrays this particular colorway as having more of a champagne hue to the frame, to match the glass color like on all other color versions.

In real life, however, the frame is closer to silver in most situations making for a slightly distracting contrast against the rest of the phone. That’s not very easy to show in pictures, however. If you’re not seeing it, or you like it just as it is, all the better – it’s just that this particular colorway would not be our favorite, let alone the hero color.

That’s where the three other colorways come in handy. These are called Phantom Black, Green, and Lavender and in all three, the frame appears to be tinted closer to the glass panels’ hue.

We spent some brief moments with the Green model, which has an understated stylish look without being a nondescript Black. We approve.

Three more colorways will be available exclusively on Samsung.com – Gray, White, and Pink. Those will have a contrasting black frame, on purpose.

That’s probably enough on color, for now, let’s talk materials. The frame and the hinge backing are made out of what Samsung calls Armor Aluminum. The company says it’s the strongest aluminum material used in a smartphone, though we didn’t hear the implied word ‘alloy’ mentioned anywhere.

Speaking of durability, the Fold3 and Flip3 are the first foldable phones to carry an IP rating for water resistance. They are IPX8-rated, so you still better keep the Flip3 away from dust, though it should be safe for up to 30 minutes under 1.5m of water.

Essentially, the two halves housing the sensitive electronics are water-tight with sealed openings for the wiring. The hinge itself is exposed to water by design, but it’s been lubricated and treated against corrosion.

The first water-resistant foldable phone – Galaxy Z Flip3 5G next to Galaxy Z Fold3 5G

The outer glass panels are made out of Gorilla Glass Victus, Corning’s latest and greatest. The new 1.9-inch cover display is placed in a black strip up top, together with the two cameras – the unfolded phone almost has a Panda Pixel 2 XL vibe. The flash couldn’t fit in there, sadly.

 

About the author

Nuel

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