New for 2021, the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 5G was unveiled at the Galaxy Unpacked event alongside Samsung's top-of-the-line folding phone, the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 5G, as well as the Galaxy Watch4 series and the Galaxy Buds 2 on Wednesday 11 August.
Unlike a lot of other attempts to corner the market, the the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 5G is a flip phone that looks like it could actually work for the average person. I got to take an early look at the new devices and came away from it considering whether I myself should invest in the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 5G because actually, I think it’s great. It’s sure to be one of the best foldable phones you can buy in 2021.
Here I’ll take you through everything I thought about the phone in my early Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 5G review after having spent a short time getting hands-on with it. A full, scored review will follow when I've spent a lot more time with the device.
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Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 5G review: video overview
First, take a look at this video overview where I’ll take you through everything you need to know about both of Samsung’s new Galaxy folding phones.
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 5G review: price and release date
You’ll be able to pick up the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 5G with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage for $999 in the US, £949 in the UK and AU$1,499 in Australia. You'll also be able to buy it with 256GB of storage for about $1,049 / £999 / AU$1,599. It goes on sale in the US and the UK from the 27th August 2021, and from the 10th September in Australia. Reserve your new phone from Samsung Unpacked here
Although it’s still quite expensive, the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 5G is now the same price as flagship handsets like the Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus and it's much cheaper than other clamshell folding phones like the Motorola Razr. At launch, it's about £350 cheaper than the original Galaxy Z Flip which is sure to make this a much more convincing piece of kit.
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 5G review: design and build
Most smartphones look more or less identical. The samey slabs of glass we are all used to don’t really have much to physically set them apart, other than maybe a camera notch here and a curved screen there. The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 5G is definitely not one of those. It looks completely different and actually, it’s a really good looking phone.
When it’s folded up, the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 5G will fit in the palm of your hand. Unfolded, the phone feels very slender and it looks just like a regular smartphone, so you get the best of both worlds.
Naturally, when you fold it up it does feel quite thick. Measuring 72.2 x 86.4 x 17.1 - 15.9mm, it'll definitely add a bit of bulk to your pocket but it’ll still be small enough to fit into it in the first place. At 183g, it weighs about the same as a regular smartphone which makes it just as comfortable to use day-to-day.
You can buy the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 5G in 7 glossy colours including lavender, cream, black and green to name a few. The coloured phones have a two-tone design where the body meets the cover screen. You’re sure to have people ask “what’s that?” when you pull it out in public.
Not only does it look a bit different but it’s actually practical as well. The cover screen has some really handy uses and you get everything you're used to from a smartphone on the main screen as well. I’m enjoying seeing a shakeup in the phone world now that Samsung has made it feel more plausible.
One of the biggest changes in this year’s Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 5G is the build quality. Like the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 5G, this is one of Samsung’s toughest phones yet. It’s made from a durable Armor Aluminium, Corning Gorilla Glass Victus and it has the highest IPX8 rating which means it’ll survive being dunked in water. When I tried it out, the hinge felt firm to open and close while the overall build did feel strong and premium.
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 5G review: displays
On the original Galaxy Z Flip, the cover screen was only 1.1 inches which was just too small. It meant you couldn’t do much on it and it could only display one notification at a time. Now, the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 5G has a screen that is quadruple the size, so it can fit up to 4 notifications on it at once. That’s not all it can do though.
You’ll be able to customise what you see on the cover screen by adding widgets that you swipe through to check out the weather, access Samsung Pay, control your music, set your alarms and so much more. It feels surprisingly natural to use, you’d soon get used to checking your messages from there.
The large 6.7inch Full HD+ Dynamic AMOLED 2X display inside has an adaptive refresh rate of 120Hz which makes it feel buttery smooth to scroll and swipe on. Mobile games feel slick and browsing the web feels effortless.
As you would expect from Samsung, the screen looks seriously crisp with bright colours. While you can see the crease on the screen, it doesn’t dramatically impact the experience of using the main display. The only time I felt bothered by it when I got hands-on with the phone was when the screen was completely white because it becomes more obvious then.
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 5G review: software and hardware
Running on Android 11 with Samsung's One UI, the overall experience when the main screen is folded out flat is just as you’d expect from a Samsung phone. It’s intuitive, user friendly and there’s easy access to Google’s suite of apps. There have been a few software upgrades this time around to suit the folding nature of the phone.
When the phone is partially folded, Flex Panel shifts your app content to the top half and places settings like the volume on the bottom half. I tried it out across a few different apps and it’s especially useful for streaming video. For instance, you can watch a video from YouTube on the top half and adjust the volume or switch on subtitles below. You can also split the screen and have multiple windows open at once, like if you wanted to continue watching the video while you do a bit of online shopping.
The phone is powered by the most recent Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 CPU which means it should be faster than the original Z Flip which had a 7nm chip. Although it’s hard to test out the performance of a phone in such a short space of time, larger apps like games seemed to load very quickly. This phone is future-proofed with 5G connectivity so you’ll get the fastest internet speeds possible if you live in an area that supports it.
The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 5G has a 3,300mAh battery inside, that's a lot smaller than most smartphones I see. Because I had such a short space of time with the phone, I couldn't test it out but it's unlikely to give you days upon days of juice.
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 5G review: cameras
Full disclosure, the camera tech isn’t the most impressive you’ll see on a smartphone at this price. In fact, it’s far from the quality you'd get from the best phones you can buy. You get a 10MP hole punch style camera on the main scream and on the back there’s a 12MP wide-angle camera as well as a 12MP ultra-wide-angle lens.
While the camera system is unlikely to blow you away, there are a few really useful features you should know about. Firstly, Flex Panel works here as well. With the screen partially folded you can have the preview placed on the top panel with the camera settings on the bottom, which means you can keep the camera steady while adjusting the settings and switching between the different modes.
You can also change where everything sits on the screen, like if you wanted the settings on the top half and the preview on the bottom half. If you want to see everything in more detail the Capture View can take up the whole screen as well.
The other cool camera feature to highlight is that you can actually take shots without unfolding the phone at all, you just double press the power key. Although the screen will be too small to see much on, it’ll still be great for snapping quick selfies on the go. You won’t ever miss a photo opportunity again.
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 5G review: early verdict
I’ll be putting the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 5G through more rigorous testing at a later date, but after having spent a short amount of time with it, I must say I was impressed. While it won’t be for everyone, this is a device that proves folding phones can actually work for the masses.
Samsung has managed to combine style and standout features with well thought out software, and it all comes under a price tag that doesn’t make your eyes water so much.
The one major downside is the simplicity of the camera system because at this sort of price you would expect the camera to be seriously accomplished as opposed to just quite good, folding phone or not. Despite that, I would still consider buying this phone myself because frankly, it’s a pretty cool piece of kit. Reserve your new phone from Samsung Unpacked here
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