Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3

MSRP $1,799.00

“After three generations of enhancements, the Galaxy Z Fold 3 has higher sturdiness, software program assist, and productiveness capabilities.”

Execs

  • Improved display screen sturdiness and IPX8 waterproofing
  • Highly effective {hardware} and capabilities
  • Stable rear cameras
  • Nice for multitasking and productiveness

Cons

  • Nonetheless costly
  • Lackluster battery life

Foldable phones are now not a expensive toy for early adopters, and the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 is right here to show it. Let me be clear, the Fold 3 continues to be costly at $1,800, however in its third technology of regular enchancment, it’s lastly a purposeful gadget for the typical client to make use of and revel in.

Past the welcome sturdiness enhancements, the Fold 3 simply feels extra polished typically. The hinge is much less cumbersome, the display screen crease is much less apparent, and the Underneath Show Digital camera (UDC) is less complicated to disregard than a gap punch. It was that there was a fairly vital trade-off with folding phones in comparison with extra mainstream flagships by way of sturdiness and efficiency. That’s not as true anymore. After nearly two weeks of utilizing the Fold 3 as my day by day driver, I don’t really feel like I’m lacking out on something vital in comparison with the Galaxy S21, although it nonetheless doesn’t match the S21 Extremely.

Design and sturdiness

The Fold 3 doesn’t depart radically from the design language of the Fold 2. As an alternative, it focuses on refinements to make it a extra polished expertise each visually and in your hand. By way of footprint, the scale isn’t drastically totally different. Unfolded, the phone measures 158.2 x 128.1 x 6.4 millimeters, with a 7.6-inch essential display screen – a bit greater than the Kindle Paperwhite by way of usable display screen actual property. The load suggestions the scales at 271 grams, so it’s a great bit heavier than most phones in the marketplace, together with the hefty S21 Extremely (227 grams), however definitely a lot lighter than a pill.

Folded, it turns into a tall and slim “sweet bar” phone measuring 158.2 x 78.1 x 14.4-16 millimeters. The thickness is about equal to 2 phones stacked on high of one another, which can appear cumbersome, however I discovered it comparatively straightforward to make use of one-handed due to how slim the 6.2-inch cowl display screen is. In comparison with the Galaxy S21 Extremely, reaching throughout the complete display screen with my thumb wasn’t an issue — no one-handed mode wanted.

Z Fold 3 showing screen crease.Ajay Kumar/Digital Developments

Unfolded, the Fold 3 may be very a lot a two-handed gadget. I maintain coming again to the e-reader comparability as a result of that’s how it’s a must to maintain it — both with each arms or together with your pinkie holding up the underside bezel. All of the buttons, together with the ability button/fingerprint sensor and quantity rocker, are positioned on the appropriate aspect. This labored nicely for unlocking with my thumb since I’m right-handed, however I can see lefties having points in the event that they’re not comfy utilizing the sensor with their center or index finger.

There are fairly a number of sturdiness enhancements. The most important one is IPX8 water resistance. The Fold 3 can now stand as much as full immersion in water, and positive sufficient, my overview mannequin survived an intensive rinsing within the sink. This is likely one of the greater premium omissions that existed for foldables, so it’s good to see it rectified. Mud can nonetheless submit a problem as a result of nature of the hinge, so I don’t advocate taking the Fold 3 with you for a day on the seashore, however Samsung has included “sweeper” bristles contained in the hinge in order that mud can get pressured out if it does get in. There’s additionally Gorilla Glass Victus on the quilt display screen, and the primary display screen has a preinstalled display screen protector that Samsung claims is 80% stronger than earlier than.

That is all welcome information. For individuals who’ve been following foldables for a while, you’ll recall that the earlier fashions had points with mud getting in and the display screen protector peeling off, inflicting scratches and different extra critical injury to the display screen.

Upon preliminary setup, you’re handled to a moderately in depth checklist of the way to care to your phone. These embody not urgent down too onerous, solely utilizing the S Pen Fold or S Pen Professional(which have retractable suggestions), avoiding maintaining keys and cash in the identical pocket with the phone, and never eradicating the protecting display screen movie. Luckily, regardless of the considerably ominous checklist of warnings, I by no means felt I needed to child it an excessive amount of.

Including a case to the Fold 3 additionally provides it an additional little bit of much-needed grip and a few extra safety. After utilizing the first-party leather-based case Samsung contains with the gadget, I discovered it lots simpler to carry for video games, shopping, and simply normal day-to-day use. Different case choices additionally include an S Pen slot, however that wasn’t included.

Shows and multimedia

Not one of the panels on the Fold 3 fall brief. When folded, the 6.2-inch cowl display screen has a decision of 2268 x 832. It helps a 120Hz refresh price like the primary display screen, which wasn’t on the Fold 2. I largely used the quilt display screen for snapping images with the rear digicam, navigating on Google Maps, taking phone calls, and rapidly checking notifications whereas on the go.

The elevated refresh charges make utilizing the quilt display screen smoother and extra responsive, though you’ll primarily use the primary display screen for multimedia. The one factor the quilt display screen doesn’t assist is the S Pen, which is smart because the cowl display screen is slim and fairly a bit smaller than the primary display screen. When you attempt to textual content or tweet on it, the keyboard is cramped, and more often than not, I discovered myself opening the primary display screen to do something intensive.

The primary display screen is the place all of the motion is at. When the phone unfolds, what you get is a giant and vibrant 7.6-inch display screen with a decision of 2208 x 1768, which works out to a crisp 374 pixels per inch. It’s AMOLED and helps HDR10+, so the colours are wealthy, saturated, and have the dense, inky blacks the panel is understood for. The phone hits 1,200 nits of peak brightness, so I had no drawback utilizing it throughout a vibrant summer season day on the park. Each the quilt display screen and essential display screen have glorious visibility in direct daylight.

Watching movies, taking part in video games, and shopping are all a deal with on the primary display screen. Video games like Genshin Impression and Asphalt 9 regarded unimaginable on the sleek and vivid 120Hz show. In addition they completely crammed the display screen at launch, no adjustment wanted. The elevated display screen actual property was notably helpful in Genshin Impression because it was a lot simpler to make use of the assorted controls with out blocking parts of the display screen with my fingers.

Fold 3 Genshin Impact screenshot.

Fold 3 Genshin Impact 2.

The crease is current and visual, nevertheless it’s straightforward to disregard when there’s content material on the display screen. The one time I actually observed it was when the display screen was off and the sunshine was reflecting on the clean display screen. The identical is true for the Underneath Show Digital camera (UDC). Whereas there’s a noticeable pixelated grid, particularly on a white background, it’s straightforward to overlook about, and it’s a lot much less annoying than a hole-punch digicam by way of drawing your eye to it.

Under Display Camera on the Galaxy Z Fold 3Andy Boxall/Digital Developments

Gaming on this phone is an absolute pleasure that’s enhanced by its audio. I not often have sturdy emotions for phone audio system as they are typically hit and miss, so I used to be blown away by the sturdy sound of the Fold 3’s stereo audio system. They’re on the highest and backside of the panel that features the phone cowl display screen, so once you flip the phone round in panorama mode for video games and video, you may maintain it so your arms aren’t protecting the audio system.

The result’s wealthy sound that balances nicely throughout lows, mids, and highs. It’s a lot loud with out being tinny, and I by no means felt the necessity to attain for my headphones, which is greater than you may say about most phone audio system. It received’t match quad audio system on Samsung’s personal tablets just like the S7 and S7+, however it will probably nonetheless maintain its personal.

Not all the things was excellent out of the field. I couldn’t keep away from letterboxing on YouTube movies, and whereas it’s doable to regulate the display screen to drive it to fill, it finally ends up reducing off content material alongside the perimeters, so it’s not an actual resolution. Regardless of these points, I used to be nonetheless pleasantly shocked that many of the apps I used have been both optimized for the Fold 3 by default or might be pressured to fill the display screen by enabling it in Labs (Netflix and Instagram have been the primary culprits).

A productiveness powerhouse

Lots of the worth of the Fold 3 comes from its further display screen actual property and the personalized Android 11 software program that helps it. You’ll be able to have a number of apps open, run them aspect by aspect in cut up view, or run as much as three in resizable home windows. Truthful warning: Lots of these options are deemed experimental, and also you’ll must dig into Labs to allow them, so don’t be shocked if it doesn’t work out of the field instantly.

After you have it up and operating, the utilization choices are manifold. In my case, it was doable to observe a video or a livestream whereas jotting down notes or utilizing Google Maps to navigate whereas nonetheless with the ability to textual content a pal once I would arrive. It’s even doable to drag up a keyboard on one half of the display screen and sort issues out into Microsoft Phrase or Google Docs, nearly like an old-school slider.

With the addition of the Taskbar and the Edge Panel, you will get one thing that approximates a desktop expertise, supplying you with entry to ceaselessly used apps everytime you need. It’s also possible to pin them along with App Pair in order that they each launch collectively in split-screen view, drag and drop content material, and transfer and resize home windows as you please. It’s about as near a laptop computer as you’re going to get on a phone, and since it helps Samsung DeX, you will get an precise desktop expertise by connecting wired or wirelessly to displays, TVs, and laptops.

It’s also possible to decide app habits for the quilt display screen, deciding which apps are allowed to proceed to show when the primary display screen is closed. I enabled it for many apps, although the primary one it was helpful for was Google Maps, as I may maintain getting instructions after snapping the primary display screen shut. There’s additionally Flex mode, the place apps can regulate themselves once you bend the display screen. instance is YouTube, the place bending the display screen at an angle to carry it upright locations your video up high and the feedback part under. All of this helped make the Fold 3 really feel like a extra seamless gadget with software program designed and optimized for it.

The productiveness potential is enhanced by utilizing the S Pen Fold Version or S Pen Professional. It’s important you solely use both of those choices as a result of they’ve a retractable tip once you press too onerous — different S Pen fashions will injury the display screen.  Whereas neither is included, I did obtain an S Pen Fold with my overview unit and was ready to make use of it for notetaking and sketching. I’m not a lot of an artist, however with the ability to pull out the S Pen and seamlessly jot down a fast notice, reminder, or grocery checklist was extremely helpful. That does deliver me to the one draw back, although. Whereas having an even bigger display screen for utilizing the S Pen is unbelievable, there’s no place to fit it after use. So, you both must put it in your pocket or purchase a case that has a slot that may accommodate it.

The productiveness potential is enhanced by utilizing the S Pen Fold Version or S Pen Professional.

Or you are able to do what I did and take the Fold 3 to a press occasion to take notes however overlook the S Pen at dwelling. It occurred extra usually than I care to confess, which is the primary cause I don’t assume the Fold 3 offers the identical expertise because the Word, even when it’s lots higher by way of display screen actual property. Possibly as soon as I get my arms on a Fold 3 S Pen case, I’ll really feel otherwise.

Efficiency and {hardware}

Underneath the hood, the Fold 3 has {hardware} that matches the very best flagship phones in the marketplace. It’s powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 processor and has 12GB RAM and 256GB/512GB of storage. There’s no microSD card slot, which is a bummer, so in the event you’re a giant energy person like me, you’ll need the larger storage configuration.

I ran it by a number of benchmark exams, which you’ll see under, and it scored excellently. Multitasking is easy and responsive, there have been no slowdowns or app crashes, and, as talked about, it dealt with demanding video games like Genshin Impression and Asphalt 9: Legends and not using a drawback. By way of graphic efficiency, it averaged 87% higher than different units in the marketplace.

Benchmarks:

  • PCMark Work Efficiency: 14,460
  • PCMark Battery Life: 9 hours, 20 minutes
  • Geekbench (single/multi-core): 1,113/3,431
  • GFXBench Aztec: 19fps
  • 3DMark: 5,647

Whereas all that is nice, you’ll notice one spec that isn’t so sizzling, and it’s the 4,400mAh battery, which is a bit smaller than the one on the Fold 2. The PCMark battery check clocked in at 9 hours, 20 minutes to empty to twenty%, which is equal to only over a mean workday of runtime. I usually needed to high up within the night to maintain me going. An hourlong session of Genshin Impression and a few shopping may simply knock out 20% of the cost.

On the upside, the phone helps 25-watt quick wired charging and 11-watt quick wi-fi charging, so it was straightforward to rapidly high up with one of many many Samsung Quick Wi-fi charging stands and adapters I’ve scattered by my residence. These aren’t included within the field, although, so that you’ll have to purchase your personal if you wish to take full benefit of the velocity.

The connectivity is pretty much as good as you’d anticipate. The Fold 3 helps 5G, Wi-Fi 6e, NFC, and has Bluetooth 5.2. I had no drawback taking and making calls, shopping on 5G within the metropolis, and connecting to equipment just like the Galaxy Watch 4 and Bluetooth headphones.

A digicam on each aspect

Digital camera capabilities aren’t modified from the Fold 2. On the rear, the phone has three 12-megapixel (MP) cameras: One main sensor with optical picture stabilization (OIS), one telephoto for 2x optical zoom and OIS, and one ultrawide for 123-degree photographs. All three cameras take nice images. Photographs are crisp, have loads of element, and minimal noise. As is typical for Samsung cameras, colours are inclined to get punched up a bit by way of saturation, however I like that look.

The rear sensors have extra challenges in low mild, cloudy, and nighttime settings, however nonetheless fare moderately nicely. There’s some noise with element photographs and occasional blurriness, however for probably the most part, issues come throughout clearly. The ultrawide sensor loses some crispness and readability, although, particularly in decrease mild, and it’s extra vulnerable to softness and noise, possible as a result of lack of OIS. That’s additionally true of the S21 Extremely, so I’m not going to guage the Fold 3 too harshly for that.

As compared photographs with the iPhone 12 Professional Max and even the older Samsung Galaxy S20 Extremely, the Fold 3 will get edged out. The iPhone 12 Professional Max takes extra dependable, crisp, and color-accurate photographs, whereas the S20 Extremely and its successor, the S21 Extremely, can’t be beat by way of sheer picture high quality, particularly for telephoto and ultrawide photographs. Whereas I might have appreciated a digicam system akin to the S21 Extremely or Word 20 Extremely, it’s nonetheless an excellent set of sensors that most individuals shall be pleased with.

The 10MP selfie digicam on the quilt display screen can be appropriate for fast selfies and handles moderately nicely with respectable lighting. The 4MP UDC digicam on the primary display screen doesn’t achieve this sizzling in contrast. Many of the footage I snapped with it have been muddy, pixelated, or washed out, though Samsung tried to do its finest to wash up the picture with post-processing.

  • 1.
    Selfie with UDC digicam.
  • 2.
    10MP selfie with cowl display screen digicam on Fold 3.
  • 3.
    Selfie with 12MP main sensor.

Within the comparability photographs above, you may see the distinction between the 4MP sensor, the 10MP sensor, and the 12MP rear digicam for selfies. The final one is the best choice if sheer high quality is what you’re going for. The 4MP UDC digicam is barely satisfactory for video chats or in the event you simply want it in a pinch.

Value and availability

The Fold 3 will value you $1,800, which is $200 lower than the Fold 2 initially value. It’s nonetheless an costly phone, make no mistake, however the value lower makes it simpler to abdomen. The phone shall be accessible in any respect main U.S. carriers, together with AT&T, T-Cellular, and Verizon, with varied installment plans and offers accessible. There are additionally some good trade-in choices if in case you have older units to spare.

Our take

The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 is the very best foldable in the marketplace and a big enchancment over the Fold 2 by way of sturdiness. After three years of refinements and progress, I’ve a lot much less hesitation about recommending the phone to the typical person. It provides the most effective gaming experiences I’ve gotten on a phone and tons of worth for multitasking and productiveness.

It provides the most effective gaming experiences I’ve gotten on a phone.

That stated, it’s not excellent but, with room for enchancment in battery life and digicam efficiency.  It’s additionally nonetheless costly at $1,800, although the worth tag turns into extra palatable in the event you consider the Fold 3 as a possible alternative to your phone, pill, and e-reader. With all that in thoughts, I believe that in the event you’re keen to spend the cash and you’ll discover worth from the display screen actual property, the Fold 3 is definitely worth the buy.

Is there a greater various?

Probably not. Samsung dominates the foldable market, with no different rivals in sight, definitely not within the U.S. The most important competitor to the Fold 3 is Samsung’s personal Galaxy Z Flip 3, however there are some huge variations between the 2 foldables.

For starters, the Flip 3 is smaller each in dimensions and display screen dimension, coming with a 6.7-inch display screen that folds in half. The aim of the Flip 3 is to scale back the phone’s total footprint in your pocket with its compact clamshell design, moderately than enhance multitasking and productiveness. It serves that objective nicely, nevertheless it’s not an actual competitor to the Fold 3.

Samsung Galaxy folding phones.

There are rumors of a Pixel Fold sooner or later sooner or later, and there’s additionally the Mi Combine Fold and the Huawei Mate X2, however neither of these are prone to come to markets exterior of China. Neither the Moto Razr nor the Floor Duo have been launched to many accolades, and we had vital issues in our critiques of them.

Outdoors the world of foldables, in case your main want is a giant display screen and flagship specs, each the Galaxy S21 Extremely and Word 20 Extremely have highly effective {hardware} and S Pen assist.

How lengthy will it final?

Samsung has taken care to enhance the sturdiness of the Fold 3 by including IPX8 water resistance, a extra sturdy hinge with sweeper bristles, an improved display screen protector for the primary display screen, retractable recommendations on the S Pen Fold and Professional, and Gorilla Glass Victus for the quilt display screen. Toss a case on, and also you received’t really feel a lot must child the phone. When you’re notably involved, you may spend money on Samsung Care+ for an prolonged guarantee past the one-year restricted guarantee and unintended injury safety. The crease could develop into extra distinguished over time, however I’d anticipate the phone to final at the very least two years, if not longer.

Do you have to purchase it?

Sure. The enhancements to the Galaxy Z Fold 3 are sufficiently big that I really feel protected recommending them to common customers who aren’t early adopters. There are nonetheless a number of trade-offs with battery and digicam efficiency, so in the event you worth these two issues probably the most, you could be higher off with the S21 Extremely. Nonetheless, for gaming, multimedia, multitasking, and productiveness, you received’t do higher than the Fold 3.

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