[Review] Flippin' Good: The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G
The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G is one of the brand's latest high-end foldable at a much lower price compared to the Galaxy Z Fold3 5G. It has a bunch of improved features compared to its predecessor like the notably bigger cover display, enhanced durability, and IPX8 water resistance rating.
As the name itself suggests, the Galaxy Z Flip3 is essentially a phone that folds like a clamshell to become a small square with approximately the same dimension as a small wallet that you can easily fit into your pocket, unlike usual smartphones that would protrude from the back pocket of your jeans.
Considering how often its users will flip open the phone daily, Samsung has used the Armor Aluminum to strengthen the frame and hinge of the phone, whereas it utilises Gorilla Glass Victus to protect the main screen as well as the rear of the phone. On the hinge, you will see the Samsung branding carved onto it.
The rear camera setup is located just right next to the cover display. Both the rear camera and the cover display are nicely aligned on a black "bar" area, which makes a pleasant view for a perfectionist like me. I'd give the design full marks if only the flashlight beneath the camera is included in the bar, making it thicker and perhaps Samsung could have made the cover display bigger.
Both the volume rocker and power button are located on the right while the SIM tray can be found on the left. The phone also offers a side-mounted fingerprint scanner on the power button. On the bottom, you'll find a stereo speaker setup and the USB-C charging port.
Overall, it has a clean and smooth finish, and the fact that you can fold it makes the Flip3 more premium.
The cover screen features a 1.9-inch Super AMOLED display with a 260x512 resolution, which is 4 times larger than the previous generation. This means that you'll get a bigger preview for capturing selfies, up to four lines of notifications, and a bunch of widgets. To check notifications, just swipe left from the main cover screen. You'll be able to read notifications in detail. Yes, you can read an entire chat message on the cover display itself. You'll only need to flip the phone open if you decide to reply to the message.
By swiping right, you will see 7 pre-loaded widgets, including the Music (like Spotify), Weather, Today's Schedule, Alarm, Samsung Health, Voice Recorder, and Timer. Samsung doesn't limit the number of widgets you can include on the display and it also allows you to add them directly from the cover display. If you plan to add some of your own quick widgets like Notes, unfortunately, Samsung still doesn't allow you to do so. (Maybe we can see it on the next generation or with a software update?) Alternatively, you can long-press a widget to remove it from the cover display.
For selfie lovers, you will definitely love to take photos through the cover display. Not only because you don't have to flip it open, but also due to the high-quality shots that you will get from it. Taking selfies with a typical smartphone means you have to use the front-facing camera, which usually isn't as good as the main camera. But, taking selfies from the cover display on this Flip3 allows you to use the main camera next to it.
Additionally, you can also adjust the cover screen's brightness and volume by swiping down. (Note: This does not affect the brightness of the main screen, yay!) If you're using Samsung Pay, you can access it simply by swiping up. For payment authentication, you can do so with your fingerprint on the power button.
Aside from all the convenience, the main screen of the cover display which shows the battery percentage, time, and date, can be customised with a selection of styles in the settings to suit your liking. You can also change the clock's colour and add your own background image if you're one of those who like to personalise your stuff.
Overall, the cover display looks stunning and the number of conveniences it offers add a HUGE bonus to its feature as a vertically flip phone.
The 6.7-inch screen features an FHD+ AMOLED display with a 120 Hz refresh rate, which offers a buttery smooth scrolling experience as well as great vibrancy and contrast. Like many phones nowadays, the 10 MP (F2.4) punch-hole selfie camera is located in the middle.
What makes the Flip3 phone different from the others is the Flex Mode, which splits supported apps in the middle where the main content will appear on the top half of the screen while the bottom half is for controls. This is especially useful for hands-free video calls and taking photos. With this feature, you won't need a tripod to take long-exposure images or time-lapse videos. And, you only need to fold it in half to activate the feature.
Moreover, Samsung has added a new Flex Mode panel feature that will show the quick panel, screenshot, brightness, and volume controls on the bottom half in apps that don't officially support the Flex Mode, which you can choose to enable in the settings. When using messaging apps like Messenger, you'll be able to see the messages on top while the keyboard will take the bottom.
If there is one thing that I need to pick on the phone's display, it's the crease in the middle of the screen. You probably won't mind it during the first few days of use but it is noticeable. If you're one of those who wants a blemish-free screen or will be distracted by the crease, you can't avoid it on this phone.
The dual rear camera setup consists of a 12 MP (F2.2) ultrawide camera and a 12 MP (F1.8) wide-angle camera. Under bright light, the cameras perform well both indoors and outdoors with vivid colours and details. When it is dark or in a low light room, your image will lose some sharpness, but the phone will use a long shutter speed under challenging light conditions.
There are also new camera modes - Director's View and Single Take - that are available on other Galaxy flagships like the Galaxy S21 Ultra. In Director's View mode, you can simultaneously switch between the rear and front cameras while recording a video, like a movie director. The Single Take mode captures multiple photos and short clips with a single tap of the shutter button.
1x vs 2x vs 10x zoom
Unfortunately, there is no telephoto camera, so you're left with only digital zoom. It still manages well at up 2x zoom but gets very blurry when you maximise up to 10x zoom.
Underneath the hood is the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 processor, along with 8 GB of RAM and 128 GB of storage. There is also another storage variant available at 256 GB. It runs on One UI 3.1.1, which is based on Android 11.
In terms of performance, this phone can breeze through tasks like social media and browsing websites. For games like Genshin Impact, it performs well and I haven't experienced any lag at 30 FPS with medium settings. While the phone fryer game heats it up, it managed to stay within comfortable temperatures and cool down pretty quickly.
Battery-wise, I am quite disappointed by the small 3300 mAh capacity, which is small for a high-end phone like this Flip3. And it only supports 15 W wired charging technology. On normal use, it can last for about 10 - 11 hours so, that means it needs a daily charge, for sure. When I tried playing Genshin Impact with Wi-Fi connection, it can only last for around 3.5 hours.
If you're planning to go outdoors and need to use mobile data all day long, remember to always carry around a power bank. It took me 30 minutes to top up from 10% to 32%. It also supports 10 W wireless charging but since I don't have a wireless charger on hand, I'll give it a pass.
Buy or no buy?
For RM3,999, the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G is the cheapest new foldable in the market if you're planning to join the foldable phone hype nowadays. Also, it serves well as a fashion statement with the variety of colours it has to offer, including Cream, Phantom Black, Green, Lavender, Gray, White, and Pink.
As a foldable, the phone provides excellent pocketability. Also, the new cover display is definitely impressive for its convenience. If you're someone who takes 100 shots of selfies every day and makes frequent video calls, you will absolutely love it.
Sure, it's not the best foldable - the small battery size could be a bummer considering it's a high-end phone and it lacks a telephoto lens that you'll need to shoot distant subjects.
However, the 5G connectivity and IPX8 water resistance rating are bonuses that you can surely consider for a foldable at this price.
So, what do you think of the Galaxy Z Flip3 5G? Are you tempted to join the hype with this phone as your first foldable?
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