Samsung’s next-gen foldables have re-entered the fold. The Galaxy Z Fold 3 5G is the most expensive (and undeniably lavish) of the two, but Samsung has also given the smaller Z Flip 3 5G a major shot in the arm for 2021. And it now takes the top spot as being the cheapest foldable flagship to date.
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Appearing beside a pair of revamped wearables – the Galaxy Watch 4 and Watch 4 Classic – as well as a fresh pair of in-ear ANC earbuds, the Galaxy Buds 2, the Z Flip 3 5G made its first showing at Samsung’s fourth(!) Galaxy Unpacked event in 2021.
The Note was sorely absent at the unveiling, with not even a faint whiff of a new model, but it’s clear that with the new Flip (and to some extent the Fold), Samsung is trying its best to push the foldable category closer into the mainstream. Even if it’s still a bit out of reach of most customer’s wallets.
Let’s start with the biggest changes first. Design-wise, the Flip 3 5G still folds into a half-size handheld, transforming into a regular-sized smartphone when unfolded, but this time around it finally has IPX8-rated waterproofing. What this means is that it should survive being submerged in water for up to 30mins up to a depth of 1.5m – it still doesn’t have any protection against dust particles, however.
That’s not the only upgrade in the durability department, either. Like the Fold 3, this year’s Flip has a new protective film applied to the inner screen which, according to Samsung, makes it 80% more scratch-resistant than last year’s version. The cover screen is also significantly stronger, protected by a layer of Gorilla Glass Victus.
The metal frame and hinge on both of Samsung’s newest foldables are built with a new material, which Samsung calls “Armour Aluminium”. Apparently, this means that the Z Flip 3 is also 10% more durable than the previous model as well. The Flip 3 5G comes in a dizzying array of colour options: Phantom Black, Green, Lavender and Cream, while the White, Pink and Grey models are available exclusively on Samsung’s website.
The inner 6.7in FHD (2,640 x 1,080) resolution AMOLED screen now supports a maximum refresh rate of 120Hz, and the cover screen is slightly larger this year, too, measuring 1.9in from corner to corner. This is 4x larger than last year’s Flip, and the UI has seen a major overhaul as well.
The Flip 3’s bigger cover screen can not only display up to four notifications at once now (with an option to scroll down for more) but it also can be used to authenticate payments via Samsung Pay and tinker with quick access settings such as an on-screen brightness slider.
You can add a bunch of different widgets to the cover screen, too, including weather information, step count and Samsung Music playback buttons. Finally, if you wear a Galaxy Watch 4 or Watch 4 Classic, the Flip 3’s cover screen can also be customised to match your chosen watch face (as well as add custom GIFs).
There aren’t any changes at all when it comes to the Z Flip 3 5G’s camera offering. It still incorporates a pair of 12MP lenses on the cover screen, with one being an ultrawide unit with a 123-degree field of view. Unfold the Flip and the selfie camera is a simple 10MP sensor, embedded in a central hole punch notch.
Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon 888 powers the phone, which works with 8GB of RAM and a choice of either 128GB or 256GB of UFS 3.1 storage. The Flip 3 5G supports just one Nano-SIM and an eSIM, and it has dual 1,650mAh batteries with an equivalent capacity of 3,300mAh.
As for the price, the Galaxy Flip 3 5G starts at just £949 for the 128GB model (£959 for 256GB), which is a huge saving of £350 compared to last year’s version. Admittedly, the 2020 Flip came with double the base storage (256GB), but this new low price is still an absolute steal. Especially when you take into account the major upgrades found elsewhere.