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Hands on: Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3

First Impressions

Take away the Z Flip 3’s foldable skills and it becomes a bog-standard Samsung phone with little to get excited about. As such, you really do need to appreciate the flip stylings and clever hinge design to make the most of this phone.

  • UKRRP: £949

  • Display: Far larger outer screen is much more useful
  • High-end specs: Snapdragon 888, 8GB RAM and 128GB storage
  • Cameras: Two rear 12MP snapper along with a 10MP selfie camera inside

The Galaxy Z Flip 3 is the cheaper sibling of Samsung’s flagship Galaxy Z Fold 3, but price isn’t the only difference. Having tested both, I can confirm the Flip is a completely different beast to the Fold.

Specifically, the Z Flip 3 is a much simpler device, aimed at those who want a smaller handset that harks back to the classic flip phone era.

After a short time with the device, I can clearly see where it will sit in Samsung’s lineup. It doesn’t offer the biggest update I’ve seen, but it does fix some glaring issues with the previous model.

Here’s how.

Galaxy Z Flip 3 bottom and ports

One of the biggest changes Samsung made to the Z Flip 3 is its pricing. This is far from a cheap phone, but it’s seen a dramatic reduction in cost from its predecessors. Prices for the original Galaxy Flip started at $1400/£1300, while the 5G version (aka the Z Flip 2) retailed for £1229/$1199.

For the Z Flip 3, Samsung has set a starting retail price of £949 (US price TBA), which makes it far more accessible. This puts the Z Flip 3 in line with some of the best high-end phones and best Android phones.

It will be available from August 27.

The moment I got my hands on the two phones, it was the Z Flip 3 that piqued my interest most. While the Z Fold 3 is no doubt the more productive device of the two, replacing the Note series, the Flip feels like it has a clearer purpose. This is a phone for those who want something smaller, something more eye-catching and, most importantly, something different.

It might be called the Z Flip 3, but this is really just the second iteration of the series. The original Flip had a mid-cycle upgrade with a beefed-up chipset and 5G support, hence the ‘3’ used here.

It mirrors its predecessor in terms of the overall design. There’s a small display on the outside and a larger panel on the inside that appears when you open it up. The Z Flip 3 oozes retro charm, and it’s such a pocketable device.

Galaxy Z Flip 3 front display

The Z Flip 3 is available in four main colours: a really nice, forest green, lavender, black and cream. Then there are a couple of Samsung online exclusive hues, including grey and pink.

One of the most immediate changes I noticed, and appreciated, is that the Flip’s outer display is bigger. It’s now a 1.9-inch panel, rather than a 1.1-inch version, and it’s large enough to display a number of widgets. You can check messages, set alarms and bring up your Samsung Pay cards.

On the inside is a 6.7-inch OLED screen, with a 120Hz adaptive display – as seen in the Galaxy S21 – and a 2640 x 1080 resolution. It’s a decent screen, if a little narrow due to the 22:9 aspect ratio. The latter makes it ideal for scrolling social media apps, but not as good for watching videos.

Galaxy Z Flip 3 home screen

Another big upgrade for both of Samsung’s 2021 foldables is a focus on durability. The Z Flip 3 is IPX8 rated for 1m of water submersions, comes with Gorilla Glass Victus on the outside, and a tougher ‘Armor Aluminium’ body. These are all welcome changes and should help with making this a far tougher device than before.

I only had a very short time with the Z Flip 3 during a hands-on ahead of the Unpacked event, so I haven’t had the opportunity to benchmark the phone or put it through our usual array of Trusted Labs’ tests. Upon first impression, though, the phone is nice to use. While the Z Fold 3 opens up the possibility for greater productivity as a result of its larger canvas, the Flip 3 delivers an experience that’s more akin to using one of the brand’s S21 phones when it’s flipped open.

Running the show is a Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 5G chipset (no Exynos models at all here), supported by 8GB of RAM and up to 256GB UFS 3.1 storage. This is all top-end stuff, so I’d expect benchmarks and general performance to be very similar to the Galaxy S21.

One slight concern is the battery life. The Z Flip 3 includes a relatively small 3300mAh cell, which is far below the usual 4000-4500mAh size that feature inside Android phones this size.

In our review of the original Galaxy Z Flip (which came with the same size of cell), our reviewer was actually impressed with the phone’s general endurance, so there’s every chance it won’t be a major issue in the Z Flip 3. But we’ll have to wait and see.

Galaxy Z Flip 3 camera

Both the Z Flip 3 and the Z Fold 3 target very different audiences compared to traditional Samsung flagships. The Galaxy S21 Ultra, for example, focuses on camera skills and is easily one of the best camera phones around. From what I’ve seen the Z Flip 3 doesn’t share this focus..

There are two 12-megapixel cameras on the lid: one wide sensor with OIS and an f/1.8 lens, and one ultra-wide. Pretty standard stuff for a phone this price. I snapped a few shots, which looked fine: typically punchy, with nice colours and sharp details. There’s a 10-megapixel camera inside, too.

It’s hardly an exciting setup, but then that isn’t really the point of this phone.

Take away the Z Flip 3’s foldable skills and it becomes a bog-standard Samsung phone with little to get excited about. As such, you really do need to appreciate the flip stylings and clever hinge design to make the most of this phone.

It’s a good job then that by sporting the ability to fold up super-small there’s a true reason for the Z Flip 3 to exist, offering something that can’t be found elsewhere.

Trusted Score

Does the Galaxy Z Flip 3 support 5G?

The Galaxy Z Flip 3 is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 chip, which supports 5G.

Does the Galaxy Z Flip 3 support the S Pen?

Unlike the Galaxy Z Fold 4 the Z Flip 3 does not feature S Pen support.

Does the Galaxy Z Flip 3 have a variable refresh rate screen?

The Galaxy Z Flip 3’s internal screen features a variable 120Hz refresh rate.

A ‘hands on review’ is our first impression of a product only – it is not a full test and verdict. Our writer must have spent some time with the product to describe an early sense of what it’s like to use. We call these ‘hands on reviews’ to make them visible in search. However these are always unscored and don’t give recommendations. Read more about our reviews policy.

Jargon buster

IP rating

An abbreviation for ‘Ingress Protection Code’, which lets you know to what extent a device might be waterproof or dustproof.

5G

Offering faster download and upload speeds when compared to 4G. Great for game streaming and HDR video playback. Not supported everywhere yet and speeds vary wildly.

Refresh Rate

The number of times the screen refreshes itself per second.

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