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Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 hands-on: Being stylish is expensive

The Galaxy Z Flip3 might not be the best smartphone from Samsung, but it is certainly the most stylish. The new foldable device hits the market in a more powerful, more beautiful and, to the surprise of many, more affordable manner compared to the previous version. However, that doesn’t mean it’s very much cheaper. I had the chance to lay my hands on the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 and here are my first impressions about this smartphone that is clearly the epitome of expensive style. If there ever was tech haute couture, this would be it. 

Good

  • Exclusive design
  • IPX8 certification
  • A complete smartphone
  • Rear camera doubles up as front camera

Bad

  • Still very expensive
  • Crease in the display will always be noticeable
  • Battery capacity is below average for its category

Galaxy Z Flip 3 in a nutshell

The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 was announced on August 11, 2021, with a $999 price tag attached to it.
Compared to its predecessor that carried a launch price of $1,380, it is nice to know that the manufacturer managed to reduce production costs and lower the price of this third generation foldable device. More than that, it brought about significant improvements concerning both hardware components and design.

However, the Z Flip 3 remains as a smartphone that can be viewed to be more of a concept than as a final product, and Samsung knows that right from the get go. During the amount of time I had to play around with the Z Flip 3, I immediately had this impression that the high price tag goes far beyond the amount that one would pay at the time of purchase. In order to remain in the realm of exclusivity, you will have to give up other essentials like battery capacity, screen quality and, of course, a large amount of patience to deal with those who are curious and would like to check out your smartphone.

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The Z Flip series is still beautiful / © NextPit

If you can live with such drawbacks while paying the price of a Galaxy S21+ or iPhone 12 Pro Max on a concept smartphone like the Z Flip 3, then rest assured that you are truly in a unique sphere by yourself. 

The Z Flip 3 will be available for pre-order starting today, August 11, from the Samsung Store in select markets, and will arrive at stores this August 27. If you already own a Samsung smartphone, those who place a pre-order will receive a $200 trade-in bonus, resulting in a purchase price of $800 – never mind that the display is not up to par with devices older than this.

Consistently colorful design

The design of the Galaxy Z Flip3 has been considerably refined with smoother edges.
 When open, the device measures 166.0 x 72.2 x 6.9 mm, and when you shut it, the dimensions stand at 86.4 x 72.2 x 17.1 mm. However, the device is not light at all, tipping the scales at 183 grams. My Pixel 5, for example, weighs just 151 grams.

However, despite the main screen measuring a whopping 6.7-inches, the Z Flip 3 is a sleek device that feels great in the hands. A lot of that experience comes from the 22:9 aspect ratio that Samsung uses in constructing the display. However, during the short time that I had with the new foldable, it struck me that opening and closing this smartphone is not something that you can easily do with just one hand.

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Foldable, but still a complete phone / © NextPit

That’s because the hinge of the Z Flip 3 requires you to exert some force to open the device. Believe me, during the hands-on session, what we heard most were smartphones falling to the ground – ouch! However, the act of folding the smartphone to place it in your pocket or fanny pack is very simple and easy to perform with just one hand. In fact, a number of accessories are available for the Z Flip 3, and in some cases, there is even a ring that will fit around your finger to hold the device securely in one hand.

Like the new Galaxy Z Fold 3, Z Flip is now IPX8 certified, meaning it is protected against ingress of water and can be used in the rain. However, it has no dust protection, only the inside of the hinge is protected against dust ingress.

In order to be stylish, you don’t just need to fold the Flip 3, you need a certain sense of exclusivity. That’s why Samsung offers an interesting range of colors for the “most basic” foldable model. There are four color options: Cream, Green, Lavender and Phantom Black, with the possibility of getting three additional colors during the Flip 3 pre-order phase: Gray, Pink and White.

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The Z Flip3’s color selection is the envy of a lot of competition / © NextPit

In a word? The screen is foldable

The Galaxy Z Flip 3 features two screens. The main one is a 6.7-inch FHD+ display taht uses Dynamic AMOLED technology with a 22:9 aspect ratio, and comes with Infinity-O Flex design. However, unlike the Galaxy Z Fold 3, the front camera is not hidden under the display.

As for the second screen, it has proven to be a considerable evolution over the previous generation. The front panel now measures 1.9-inches when folded, and relies on Super AMOLED technology while sporting a touch-sensitive display that allows you to interact with it.

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The Z Flip 3’s front screen is bigger and more functional / © NextPit

As the saying goes, first impressions matter, and I can sum up my experience with the Galaxy Z Flip 3’s screen by saying that you still can’t have everything in a foldable smartphone. Either you have the ability to fold the device and have to live with the crease in the middle of the screen, or not.

Sliding your finger over the screen is a smooth experience up to a certain point as the middle houses the folding mechanism of the smartphone. This hinged area is what causes the crease on the display and it is extremely noticeable. So, do not expect an experience that is similar to the one that you have on a smartphone with standard display.

Making some changes, Samsung also managed to make the device’s screen 80% more resistant than in the previous generation. According to the manufacturer, this was possible with the implementation of Gorilla Glass Victus, which protects the device from scratches, and a protective film made of PET.

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The fold on the screen is visible, right? / © NextPit

Watching videos, surfing the web, sending messages won’t be an issue at all, but we don’t have the “wow” effect of Samsung’s AMOLED screens here. However, folding the device opens up a number of possibilities – including having a tripod to hold virtual meetings without the need for additional accessories. Also, the front screen allows you to snap selfies or videos using the main camera, translates to better quality at the end of the day.

Snapdragon 888 – ’nuff said!

Based on the hardware specifications, the Galaxy Z Flip 3 is a rugged smartphone.

Powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 5G processor, the Galaxy Z Flip 3 positions itself in the premium device category in 2021, alongside devices like Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra and Sony Xperia 1 III, whose performances were praised in our NextPit reviews. In terms of storage space and memory, the Flip 3 offers 8GB RAM alongside 256GB (UFS) and 128GB (UFS) internal storage options.

Here, the SoC change can make all the difference for those looking for a Samsung smartphone equipped with a Qualcomm processor, given that the Galaxy S21 series hit the market powered with Samsung’s very own Exynos 2100.

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Open, you hardly notice it’s a foldable smartphone. 10 points for Samsung here / © NextPit

Android 11 out of the box

When it comes to software, the Galaxy Z Flip 3 runs on Android 11 right out of the box, paired with the One UI 3.1.1 skin. Since it’s a premium device, Samsung guarantees at least three years of major Android updates and four years of security patches. The manufacturer’s user interface is very intuitive, and support for apps that use the split screen feature has been extended. This means apps like Google Meet and Microsoft Teams will be able to benefit from the split screen design for virtual meetings, offering additional options for on-screen controls during meetings.

As for its performance, it will be covered in our full Galaxy Z Flip  3 review.

You can do more with the Z Flip 3’s camera

Despite being a foldable smartphone, the Galaxy Z Flip3’s cameras follow a similar configuration in Samsung’s standard smartphones. There are three cameras in total:

  • A 12-megapixel wide-angle main sensor (with f/2.2 + 1/3.0″ aperture), with autofocus.
  • A 12-megapixel ultra-wide-angle sensor (with f/1.8 + 1/ 2.55″ aperture), with 8x digital zoom.
  • A 10-megapixel front-facing camera (with f/2.2 + a 1/3.24″ aperture).
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The Galaxy Z Flip 3’s external camera shares space with the front screen / © NextPit

Regarding the camera configuration, this is definitely not the highlight of the Z Flip 3 which has relatively different camera specifications compared to what we find in the flagships that are currently available. However, it does deliver good image quality for such a niche device that the smartphone actually delivers for those who seek exclusivity while having their smartphone double up as a fashion accessory.

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The Galaxy Flip Z 3’s front camera is not hidden under the screen / © NextPit

The main camera offers functions like autofocus, dual pixels, flash and tracking autofocus. This is extremely interesting because using the 1.9-inch front display, it is possible to capture selfies and videos with this sensor. Relying on hand gestures in front of the camera allow you to take photos using the 12-megapixel camera, delivering far better image quality compared to the regular front-facing camera that is positioned in the center of the Z Flip 3’s main screen.

I would say that the Galaxy Z Flip 3’s camera highlight is not the sensors themselves, but the possibilities of using the main camera as a front-facing camera.

Battery life: A matter of perspective in the Flip series

The Galaxy Z Flip3 has a battery capacity of 3,300 mAh, and offers 15-watt fast charging technology, with 10-watt wireless charging support. For a smartphone that folds in half, battery life is relatively decent, given that it is two separate battery cells of different sizes that work in tandem.

However, when looking at the range of options in this price range, Samsung lags behind in both battery size, charging speed, and charging options.

It won’t be long before battery capacity is a matter of perspective in Samsung’s foldable smartphone series.

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There are 3,300 mAh of battery and the cell remains relatively thin / © NextPit

For a more convincing conclusion of the Galaxy Z Flip 3’s battery performance, we will have to wait for the full review of the device.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 technical specifications

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 5G

Check out the detailed technical specifications of the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 5G!
Model Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 5G
Processor Snapdragon 888
Memory (RAM / internal) 8 GB / 128 GB
8 GB / 256 GB
Expandable memory? No
Dual SIM Yes (SIM1 + eSIM)
Display

Main display: 6.7-inch, 22:9, Dynamic Display, AMOLED FHD+ (2,640 x 1,080 pixels)

Front display: 1.9-inch Super AMOLED (260 x 512 pixels)

Dimensions

Closed: 86.4 x 72.2 x 17.1 millimeters

Open: 166 x 72.2 x 6.9 millimetres

Weight 183 grams
Connectivity 5G, LTE, WLAN 802.11 a/b/g, Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth, USB Type-C, GPS
Main camera 12 megapixel at 1/3.0″, f/2.2 aperture
Ultra Wide Angle 12-megapixel at 1/ 2.55″, f/1.8 aperture
Front-facing camera 10 megapixels at 1/3.24″, with f/2.2 aperture
Battery Capacity 3,300 mAh
Charging technologies Quick charge at 15 watts, wireless charge at 10 watts
Authentication Biometric sensor under display, facial recognition
Audio Stereo speakers, Dolby Atmos, Music Share
Price Starts at $999
Launch From 27 August

At first glance, being fashionable is expensive

The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 is a smartphone for those who want to stand out in the crowd and can afford it. However, it still needs a few more tweaks beyond this generation to become excellent.

As I mentioned in the beginning, although the Galaxy Z Flip 3 is a faster, better designed and less expensive variant of its predecessor, the Z Flip series still feels like a concept that caters to a very small group of tech enthusiasts who also want to use their smartphone as a fashion and style accessory. Bringing the Flip 3 to the mainstream market occupied by “lowly mortals” could be a mistake.

At the end of the day, those looking for a device like this will need to understand and note that should style and exclusivity be more important than a great screen experience or having enough battery life and fast charging technology that matches its counterparts in the same price range, then be prepared to live with its flaws.

Taking all of these into consideration, my first impression of the Galaxy Z Flip 3 is this: This smartphone is about to cause ripples in the smartphone market, but it still needs a lot of development before being on par in terms of quality of the so-called “standard” smartphones.

What did you think of the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3? Would you choose a smartphone as a fashion item? Share your opinion with our community in the comments below.

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