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Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 hands-on review

This is not the first time we’ve seen a flip phone, rather than a flexi phone determined to make you open the thing up like a broadsheet newspaper. Samsung released the original Galaxy Z Flip in 2020, Motorola the Razr in 2019. The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 is easily the best-looking of the three. Something happened to Samsung phones this year. The Galaxy S21 series’ use of bold shapes and colours that are punchy but desaturated at the same time gave us some of the best-looking and most recognisable phones of 2021.

This Z Flip3 has some of that same special sauce. The real impact here is seen when the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 is closed or half open. It’s a makeup compact phone, and when you open it up fully much of the visual interest is lost.

Still, this isn’t a phone you need to open up every time it’s used. Samsung puts a full colour 1.9-inch screen on the outside. It will show you the time and date, and presumably basic notification alerts. You can also use it to take pictures without opening the phone up at all.

Double tap the power button and what the camera sees is pasted onto the front screen. Press one of the volume buttons and it takes a picture. Swipes on the mini display also let you switch between the two cameras, and from stills to video, a bit like GoPro’s action camera interface. In return you get better selfies that can be taken off the cuff.

Elements like this, the somewhat lower price and the neat-looking design mean the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 is first foldable phone we can imagine in the hands of someone who can’t name their favourite sub-reddit, or exactly what processor the phone has.

The usual little folding phone issues remain, though. While the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 has a 120Hz Full HD OLED screen with a 6.7in panel, you can’t miss the slight deformation caused by the fold line in the middle when there’s bright overhead lighting.

You’ll also need to be careful with this inner screen, as it is much easier to damage than a standard glass-topped rigid display. Thankfully, the outer is tough. The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 has top-tier Victus Gorilla Glass over the front display, aluminium sides, and the housing is IPX8 water resistant. That’s the best waterproofing you can get in a phone like this, flexible or not.

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