Review | Galaxy Z Flip 3, the first foldable smartphone with popular appeal

We’ve recently tested Samsung’s new devices, and this review is about the Galaxy Z Flip 3, the most affordable folding smartphone on the market so far. If you want to know more about the Galaxy Z Fold 3, the Galaxy Watch 4 smartwatch and the Galaxy Buds 2 headphones, we’ll soon publish the reviews we’ve made about them.

In this post, I’ll give you my first impression of the new cell phone, which has an undeniable appeal for those who prefer a smaller device that fits perfectly in your pocket, but which, when opened, reveals a beautiful screen.

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third generation, first big change

This is the third generation of the Galaxy Z Flip line, if we consider the original Flip and the Z Flip 5G, released last year, with a better processor. This time, however, the change is greater, and you can really see the evolution of this line.

Galaxy Z Flip 3 underwater
Photo: Mário Kurth / Olhar Digital

First of all, it is necessary to praise the fact that this smartphone is waterproof with IPX8 standard, that is, it resists water, but not dust. Thus, it is perfect for having fun in the pool, but don’t take it to the beach, since neither salt water nor sand are indicated near its hinge.

When we take it out of the box, it’s already open, so right away you can be impressed with the screen, which is bigger than the one on the smartphone I use every day, although it’s less wide. Another very clear thing at first glance is that the external screen has increased a lot, from 1.1 inch to 1.9 inch, but in practice it is more of a widget display than a functional screen, although it is possible to open and even reply notifications.

In addition to the small external screen and the excellent internal screen, other details also draw attention. A great advance of the new Flip 3 are the stereo speakers. Another great update was the choice of processor, the Snapdragon 888. With this screen, a good performance and the fact that it is a waterproof smartphone, it’s very hard not to like the Flip 3, but it also disappoints in some points , like the battery and the cameras, especially the external ones.

Galaxy Z Flip 3
Photo: Mário Kurth / Olhar Digital

The big highlight is the internal 6.7-inch folding screen, which maintains the Z Flip 5G’s FullHD+ size and resolution, but has a large brightness boost. The external display remains small, but looking at the device compared to its predecessor, we see that the external display has increased a lot, from 1.1 inch to 1.9 inch.

Okay, that, in practice, it’s more of a widget display than something really functional, although it’s possible to open and even respond to notifications, or access the camera without having to open the smartphone, but it was already a nice evolution in relation to the screen from the original Z Flip, kept in last year’s model, and which has a tiny size.

Cameras follow the same

Speaking of external cameras, they are the same as the Flip 5G and even the original Flip, with 12 MP each, one wide and one ultra-wide. Yes, the smartphone records videos in 4K, but the camera could be better, because even if it doesn’t compromise, it loses badly for the Galaxy S21 and iPhone 12 camera, just to name two devices that cost more or less the same thing.

The front camera is 10 MP and sits in a circular cutout on the internal screen, a better option than the Fold 3 camera, which has less resolution and is under the screen without being perfectly hidden. It’s much better to have a camera in a cutout, but it works well for video calls, where you’re going to use it with the screen open.

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To take selfies, the best option is to use the external camera with the support of the small screen, which can be activated by a button at the top. It’s also really fun to use the camera in Flex mode, where you have the option to leave the images in the top half and the menu in the bottom, and invert that with the touch of a button. Using the camera with the image halfway under the screen can help a lot when taking a picture at an unusual angle.

Internal screen is the highlight

Galaxy Z Flip 3 Open
Photo: Mário Kurth / Olhar Digital

There’s no way, the internal 6.7-inch folding screen is the highlight of this smartphone, which when opened, is taller than many smartphones, although not as tall. The fold crease is there, and it’s perfectly visible, depending on the angle, but with the screen lit from the front, you just forget it exists.

The 120Hz screen is great for watching movies, series and also for playing games, and as it’s adaptive, it doesn’t (completely) detonate the Flip3’s battery. Of course this can be adjusted in the smartphone settings. An important detail, the plastic film that protects the internal screen must not be removed under any circumstances. On the bright side, it looks far more scratch-resistant than the Z Flip 5G’s screen, yet another discreet evolution of the new-gen smartphone.

With Flip3, you can split the screen in a simple way: you open the first app you want to use, then click on the white bar on the side, where you can choose an app from the list and drag it to the top or to the part of low, with control of how much you want to show from each one.

You can also edit this list to include new apps, or drag an app to the center, which keeps the app in a pop-up so you can watch a video while you’re doing something else.

Flex Mode

Galaxy Z Flip 3 in Flex Mode
Photo: Mário Kurth / Olhar Digital

With the screen half open, Flip 3 automatically goes into Flex mode, which in some apps, splits the screen between the main video or content at the top, and the comments (or other links) at the bottom, something that is more useful, in practice, than it seems from my description.

Many apps have the feature natively, and Samsung also offers the possibility to force other apps to use it, with results that vary, but when they work, they are quite interesting.

External screen is now much more useful

Galaxy Z Flip 3 and its external screen
Photo: Mário Kurth / Olhar Digital

The external screen can be activated with a double click, and from there, you have the controls made from gestures on it. By swiping from bottom to top, you open the volume control and the audio controls to put your smartphone in vibrate or mute mode. By swiping from left to right, you can open notifications, and you can even read emails.

By swiping from right to left, you open music, weather, calendar, alarm, Samsung Health notifications, Galaxy Buds controls and a timer widgets. All these options can be enabled or disabled in the mobile settings, with the screen open.

Sliding from the bottom to the top, you open Samsung Pay, which in my tests, I couldn’t validate, maybe because of a bug between the Samsung app and my bank’s, but despite Google Pay being working, it’s not possible to switch services here, what a pity.

Do you want to open the external camera using the small screen, without having to open the Z Flip 3? Very simple, just double click the home button. Then just swipe your finger up and down on the external screen to switch from wide camera to ultra-wide, so more people can fit on your selfie. By swiping your finger to the sides of the small screen, the camera switches from photo to video mode. In both modes, a touch triggers a quick timer to give you time to smile before taking the picture.

Drums, one of the weaknesses of the Z Flip 3

As with the cameras, the battery remains the same as the previous model, and is one of the weaknesses of this smartphone. Even so, it lasts a full day away from the outlet without major problems if you’re not a user like me. If that’s the case, you may need to find a charger in the early evening, depending on what you’ve done with it during the day. It’s worth mentioning that the Flip 3 doesn’t come with a charger in the box, and its charging speed is only 15W.

Snapdragon 888 with some tweaks to increase autonomy

Samsung tweaked the Flip 3’s Galaxy Snapdragon 888 a little, possibly so that it doesn’t draw too much power from the device’s small battery, but since we’re talking about a foldable smartphone, the performance doesn’t disappoint, and the company’s choices seem to me to justified.

Anyway, on Antutu, it has results well below other smartphones equipped with the Qualcomm flagship processor, so if you are simply looking for performance, better think of another product, the Z Flip 3 makes sense for those looking for something very compact, but with a good sized screen.

Price reduction

In addition to costing US$ 200 cheaper than its predecessor, the Galaxy Z Flip 3 costs almost half its bigger brother, Galaxy Fold 3, which we are also testing, and not only because of that, but because of its shape and positioning as an object. of fashion, it has everything to be the most popular of the two new folding ones.

Some simple usability details just work, like the inversion of the volume buttons when the device is closed, which makes perfect sense.

stamina impresses

The Galaxy Z Flip 3 costs almost half its bigger brother, Galaxy Fold 3, which we’re still going to test, and not only because of that, but because of its shape and positioning as a fashionable object, it has everything to be the most popular of all. two new folding ones.

Some simple usability details just work, like the inversion of the volume buttons when the device is closed, which makes perfect sense.

Conclusion

What did I think of Flip 3? The heart says one thing, and the mind says another, as Flip 3’s appeal is much more emotional than rational. We’re talking about a smartphone with a first-rate processor, the Snapdragon 888, but configured not to drain the battery at once, which is the same as the two previous Z Flip models.

It’s hard to recommend the Flip 3 for its specifications, but the user experience with the device is quite interesting, and it will be missed here in the newsroom. I was used to leaving it in Flex mode on the table, always with the screen turned on.

The Flip 3 gets everyone’s attention and deserves our applause for being a smartphone with a folding screen that costs less than its rivals, but offers an experience without too many compromises, with screen, processors and flagship features, better justifying the purchase of the device.

The company believes so much in its new foldables, that it hopes they will be a reference in the market, and will not leave anyone missing the Galaxy Note line (the Fold 3 is a good replacement, with support for the stylus pen, but the Z Flip 3 does not has this possibility).

pros

  • Waterproof
  • Powerful processor
  • Internal screen with great size and brightness

cons

  • battery life
  • Same cameras as the first version
  • Open and close with only two hands

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