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Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 5G review: Ready for mainstream

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 5G review: Ready for mainstream

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3

The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 is the first foldable smartphone that I would consider using as my daily phone. Unlike previous iterations, which had some glaring compromises, the Flip 3 feels complete. Sure, it still has some flaws, but I can accept them. The question, though, is whether you really need a truly pocketable smartphone. Because once the novelty wears off, the Flip 3's only unique feature is its compact and foldable form factor, which has its pros and cons. Like it fits in the shallow pockets of my running shorts when I'm exercising. But I do get tired of having to flip open the phone to use it.

Quick specs

  • 6.7-inch main display (Dynamic AMOLED 2X, 2,640 x 1,080 pixels) and 1.9-inch Cover Screen (Super AMOLED, 512 x 260 pixels)
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 chip with 8GB RAM and 128GB storage
  • Dual 12MP rear cameras and 10MP front camera
  • 3,300mAh battery (with 15W fast charging)

The crease in the middle of the Flip 3's 6.7-inch foldable main display is rather visible and you can definitely feel it when using the phone. But I got used to it after a while. The screen's 120Hz adaptive refresh rate is as responsive and smooth as other flagship models. It is bright and vibrant — basically on par with the displays found in top phones. The Flip 3 also has a 1.9-inch outer screen that's four times larger than the one in the previous Flip. This Cover Screen reminds me of a smartwatch display, with widgets that display useful information, like the weather, notifications and music. But I still have to open the phone to reply to messages. Samsung Pay, though, works without unfolding. And best of all, you can use this screen as a viewfinder when taking selfies folded with the main camera.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3
The Cover Screen is perfect when you're taking a selfie. Credit: Vincent Chang/Can Buy or Not

The Flip 3's folding hinge is noticeably smoother when opening and closing, compared to previous versions. There are no visible gaps where dirt and dust can easily enter and clog up the mechanism. But the phone isn't actually dust resistant, though it resists water enough to survive in 1.5m of water for 30 minutes (IPX8). Basically, try not to drop it in the sand. When unfolded, the Flip 3 is slightly taller than the average smartphone. It is narrow and is easy to hold one-handed. However, I often have to shift my grip to reach the side power button, which is also the fingerprint sensor. This sensor is fast and accurate, like the rest of the phone. Which isn't much of a surprise as the Flip 3 is equipped with a flagship Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 5G chip with 8GB of RAM.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3
The camera app is one of the few apps that support Samsung's Flex Mode, which splits the UI neatly. Credit: Vincent Chang/Can Buy or Not

One of the advantages of its foldable design is that the Flip 3 can stand by itself when opened like a clamshell. This means you can place it on a table or a wall to take a photo, hands-free. The dual cameras system is not quite as good as the best smartphone cameras, mainly because there's no telephoto camera. But its Night mode is solid and better than most phones. Samsung also has a Flex Mode that neatly splits the user interface into two halves when the Flip is opened like a clamshell. For instance, in the camera app, the viewfinder will be on the upper half of the screen while the controls are at the lower half. Unfortunately, only a few apps, including YouTube and Google Duo, support Flex Mode.

Battery life is adequate, but far from the best. I have to charge it daily with around 20 to 30% battery remaining by bedtime. In our usual video-loop test, it lasted 9hr 39min. It doesn't help that the Flip 3's 15W fast-charging is slow by today's standards. But the best thing about the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 compared to its predecessors is the pricing. It starts from S$1,398, which is typical for a flagship smartphone. However, you can find it for just over S$1,200 at Shopee and Lazada.

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Note: Review unit provided by Samsung.


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Verdict



CAN BUY

First foldable phone that's good enough for mainstream users.

Buy it at Shopee
Available at Lazada

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