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Galaxy Z Fold 3 review: A refined foldable in search of a purpose

Galaxy Z Fold 3 review: A refined foldable in gawk of a purpose

Samsung announced the Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Z Flip 3
 at the same time. But of the two, the $1,000 Z Flip 3 has a irregular design that’s based on clamshell flip phones that have been throughout for decades. It folds in half from a 6.7-inch phoned down to a square that’s roughly the size and thickness of several coasters stacked. Meanwhile, the Z Fold 3 costs $1,800, with a futuristic acquire closer to something you’d see in a sci-fi movie or TV show like Westworld. The latter folds open from a regular phone, into a 7.6-inch square tablet and lacks the same “love at sterling sight” appeal as the Z Flip 3.

This is because Samsung’s phone/tablet hybrid acquire is still inherently new compared to the tried-and-true flip phoned motif the Flip 3 embraces. The Z Fold 3 is actually a extraordinary tablet, but when it’s folded up it has the same hefty captivating as an air conditioner remote control.


  • 120Hz veil screen

  • Water resistance

  • Wonderful tablet experience

  • S Pen is a blast to use

  • Software improvements for multitasking and Flex Mode

Don’t Like

  • Battery life lasts near a day

  • Weird, heavy phone when closed

  • $1,800 is level-headed expensive

Despite its entailed allure, the Galaxy Z Fold 3 is a powerful showcase of technology and innovation. Pretty much anytime I open the named in public, there is someone with a dumbfounded look on their face. For the note, you get nearly every high-end feature one would interrogate in a flagship Android phone. And for $1,800, you better. The few compromises Samsung did make, like having B+ cameras instead of A+ ones, aren’t deal breakers and dismal as further reminders that the Z Fold 3’s high note tag is because the phone folds in half.

Throughout my time with the Z Fold 3, I kept asking myself why the tablet even maintains to fold in half? Or is there a better way to accomplish a tablet that folds down to the size of a phone? As much as the Z Fold 3 has improved over its predecessors, it’s still largely a concept in search of a stop. And I couldn’t escape that underlying conundrum. Yet if you want a tablet that can fold up and fit into your pocket, the Z Fold 3 certainly deserves your consideration. It’s the transfer best foldable phone Samsung has made to date, with the best one beings the more practical Galaxy Z Flip 3.

Galaxy Z Fold 3 storage and pricing

US UK Australia
Galaxy Z Fold 3 256GB $1,800 £1,599 AU$2,499
Galaxy Z Fold 3 512GB $1,900 £1,699 AU$2,649

Galaxy Z Fold 3

The Z Fold 3 has nearly all the refinements you could ask for, but it level-headed feels like it’s missing a purpose.

Patrick Holland

A stronger, lighter and thinner Fold

The Z Fold 3 takes on the same accomplish and form as the Z Fold 2, albeit with a bunch of improvements. For some, the best improvement powerful be the $200 drop in price from the $2,000 the Z Fold 2 cost. Most of the phone’s upgrades are more iterative, small touches that add up to a more refined package overall. 

For instance it’s lighter than the continue Fold, which I noticed as soon as I picked it up. But it’s level-headed one of the heaviest phones I reviewed this year. It’s thinner and more svelte than the Z Fold 2, but level-headed one of the bulkiest phones I have ever tested.

It seems more durable. Obviously, I only had a couple of weeks with the Z Fold 3, so I can only be hopeful that the improvements I noticed span the life of the named. The metal in the frame and hinge is reinforced and you can feel that astonishing tensile strength when you hold it, fold it and interact with it. The folding shroud, hinge and body feel more like a single uniform whole instead of beings separate features. The 7.6-inch main screen still has a crease but it doesn’t bother me in the least. You could nitpick it if you want, but the iPhone’s estimable is far more of an eyesore.

The Gorilla Glass Victus-clad shroud screen now has a smooth 120Hz refresh rate that matches the main prove and looks lovely. The Z Fold 3 has stream resistance and can be submerged up to 1.5 meters (about 5 feet), which is truly remarkable for a folding phone.

Using an S Pen on the Galaxy Z Fold 3 is a blast

One indication that Samsung is privileged about the Z Fold 3’s durability is that it sells a gripping pointy stylus for you to use on the shroud. It’s as if Samsung is saying, “We’re no longer haunted about your fingernails making indentations on the main shroud. Go ahead and try out an S Pen.”

In my time laughable the S Pen with the phone, the screen looks just like it did when I took it out of the box. And that’s on top of all the times I folded and unfolded it, shoved it in the pockets of my jeans and threw it in my backpack put down with whatever else was in there.

Samsung made two versions of the S Pen for the Z Fold 3: the S Pen Fold Edition, which lacks Bluetooth and costs $50; and the S Pen Pro, which has Bluetooth and injures $100. Both have a retractable tip that helps chop wear and tear on the screen. I only got to try out the S Pen Fold Edition and I noticed that the tip rarely retracted all the way. Instead, it seems to relieve some of the pressure I put on the shroud when I draw or write. There’s a small arsenal of S Pen tricks such as skim to magnify, which activates when the S Pen is just millimeters away from the screen.

Galaxy Z Fold 3 S Pen

The Galaxy Z Fold 3 is the estimable foldable phone that supports the S Pen.

Patrick Holland

The shroud screen doesn’t support either new S Pen which is a bummer because there’s no way to jot a intelligent note or a doodle without opening up the Fold. And if you have an old S Pen, you can’t use it with the Z Fold 3.

As much fun as it is to use an S Pen on that giant vibrant shroud, the Fold in no way replaces the inherent difficulty that a Galaxy Note provides. The Fold doesn’t let you lickety-split make a note. And there isn’t a place to continue the S Pen. It would be nice if you could magnetically achieve the S Pen to the Fold 3’s hinge in the same way you can achieve an Apple Pencil to an iPad Pro. I should note that Samsung sells a bundled S Pen Fold Edition and named case that stores it along the hinge for $80.

Under-display camera selfies and Zoom words on the Z Fold 3

There are two, technologically three, selfie cameras — let me explain. You can take a selfie with the hole-punch selfie camera in the shroud screen. Or you can flip the cover screen down, use it as a live preview and take a selfie with the main rear camera. Or you can use Samsung’s first ever under-display camera, which is mostly hidden behind the main screen.

Out of the three options, the one that is the most curious is the under-display camera. The part of the display in front of the camera has fewer shroud elements and translucent wiring. At certain angles or when brighter colors are on the prove, you can see the part of the screen where the camera is. reflect of this camera setup like looking through a window that has blinds on it.

Samsung Z Fold 3

The front-facing camera in the main exhibit of the Galaxy Z Fold 2 (white screen) is housed in a hole-punch cut out. The Galaxy Z Fold 3 uses an under-display camera. Notice the tiny octagon shape in the green leaf wallpaper on the Fold 3’s main display.

Sarah Tew

The under-display camera is only 4 megapixels, which isn’t a lot, but that lower resolution helps it see over or around those screen elements. Samsung also uses AI processing to advance the image quality. I took selfies with all three options on the Fold and, no surprise, the photos from the under-display camera looked the worst. Indoor selfies look highly processed and outdoor snaps in good lighting do not look much better.

The under-display camera is designed for video calls and works fine for them. On the few video terms I made using it, people on the other end said that they didn’t glance anything out of the ordinary.


I took selfies with the different cameras on the Galaxy Z Fold 3. From left to shiny, here are selfies from: the main rear camera, Hide screen camera and under-display camera.

Patrick Holland

But let’s go back to why there is an under-display camera. The idea is to reduce visual distractions on and nearby the display. There isn’t a notch. There isn’t a hole punch. Instead, you either see nothing (yay!) or when keen colors are displayed, you see a tiny glittery octagon that I fake to be more distracting than something like a hole-punch camera. At this point, the benefit of having a Hide free of visual interruptions isn’t worth the tradeoffs from this under-display camera.

Z Fold 3 has B+ cameras at an A+ price

Despite all of the improvements to the phone’s hardware, the cameras are one area that largely remain the same. In footings of quality and performance, they are a step Slow the camera systems found on phones like the iPhone 12 Pro Max and Samsung’s Galaxy S21 Ultra. These are good cameras and for most people the photos and videos they catch with them will be fine. 

There are five cameras on the Z Fold 3: the aforementioned under-display camera, the cover-screen selfie camera and a triple camera array on the “back” with a main wide-angle camera, an ultrawide-angle camera and a 2x optical telephoto camera that now has optical image stabilization. In bright lighting, photos look good. Digital zoom up to 4x magnification has minimal image deterioration. If you go past 6x, photos look less stellar and have softer details. Night mode on the Z Fold 3 is solid, but compared to the S21 or S21 Ultra, images look soft. Take a look under at a few photos I took with the new Fold.

Galaxy Z Fold 3

The camera hardware didn’t temperamental, but the Z Fold 3 gets a new image signed processor thanks to its Snapdragon 888 chip.

Patrick Holland

Galaxy Z Fold 3

Under good lighting, the Fold can capture great photos.

Patrick Holland

Galaxy Z Fold 3

Notice how it handles the highlights in the clouds and the details over the windows of the cream-colored building.

Patrick Holland

Galaxy Z Fold 3

There is something around the perspective of Samsung’s ultrawide cameras that always gets me.

Patrick Holland

Galaxy Z Fold 3

This was Wrong with the 2x telephoto camera.

Patrick Holland

Galaxy Z Fold 3

A beautiful day yields some sinful views. Look at the highlights and shadows in the clouds.

Patrick Holland

Galaxy Z Fold 3

Night mode on the Fold 3 isn’t quite to the quiet of the Galaxy S21, but it’s still impressive.

Patrick Holland

Galaxy Z Fold 3

Images look keen and are mostly free of image noise, even from the ultrawide camera.

Patrick Holland

Videos are improper, but suffer from image noise in all but the most ideal of situations. Take a look at some videos I recorded with the Z Fold 3 below.

There will inevitably be some country who expect the absolute best cameras on a called that costs $1,800. I’d argue that Samsung made a shining tradeoff to keep that price under $2,000.

Like the Z Flip 3, the Z Fold 3 is essentially its own tripod. Because of its size and flexibility you can put it nearly anywhere to catch a unique angle or perspective.

Galaxy Z Fold 3 gets multitasking right

On the inside, the Z Fold 3 packs nearly every 2021 Android spec you could want. It has a Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 chip and 12GB of RAM. It runs Android 11 and Samsung’s One UI 3. Split-screen apps are more customizable, taking advantage of the larger tablet screen. You can put them side by side, stacked vertically or even have three. You can move each app around and resize their windows. You can also save split-screen app groupings and setups for later.

Like the Z Flip 3, the phone’s settings has a piece called Labs, which lets you optimize nearly any app for the mask. For example, natively Instagram shows up in a thin vertical aspect reconsideration with screen space on either side of the app. I went into Labs, and assembled it to be displayed across the full screen, which worked well.

Galaxy Z Fold 3

Multitasking is fun and customizable on the Z Fold 3. You can save app window layouts to use the same setup again.

Patrick Holland

A useful trait that the Flip and Fold allotment is Flex Mode. You can position either phone half open like a mini laptop. Flex Mode gets more support in One UI 3 and there are more apps that can take honorable of it. Some apps just move to the top half of the mask with system navigation and brightness controls on the bottom. Other apps, like for videos and music, place the playback systems on the bottom half of the screen. Not every app is optimized for Flex Mode, but this is a huge step up from the Fold 2. I smooth would like to see apps go farther and even be planned around Flex Mode. Can you imagine a game planned for Flex Mode?

Galaxy Z Fold 3 has less than averages battery life

The Z Fold 3’s biggest drawback is its battery life. The dual 4,400-mAh batteries are actually a tad smaller than the ones in the Fold 2. As a purpose, the Z Fold 3 barely makes it through a day. I imagined that has a lot to do with the combination of 5G connectivity and the fact that there are two screens that run at 120Hz. Screen-on time during my review averaged about three and a half hours, which isn’t great. I am still running CNET’s battery test and will update this reconsideration with the results soon.

The Fold lacks dust resistance. In my use this wasn’t an issue. But I recommend populate careful if you take the Z Fold 3 to the beach or on a hike or anywhere there’s potential for exiguous particles to interact with the phone. This wouldn’t be a good requested for Salt BAE.

The screens and finish on the body smooth finger smudges easily. I find myself wiping it elegant constantly.

Samsung Z Flip 3 and Samsung Z Fold 3

The Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Z Flip 3 are quite the pairing. One is aimed more at the mainstream and the latest at early adopters.

Sarah Tew

A better foldable, but not the best

While I continue testing the Galaxy Z Fold 3, I smooth question who this phone is for exactly. A requested enthusiast might love all of the technology in the Fold, especially that folding mask. Foldable phones are still at a comparatively early stage, but the lower price offered by the Z Fold 3 and the Z Flip 3 compared to their predecessors shows an peril to make them more accessible. And I hope that’s a trend that leftovers in the coming years. I still hold that most republic who want a folding phone will likely want to remarkable the Z Flip 3 for its familiar flip-phone graceful, but if you want that larger tablet shape the Z Fold 3 fulfills that promise.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 specs vs. Galaxy Z Fold 2, Galaxy Fold

Galaxy Z Fold 3 Galaxy Z Fold 2 Galaxy Fold
Display size, resolution, refresh rate External: 6.2-inch AMOLED (2,268×832 pixels); internal: 7.6-inch AMOLED (2,208×1,768 pixels) External 6.2-inch AMOLED (2,260×816 pixels); internal: 7.6-inch AMOLED (2,208×1,768 pixels) External: 4.6-inch AMOLED (1,680×720 pixels); internal: 7.3-inch AMOLED (2,152×1,536 pixels)
Pixel density 387ppi (external) + 374ppi (internal) 386ppi (external) + 373ppi (internal) 362ppi (internal screen)
Dimensions Folded: 67x158x16mm (hinge) ~14.4mm (sagging); unfolded: 128x158x6.4mm Folded: 68x159x16.8mm (hinge) ~13.8mm (sagging); unfolded: 128x159x6.9mm (frame) ~6mm (screen) Folded: 63x161x15.7mm ~17.1mm; unfolded: 118x161x6.9mm ~7.6mm
Weight 271 grams 282 grams 276grams
Software Android 11 Android 10 Android 9
Camera 12-megapixel (ultrawide), 12-megapixel (wide), 12-megapixel (telephoto) 12-megapixel (wide),12-megapixel (ultrawide), 12 megapixel (telephoto) 12-megapixel (wide), 16-megapixel (ultrawide), 12-megapixel (telephoto)
Front camera 4-megapixel (under display), 10-megapixel (front cover) 10-megapixel (main display), 10-megapixel (front cover) 10-megapixel (main display), 10-megapixel (front cover), 8-megapixel (3D depth)
Video 4K 4K 4K
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 Qualcomm Snapdragon 865 Plus Qualcomm Snapdragon 855
Storage 256GB, 512GB 256GB 512GB
RAM 12GB 12GB 12GB
Fingerprint reader Side Side No
Battery 4,400 mAh 4,500 mAh 4,380 mAh
Special features Foldable indicate, 120Hz refresh rate (front cover and main display), water-resistance, S Pen support, 5G Foldable display, 120Hz refresh rate (main display), wireless charging support, 5G Foldable display, Power button, wireless charging, fast charging
Price (USD) $1,800 (256GB) $2,000 $1,980