The Galaxy Z Flip 3 and Z Fold 3 are Samsung’s best foldable devices to date, but there’s room for improvement in terms of design, camera quality and battery life.
Why it matters
Companies like Samsung are betting big on foldable phones, which are the next big evolution of the modern smartphone. But high prices and other setbacks have so far limited their appeal.
What will be next
Samsung is holding its next Unpacked event on August 10, where it could unveil the Galaxy Z Flip 4 and Z Fold 4.
Folding phones have come a long way since the launch of the original Samsung Galaxy Z Fold in 2019. Last year’s $1,800and $1,000 are the most advanced versions of the company’s folding devices yet, with improvements to their software and cover screens.
But there is a lot that Samsung could do to make these devices even better, and I hope to see such changes in the upcomingand .
Both phones are expected to be unveiled during10th of August. They will represent Samsung’s latest gambit to maintain its leadership position in the nascent but growing foldable phone market.
TM Roh, Samsung’s head of mobile services, said that nearly 10 million foldable phones were shipped in 2021. That’s broadly in line with IDC market research estimates that 7.1 million foldable phones were shipped in 2021, up 264% from 2020.
These numbers suggest that foldable devices are starting to appeal to more than just early adopters and tech enthusiasts. However, there are still some hurdles for Samsung and other companies to overcome before foldable devices become as ubiquitous as standard smartphones.
Samsung’s foldable devices are more expensive compared to their standard smartphones, which may cause them to sell. This has been changing in recent yearsin particular, it is one of the most affordable collapsibles to date. The Galaxy Z Flip 3 starts at $1,000 without a trade-in, so it’s the same price as the . The Galaxy Z Fold 3 is considerably more expensive, with the usual starting price of $1,800 without a trade-in, though it’s still a welcome improvement over the $2,000 Galaxy Z Fold 2.
New software features
Galaxy Z Flip 4 athe foldable design certainly sets them apart from most phones. But the software has to catch up with the hardware.
Samsung is off to a good start in this regard. Both Galaxy Z Fold and Z Flip have a function called, which reorients and optimizes certain apps to fit the device’s screen when folded in half. For example, Flex mode moves some compatible apps to the top half of the screen and displays navigation and playback controls at the bottom.
My favorite example of a good use of this mode is in the Galaxy Z Flip’s camera app. When the device is half-open, the shutter button, photo settings and other controls are located on the bottom half of the screen, while the top half serves as the viewfinder. Flex Mode combined with the Z Flip’s ability to stay open on its own makes it a great camera and tripod combination.
In addition to Flex mode, the Galaxy Z Fold can also run multiple apps on the screen at once, making use of the tablet-sized screen.
These are great additions, but there’s plenty of room for Samsung to do more. The software seems to adapt to the hardware when it should be the other way around. While the Z Fold’s Flex mode and multitasking features are a great start, they aren’t enticing enough on their own to justify buying a foldable phone.
I wish Samsung would develop more impressive software features. Although I wouldn’t recommend buyingsince it doesn’t work very well as a regular phone, I think Microsoft is on to something with the software.
The way Surface Duo 2 splits compatible apps between screens almost feels like you’re using an app in a whole new way. The Amazon Kindle app turns the Duo into a digital book, Xbox GamePass turns it into a Nintendo 3DS-style handheld game console, and Outlook’s split-screen view turns it into a mini-laptop. There is a lot going on with foldable devices and I hope Samsung finds more ways to take advantage of it.
Longer battery life
Battery life is one of the most important features of any phone, and foldable phones are no exception. Unfortunately, the Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Z Flip 3 had underwhelming battery life. My colleague Patrick Hollandwith a Galaxy Z Fold 3 battery with a capacity of 4,400 mAh. The Galaxy Z Flip 3 only made it for about 11 hours before needing a charge.
I hope Samsung improves battery life or develops new ways around this in the next iterations of the Z Fold and Z Flip. And by “get around it” I mean that Samsung could increase the fast charging speed of the devices or improve their power saving modes. The Galaxy Z Fold 3 charges up to 25 watts, while the Z Flip 3 charges at 15 watts, which is nothing special. Galaxy S22 Plus andfor example, both have a charging speed of 45 watts.
When it comes to what matters most in a phone, camera quality and battery life come first. The cameras on the Galaxy Z Flip 3 and Z Fold 3 are good, but there’s room for improvement. The Galaxy Z Flip 3 has a 12-megapixel wide-angle and a 12-megapixel ultra-wide-angle main camera, which, as my colleague wrote in his review, is “the equivalent of the cameras you’d find on a $700 phone.” The Galaxy Z Fold 3 has a triple camera system that adds a 12-megapixel telephoto lens to the 12-megapixel wide-angle and ultra-wide-angle lenses.
These cameras are suitable for most people. Anyone considering buying one of these phones is clearly more interested in the display than the cameras. But for the price, I’d like to see camera quality that at least matches, if not exceeds, Samsung’s best non-folding phones. Like my colleague Patrik: “The Z Fold 3 has B+ cameras for an A+ price.” This is especially true for the Galaxy Z Fold 3’s under-display camera, which is the phone’s selfie camera when used in tablet mode.
Fortunately, rumors suggest that the Galaxy Z Fold 4 will come with some serious camera improvements that will make it faster..
Althoughand Z Flip 3 are Samsung’s most sophisticated foldable phones to date, phones with bendable screens are still relatively new. As such, getting ergonomics right will take time, and Samsung still has some work to do here.
Let’s start with the Galaxy Z Fold. The Z Fold’s biggest downside is that it’s still somewhat awkward to use like a regular phone when it’s closed. Samsung has made several design improvements to the Z Fold 3, making it lighter and thinner than its predecessors. But it’s still an abnormally bulky phone when closed, which can cause some discomfort when using it in one hand.
Anyone who bought a Z Fold probably did so because of its large internal screen, not the cover screen. But consider how many times you pull out your phone to quickly check a notification or reply to a text. In some situations, these tasks are much more convenient when the Z Fold is closed, such as when you’re traveling and unfolding the device is impractical.
Another design improvement I’d like to see on the Z Fold is the ability for the S Pen to magnetically attach to the hinge of the device. A stylus storage slot like the Galaxy S22 Ultra doesn’t seem like an acceptable solution, as it would add to the thickness of the Z Fold.
The Galaxy Z Flip already looks like a standard phone, but one improvement I’d like to see is a larger cover screen. The Z Flip 3 is a major upgrade over the original Z Flip in this regard. While Samsung’s first foldable flip phone only had a small pill-shaped cover, the Z Flip 3 is big enough to fit widgets for weather, music, alarms and more.
But I would still like to see more lines of text and widgets on this screen. A larger display would also make it easier to take quick selfies without unfolding the phone, as the cover display can double as the camera’s viewfinder. Fortunately, rumors suggest that Samsung plans to increase the size of the cover screen.
I also hope Samsung finds a way to make the crease less noticeable on both the Galaxy Z Fold and the Galaxy Z Flip. The creases on Samsung’s current foldable devices aren’t too obtrusive, but they’re definitely noticeable—both to the eye and to the touch. Chinese tech giant Oppo has found a way around thisby implementing a “water drop” hinge, which makes it harder to see and feel the crease of the device when opened. Motorola similarly, the foldable Razr’s crease is less noticeable.
Samsung’s Z Flip and Z Fold phones are gradually moving closer to standard non-folding phones in terms of price, and I hope that trajectory continues. Foldable phones will likely always require some type of compromise, whether it’s camera quality or device thickness. I just hope the list of compromises gets smaller over time, starting with the Galaxy Z Flip 4 and Fold 4.