Samsung introduced the Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Z Flip 3 on the similar time. However of the 2, the $1,000 Z Flip 3 has a well-recognized design that is primarily based on clamshell flip telephones which were round for many years. It folds in half from a 6.7-inch cellphone right down to a sq. that is roughly the dimensions and thickness of a number of coasters stacked. In the meantime, the Z Fold 3 prices $1,800, with a futuristic design nearer to one thing you’d see in a sci-fi film or TV present like Westworld. The latter folds open from a daily cellphone, right into a 7.6-inch sq. pill and lacks the identical “love at first sight” attraction because the Z Flip 3.

It is because Samsung’s cellphone/pill hybrid design continues to be inherently new in comparison with the tried-and-true flip cellphone motif the Flip 3 embraces. The Z Fold 3 is definitely an exquisite pill however when it is folded up, it has the identical hefty attraction as an air conditioner distant management.

Like

  • 120Hz cowl display screen
  • Water resistance
  • A beautiful pill expertise
  • S Pen is a blast to make use of
  • Software program enhancements for multi-tasking and Flex Mode

Do not Like

  • Battery life lasts a few day
  • Bizarre, heavy cellphone when closed
  • $1,800 continues to be costly

Regardless of its difficult attract, the Galaxy Z Fold 3 is a outstanding showcase of know-how and innovation. Just about anytime I open the cellphone in public, there may be somebody with a dumbfounded look on their face. For the worth, you get almost each excessive finish characteristic one would anticipate in a flagship Android cellphone. And for $1,800, you higher. The few compromises Samsung did make, like having B+ cameras as a substitute of A+ ones, aren’t dealbreakers and stand as additional reminders that the Z Fold 3’s excessive price ticket is as a result of the cellphone folds in half.

All through my time with the Z Fold 3, I stored asking myself why the pill even must fold in half? Or is there a greater strategy to design a pill that folds right down to the dimensions of a cellphone? As a lot because the Z Fold 3 has improved over its predecessors, it is nonetheless largely an idea looking for a objective. And I could not escape that underlying conundrum. But in order for you a pill that may fold up and match into your pocket, the Z Fold 3 actually deserves your consideration. It is the second greatest foldable cellphone Samsung has made to this point, with the perfect one being the extra sensible 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

The Galaxy Z Fold 3 has almost all of the refinements you would ask for however nonetheless really feel prefer it’s lacking a objective.


Patrick Holland/CNET

A stronger, lighter and thinner Fold

The Z Fold 3 takes on the identical design and type because the Z Fold 2 albeit with a bunch of enhancements. For some, the perfect enchancment is likely to be the $200 drop in value from the $2,000 value of the Z Fold 2. A lot of the cellphone’s upgrades are extra iterative, small touches that add as much as a extra general refined bundle. 

For example it is lighter than the earlier Fold, which I seen as quickly as I picked it up. But it surely’s nonetheless one of many heaviest telephones I reviewed this 12 months. It is thinner and extra svelte than the Z Fold 2, however nonetheless one of many bulkiest telephones I’ve ever examined.

It appears extra sturdy. Clearly, I solely had a few weeks with the Z Fold 3, so I can solely be hopeful that the enhancements I seen span the lifetime of the cellphone. The metallic within the body and hinge is strengthened and you’ll really feel that additional tensile energy once you maintain it, fold it and work together with it. The folding display screen, hinge and physique really feel extra like a single uniform complete as a substitute of being separate options. The 7.6-inch important display screen nonetheless has a crease nevertheless it does not hassle me within the least. You possibly can nitpick it in order for you, however the iPhone’s notch is way extra of an eyesore.

The Gorilla Glass Victus clad cowl display screen now has a clean 120Hz refresh fee that matches the principle show and appears pretty. The Z Fold 3 has water resistance and might be submerged as much as 1.5 meters (about 5 toes) which is really outstanding for a folding cellphone.

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

One indication that Samsung is assured concerning the Z Fold 3’s sturdiness is that it sells a pointy pointy stylus so that you can use on the display screen. It is as if Samsung is saying, “We’re not fearful about your fingernails making indentations on the principle display screen. Go forward and check out an S Pen.”

In my time utilizing the S Pen with the cellphone, the display screen appears to be like similar to it did after I took it out of the field. And that is on high of all of the instances I folded and unfolded it, shoved it within the pockets of my denims and threw it in my backpack together with no matter else was in there.

Samsung made two variations of the S Pen for the Z Fold 3. The S Pen Fold Version, which lacks Bluetooth and prices $50, and the S Pen Professional, which has Bluetooth and prices $100. Each have a retractable tip which helps scale back put on and tear on the display screen. I solely received to check out the S Pen Fold Version and I seen that the tip hardly ever retracted all the way in which. As a substitute, it appears to alleviate a few of the strain I placed on the display screen after I draw or write. There’s a small arsenal of S Pen tips like hover to enlarge, which prompts when the S Pen is simply millimeters away from the display screen.

Galaxy Z Fold 3 S Pen

The Galaxy Z Fold 3 is the primary foldable cellphone that helps the S Pen.


Patrick Holland/CNET

The duvet display screen does not assist both new S Pen which is a bummer as a result of there is no strategy to jot a fast be aware or a doodle with out opening up the Fold. And if in case you have an previous S Pen, you possibly can’t use it with the Z Fold 3.

As a lot enjoyable as it’s to make use of an S Pen on that big vibrant display screen, the Fold on no account replaces the inherent comfort {that a} Galaxy Observe gives. The Fold does not allow you to rapidly make a remark. And there is not a spot to retailer the S Pen. It will be good in case you may magnetically connect the S Pen to the Fold 3’s hinge in the identical means you possibly can connect an Apple Pencil to an iPad Professional. I ought to be aware that Samsung sells a bundled S Pen Fold Version and cellphone case that shops it alongside the hinge for $80.

Below-display-camera selfies, Zoom calls on the Z Fold 3

There are two, technically three, selfie cameras: let me clarify. You may take a selfie with the hole-punch selfie digicam within the cowl display screen. Or you possibly can flip the quilt display screen down, use it as a reside preview and take a selfie with the principle rear digicam. Or you need to use Samsung’s first ever under-display-camera that’s largely hidden behind the principle display screen.

Out of the three choices, the one that’s the most curious is the under-display-camera. The a part of the show in entrance of the digicam has fewer display screen parts and translucent wiring. At sure angles or when brighter colours are on the show, you possibly can see the a part of the display screen the place the digicam is. Consider this digicam setup like trying by way of a window that has blinds on it.

Samsung Z Fold 3

The front-facing digicam in the principle show of the Galaxy Z Fold 2 (white display screen) is housed in a hole-punch lower out. The Galaxy Z Fold 3 makes use of an under-display-camera. Discover the tiny octagon form within the inexperienced leaf wallpaper on the Fold 3’s important show.


Sarah Tew/CNET

The under-display-camera is just 4-megapixels which is not lots, however that decrease decision helps it see by way of/round these display screen parts. Samsung additionally makes use of AI processing to enhance the picture high quality. I took selfies with all three choices on the Fold and, no shock, the photographs from the under-display-camera seemed the worst. Indoor selfies look extremely processed and out of doors snaps in good lighting don’t look a lot better.

The under-display-camera is meant for video calls and works tremendous for them. On the few video calls I made utilizing it, individuals on the opposite finish mentioned that they did not discover something out of the strange.

z-fold-3-selfie-comparison

I took selfies with the totally different cameras on the Galaxy Z Fold 3. From left-to-right listed here are selfies from: the principle rear digicam, cowl display screen digicam and under-display-camera.


Patrick Holland/CNET

However let’s return to why there may be an under-display-camera. The concept is to cut back visible distractions on and across the show. There is not a notch. There is not a gap punch. As a substitute, you both see nothing (which yay!) or when vivid colours are displayed, you see a tiny glittery octagon that I discovered to be extra distracting than one thing like a hole-punch digicam. At this level, the advantage of having a display screen freed from visible interruptions is not definitely worth the tradeoffs from this under-display-camera.

The Z Fold 3 has B+ cameras at an A+ value

Regardless of the entire enhancements to the cellphone’s {hardware}, the cameras are one space that largely stay the identical. When it comes to high quality and efficiency, they’re a step behind the digicam methods discovered on telephones just like the iPhone 12 Professional Max and Samsung’s Galaxy S21 Extremely. These are good cameras and for most individuals the photographs and movies they seize with them shall be tremendous. 

There are 5 cameras on the Z Fold 3: the aforementioned under-display-camera, the quilt display screen selfie digicam and a triple digicam array on the “again” with a important wide-angle digicam, an ultrawide angle digicam and a 2x optical telephoto digicam that now has optical picture stabilization. In vivid lighting, photographs look good. Digital zoom as much as 4x magnification has minimal picture deterioration. In case you go previous 6x, photographs look much less stellar and have softer particulars. Night time mode on the Z Fold 3 is strong however in comparison with the S21 or S21 Extremely, photos look mushy. Have a look beneath at a number of photographs I took with the brand new Fold.

Galaxy Z Fold 3

The digicam {hardware} did not change, however the Z Fold 3 will get a brand new picture sign processor because of its Snapdragon 888 chip.


Patrick Holland/CNET

Galaxy Z Fold 3

Below good lighting, the Fold can seize nice photographs.


Patrick Holland/CNET

Galaxy Z Fold 3

Discover the way it handles the highlights within the clouds and the main points above the home windows of the cream-colored constructing.


Patrick Holland/CNET

Galaxy Z Fold 3

There’s something concerning the perspective of Samsung’s ultrawide cameras that at all times will get me.


Patrick Holland/CNET

Galaxy Z Fold 3

This was taken with the 2x telephoto digicam.


Patrick Holland/CNET

Galaxy Z Fold 3

A ravishing day yields some excellent views. Have a look at the highlights and shadows within the clouds.


Patrick Holland/CNET

Galaxy Z Fold 3

Night time mode on the Fold 3 is not fairly to the extent of the Galaxy S21, nevertheless it’s nonetheless spectacular.


Patrick Holland/CNET

Galaxy Z Fold 3

Photographs look vivid and are largely freed from picture noise, even from the ultrawide digicam.


Patrick Holland/CNET

Movies are respectable, however endure from picture noise in all however probably the most best of conditions. Check out some movies I recorded with the Z Fold 3 beneath.

There’ll inevitably be some individuals who anticipate the very best cameras on a cellphone that prices $1,800. I would argue that Samsung made a sensible tradeoff to maintain that value underneath $2,000.

Just like the Z Flip 3, the Z Fold 3 is basically its personal tripod. Due to its dimension and adaptability you possibly can put it almost anyplace to seize a novel angle or perspective.

The Galaxy Z Fold 3 will get multi-tasking proper

On the within, the Z Fold 3 packs almost each 2021 Android spec you would need. It has a Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 chip and 12GB of RAM. It runs Android 11 and Samsung’s One UI 3. Cut up display screen apps are extra customizable, profiting from the bigger pill display screen. You may put them facet by facet, stacked vertically and even have three. You may transfer every app round and resize their home windows. You too can save break up display screen app groupings and setups for later.

Just like the Z Flip 3, the cellphone’s settings has a piece known as Labs which helps you to optimize almost any app for the display screen. For instance, natively Instagram reveals up in a skinny vertical facet ratio with display screen house on both facet of the app. I went into Labs, and compelled it to be displayed throughout the complete display screen which labored properly.

Galaxy Z Fold 3

Multi-tasking is enjoyable and customizable on the Z Fold 3. It can save you app window layouts to make use of the identical setup once more.


Patrick Holland/CNET

A singular trait that each the Flip and Fold share is Flex Mode. You may place both cellphone half open like a mini laptop computer. Flex Mode will get extra assist in One UI 3 and there are extra apps that may make the most of it. Some apps simply transfer to the highest half of the display screen with system navigation and brightness controls on the underside. Different apps, like for movies and music, place the playback controls on the underside half of the display screen. Not each app is optimized for Flex Mode, however it is a enormous step up from the Fold 2. I nonetheless wish to see apps go farther and even be designed round Flex Mode. Are you able to think about a recreation designed for Flex Mode?

The Galaxy Z Fold 3 has lower than common battery life

The Z Fold 3’s largest disadvantage is its battery life. The twin-4,400mAh batteries are literally a tad smaller than those within the Fold 2. Because of this, the Z Fold 3 barely makes it by way of a day. I think about that has lots to do with the mix of 5G connectivity and the truth that there are two screens that run at 120Hz. Display screen-on time throughout my evaluate averaged about three and a half hours, which is not nice. I’m nonetheless operating CNET’s battery check and can replace this evaluate with the outcomes quickly.

The Fold lacks mud resistance. In my use this wasn’t a difficulty. However I like to recommend being cautious in case you take the Z Fold 3 to the seashore or on a hike or anyplace there’s potential for small particles to work together with the cellphone. This would not be an excellent cellphone for Salt BAE.

The screens and end on the physique acquire finger smudges simply. I discover myself wiping it clear always.

Samsung Z Flip 3 and Samsung Z Fold 3

The Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Z Flip 3 are fairly the pairing. One is aimed extra on the mainstream and the opposite primarily at early-adopters.


Sarah Tew/CNET

A greater foldable, however not the perfect

Whereas I proceed testing the Galaxy Z Fold 3, I nonetheless query who this cellphone is for precisely. A cellphone fanatic would possibly love the entire know-how within the Fold, particularly that folding display screen. Foldable telephones are nonetheless at a relatively early stage, however the lower cost provided by the Z Fold 3 and the Z Flip 3 in comparison with their predecessors reveals an effort to make them extra accessible. And I hope that is a pattern that continues within the coming years. I nonetheless maintain that most individuals who desire a folding cellphone will seemingly need to think about the Z Flip 3 for its acquainted flip cellphone aesthetic, however in order for you that bigger pill form 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
Show dimension, decision, refresh fee Exterior: 6.2-inch AMOLED (2,268×832 pixels); Inner: 7.6-inch AMOLED (2,208×1,768 pixels) Exterior 6.2-inch AMOLED (2,260×816 pixels); Inner: 7.6-inch AMOLED (2,208×1,768 pixels) Exterior: 4.6-inch AMOLED; (1,680×720-pixels); Inner: 7.3-inch AMOLED; (2,152×1,536 pixels)
Pixel density 387ppi (exterior) + 374ppi (inside) 386ppi (exterior) + 373ppi (inside) 362ppi (inside display screen)
Dimensions Folded: 67x158x16mm (hinge) ~14.4mm (sagging); unfolded: 128x158x6.4mm Folded: 68x159x16.8mm (hinge) ~13.8mm (sagging); unfolded: 128x159x6.9mm (body) ~6mm (display screen) Folded: 63x161x15.7mm ~17.1mm; unfolded: 118x161x6.9mm ~7.6mm
Weight 271 grams 282 grams 276grams
Software program Android 11 Android 10 Android 9
Digicam 12-megapixel (ultrawide), 12-megapixel (large), 12-megapixel (telephoto) 12-megapixel (large),12-megapixel (ultrawide), 12 megapixel (telephoto) 12-megapixel (large), 16-megapixel (ultrawide), 12-megapixel (telephoto)
Entrance digicam 4-megapixel (underneath show), 10-megapixel (entrance cowl) 10-megapixel (important show), 10-megapixel (entrance cowl) 10-megapixel (important show), 10-megapixel (entrance cowl), 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 Facet Facet No
Battery 4,400 mAh 4,500 mAh 4,380 mAh
Particular options Foldable show, 120Hz refresh fee (entrance cowl and important show), water-resistance, S Pen assist, 5G Foldable show, 120Hz refresh fee (important show), wi-fi charging assist, 5G Foldable show, Energy button, wi-fi charging, quick charging
Worth (USD) $1,800 (256GB) $2,000 $1,980

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