KFoldable or foldable smartphones were and are a niche product, and there are many reasons for this. They are disproportionately expensive, with their complex mechanics more prone to repair, and despite all promises to the contrary, they do not replace a tablet. Currently, only Motorola, Samsung and Huawei are still in this market. The latter without Google services and therefore unsuccessful. Motorola’s Razr 5G flip phone costs 1500 euros with a mid-range device. But now Samsung is really turning it up. A Korean flip phone is so good that we are considering buying it.
The Galaxy Z Flip 3 costs 1050 euros with 128 gigabytes of storage and 1100 euros with twice the storage space. So it is on a par with the traditional upper-class smartphones from the Koreans, but has the advantage of the original design. When folded, it fits 7.4 × 8.8 centimeters and a thickness of 1.7 centimeters in any pocket that still has space for a Hanuta.
The two halves of the display can be opened at an angle of 90 degrees, then the Galaxy stands on the table like a mini notebook. As an extra there is a 1.9-inch external display (260 × 512 pixels), which shows push messages, allows widgets to be started and serves as a camera viewfinder. A 6.7-inch display in Amoled technology, which shines with strong contrasts and colors, is fully opened. The resolution is 2640 × 1080 pixels, the kink in the middle can hardly be seen under direct supervision. The brightness and precise color rendering are another plus point, as is the refresh rate of 120 Hertz. Please note, however, that, unlike a conventional smartphone, the main display is not protected with glass and is more sensitive to scratches and other damage. Samsung promises that the Flip will withstand 200,000 folding operations, that’s five years with 100 operations per day. The device is protected against water in accordance with IPX8.
The Snapdragon 888 processor offers a brisk pace, it can access eight gigabytes of RAM, and the other equipment is almost complete: Wifi 6, the new 5G cellular standard and support for an E-Sim in addition to the Nano-Sim are part of it. There is a biometric fingerprint sensor on the side in the power button, which is unfortunately a little too high. It works fine. There is also face recognition to lock and unlock, you shouldn’t use it because it can be easily tricked with a photo.
A total of three cameras are built into the Flip 3. The indoor camera for selfies has 10 megapixels with a maximum aperture of f / 2.4. But you’d better take the two high-quality outdoor cameras. If you press the power button twice in quick succession, the external display becomes a camera viewfinder and gives a preview of the image. This creates better photos. The outside cameras are a wide angle with an aperture of f / 1.8 and an ultra wide angle with an aperture of f / 2.2, both with 12 megapixels each. So there is no telephoto, and the Flip 3 can hardly be used for zoom shots. The image quality is okay, but not outstanding.
You won’t get through the day with that
The Galaxy Z Flip 3 has two serious disadvantages: Android 11 is fundamentally redesigned by Samsung, some details are appealing, but many are not. Bloatware of all kinds is part of it, and for the most part the advertising software cannot be deleted. You are constantly being asked to switch to the Samsung ecosystem with all conceivable services, which is annoying. Second, the 3300 mAh battery life is disappointing. You won’t get through the day with that. This can be remedied by switching the refresh rate down to 60 Hertz, but even then the Flip 3 will not be an endurance runner. All in all, however, this clamshell phone could be the breakout from the niche.
We wouldn’t make such a prediction for its big brother, the Galaxy Z Fold 3. It costs 1800 euros with 256 gigabytes of storage and 100 euros more with 512 gigabytes. When folded, it is no larger than a conventional smartphone at 15.9 × 6.8 centimeters, but twice as thick (1.6 centimeters) and at 270 grams also significantly heavier.
The Fold has a large external display with a diagonal of 6.2 inches and, when opened, a square internal display with 7.6 inches and a resolution of 2208 × 1768 pixels. In order to use this format sensibly, the apps have to be adapted, which they are only seldom outside of Samsung’s own in-house. You can clearly feel a protective film over the display, it should better contain scratches. There is a sensor film underneath it so that you can draw with a Samsung digital pen (not included). Multitasking is interesting with the option of opening several windows of different apps at the same time, for example to read e-mails and watch a video at the same time. If you set up the fold like a notebook, you can see the text in Word at the top and an on-screen keyboard at the bottom. The Fold uses the same processor as the Flip, also has a screen refresh rate of 120 Hetz, but can fall back on 12 gigabytes of RAM and has a much more powerful battery that can easily last a day.
A total of five cameras are installed here. The one in the interior display is hidden under the display, but is visible. It has a resolution of only 4 megapixels. The front camera with a recess in the large external display has 10 megapixels, and the most important detail of the three lenses on the back is the 12 megapixel telephoto lens compared to the flip. When it comes to bloatware and software, patience is also being strained here. Apart from that, I like the high quality of workmanship and the mechanical appearance of the folding mechanism. The battery of both devices can be charged inductively, and it is incomprehensible that neither a corresponding QI adapter nor a charger is included.