Samsung has the entire racetrack to itself. Everyone else is just so far behind, it is reminiscent of the dominating victories Michael Schumacher and Mika Hakkinen often pulled out of the hat, in the yesteryears of Formula 1 racing. It may feel like yesterday when Samsung had to course-correct on the first-generation foldable phone, credit where it is due, but you’ll soon realise a lot of time has passed. And since then, the company has not one but two very distinct foldable phone form factors in their product lines. Rivals? Sporadic competition, in the case of this Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G, with the Motorola Razr 5G that is still clinging on to the past in great hope. Something that’s reflecting on the spec sheet too, in some ways. The thing is, the Galaxy Z Flip3 5G has effectively consigned it to the past, yet again.
The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G goes on sale in India in two variants. The 8GB RAM and 128GB storage option is priced at Rs 84,999 while the 8GB+256GB config sports a Rs 88,999 price tag. The Motorola Razr 5G, updated last year and nothing’s been heard of since, started off in life with a price tag of Rs 1,49,999 which soon course corrected to Rs 89,999 the last we heard of it. It is a no comparison on the spec sheet too. The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G has a larger display (6.7-inches compared with 6.2-inches), higher resolution (2640×1080 pixels as against 2142×876 pixels), newer and more powerful Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 processor (the Moto Razr 5G runs a Qualcomm Snapdragon 765G chip), newer Android and a larger battery as well. No brainer then, isn’t it?
I said it before that this is the more approachable foldable smartphone. First, the price tag. It is less of an outlay of your cash to get into the foldables space than what the larger and absolutely gorgeous Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 5G demands. Secondly, this form factor may just be more comfortable for a wider demographic of potential buyers. You don’t always need to keep both hands free to use the phone. And finally, the pocketability may unsurprisingly be a hit across genders. In a way, the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G is perhaps the best bet for anyone who is willing to spend Android flagship smartphone prices and get the added fun of getting their hands on a foldable phone instead of a traditional smartphone form factor from the Galaxy S series or indeed any other Android phone.
In its third generation, the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G has seriously dialed up the robustness stakes as well. The foldable screen is the Samsung Ultra Thin Glass, which while adding a panel layer and a protective film, is now claimed to 80% more durable than before. Much like its sibling, the Galaxy Z Flip3 5G also gets the new Armor Aluminum, which is the strongest aluminum composition ever used by Samsung in their phones. The water resistance is IPX8. And then there is Corning Gorilla Glass layer on the front and the back (for the parts that aren’t aluminum only) adds an added layer of robustness. A lot of similarities carry forward from the predecessor too, such as the overall footprint and the design of the hinge—though for the latter, Samsung says that it has been treated differently on the inside, for longevity. What hasn’t changed is you’ll still not be able to flick it open with one hand, and you should embrace that resistance as it is better for the lifetime of the foldable phone.
Unfold this, and the Galaxy Z Flip3 5G will look and feel much like any flagship Android phone. Except it may be a few millimeters taller in comparison. The flex line on the display isn’t visible and hides away nicely. It feels really nice in the hand, and you should be ready to have all preconceived notions about foldable phones being flimsy, disappear in a few hours, if not days. At this time, your choices are between the Cream and Phantom Black colour options—and what you see here is the latter colour option, which in my opinion, looks really good in the darker hues.
Two screens on foldable phones is very much the way Samsung does things. In the case of the Galaxy Z Flip3 5G, there’s a utilitarian cover screen and of course, the larger foldable screen. The cover screen has grown in size over time and is now 1.9-inch Super AMOLED. Well placed to let you quickly glance at what the new notifications are and also swipe through a bunch of widgets for quick access to things such as music. It can also be a viewfinder for selfies, allowing you to use the dual camera setup at the back.
Nevertheless, you’d probably be interfacing more with the Galaxy Z Flip3 5G’s 6.7-inch Foldable Dynamic AMOLED 2X screen. It is just that good. Ticks off what you’d want—that’s 120Hz refresh rate, support for HDR10+ as well as rated at 1200nits of peak brightness. It is brighter and smoother than the model it precedes, and without losing on what you’d typically expect from a Samsung flagship phone display—really vibrant colours and deep blacks. The screen protection layer has been changed and it also feels a tad different than before, in the sense that it feels smoother with less resistance for the finger gestures. Mind you, don’t go ahead and remove this factory fitted protector, because Samsung absolutely doesn’t recommend that.
You probably are asking this—does the finger feel the crease in the center of this display as you use it? The thing is, your finger will feel it but more often than not, your eyes will not really see it. Unless what you are watching has a really dark tone to it. The crease where the phone folds never gets in the way at all as you use the Galaxy Z Flip3 5G.
Under the hood is the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 processor, in line with its sibling, the Galaxy Z Fold3 5G. This is right up there in terms of performance as the newest Android flagship phones that alternatively are vying for your attention. We’ve been spoilt so much that this clarification is necessary—8GB RAM in the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G is absolutely more than enough and I didn’t notice the phone slowing down or feeling the weight of multitasking, at any point, during my testing process. The 3,300mAh dual cell battery isn’t the largest and you’ll realise that soon enough. Yet, it isn’t a discomfort point because even when used extensively for apps and some photography, this easily lasted a day on a single charge and got docked on the charger will still 12% battery remaining. But that’s it, it’ll do a day on a single charge.
Cameras are where Samsung has made the least effort with significant upgrades with this year’s foldable phones. Much like the Galaxy Z Fold3 5G, the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G also retains largely the same camera hardware as last year’s phones. These cameras continue to be good. Very good in fact. Just don’t expect them to be great. If cameras are your primary requirement for the very latest and the best photo and video experience, you’d probably want to look at the latest Galaxy S21 Ultra. The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G will give you a consistent return with photos and colours that are pleasing to the eye, good dynamic range and generous detailing. This is perhaps one of those rare phones that’s turning around and saying megapixels don’t necessarily matter. That may very well be true too.
The Last Word: Refinement Is The Name Of The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G Game
I had said in my review of the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 5G that it is the most convincing foldable phone yet. With that form factor, you get so much more foldable phone to use and enjoy. That may not be for everyone though, the audience that specifically cries out for portability, compactness and shaving off the grams and millimeters to improve ergonomics. And that’s where the form factor of the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G works very well. Unfolded, it is pretty much the way a traditional smartphone would look, feel and work. Folded, you get a compact footprint, to tuck away in your handbag or trouser pockets. And while at that, it’s packing in very powerful innards and a gorgeous display, while carrying forward a consistent camera. Foldable phones are no longer phones to be scared of. And this one may well be within your Android flagship phone budget.