Home Tech Reviews Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 Review – What Could Go Wrong?

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 Review – What Could Go Wrong?

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Samsung introduced two new foldable devices this 2021, the Galaxy Z Fold 3 5G and the Galaxy Z Flip 3 5G. We got our hands on the 3rd generation of foldable smartphone tablets–the Galaxy Z Fold 3. It has top-of-the-line specs and is equipped with bleeding-edge technology that is unique compared to most smartphones today. Like the under-the-display camera, foldable screen, 120hz, and a 5nm Snapdragon 888 5G processor. It’s cheaper than the Galaxy Z Fold 2 but still expensive compared to today’s flagships.

It’s a tablet that can fit in your pocket thanks to its foldable screen technology. But it’s not the most superior in tech, and in this review, we’ll rundown the ups and downs and the multitasking experience of its unique capabilities.

Pros

  • Foldable screen
  • 120hz on both display
  • Responsive multitasking
  • S-pen support
  • Tons of camera features
  • Samsung Ecosystem
  • More Durable

Cons

  • Slow charging time
  • Gimmicky under-display camera
  • Narrow cover display
  • No expandable storage

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Design

The Galaxy Z Fold 3 is one of those foldable phones with an enticing feature that draws the attention of tech enthusiasts. But even it is impressive, we can’t deny criticizing its ups and downs, my first impression is that it is bulky, and a tad too heavy at 271 grams. But once you unfolded it, it feels lighter when holding with two hands. It’s also as thick as two phones, but it has the super slim form factor of 6.4mm when unfolded.

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Compared to the predecessorthe Galaxy Z Fold 2–it has a similar design but smaller, lighter, and with a much stronger body. It has an aluminium frame, an aluminum glossy spine, and hinges that are in contact and very sturdy. Samsung calls it Armor Aluminum. It also has the latest durable glass protection–Gorilla Glass Victus for both the back and cover display. There are no durability issues so far for us, as the whole device feels premium and solid. Not to mention that the Z Fold 3 now has IPX8 water-resistant, the first fold phone alongside the Galaxy Z Flip 3 to have an official IP rating, and that’s a nice revamp compared to the 2nd generation foldable phone from Samsung.

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It is pretty sure more durable than the last iteration but the redesigned camera bump has a bump, and then each lens also protrudes. It really wobbles a lot on a flat surface. The back is matte with a glossy coating while the cover screen attracts fingerprints, which is totally in contrast to the whole body when unfolded. Making it a half fingerprint magnet and half smudge-free. It will be a big deal for some, and every time I use the main display and then getting back to the cover screen, I used to wipe off the smudges and fingerprints. One thing to do to lessen the messy look is to replace the cover screen protector with a matte one.

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Around the frame, it’s unusual to describe the location of the ports and buttons as it will change direction when you unfold it. There are four microphones and antenna bands scattered around the device and they function mainly as an omnidirectional microphone and a window for signal waves respectively. It also has two longer stereo speaker grilles with a Dolby Atmos system and the USB Type-C 3.2 port is on the bottom right side when unfolded. The volume rocker and the power button that acts as a fingerprint scanner is also on the right-hand side. The sim tray is located on the left side when unfolded and it only has a dual sim slot and no expandable storage. So you need to think more if you’ll add P8,000 more to double the storage.

Display

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Heading to one of the main attractions of the device, The Galaxy Z Fold 3 5G is a smartphone that also acts as a tablet. The cover screen boasts 6.2-inch, Dynamic AMOLED 2X (832 x 2268 pixels) while the inside screen is a huge 7.6-inch QXGA+ Dynamic AMOLED 2X Infinity Flex display. Both screens are with 120hz refresh rate, which is a nice feature that is seamless for both screens. It also uses an adaptive screen refresh rate which will save some juice as it will automatically reduce refresh rates when there are no moving parts in the UI.

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The foldable screen is large, but you have to get used to the narrow cover screen with a 25:9 ratio. Even my small hands are experiencing a typographical error as all keys in the keyboard are narrower than the usual size. The solution to these is either to install a google keyboard for glide typing or use the voice command. Or just unfold it to type on a much larger screen. Albeit it is not an ordinary smartphone and it can take some time to get used to it, but it’s quite a unique and unusual experience that is new to me.

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The crease between the foldable display is still visible and we have to live with it. But the full-screen experience is very satisfying even the under-the-display camera isn’t perfect–more of the selfie camera later. Meanwhile, Samsung also said that it has a stronger plastic protector than the previous generation. It also uses an Eco2OLED display for a brighter, punchy color display while using less power and improves the battery life.

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It also has S-Pen compatibility with a 2.8ms response time. It is one of the reasons why you will be getting the  Galaxy Z Fold 3, however, it is sold separately and it’s a shame we don’t have an S-Pen to test it out.

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Moving on to the display’s quality, Both screens have great punchy and vivid colors however, there are serious white shifts when looking at a narrower angle on the main screen, this is oftentimes noticeable when folding it 90 degrees and using flex mode–which we will talk about later. Enabling dark mode is the best option.

Overall, I can say that the screen is acceptable. The cover screen and the main foldable display are seamless thanks to the 120Hz. Scrolling or browsing in the cover screen while switching to the main screen will smoothly resize apps to adjust to the bigger screen. It’s a nice smartphone to tablet feature in which the user experience isn’t compromised and it gives flawless transitions.

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Performance and Software

Now unto the inside components, the Galaxy Z Fold 3 is equipped with top-of-the-line specs. They use Snapdragon chipset instead of the Exynos version–Snapdragon 888 5G with a small 5nm architecture. It is 5G capable and with 256GB and 512GB storage options. Both are in 12GB of ram and we got the 256GB storage.

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The performance is on par with flagships, there are no lags or stuttering, almost every game is playable. But the greatest value in the Galaxy Z Fold 3 is the multitasking experience.

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Besides running on the latest Android 11 OS, there are tons of unique features in One UI 3.1 on the Galaxy Z Fold 3. The UI feels like a tablet with submenus, and it’s a convenient UI to navigate independently with or without the s-pen. The long-lasting edge panel feature from Samsung is very special in the Galaxy Z Fold 3, if you wanna know more about the multitasking capabilities click here. Furthermore, for the connectivity, Galaxy Z Fold 3 is equipped with Wi-Fi 6e, Dual-Band, 5G, and Bluetooth 5.2. For security it has a side-mounted fingerprint scanner and face unlock. The reason the fingerprint scanner is built inside the power button is that it’s practical. I don’t want to put an under the display sensor on both screens either, the device will cost more.

Meanwhile, the flex mode, which we talked about earlier, is located inside the advance features settings tab. It is useful in a situation where you can operate the device while folding 90 degrees. Turning the other side of the panel as a useful stand when using streaming apps or video conference apps. Some apps are not yet optimized to use flex mode and enabling it manually will only have half of the screen available for viewing and with 4 functions below. But for supported apps, especially in the calendar, phone, calculator, or even in the camera app, the UI will resize and adjust to the folded screen. It is a sought-after feature for me and it really does its job.

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There’s also a better way to copy-paste texts and this adds more ways for multitasking. By highlighting the texts and dragging and dropping them to another app will copy and paste them in an instant. It is beneficial indeed, but this feature is firstly optimized on Microsoft suite apps, and we hope it will be available in other apps later on.

Again multi-tasking is very handy, but the best thing is the multi-window support, and split-screen is the most useful tool in the Galaxy Z Fold 3. There’s a horizontal split-screen or even up to 3 apps at the same time plus floating pop-up apps which will drastically increase how you operate the device. And yes, for me, the software experience is great, and multitasking is very much alive in the Galaxy Z Fold 3.

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Other apps like Penup, AR Zone, or the entire Samsung ecosystem like Bixby, Samsung Dex, etc., as well as the Google apps, are all seamless and feel like they are talking to each other about what the user will or wanted to do. They get the job done with a straightforward process.

Battery

Now unto the battery, the Galaxy Z Fold 3 5G has a slightly lower 4400mAh capacity than the previous model with a 4500mah battery. In our experience, it can only endure 4-5 hours of heavy usage, while binge-watching and some day-to-day use can last for a day. It has lesser endurance than this year’s flagships, but it still depends on the usage, and you can extend it using dark mode, turning off 120hz, or just use the cover screen all the time. However, this will have less impact on the user experience.

There’s also a 25W charging capability which is a downside with almost 2 hours to fully charge. It also comes with 11w wireless charging and 4.5w reverse charging.

These are the things to consider if you are okay with the compromised battery performance and that’s not the only matter.

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Camera

Like the battery, Galaxy Z Fold 3 is also equipped with lower numbers in its camera lenses. All three lenses are in 12MP–Main, Telephoto, and Ultrawide. Then the selfie on the cover screen is only 10MP, while the under-the-display camera is just 4MP.

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I can’t deny that the under-the-display camera has lesser quality as the layer of the material used is not completely clear. There really should be pixels but it makes it harder to get a great image quality. But it’s acceptable, unlike the punch hole cutout, the screen above the camera becomes unnoticeable when you don’t directly look at it. And that’s the trick to make it look more aesthetic and in real full screen.

There’s a give and take, but you still have the option to capture a selfie in the cover screen or much better in the rear cameras, which is another level of flexibility.

Speaking of flexibility there’s a lot of possibilities with its five cameras and the flex mode on the camera app is useful in flex mode. The viewfinder will adjust to a specific size and the captured images can easily view beside or below the half of the screen. Again, I am impressed with how the UI functions.

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The reason that these specs can be a downside is the numbers, unlike the 108MP lenses that can shoot with nano-Bayer technology or the 48-64MP sensors that use Quad-Bayer. The 12MP capture nighttime shots as is. It’s quite bright, but the higher numbers output cleaner and brighter images.

Sharpness isn’t the best either, but colors are great and acceptable with true-to-life color reproduction for both cover selfie and rear.

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For the camera features, it still has tons of useful, creative, fun, and professional features like Director’s view, Pro Video and Pro Mode, which enables DSLR controls and opens different frames in its resolutions like [email protected] or [email protected]. It also has hyper-lapse, super slow-motion and slow-motion, portrait video with a nice bokeh effect, single take and many more. It also has different video shooting modes in the selfie, but keep in mind that the 4MP under-display front cam can only shoot [email protected] while the rear and the 10MP front camera shoots up to [email protected]

Overall

Again, yes the price isn’t cheap at P87,990 for the 12GB+256GB variant while the higher storage is at P95,990(12GB+512GB). The Galaxy Z Fold 3’s camera and the battery is the clear downside. The flagship phones can have fast-charging up to 120W, 108MP cameras that use a nano Bayer technology, and bigger numbers in the specs sheets. That is the trade-off if you are going to the Z Fold 3’s foldable screen. But having a foldable phone is quite a unique tech that Samsung has for the 3rd time. And that’s incomparable to other flagships. The multitasking experience on this device is boosted, and our productivity and the experience are incredibly improved.

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Galaxy Z Fold 3 5G Price, Specs, and Availability in the Philippines

  • Network: LTE/5G
  • Display: 7.6-inch QXGA+ Dynamic AMOLED 2X Infinity Flex Display, 374PPI, 120Hz Adaptive refresh rate
  • Cover Display: 6.2-inch HD+ (2268 x 832) Dynamic AMOLED 2X Display, 387PPI, 120Hz adaptive refresh rate
  • Dimensions (Unfolded): 158.2 x 128.1 x 6.4mm
  • Dimensions (Folded): 158.2 x 67.1 x 16 ~ 14.4mm
  • Protection: Corning Gorilla Glass Victus, Armor Aluminum body
  • Sensor: Fingerprint scanner, face unlock
  • OS: One UI 3.5 (Android 11)
  • Chipset: Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 SoC (5 nm)
  • GPU: Adreno 660
  • Memory: 12GB RAM, 256GB/512GB UFS 3.1
  • Main Camera (triple): 12MP (dual-pixel), 12MP (ultrawide), 12MP (telephoto)
  • Cover Camera: 10MP
  • Front/Selfie Camera: 4MP under-display
  • Connectivity: Nano-SIM, e-SIM, WiFi 6, Bluetooth 5.2, NFC
  • Battery: 4,400mAh dual battery, 25W Charging
  • Port: USB Type-C 3.2
  • Color: Phantom Black, Phantom Green, Phantom Silver
  • IPX8 water-resistance
  • S Pen Fold Edition (No Bluetooth, compatible with Fold3 only)
  • S Pen Pro (Bluetooth, compatible with S Pen supporting devices)
  • (12GB + 256GB)- Php 87,990
  • (12GB + 512GB)- Php 95,990
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