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Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Galaxy Z Flip 3 First impressions: Samsung listened

Flexible displays have been on show at trade shows for over a decade, and Samsung has spearheaded an initiative to use them effectively, starting with the original Samsung Galaxy Fold in 2019.

Fast forward to today and Samsung is still leading the way when it comes to foldable smartphones. Of course, Motorola and Huawei have released their versions of foldable phones as well, but none of them seem to innovate or launch new and improved devices with the same relevance as Samsung. The company recently released the third generation of its Galaxy Z Fold foldable phones and its second generation Z Flip foldable phones, and I’ve been using both for a couple of days now, which is enough to give you my first impressions.

Let’s start with the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3. This new model is lighter than its predecessor and is said to be more durable thanks to the new “Armor Aluminum” frame. I personally haven’t used the previous model that much, but I can say that the Galaxy Z Fold 3 looks incredibly well built and durable. When you fold the display down, it makes a reassuring click, and there is absolutely no unwanted flex on any of the panels. Phantom Black looks great and the matte finish doesn’t leave a lot of fingerprints.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 has several software tricks that improve multitasking

One of the most notable changes to the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 is that the external display, or screen protector as Samsung calls it, now supports 120Hz refresh rates, just like the main foldable screen. The resolution is all HD +, but the content looks pretty crisp. Printing on this screen is a bit tricky due to its narrowness, but maybe over time I can get used to it. Cameras, buttons, speakers and ports are positioned similarly to a standard phone, but the real magic is inside.

The folding mechanism opens to reveal a massive 7.6-inch AMOLED panel with QXGA + resolution (2208×1768). There is a layer of ultra-thin (UTG) glass on top of the panel, which Samsung claims is 80 percent stronger than the previous model. The Galaxy Z Fold 3 even supports Samsung’s S Pen, the first for any foldable stylus, but you’ll need to buy the dedicated S Pen Fold edition or buy the S Pen Pro like the ones that ship with the Galaxy Note and Galaxy Tab. won’t work. The curvature along the fold axis is still visible, but barely noticeable when the display is on and when viewing content head-on.

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The camera under the display of the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 is visible against a lighter background.

Another big addition is the under-display selfie camera. When displaying lighter content, the circular camera is visible due to the much lower pixel density in this area compared to the rest of the display, but for darker backgrounds such as when watching a video, it is completely hidden. When it comes to camera quality, it’s definitely not as good as the punch-hole camera on the external display, but I still reserve my opinion for a full review.

The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 is a lot, and it’s clearly aimed at users who love multitasking and don’t mind carrying around a bulky device. On the other hand, the Galaxy Z Flip 3 is aimed at a completely different group of people looking for an even more compact smartphone. I have been using the first Galaxy Z Flip for a few days, and compared to that, the improvements in the new model are definitely noticeable.

First, this is the second generation of the Flip, contrary to what its name suggests. In my opinion, the most beneficial change is the larger 1.9 “screen compared to the 1.1” display in the previous model. The pixel count is the same, but the new dashboard is larger and much more responsive, so you can do a lot more like view emails, add widgets, etc.

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Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 is similar to the previous model, only more refined.

The Galaxy Z Flip 3 weighs the same as the older model and is actually slightly thicker when unfolded. They say that the cameras are better, which I will test in the full review. It is also available in many more colors, however only a few have been released in India at the time of this posting. The matt surface of the aluminum frame looks very nice and is much more sophisticated than the glossy surface of the previous model.

The foldable display also features the latest UTG glass and supports a 120Hz refresh rate. The hinge seems less firm than before, but you still need two hands to open it. The foldable display looks great, the colors are vibrant, and yes, the fold is still visible, but only if you look at it from the side.

Samsung has used the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 SoC in both models, so high performance and 5G support are a matter of course. Another update, common in both the Galaxy Z Fold 3 and the Galaxy Z Flip 3, is that both now have an IPX8 water resistance rating; another first for any foldable phone.

samsung galaxy z fold 3 compare ww

Samsung’s latest foldable devices look more refined and premium. But are they ready for mass adoption?

Samsung’s first-generation Galaxy Fold was more of a proof-of-concept and statement, but now the latest generation seems ready for mass adoption. It’s the same with the Galaxy Z Flip 3, which doesn’t feel like a one-off luxury product that someone might buy just for the sake of a novelty. There is still a lot of testing to be done to see what these phones are like in the real world, but so far everything looks positive. Be sure to revisit the full reviews coming soon, where I go into more detail on the software, cameras, and battery performance of these new foldable devices.

Are the Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Z Flip 3 still built for the enthusiast, or are they good enough for everyone? We discussed this on Orbital, the Gadgets 360 podcast. Orbital is available at Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon Music and wherever you find your podcasts.

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