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Feature Articles

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 vs Fold3: Which foldable phone should I buy?

By Liu Hongzuo - 10 Sep 2021

Should I get Z Fold3 or Z Flip3?

Note: This article was originally published on 4 September 2021 and is now bumped up as phones are now officially on sale today (10 September 2021).
 

Should I get Z Fold3 or Z Flip3? Or neither?

Samsung released two phones with foldable displays (Galaxy Z Flip3 5G and Galaxy Z Fold3 5G) while skipping its more conventionally-styled Galaxy Note. Those itching for a phone upgrade now might be caught in choice paralysis.

Prices aside, which is the better foldable for you? If any?

It’s not entirely true that Z Flip3 is made for trendy fashionistas, nor is the Fold3 only for high-productivity professionals. From our experience, the choice between these two depends on the value-add you desire most.

We think the Z Flip3 5G satisfies the need for a normal smartphone with added pocketability and style points. Using a Flip3 requires you to unfold the device most of the time, with shortcuts on the outside for tasks that don’t need the whole handset. For example, a time-strapped professional might value the Cover Screen notifications for their summarised alerts and privacy (by virtue of a tinier display), and choose only to unfold the phone for priority tasks.

The Z Fold3 5G is the opposite. The front-facing Cover Screen offers a narrower, near-standard smartphone experience, while its significantly bigger Main Screen lets you unfold a tablet-like experience. Sure, you can multitask off the cloud with the Main Screen, but you’re just as likely to keep your favourite Korean drama running in the top half of the screen while gushing to your friends about how handsome the male lead is via Telegram or WhatsApp in the other half below. 

At Samsung’s current Galaxy Z juncture, picking one foldable or neither of them boils down to your expectations on how your next flagship phone should serve you better. Instead of the traditional hard-specs comparison, we've distilled possible considerations into a few tables to help you determine how these phones fit better into your life.

Editorial note: To keep this article's light-hearted nature and taking a page from our forum community, the 'Dr.Vijay thinking face' has been designated to mark the recommended device(s) for each point of consideration. 

(Side Note: The image originated from our community's meme generation effort that was derived from our decade-old Tech Awards entertainment video.)

 

The right display for you

With different Cover Screens, preferring one type of phone over another doesn't stop at the usual 'hard' specs - like colour accuracy or peak resolution and refresh rates.

Fundamentally, the Flip3's Cover Screen is nowhere as all-encompassing as the Fold3's, yet the Fold3's Cover Screen isn't quite the same experience as a regular phone either. How do you choose the 'right' display for yourself?

Display considerations - a checklist
Scenarios Get the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 Get the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 Get a 'Normal' Single-slate Flagship
Both displays should support the full functions of a normal phone  

--

Checking notifications shouldn't need the whole display / should be discreet    
I enjoy and want a significantly bigger display on my phone    
The crease ruins my life    
I want minimal black bars when watching videos of common aspect ratios  

 

Using a phone on the go

A phone's portability comes with expectations around its quick-fire, instant access. However, being easy to use doesn't only stop at whipping the phone out to tap away; does the handset suit your quirks and common behaviours? 

Easy, on the go? A checklist
Scenarios Get the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 Get the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 Get a 'Normal' Single-slate Flagship
I don't want extra steps before I unlock and browse on my phone  

Ability to operate the phone with one hand sometimes

 

Able to operate the phone with one hand at all times

    ASUS ZenFone 8, Apple iPhone 12 Mini
I need hands-free photo-taking / show-watching without propping up the phone Phone ring holder required (Lazada, Shopee)
It should not impede dual-handed mobile gaming  
It needs to be easily mounted inside/on my personal transport (car, van, bike, bicycle)  
Convenient to carry during outdoor exercise  

 

Multi-tasking, productivity, and other feature priorities

Besides habitual use, your priority features can affect your phone choice as well. Here are some considerations based on what you absolutely must do with your phone.

My phone must...? A checklist
Scenarios Get the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 Get the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 Get a 'Normal' Single-slate Flagship
... have stylus support    + add-on Stylus purchase

Older Galaxy Note series

... support two "fullscreen" apps side-by-side    
... support multiple apps at once, regardless of aspect ratio   Or get a tablet
... last long enough during a commute
... last more than 10 active hours without requiring a recharge    
... have cutting-edge photography features    
... have social media-friendly imaging/video capabilities

 

All things material

A phone isn't just a tool - the intimate position it holds in our lives speaks to our primal needs for self-expression. How much is one willing to pay to be special? This section doubles as a 'gift guide' if you're wondering the recipient would take well to the chosen phone.

What does my phone say about me? A checklist
Scenarios Get the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 Get the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 Get a 'Normal' Single-slate Flagship
I'm a trendsetter / first mover  
I want something new / fresh without changing too much  

Select models

I want a huge variety of default colour options for my phone   Select models or use a phone case
My next device should fundamentally reinvent how it does things for me    
I value simplicity / don't want to change how I use a phone    
I genuinely enjoyed using flip phones of the past    
Receiving attention from passing strangers is my birthright  
I'm cooler than all of my followers and some of my friends    
Looking important is not enough - I must look more important than anyone else    
A phone to match my cuteness    
No phone should cost more than S$1,000    
The price must substantiate its performance  
Money is no object to me    

 

Making a choice

Preferences aside, the most ideal state of foldable display technology would be one where it's no longer of consequence. Just like how users expect their new phones to have the basics (water resistance, NFC, both 4G and 5G connectivity for now), we hope for the day when foldable phones and their fringe features mature enough to be included in any handset, and not just on the Galaxy Z series.

If you've figured out which Galaxy Z phone is better for you, don't forget to check out our article containing all its pricing and availability details.

We hope this article has been handy for your shopping needs.
 

Read Next:-
1) Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 full review: Living the flip life
2) Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 full review: Splash-proof multitasker

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