Note: This review was first published on 24 August 2021.
If you’re only just hearing about the foldable smartphones launched at Samsung’s August 2021 Unpacked event, here’s the quick low down for the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G.
Samsung’s first-ever Galaxy Z Flip device was first introduced in late-2019/ early-2020, coming after its first foldable display phone, the Galaxy Fold. The Galaxy Z Flip was Samsung’s first foray into a flip-style foldable display for a handset, whereas the Galaxy Fold adopted a book-style fold instead.
Both were flagship devices, but Samsung already had better-priced Galaxy S and Galaxy Note product lines for the mass market. Also, both Galaxy Z phones had nascent folding technologies, making them more visionary than mainstream. Folks who bought the first versions of either phone were willing to shell out premium dollars to try a handset form factor that was unique to modern smartphones.
The second Z Flip device was the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5G, which saw some under-the-hood upgrades. Samsung gave it an up-to-date flagship processor and 5G connectivity. In addition, to help differentiate it from the nearly-identical Z Flip before it, the Z Flip 5G came in two colours that weren’t available before.
With two Z Flips before it, Samsung’s 2021 flip-style foldable phone is aptly called the Galaxy Z Flip3 5G. Sure, the Koreans skipped a number, but this year’s flip-style foldable flagship device is indeed the third generation of its line. Unlike the second Flip, Flip3 saw a much larger upgrade leap between generations too.
Another crucial point in Samsung’s smartphone history was the skipping of this year’s Galaxy Note series. With a worldwide chipset shortage not letting up anytime soon, Samsung told its shareholders that it would skip 2021’s Galaxy Note launch earlier this year. This was also confirmed at our physical demo session with the new Galaxy Z phones - there will be no Galaxy Note device launched this year - although it doesn’t exclude the possibility of another Note in the future.
That, however, isn’t the only reason why the Galaxy Z Flip3 5G and Galaxy Z Fold3 5G went from being experimental devices to staple flagship handsets, which brings us to the next point.
A big part of the Galaxy Z Flip3 5G’s appeal is its launch price. At S$1,398 and S$1,498 (128GB and 256GB, respectively), these prices are a steep reduction from the initial Z Flip and Z Flip 5G that launched at S$1,998 each. Moreover, with the Flip3’s starting prices coming down to that of the Samsung Galaxy S21 series, the Flip3 5G is much more accessible to mainstream flagship phone users.
Money aside, the flip-style phones also required some fine-tuning before they could see mass-market acceptance. According to Samsung, they improved the new devices after listening to customers' feedback on the first two Flips - two pet peeves being that the previous phones did not have IP-rated water and dust resistance. But, the foldable CAM mechanism on the old Flips and Fold2 can help keep some dirt and grime out of the joints, so Samsung improved the same folding mechanism with some water resistance, and the Galaxy Z Flip3 5G is now IPX8 certified as well.
Another important upgrade was the 1.9-inch Cover Screen. Samsung rotated the dual cameras and flash by 90°, using the freed up space to park a secondary panel that is four times larger than the 1.1-inch sliver found on the older Flips. The size increase also made it more practical (and easier) to use features like widgets, Quick Shot, Dual Preview, and improved notifications handling, which we’ll touch on in the review.
The 6.7-inch Main Screen is an FHD+ Dynamic AMOLED 2X Infinity Flex display that remains largely unchanged. Still, the new protective film layer on the foldable panel is 80% more durable to scratches than its predecessor. The rear plates also now use Corning Gorilla Glass Victus, and the phone itself is built using a new Armor Aluminium that Samsung claims is 10% tougher than the Galaxy Z phones before. All in all, these enhancements address the durability concerns of Samsung’s foldable phones.
Together with an up-to-date flagship-tier mobile processor (Qualcomm Snapdragon 888), these upgrades sound like what consumers usually ask for - cheaper, better, faster.
However, will all these tweaks amount to a Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G that customers will finally pay for? Let’s find out.
|Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G|