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Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 review: A splash-proof foldable display multi-tasker now made a reality

By Liu Hongzuo - 12 Sep 2021
Launch SRP: S$2398

Benchmark Performance, Battery, Conclusion

Benchmark Performance

Galaxy Z Fold3 shares the same processor as the Z Flip3 - Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 - so both devices face similar flagship competition. Instead of the older Flip phone, we’ll swap in the Fold2 to see the generational differences in performance. We’ve conducted all the benchmarks here with the phone unfolded and Main Screen running for what it's worth.

  Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 5G Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G ASUS ZenFone 8 Xiaomi Mi 11 Oppo Find X3 Pro Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra Samsung Galaxy Z Fold2
  Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 5G Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G ASUS ZenFone 8 Xiaomi Mi 11 Oppo Find X3 Pro Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra Samsung Galaxy Z Fold2
Launch SRP
  • From S$2398
  • From S$1398
  • From S$999
  • From S$999
  • From S$1599
  • From S$1798
  • From S$1898
  • From S$2888
Operating system
  • Android 11 (One UI)
  • Android 11 (Samsung One UI)
  • Android 11 on ZenUI
  • Android 11 on MIUI 12
  • ColorOS 11.2, based on Android 11
  • Android 11 (One UI 3)
  • One UI, based on Android 10
  • Android 10 (One UI 2.1)
Processor
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 888
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 888
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 888
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 888
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 888
  • Samsung Exynos 2100, 5nm octa-core (2.9GHz + 2.8GHz + 2.2GHz)
  • Samsung Exynos 990
  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 865+
Built-in Memory
  • 12GB RAM
  • 8GB RAM
  • 8/16GB RAM (LPDDR5)
  • 8GB RAM (LPDDR5)
  • 12GB RAM
  • LPDDR5
  • 12GB or 16GB (LPDDR5)
  • 12GB RAM
  • LPDDR5
  • 12GB
Display
  • Cover Screen:
  • 6.2-inch, Dynamic AMOLED 2X, 120Hz refresh rate
  • 2,268 x 832 pixels resolution (387ppi)
  • Main Screen:
  • 7.6-inch, Dynamic AMOLED 2X Infinity Flex Display, 120Hz refresh rate
  • 2,208 x 1,768 pixels (373ppi)
  • 6.7-inch Main Screen / 2,640 x 1,080 pixels (425 ppi) / Dynamic AMOLED 2X Infinity Flex / 120Hz adaptive refresh rate
  • 1.9-inch Cover Screen / 512 x 260 pixels (302 ppi) / Super AMOLED
  • 5.9-inches 2,400 x 1,080 pixels (445 ppi) AMOLED, 20:9 ratio, 120Hz refresh rate, HDR10+, 1,100-nits brightness
  • 6.81-inches 3,200 x 1,440 pixels (515 ppi) AMOLED, 20:9 ratio, 120Hz refresh rate, HDR10+, 10-bit colour
  • 6.7-inch / 3,216 x 1,440 pixels (525 ppi) / 120Hz refresh rate / 240Hz touch sampling rate / AMOLED Display
  • 6.8-inch, curved, Dynamic AMOLED 2X, Infinity-O
  • 3,200 x 1,440 pixels (515ppi)
  • 120Hz adaptive refresh rate
  • Eye Comfort Shield
  • 6.9-inch / 3,088 x 1,440 pixels (496 ppi) / 120Hz refresh rate / 240Hz touch sampling rate / HDR10+ / Dynamic AMOLED 2X Infinity-O Display
  • Cover Screen:
  • 6.2-inch, Super AMOLED, 25:9 aspect ratio
  • 2,260 x 816 pixels resolution (386ppi)
  • 60Hz refresh rate
  • Main Screen:
  • 7.6-inch, Dynamic AMOLED 2X, 22.5:18 aspect ratio
  • 2,208 x 1,768 pixels (373ppi)
  • 120Hz refresh rate
Camera
  • Rear:
  • 12MP, f/1.8, wide-angle 1.8µm, OIS Dual Pixel PDAF, OIS
  • 12MP, f/2.2, ultra-wide, 1.12µm, 123° FOV
  • 12MP, f/2.4, telephoto, 1.0µm, OIS 2x Zoom
  • Cover:
  • 10MP, f/2.2, selfie, 1.22µm
  • Front:
  • 4MP, under-display, f/1.8, portrait, 2.0µm
  • Rear:
  • 12MP main, f/1.8 aperture, 1.4μm pixel size, Dual Pixel, OIS
  • 12MP ultra-wide, f/2,2 aperture, 1.12μm pixel size
  • Front:
  • 10MP, f/2.4 aperture,1.22μm pixel size
  • Rear:
  • 64MP main, 1/1.7-inch sensor size, 0.8μm pixel size, 1.6μm with Quad Bayer, f/1.8, 4-axis OIS, 2x1 OCL PDAF
  • 12MP ultra-wide, 113° FOV, f/2.2, Dual PDAF, 4cm macro shooting
  • Front:
  • 12MP, 1.22μm pixel size, Dual PDAF
  • Rear:
  • 48 MP main, 1/1.33-inch sensor size, 0.8μm pixel size, 1.6μm 4-in-1 Super Pixel, f/1.85, OIS
  • 13MP ultra-wide, 123° FOV, f/2.4
  • 5MP telemacro, f/2.4
  • Front:
  • 20MP, 0.8μm pixel size, 1.6μm 4-in-1 Super Pixel, f/2.2
  • Rear:
  • 50MP, Sony IMX766 1/1.56-inch sensor size, f/1.8, All Pixel Omni-Directional PDAF, OIS
  • 50MP, Sony IMX766 1/1.56-inch sensor size, f/2.2, 110° FOV, 4cm Macro, All Pixel Omni-Directional PDAF
  • 13MP Telephoto, f/2.4, 5x Hybrid Zoom, 20x Digital Zoom
  • 3MP Microlens, 60x magnification, f/3.0
  • Front:
  • 32MP, f/2.4
  • Rear:
  • 108MP, f/1.8, wide-angle 0.8µm, PDAF, OIS
  • 12MP, f/2.2, ultra-wide, 1.4µm, 120° FOV, Dual Pixel AF
  • 10MP, f/2.4, telephoto, 1.22µm, Dual Pixel AF, 3x Optical Zoom
  • 10MP, f/4.9, telephoto, 1.22µm, Dual Pixel AF, 10x Optical Zoom
  • Laser AutoFocus sensor
  • Front:
  • 40MP, f/2.2, portrait, 0.7µm, PDAF
  • Rear:
  • 12MP Ultra Wide Camera, 1.4μm pixel size, 120 ̊ FOV, f/2.2 aperture
  • 108MP Wide-Angle Camera with PDAF and OIS, 1.4μm, 79 ̊ FOV, f/1.8
  • 12MP Telephoto Camera, 1.0μm, 20 ̊ FOV, f/3.0
  • Laser Autofocus Sensor
  • 5x Optical Zoom
  • 50x Super Resolution Zoom
  • Front:
  • 10MP Selfie Camera with Dual Pixel AF, 1.22μm, 80 ̊ FOV, f/2.2
  • Rear:
  • 12MP, f/1.8, wide-angle 1.8µm, Super Speed Dual Pixel PDAF, OIS
  • 12MP, f/2.2, ultra-wide, 1.12µm, 123° FOV
  • 12MP, f/2.4, telephoto, 1.0µm, PDAF, OIS
  • Cover:
  • 10MP, f/2.2, selfie, 1.22µm
  • Front:
  • 10MP, f/2.2, portrait, 1.22µm
Connectivity
  • LTE / 5G (NSA, SA, Sub6, mmWave)
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/ax, dual-band, Wi-Fi Direct, hotspot, Bluetooth 5.0, A2DP, LE
  • GPS, GLONASS, BDS, GALILEO, BeiDou
  • NFC, UWB
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/ax, 5G (NSA, SA, Sub6, mmWave), 4G (LTE Cat 20) , Bluetooth 5.1, MIMO (2x2), GPS, GLONASS, BeiDou, NFC, USB-C
  • Wi-Fi 6/6E (802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/ax, 2x2 MIMO), Bluetooth 5.2, L1+L5 GPS, L1 GLONASS, E1+E5a GALILEO, USB-C, NFC, 3.5mm audio jack
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/6, Bluetooth 5.2, L1+L5 GPS, G1 GLONASS, E1+E5a GALILEO, Beidou, USB-C, NFC
  • Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n/ac/ax (2.4Ghz, 5.1Ghz, 5/8Ghz), Wi-Fi Direct, hotspot, Bluetooth 5.2, A-GPS, Beidou, Glonass, Galileo, GPS
  • LTE / 5G (NSA, SA, Sub6)
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/ax, dual-band, Wi-Fi Direct, hotspot, Bluetooth 5.0, A2DP, LE
  • GPS with A-GPS, GLONASS, BDS, GALILEO
  • NFC
  • 5G (NSA, SA, mmWave), LTE (4x4 MIMO up to Cat 20), Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n/ac/ax (2.4GHz, 5GHz, MIMO), NFC, Bluetooth 5.0, GPS, Beidou, Glonass, Galileo, BeiDou, Ultra Wide Band
  • LTE / 5G (Sub6)
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/ax, dual-band, Wi-Fi Direct, hotspot, Bluetooth 5.0, A2DP, LE
  • GPS with A-GPS, GLONASS, BDS, GALILEO
  • NFC
Storage Type
  • 256GB
  • 512GB
  • No MicroSD slot
  • 128GB internal storage
  • 256GB internal storage
  • UFS 3.1
  • 256GB internal storage, UFS 3.1
  • 128/256GB internal storage, UFS 3.1
  • 256GB internal storage
  • UFS 3.0
  • 256GB or 512GB
  • No microSD card slot
  • 256GB internal storage
  • 256GB
  • No MicroSD slot
Battery
  • 4,400mAh
  • 25W Fast Charging
  • 10W Wireless Fast Charging
  • 4.5W Reverse Wireless Charging
  • Wireless PowerShare
  • 3,300mAh
  • 15W Fast Charging
  • 10W Fast Wireless Charging
  • Wireless PowerShare
  • 4,000mAh
  • 33W wired fast-charging
  • 4,500mAh
  • 55W wired fast-charging
  • 50W wireless fast-charging
  • 10W reverse wireless charging
  • 4,500mAh
  • 65W SuperVOOC 2.0
  • 30W AirVOOC (wireless charging)
  • 5,000mAh
  • 25W Super Fast Charging
  • 15W Wireless Fast Charging
  • 4,500mAh
  • USB PD 3.0 Fast Charging, AFC, QC 2.0
  • Samsung Fast Wireless Charging 2.0 (15W)
  • 4,500mAh
  • 25W Super Fast Charging
  • 15W Wireless Fast Charging
  • Wireless PowerShare
Dimensions
  • Folded: 67.1 x 158.2 x 14.4 - 16.0mm
  • Unfolded: 128.1 x 158.2 x 6.4mm
  • Unfolded: 166.0 x 72.2 x 6.9mm
  • Folded: 86.4 x 72.2 x 15.9 - 17.1mm
  • 148 x 68.5 x 8.9mm
  • 164.3 x 74.6 x 8.06mm
  • 163.6 x 74.0 x 8.26mm
  • 75.6 x 165.1 x 8.9mm
  • 164.8 x 77.2 x 8.1mm
  • Folded: 68 x 159.2 x 13.8 - 16.8mm
  • Unfolded: 128.2 x 159.2 x 6.0 - 6.9mm
Weight
  • 271g
  • 183g
  • 169g
  • 196g
  • 193g
  • 227g
  • 208g
  • 282g

 

JetStream 2.0

JetStream 2 is a combination of a variety of JavaScript and Web Assembly benchmarks, including benchmarks that came before like SunSpider and Octane. It primarily tests for a system’s and browser’s ability in delivering a good web experience. It runs a total of 64 subtests, each weighted equally, with multiple iterations, and takes the geometric mean to compute the overall score.

 

AnTuTu 

Note: As of 9th March 2020, all AnTuTu benchmarks were removed from the Google Play Store. This move likely arose from Google's attempts to relieve the Play Store of apps that violate their policies. AnTuTu is working with Google to restore their app listing. For this review, we used the APK file that was available on AnTuTu's website.

AnTuTu is an all-in-one benchmark that tests CPU, GPU, memory, and storage. The CPU benchmark evaluates both integer and floating-point performance, and the GPU tests assess 2D and 3D performance, the memory test measures available memory bandwidth and latency, and the storage tests gauge the read and write speeds of a device's flash memory.

 

Geekbench 5

Geekbench CPU is a cross-platform processor benchmark that tests both single-core and multi-core performance with workloads that simulate real-world usage. Geekbench 5 scores are calibrated against a baseline score of 1000, which is the score of an Intel Core i3-8100.

 

3DMark Sling Shot Extreme

3DMark Sling Shot is an advanced 3D graphics benchmark that tests the full range of OpenGL ES 3.1 and ES 3.0 API features including multiple render targets, instanced rendering, uniform buffers and transform feedback. The test also includes impressive volumetric lighting and post-processing effects. The test's Unlimited mode ignores screen resolutions.

We’re also collecting scores with 3DMark’s new benchmark, Wild Life. Below are the test’s Unlimited Mode scores. 

 

Battery Life

Our standard battery test for mobile phones has the following parameters:

  • Looping a 720p video with screen brightness and volume at 100%
  • Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity turned on
  • Constant data streaming through email and Twitter

Nearly 10 hours of uptime puts the 4,400mAh Galaxy Z Fold3 5G almost on par with its predecessor’s battery life - which is great, considering the jump in processing power and its slightly smaller capacity. It’s not so great if you’re expecting this big foldable phone to last longer than other Android SD888 alternatives though. In our usage, an idle folded Fold3 left overnight can consume 9% (on average) of its battery life. 

It took only 38 minutes to charge from 0% to 50%, and 97 minutes for a full charge with a third-party fast-charger. When we checked at our battery readings, the fast-charging speed tapers off to normal charging speeds at the 86% mark.

If you recall, we were already not pleased when Samsung left out a charging adapter with the Z Flip3 5G. The Z Fold3 also excludes that accessory, which irks us further - you’d think that Samsung could’ve fit the accessory in with the Fold3’s premium sticker price. USB-only charging with the provided cable doesn’t let Fold3 owners take full advantage of the fast-charging profiles on its high-specced phones either.

 

Conclusion

The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 is a better book-style foldable than the Z Fold2 because of its added water resistance, S Pen support, extra nano-SIM slot, and the extra attention paid to make the form factor carry its weight.

Having current-gen flagship-grade performance and a 120Hz Cover Screen helps to justify its premium positioning among Samsung’s many alternatives. Plus, it also helps that older Fold owners are paying less to upgrade this time around, while getting better performance. Where the Fold3 shines is what Samsung already did well with its predecessor, which is now further refined with Labs and a pinnable Taskbar to enhance the phone's productivity and user experience.

Where it surprised us was its under-display camera, which didn’t get in the way of facial recognition unlocking of the phone. The older Fold had a literal hole for its Main Screen camera cutout, so it’s still a quality-of-life upgrade without compromising on functionality, even if it doesn't offer flatteirng photo-taking experience.

Beyond that, the Z Fold3’s inherent concerns remain. If the crease on the more affordable Z Flip3 is enough to put you off - well, Z Fold3 comes with an even bigger crease. Let's not forget that it’s also significantly bulkier than other phones, even after its weight reduction in its third iteration. The Cover Screen may be better for browsing, but it still isn’t any better for typing than before. Then, there’s the lack of a charging adapter in the box for such an expensive device - it borders on poor taste, which is uncharacteristic for a brand making consistently high-quality phones. Why not offer it as an option for those who do need a suitable new fast charger, but without the added cost?

We’ll add our complete thoughts on the Fold3 being a viable Galaxy Note upgrade once Samsung sends us a compatible S Pen. At this point, Samsung skipping the Galaxy Note brings up an inevitable comparison to the Z Fold3. The lack of compatibility with older S Pens (and having to pay for a new S Pen separately) isn’t exactly convincing to Note fans, even though the display is utterly amazing for extra doodling, annotations, and cross-app use on its huge screen.

Without the S Pen, The Galaxy Z Fold3 still makes for an excellent upgrade over the first and second Fold. It’s also a pleasant handset for users who want to see more, do more, and get more out of their mobile phones. It is after all, made for consumers who want to rock a big screen in pocketable fashion but without lugging a full sized tablet.

However, if you’re happy with paying ‘normal’ flagship prices for ‘normal’ flagship-tier mobiles and ‘normal’ phone experiences, you can continue to give the Fold3 a miss and treat yourself to a nice Galaxy Buds2 and a Samsung Galaxy Watch4 with the money saved (or even purchase another pair for your other half).

That said, you shouldn’t sleep on the Fold3, because the big screen really changes how you use smartphones as a whole - once you figure out how you plan to carry the phone as well as which kidney to sell.

Don’t forget to check out all the pricing and availability details here to maximise your purchase options and to factor in all the accessory costs.

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8.0
  • Design 8.5
  • Features 8.5
  • User-Friendliness 8.5
  • Performance 9
  • Value 7
The Good
New UI features to maximise Main Screen use
Slimmer and lighter
IP-rated water resistance
Added S Pen support
Better screens
A tablet in your pocket
The Bad
Shorter battery life compared to single-display flagships
Main Screen crease still visible
Typing on Cover Screen is still difficult
Lighter, but still bulky compared to traditional phones
Price reduction, yet still expensive
Requires accessories to make full use of the phone - Fast charging adapter, S Pen, Phone cover with S Pen holder
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