Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 Review

By: Alex Chub | 22.10.2021, 00:00
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 Review

 

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 keeps the tradition of its predecessors. This is the most technologically advanced flagship smartphone, which is not suitable for everyone. Thanks to the folding design, the flexible internal screen of a large diagonal and an additional external one, the smartphone has a lot of options for use. But this is more for a narrow geek audience than for the mainstream user.

In terms of features, the new Galaxy Z Fold3 is a systematic improvement over its predecessor: better quality and stronger screens, S Pen support, an updated flagship platform, a reinforced body, full water protection and a not so visible under-screen front camera. High-quality stereo sound and a good main camera are also present. Of course, there are a little issues with the smartphone, too. If you use the smartphone excessively, you will have to charge it by the end of the day.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3
The most sophisticated smartphone on the market
A flagship foldable smartphone with a flexible 7.6-inch internal AMOLED screen and an additional external 6.2-inch screen. Equipped with Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 processor, 12GB of RAM and 256/512GB of internal storage, a triple main camera, a front-facing underscreen camera inside and a standard outside. It is powered by a 4,400mAh battery and has IPX8 water protection.
Read Verified Customer Reviews

Pros:

  • The most technologically advanced smartphone on the market
  • Excellent quality AMOLED-screen with 120 Hz refresh rate and support HDR10 +
  • A lot of scenarios due to the folding design
  • Flagship stuffing
  • Reinforced construction IPX8 waterproof
  • Great quality main camera

Cons:

  • Average battery life
  • Fold is still there
  • No budget price

                                                                                                           

What's in the Package?

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Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 arrived to us without branded packaging, but with the kit. And if you expected some bonuses in the box with such an expensive device, we have to disappoint you. In addition to the smartphone, the box will contain a USB Type-C cable, a tool to remove the tray and documentation.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 vs Samsung Galaxy Fold2

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To begin with, let's briefly discuss how the new Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 differs from its predecessor. The folding design remains the same, but the weight and dimensions are slightly reduced, as well as the materials used. The company has made the new smartphone significantly more durable, which is especially important given the design.

The glass panels are Corning Gorilla Victus, the back is matte. The case is made of so-called Armor Aluminium, which is (in theory) strong and lightweight.

But the two most important design differences are the coating of the flexible inner display has become 80% stronger compared to the last generation (of course, according to the official data) And now the smartphone is IPX8 waterproof, for which Samsung engineers are to be complimented.

The screens have not changed too much in diagonal and resolution. But the external one now also supports the adaptive frequency of 120 Hz, and the internal one has received support for S Pen and a front-facing camera under the screen. Currently, there is no way to make it completely invisible, but it is really not conspicuous.

The rest is minor: the current flagship Snapdragon 888 processor and a slightly smaller battery: 4400 mAh versus 4500 mAh in the Fold2.

A more detailed comparison of the characteristics:

Specification
  Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 Samsung Galaxy Z Fold2
Main display Foldable Dynamic AMOLED 2X, 7.6 inches, 2208x1768 (22.5:18 aspect ratio), 373 ppi, HDR10+, 120 Hz Foldable Dynamic AMOLED 2X, 7.6", 2208x1768 (aspect ratio 22.5:18), 373 ppi, HDR10+, 120 Hz
External display Dynamic AMOLED 2X, 6.2", 24.5:9, 2268x832, 120 Hz Super AMOLED, 6.23", 25:9, 2260x816
Case Opened: 158.2x128.1x6.4mm; Closed: 158.2x67.1x14.4-16mm, weight: 271g Opened: 159.2x128.2x6.9 mm; Closed: 159.2x68x13.8-16.8 mm, weight: 282 g
Processor 64-bit octa-core 5nm Qualcomm Snapdragon 888: 1x2.84GHz Kryo 680 + 3x2.42GHz Kryo 680 + 4x1.80GHz Kryo 680, Adreno 660 graphics 64-bit octa-core 7nm+ Qualcomm Snapdragon 865: 1x3.09GHz Kryo 585 + 3x2.42GHz Kryo 585 + 4x1.80GHz Kryo 585, Adreno 650 graphics
RAM 12GB 12GB
Flash memory 256/512GB UFS 3.1 256GB UFS 3.1
Camera

Main camera: 12 MP, f/1.8, 26 EFR, 1/1.76", 1.8µm, Dual Pixel PDAF, OIS; ultra-wide angle: 12 MP, f/2.2, 123°; telephoto: 12 MP, f/2.4, 52 mm EFR, 1/3.6", 1.0µm, PDAF, OIS, 2x optical zoom; front (internal): under-screen, 4 MP, f/.1.8, 2.0µm; front (external): 10 MP f/2.2 with autofocus

Main camera: 12 MP, f/1.8, 26 EFR, 1/1.76", 1.8µm, Dual Pixel PDAF, OIS; ultra-wide angle: 12 MP, f/2.2, 123°; telephoto: 12 MP, f/2.4, 52 mm EFR, 1/3.6", 1.0µm, PDAF, OIS, 2x optical zoom; front (internal): 10 MP f/2.2 with autofocus; front (external): 10 MP f/2.2 with autofocus
Wireless Technologies Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n/ac/ax/6e (dual band, 2.4 and 5 GHz), Bluetooth 5.2 LE, NFC, ANT+, UWB Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n/ax (dual band, 2.4 and 5 GHz), Bluetooth 5.0 LE, NFC, ANT+, UWB
GPS GPS, A-GPS, GLONASS, BDS, GALILEO GPS, A-GPS, GLONASS, BDS, GALILEO
Battery 4400 mAh, non-removable, 25W fast charging, 11W wireless charging, reverse wireless charging 4500 mAh, non-removable, fast charging 25W, wireless charging 11 W, reverse wireless charging
Operating system Android 11 + One UI 3.1 Android 10 + One UI 2.5
Sim card 2xNanoSIM 2xNanoSIM
Extras IPX8 water protection, fingerprint scanner in power button, S Pen support fingerprint scanner in power button

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 Design

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In appearance, the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 is similar to its predecessor, with changes that make the smartphone similar to the company's current flagships. More austere outlines and matte glass on the back. When closed, it turns out quite compact in its overall dimensions (especially in width), like a thick "sandwich". In this form, the smartphone is very convenient to use with one hand on the go.

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The external display has a thin frame on three sides and a slightly wider gap on the hinge side. The front camera is in a small hole in the middle of the top of the screen. Above the screen there is a barely noticeable speaker slot. The protective glass is rounded on the edges. When the screen is inactive or with black wallpaper around the perimeter, there is a visual impression that the screen flows smoothly into the body of the smartphone. It looks very aesthetical.

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When open, you get a kind of 7.6-inch tablet with an unusual aspect ratio of 22.5:18, which visually feels almost square. There is a bezel around the perimeter, but it is quite thin and does not strain, as well as elements of the hinge design. At the same time, it protects the screen from damage. Still, it can be scratched too, even despite the more durable coating. The under-screen front camera is in the middle of the upper part of the right "half" of the screen. It is slightly noticeable most of the time. But it is not conspicuous.

The fold is still present. You can be feel and see it at some angles. Although after a week of usage you get used to this feature.

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There is still a minimal gap between the two halves when closed. The frame is metal, painted with matte paint. At least in our black version. On the bottom side there is a charging Type-C port, one of the external speakers and one of the microphones.

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On the opposite side there is a second external speaker and three more microphones. On the other side there is a second external speaker and three more microphones for good sound quality during video recording and handsfree calls.

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The volume control buttons are in their usual place. Under them you'll find power button with a built-in fingerprint scanner. A better solution than installing scanners under each of the screens.

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Tray supports installation of two SIM cards, there is no space for a memory card. By the way, the smartphone we reviewed does not support eSIM. But in some areas the smartphone supports it.

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The only glossy element of the smartphone body is a cover for a hinge with Samsung logo.

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As mentioned above, the back is made of matte glass. The main triple camera is in the top left corner, the unit protrudes slightly above the case. But in general, it looks neat.

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Despite not having drastic changes in appearance and design, subjectively, Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 looks more stylish and interesting when compared to Galaxy Fold2. And even more so the first Fold. But the most significant improvement is, of course, the IPX8 water protection, which is technically really difficult to implement in a foldable smartphone.

Usage Scenarios & Conveniency

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Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 in the closed position is very convenient to use on the go due to the small width of the body and the external screen. You can easily answer messages, calls with one hand on the go, and the external screen is enough for news or social media.

Moreover, calls are only possible when the phone is closed: there is no speaker inside. It is quite reasonable: it is uncomfortable to hold a rather wide smartphone tablet near the ear. In the open condition, you can only use the speakerphone, or connect a headset. Also in the closed form it is more convenient to use the cameras, both main and frontal. Especially since it is much better than the internal one in terms of quality.

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The internal screen, thanks to its large size, is great for web surfing, email, documents, and multi-window mode. At the same time, thanks to the optimization of some applications, content can simply be transferred between windows by simple drag-and-drop. But when the smartphone is open, it becomes large and it is already difficult and unsafe for one hand to use. Especially on the move. On the other hand, it is difficult to think of a scenario in which it will be necessary.

The Samsung keyboard is optimized and divided into two halves in this mode, just for the thumbs when gripping with two hands. It is really comfortable and allows you to type quickly. But it is worth remembering that with third-party keyboards such a trick does not work.

Now a few words about entertainment scenarios for Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3. Playing on the internal screen is also quite comfortable. Primarily, this applies to games that are adequately stretched to the entire screen despite the very non-standard aspect ratio. With movies the situation is obviously a little worse: the advantage of the big diagonal disappears because of the standard formats for TV shows and movies 16:9 and 21:9. Black stripes remain.  On the other hand, in the semi-folded form, the upper half of the screen plays video, and the lower half contains the controls and similar videos. Which is also quite convenient. Reading books on the big screen is very pleasant: considerably more information fits on the screen with a comfortable font size.

Another quite workable scenario of using the smartphone in a semi-open form - cameras. When using the main camera we get something like a stand. And when making video calls on the front-facing camera, you don't need to hold the smartphone in your hands.

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Screens

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Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 has two screens.

The internal one - Foldable Dynamic AMOLED 2X, diagonal 7.6 inches, resolution - 2208x1768 (aspect ratio 22.5:18), pixel density - 373 ppi. Promised peak brightness is 1200 cd/m2, there is support for HDR10 +, the maximum refresh rate - 120 Hz. It adapts, you can not fix 120 Hz. They promise that the screen compared to the last generation is brighter and more energy efficient.

The external screen - Dynamic AMOLED 2X, 6.2 inches, aspect ratio - 24.5:9, the resolution - 2268x832, the pixel density - 389 ppi. All the chips are similar, including HDR10+ support and 120 Hz adaptive frequency. Visually, both screens are very pleased with the excellent saturated colors and a very good margin of brightness: no problems in the sun light. And aesthetically pleasing, there is no visual difference in the picture when switching between screens.

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The set of screen settings is not particularly changed. There are settings for fonts and scaling of interface elements on the screen (for internal, you can include a more logical Multiview with the division of information into two columns), dark interface theme, frequency adjustment, eye comfort (automatic color temperature adjustment), Always On Display and two color rendering modes: "rich" and "natural". Standard for the latest Samsung smartphones.

There is a feature Always on Display with an abundance of options and the number of pictures and dials.

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As the measurements showed, the screens are really good and really quite close both in terms of brightness margin (the external one is lower by the very slightest) and color rendering accuracy. The internal display in "rich" mode showed a maximum brightness of 479.32 cd/m2, the color gamut, as AMOLED is supposed to be, is much wider than sRGB. Color rendering is very sensible, the inflection to cool shades is minimal.

In "natural" mode the color gamut is close to sRGB, and color rendering is closer to the reference. But maximum brightness is noticeably lower: 427.913 cd/m2.

In "rich" mode, the maximum brightness of the external display is 465.586 cd/m2. TsVetoprint is similar to the same mode of the internal screen.

"Natural" mode. Brightness - 414.56 cd/m2.

Comparison with other models:

Device Name White Field Brightness,
cd/m2
Black Field Brightness,
cd/m2
Contrast
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 479.32 0
Xiaomi 11T Pro 493.872 0
ASUS ROG Phone 5 482.347 0
Samsung Galaxy S21+ 437.906 0
Samsung Galaxy S21 432.854 0
Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 408.388 0
Sony Xperia 1 394.97 0
Huawei P30 Pro 447.247 0
Samsung Galaxy S10 378.72 0

Ways to Unlock

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Like the Galaxy Fold2, the new Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 gets a fingerprint scanner in the power button on the side edge. It's conveniently located for both right- and left-handed use when closed. When it's open, of course, it's a bit awkward to reach with your left hand finger. It works very quickly and accurately, though it would be surprising if it did differently. You can also use it to lower and raise the curtain. Face detection is implemented by the front camera, so that the work is no special features: in sufficient light works fast.

Performance, Memory, Sound and Battery Life

Unlike the flagship Galaxy S range, which comes in Exynos and Snapdragon variants for different countries, the flexible Galaxy Z always uses just one platform. It is always the flagship Snapdragon. Accordingly, the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 features the octa-core 5nm Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 processor, which includes one Kryo 680 core clocked at up to 2.84GHz, 3xKryo 680 at 2.42GHz and 4xKryo 680 at 1.8GHz. Adreno 660 accelerator is responsible for the graphics. The RAM in all variants is 12GB. Built-in - 256GB or 512GB of UFS 3.1 standard. The performance is all right, the results in synthetic tests are appropriate.

Snapdragon 888 processor has some problems with overheating. In Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 it surprisingly behaves relatively well. Only towards the end of the 15-minute test there were temporary sags up to almost 70%. The case heats up near the camera, but the heating is minimal.

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Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 comes pre-installed with the traditional proprietary Game Center utility with a hub of installed games and Game Booster add-ons. There are the usual for such utilities settings to increase productivity, turn off notifications, block brightness, etc. As well as downloadable stuff. The most useful is probably Z Pref. It is responsible for monitoring the GPU load, temperature and FPS in real time. As for the games themselves, Call of Duty Mobile at maximum graphics settings almost always shows 60 fps, NFS No Limits shows 60 fps, and Shadowgun Legends runs mostly at around 100 fps with slight variations.

Wireless interfaces include dual-band 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/6e 2.4GHz and 5GHz Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.2 LE (aptX HD and LDAC codecs are supported), ANT+ and NFC for contactless payment. Global positioning systems GPS, GLONASS, GALILEO, BDS are supported. The smartphone is equipped with a fairly powerful stereo speakers, everything sounds pretty impressive, both in volume and quality. You should not expect much bass, but as for a smartphone Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 sounds very even. There is no headphone jack, but support for aptX HD and LDAC is nice. The "native" music player is quite standard in functionality. Playlists, equalizer, Dolby Atmos modes. From the unusual except that Adapt Sound to adjust the sound to your age.

The smartphone has a 4400 mAh battery. To be precise, there are two: at 2280 mAh and 2120 mAh. Samsung is taking its time with fast charging: the smartphone supports 25 watts via cable and 11 watts without wires. We didn't have a native charger, so there was no way to measure the charging time. As for battery life, it's within reason, but no more. But it all very much depends on the usage scenarios. If you use the external screen most of the time and switch to the internal one to play games for half an hour in the evening and browse the web browser, the smartphone will suffice for a day. If the internal screen is used regularly, the smartphone hardly lasts until the evening. Wireless reverse charging at 4.5 W, with the help of which you can recharge the headphones, or a smart watch, is a bonus.

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Interface

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 runs on Android version 11 OS with One UI 3.1.1 shell. In general, everything is familiar from past Samsung smartphones. With some additions that are necessary given the almost tablet-like internal screen and the presence of a second external screen. There are options with desktops and a separate application menu, gesture and push-button navigation, grid adjustment, different design themes and so on. Of the features, it's worth noting that the internal screen displays all native applications in a "tablet" version in two columns, which is quite convenient. It is possible to set up desktops separately for each screen, or to duplicate them. There is an option to continue working with an open application when switching between screens. But it does not work with all third-party applications. There is a separate item Labs with "experimental" functions in the settings. Such as a forced window mode for applications that do not support it, aspect ratio settings and so on.

From the typical desktop features we should mention a more functional application manager, which allows you to open applications in a smaller window, make them semi-transparent or even minimize them to an icon. And the split screen mode, which allows you to save ready-made combinations for later quick launch.

Edge sidebars haven't undergone any changes. As before, there is a set of useful widgets, as well as a panel with frequently launched applications, where you can snap ready-made pairs for split-screen mode.

Pre-installed apps include a voice recorder, file manager, smartphone optimizer, notes, Smart Things (smart home management), Galaxy Wearable (watch and headphone management), S Health, AR Zone (emoji creation and virtual measurement of objects) and the PENUP drawing tool for the S Pen.

Cameras

The camera set at the back has remained unchanged in terms of features when compared to its predecessor. There are three of them. The 12-megapixel primary camera, 1/1.76" sensor size, 1.8µm pixel size, f/1.8 aperture, 26 EFR, has optical stabilization and Dual Pixel PDAF phase autofocus. The ultra-wide-angle camera has a similar 12 MP resolution, f/2.2 aperture, 123° viewing angle, no autofocus. The third telephoto module - all the same 12 MP, f/2.4, 52 mm ffr, 1/3.6", 1.0µm, there is optical stabilization and phase autofocus. It provides 2x optical zoom. The external front camera is 10 MP, f/2.2 resolution and features autofocus. The internal sub-screen is 4 MP, f/.1.8, 2.0µm.

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Application of the camera looks familiar: modes are switched by horizontal scrolling, more hidden in the item "More", they can be pulled into the main list, and the order of modes can be customized to your liking. All basic settings including flash, filters, aspect ratio and zoom are moved to the main screen. The zoom can be adjusted both smoothly and use fixed values. Multi-camera mode with simultaneous shooting with different cameras in different modes is also present.

The main camera of the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 does its job well in almost all conditions. In good light, the pictures are obtained with excellent detail, proper white balance, a wide dynamic range and natural color reproduction. Night mode also performs very well. The detail drops a bit, though the traces of the processing algorithms are slightly visible. 

The ultra-wide angle camera is the weak point of most modern smartphones. Except for the most sophisticated camera phones with advanced ultra-wide angle cameras with autofocus and stronger optics. In this case, the situation is similar: the daytime photos are fine in general, while the evening significantly lose detail, get quite soapy and dark:

Telephoto camera is doing a good job, including at night. Yes, the detail falls and you need to make some effort, but you can make a clear picture:

Now about front cameras. Selfies are better taken with the external one. The internal one under the screen doesn't take the best photos, though it will be enough for video calls. The first photo on the external, the second one on the internal under-screen:

Videos in 4K resolution with frame rate of 60 fps are of very good quality, with decent detail. By all appearances, even when shooting in 4K electronic stabilization works: no jerking or sharp jumps.

In stabilization mode, the picture is really smooth, without jerks and jerks, but the detail drops noticeably:

4 Things to Know about Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3

  • Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 is the most rugged foldable smartphone on the market and has IPX8 water protection
  • It has a large flexible internal AMOLED screen and an additional external one. Both are of excellent quality
  • Equipped with flagship Snapdragon 888 processor, 12GB of RAM and 256/512GB of internal storage

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3
The most sophisticated smartphone on the market
A flagship foldable smartphone with a flexible 7.6-inch internal AMOLED screen and an additional external 6.2-inch screen. Equipped with Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 processor, 12GB of RAM and 256/512GB of internal storage, a triple main camera, a front-facing underscreen camera inside and a standard outside. It is powered by a 4,400mAh battery and has IPX8 water protection.
Read Verified Customer Reviews

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