Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 & Galaxy Z Fold 3
Saying that foldable smartphones are still in their infancy would be unfair. They are more in the adolescent territory. Meaning, they have the overall theme down, but still there is no promise that they will not act up at a moment’s notice. Thankfully, I say this out of conversation and not experience.
In my week with the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 and Galaxy Z Fold 3, I was convinced that foldable displays are the future of mobile computing. Don’t get me wrong, you will have to make some trade-offs even if you decide to pick up the third generation of foldable devices from this Korean smartphone titan, but for the right person, this is the exact device they were looking for.
Personally, I was more lenient towards the bigger phone that could turn into a tablet if need be: Galaxy Z Fold 3.
The mammoth 7.6-inch mini-tablet-like display is the ultimate productivity champ, as far as mobile displays are concerned. The colours are excellent, the response is fluid at 120 Hz, and it gets decently bright outdoors, albeit that’s not its strong suit. I would have loved to have a brighter screen; one with better viewing angles while you’re at it.
That is not to say that the screen in the front was of no use, but more so that I couldn’t see myself using it so often. The 6.2-inch AMOLED panel is plenty good. However, the deterring factor here is that weird aspect ratio that this thing has – 25:9, super tall and super narrow. In my testing, the front display was used for making phone calls, writing up quick texts, and as a viewfinder for my selfies.
Towards the end of my testing though, something hit me!
The front display was actually better for my digital wellbeing because in the smaller display I would do exactly what I set out to do and not fool around on Twitter and Instagram. For the day-to-day cell phone tasks, this outside display does it with grace.
As for the main event, the foldable display, wherein the phone gets its name from, is a beautiful experience that takes you back for a while. It’s actually really fascinating to see something as delicate as a screen being folded, and no, the crease in the middle is not a nuisance. It simply dissolves into nothing when you are using the phone.
Speaking of the giant display, the display also houses a small 4 MP selfie camera under the display. The mesh-like display over the camera lens does a decent job of keeping it out of sight and out of mind while using the device. As for the quality of snaps rendered, you will do fine in a Zoom call, but don’t expect many likes on Instagram.
The selfie shooter on the cover display is significantly better at 10 MP and has a wider field of view. But if you really want a selfie, your best bet is to use the cover display to actuate the rear camera units. Perks of having a foldable phone!
The rear camera system houses three individual units: a 12 MP, f/1.8, 26mm (wide), 1/1.76” with OIS; a 12 MP, f/2.4, 52mm (telephoto), 1/3.6” with OIS and 2x optical zoom; and a 12 MP, f/2.2, 123˚, 12mm (ultrawide).
Now, in the bright daylight, the photos are more about preference than about quality simply because smartphone cameras have gotten so much better in the last couple of years. However, a good camera system would truly shine in the dark.
The primary camera gets a half-decent shot when the sun is down. The photos have some details, but the noise is evident. But, when you switch lenses, the drop in picture quality is pronounced.
And about the hinge mechanism, the Korean manufacturer hasn’t ironed out all the drawbacks of having a foldable display. The film over the screen is exceptionally prone to scratches and scuffs. So much so that you could leave a lasting mark with your nails. And even more jarring was the fact that the display and the hinge holding it in place could take damage from your pocket lint. Surprisingly, the phone is splash-resistant against water but cannot hold out dirt and other tiny particles.
The Galaxy Z Fold 3 is also an all-day phone in terms of battery, but you can chew through it in a day. In my testing, I went from full to 15% in four-and-a-half hours of screen-on time on average, with medium to demanding usage, albeit indoors. To be fair, I was using the bigger high refresh rate screen at full resolution.
The phone will comfortably hold its own regardless of what you decide to throw at it, but be warned, over extended periods, it will heat up. You can have multiple windows open simultaneously and even connect it to an external display for a PC-like look and feel with the Samsung Dex feature. In fact, Samsung has made quite a few adjustments that would make use of the folding mechanism and the larger display.
Despite its massive size, the Fold is surprisingly light at just 271 grams, and holding it in your hands puts you at the centre stage for the dual-firing stereo speakers that get decently loud.
I just wish that there was more content and applications that made use of Samsung’s screens, though. The cover screen is too narrow, and the inside screen is too wide. So, whatever content you decide to consume, there will always be black bars on either side of the screen. Apps like Facebook and Gmail are better optimised to make use of the entire length and width, but there are still tens of thousands of apps that’ll just stick to their default aspects.
All in all, the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 is a device centred around productivity on the go. It is one less reason to actually lug a laptop around for menial tasks. I mean, you could just pull a 7+ inch tablet out of your pocket, sipping on your favourite beverage at a cafe, and still get some work done!