Introduced as the more mainstream companion to the productivity-oriented Galaxy Z Fold3 5G, the Galaxy Z Flip3 5G is one of the best selling foldable smartphones in the market not just in Malaysia but across the globe.
Beyond the novelty of its form factor, how does it fare as an actual smartphone? Here’s our Galaxy Z Flip3 5G review where we put that notion to the test!
What is the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G
The second generation successor to the original Galaxy Z Flip released last year with a host of impressive improvements including IPX8 water resistance, the Galaxy Z Flip3 5G adds in a slew of welcome improvements that include a front 1.9-inch Cover display that’s four times larger than the original 1.1-inch on the Galaxy Flip, IPX8 water resistance and a 120Hz refresh rate for its main Infinity Flex display.
This is on top of the usual enhancements to its hardware including the latest Snapdragon 888 processor and improvements to make it slightly lighter and slimmer than the original Galaxy Flip.
Bboiled down, the Galaxy Z Flip3 5G is an ultra-compact flagship smartphone with a premium foldable display that’s intended for mainstream use with a variety of colourways.
If the existing assortment of hues don’t quite suit you, you can, assuming you live in the United States, Korea or Europe, order a customised Bespoke Edition variant.
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G Review – Build and Design
Out of the box, the Galaxy Z Flip3 5G doesn’t have much in the way of accessories much like its sibling the Galaxy Z Fold3 5G. Beyond the phone itself, you get a USB-C charging cable, a SIM eject pin and a quick start manual with the working premise that most users would likely have their own charging plug by now.
Our Galaxy Z Flip3 5G review sample came in a rather natty shade of glossy lavender with a matching metallic frame and hinges made of what Samsung calls Armor Aluminum that is markedly 80% tougher than the conventional aluminium frames used in prior phones.
In effect an almost pastel shade of purple, our lavender coloured sample of the Flip3 5G looks fetching indeed. The front and rear backplates are sheathed in Gorilla Glass Victus, which lends it some level of resistance to scratches and slight drops though the trade-off is that the glossy finish makes it a fingerprint magnet.
When folded down, the phone itself is little larger and thicker than a deck of cards which makes it exceptionally portable indeed. When viewed from the side, there’s still a slight space between both halves but it’s less apparent than its predecessor.
In this form factor, users rely primarily on the 1.9-inch Cover touchscreen to check the date, time, battery life and any notifications at a glance without having to unfold the phone. It has touch support so you can flick through notifications with your thumb.
It doesn’t just work as a means to check the time and your InBox though. In a pinch, you can also double tap the side-mounted power button to turn on the main double camera array set beside the Cover screen and use the Cover screen to frame a selfie shot.
The other half of the backplate seems otherwise blank but actually features a charging coil for 10W fast wireless charging and 4.5W reverse wireless charging.
The left of the phone is otherwise bare save for a couple of antenna bands and a nano SIM card slot while the right hosts a power button that has a fingerprint reader built in for biometric authentication alongside a volume rocker.
Ergonomically speaking, both buttons are within easy reach when folded down but when fully unfolded, they’re placed somewhat higher than where a user would naturally hold the phone. When opened, my index finger typically rests where the hinge assembly is but its placement is understandable seeing the nature of its design.
While the top edge is otherwise bare, the bottom edge has a USB-C port and a speaker grille for one of a matching pair of stereo speakers with the other emplaced just above the main Infinity Flex folding display.
Unfolding the phone can be done one-handed if a user is particularly cavalier with their phone but the hinge mechanism is stiff enough that the majority of users will likely require both hands to open the Galaxy Z Flip3 5G.
This stiffness in the hinges is intentional as the phone itself is designed for use in Flex mode where it isa capable of sitting halfway up for taking videos and snaps as well as for interacting with selected apps.
When the phone is unfolded, you get dimensions and a form factor approaching a conventional candybar phone with a rectangular 6.7-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X Infinity Flex display which has a smooth 120Hz refresh rate while retaining a tiny punch hole up top for a 10MP selfie camera.
Taking lessons from its predecessor, the phone has an enhanced protective PET film on the display that is designed on top to be more resistant to nicks and daily wear by 80% over its predecessor that’s rated for over 200,000 folds. On top of the display is a tiny speaker grille for the other half of the matching set of stereo speakers.
Of note here is that Samsung has managed to introduce an IPX8 water resistance rating which means the Galaxy Z Flip3 5G is able to survive in 1.5 meters of freshwater for up to 30 minutes; quite a feat seeing the fact that this is a foldable phone. Unfortunately, it’s not dust proof so some care needs to be taken in dusty environments like the beach or construction sites.
Overall build quality for our Galaxy Z Flip3 5G review sample was excellent and even when fully unfurled, the phone felt exceptionally sturdy even at the hinge point without any buckling, wobbling or flimsiness.
Holding it feels truly premium indeed on account of the quality of the materials used and its distinctive form factor means that you’ll be turning heads the moment you whip it out.
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G Review – Specifications
In Malaysia, the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G comes with the flagship Snapdragon 888 processor which is one of the most powerful processors for 2021 short of the Snapdragon 888 Plus. All versions of the Galaxy Z Flip3 5G come with 8GB RAM and your choice of either 128GB or 256GB of non-expandable storage.
Unfortunately, there’s no microSD card slot so it’s best to chunk out for the larger storage option when you purchase the Galaxy Z Flip3.
Regardless of available storage, the phone as you’d surmise from its name, features 5G (standalone and non-standalone) as well as WiFi 6 connectivity. Keeping the phone powered is a 3,300mAh battery with 15W fast charging which seems.
The primary 6.7-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X Infinity Flex display of the Galaxy Z Flip3 5G is among their most sophisticated with a 120Hz refresh rate, a crisp 425ppi and a wide 22:9 aspect ratio.
Here’s a summary of the Galaxy Z Flip3 5G specifications
|Price||128GB RM3,999 256GB RM4,199|
|Display||6.7-inch FH Dynamic AMOLED 2X Display (22:9) Infinity Flex Display, 2,640 x 1080 pixels, 425ppi, 120Hz adaptive refresh rate | 1.9-inch Super AMOLED display Cover Screen, 260 x 512, 302ppi|
|Memory||8GB RAM/ 128GB or 256GB UFS 3.1 storage|
|Camera||10MP F/2.4 Selfie camera 1.22um / FOV:80′ | 12MP F/2.2 ultra wide camera, 1.12um / FOV:123′ + 12MP F/1.8 wide angle camera w/ AF, OIS, 1.4um FOV: 78′|
|Battery||3,300mAh dual battery w/ 15W fast charging|
|Connectivity||LTE 4×4 MIMO, 7CA, LAA, LTE Cat.20, 5G Non-standalone (NSA), Standalone (SA) Sub6/mmWave|
|Size/Weight||72.2 x 166 x 6.9mm (unfolded), 72.2 x 86.4 x 17.1mm – 15.9mm (folded) / 183g|
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G Review – Benchmarks and Performance
With top of the line hardware, the Galaxy Z Flip3 5G is a compact powerhouse that can tackle almost everything thrown at it. In benchmarks, it performed the following:
|3DMark Wild Life Extreme||1470|
|3DMark Wild Life Extreme Unlimited||1031|
|3DMark Wild Life||3923|
|3DMark Wild Life Unlimited||3906|
|Geekbench 5 Single core score||1019|
|Geekbench 5 Multi core score||3318|
|Geekbench 5 OpenCL||2889|
|PCMark Work 3.0||13874|
|PCMark Battery Life||6 hours 56 minutes|
Seeing its specifications, the phone was too powerful to run 3DMark Slingshot and defaulted to the more recent and demanding benchmarks Wild Life Extreme and Wild Life. In synthetic benchmarks, the Galaxy Z Flip3 5G did not disappoint with performance matching the best of any competing smartphone.
Its sibling, the Galaxy Z Fold3 5G also has the same Snapdragon 888 processor but outmatches it slightly on account of having more RAM to work with for switching between apps and other tasks.
Under more practical field testing, our Galaxy Z Flip3 5G review sample managed to handle everything asked of it in a typical user environment in Malaysia.
Firing up apps and swapping between them, web browsing, videos and gaming ran in a smooth fashion and it was able to handle Call of Duty Mobile, PUBG and the like on high settings without keeling over though this phone isn’t intended for competitive gaming and the rear backplate where the Cover screen is on and where the CPU is located does get a bit warm but not to the point it’s impossible to hold.
Overlaying Android 11, our Galaxy Z Flip3 5G review sample ran Samsung’s own One UI 3.1.1 user interface with some refinements to accommodate the nature of its design. One of the more important features that are of particular use is its Edge screen that acts as a series of shortcuts to frequently used apps. This is achieved by swiping in from the side of the display.
The phone also allows you to split the screen between two different apps and assign how much screen real estate you want between them which comes in handy though more demanding apps like games still need a full screen for them to run.
For all its charms, the Galaxy Z Flip3 5G unfortunately does not support the latest S Pen stylus which the Galaxy Z Fold3 5G has.
Another unfortunate downside to the Galaxy Z Flip3 5G is the lack of Samsung’s DeX desktop mode which lets the phone pair up or connect to a monitor with a desktop interface in tandem with a mouse and keyboard. It’s understandable though to omit this in the Flip3 seeing its intended use as a general purpose mainstream smartphone for the masses.
In terms of battery life, the Galaxy Z Flip3 5G’s modest 3,300mAh battery has middling endurance and if you’re a particularly heavy user of the main Infinity Flex display most of the time, it’ll run dry by late evening which is about 10 hours or so hours of actual usage.
In PCMark’s battery life test, it managed just shy of 7 hours. You can likely eke out more battery life by limiting usage of the main display, dialling it down to 60Hz and using Power Saving mode but it’s certainly not one of the best on test.
Ergonomically speaking, the Galaxy Z Flip3 5G makes it easier to access and view notifications by simply peering at the Cover screen though this has its limits as you’ll still have to unfold the phone to craft a lengthy reply to texts. While the nature of its design makes it easier to use in one fashion, it also adds in an extra step if you need to use the cameras and the main display but there is no doubt that this does add a certain panache when you whip it out of your pocket.
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G Review – Display and Flex Mode
The 6.7-inch Infinity Flex display has a crisp 1080 x 2,640 pixels resolution with 425 ppi and a 22:9 aspect ratio that is capable of a 120Hz dynamic refresh rate though this can be ratcheted down to a forced 60Hz depending on what content you’re interacting with onscreen.
By default, it’s set to Dynamic mode where the phone has carte blanche to select between both depending on what is onscreen but you can also force it to 60Hz to save a bit more battery life.
Clarity under daylight was great and the wide 22:9 aspect ratio of the main Infinity Flex display makes it delightful for viewing videos and movies. Colour rendition was excellent as well with a touch on the vibrant side based on the default Vivid settings though you can also tweak this to taste in the display settings.
On default settings in Dynamic mode, animations on the Galaxy Z Flip3 5G’s 120Hz screen, especially when scrolling looked wonderfully smooth. The provided stereo speakers were also pleasantly loud without distortion even at maximum levels with modest sound staging and depth; this won’t disappoint for Netflix binges.
Perhaps the only quibble to the otherwise premium display is that the crease is still visible especially when you view content with a white background or if you view it at an angle though this isn’t as apparent when you’re using it. You can also feel the crease by touch too but it isn’t a major deal breaker by any means.
Where the Galaxy Z Flip3 5G has a literal edge though is its Flex mode that lets you prop it halfway up to let you take time lapse or selfie shots without the need of a tripod.
Flex mode also made video calls a bit more pleasant on the 10MP selfie camera as you needn’t have to hold the phone in your hands throughout the call. It also lets you watch videos without having to precariously prop the phone up on books or whatnot.
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G Review – Cameras
The primary cameras on the phone consist of a pair of 12MP cameras with the main one featuring optical image stabilisation and the second one acting as an ultra wide angle camera.
Using it requires an extra step as you have to unfold the phone though you can use it for selfies by double tapping the power button. Unfortunately, taking shots in this fashion means that shots retain a fixed square aspect ratio.
Here’s a few samples of shots taken with the main camera under various light conditions
Under daylight and with a modicum of indoor lighting, the main dual cameras are capable of good results with the slightly vivid colour rendition typical of Samsung cameras for stills and decent 4K video too though even the likes of the Galaxy S21 will easily outgun it in performance.
Where it excels is its versatility as Flex mode enables you to use the main cameras in a more creative fashion and for video calls. The inner 10MP camera works best under brightly lit conditions and does the job but the provision of a ring light would help heaps for video calls.
More demanding users will likely gravitate towards the Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G but the performance of the Galaxy Z Flip3 5G’s main dual camera is plenty for the vast majority of users.
Should you buy the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G?
The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G is a watershed smartphone as it’s the first mainstream foldable phone with excellent build quality, IPX8 water resistance, an innovative design and respectable specifications.
For many, the Galaxy Z Flip3 5G has plenty of power to tackle the needs of the vast majority of users and its wide variety of colourways makes it appealing indeed. Unfortunately, its Achilles heel remains its modest battery life. For power users who need the absolute best that Samsung has to offer, the Galaxy Z Fold3 5G and the Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G beckon.
Galaxy Z Flip3 5G review sample courtesy of Samsung Malaysia. Available online at https://www.samsung.com/my/smartphones/galaxy-z-flip3-5g/buy/
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G
The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G is a Goldilocks of a smartphone that combines powerful hardware and a smooth foldable 120Hz main display into a fashionably slick and compact form design.
IPX8 water resistance Wonderfully compact form factor Useful Cover screen Versatile Flex mode Gorgeous 120Hz main display
Battery life could be better No DeX mode No S Pen stylus support