Samsung stumbled out of the gate with their first phones with foldable screens but now, less than 3 years later, they are running full steam ahead with 2 new foldable phones. They’ve clearly worked out the kinks and the two new offerings promise to be the best yet. I took both the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 for a test.
The Big One
The two new phones offer very different options. The Fold is the larger option, that folds closed like a small book. The screen on the outside offers a full phone experience, similar to using a classic Galaxy phone. When you open it up the giant folding screen on the inside is similar to using a tablet. There is a slight crease in the middle where the screen folds but what surprised me is how much you don’t notice it when using the phone. The screen is so large that you can easily use 2 apps at the same time, browsing the web while also texting with a friend.
Hidden under the screen is the selfie camera, it magically appears when you load the camera app up. This under the screen camera takes decent pictures but clearly quality was sacrificed slightly for the ability to hid the lens under the screen. You’ll also notice a lower pixel resolution in the area where the camera is located. I like the cool factor but also wonder if the standard “cut-out” hole for the camera is really a big deal in the first place.
Fold the Fold in half and the utility of the Fold 3 shines. When using apps like Youtube, it’ll shift the video to the top half of the screen, kind of like a little laptop. This would be perfect for watching a movie on an airplane or doing a zoom call for work. Close the phone all the way and that video can then pop up on the outside screen.
That screen is skinnier than a standard Galaxy screen but just as tall. It runs the full Android interface on the outside of the phone so you can use the Fold 3 whether it’s closed or open. I think most people would spend the majority of their time using the phone in the closed position. Which begs the question, is the bulk worth it?
Three 12-Megapixel cameras on the back bring the expected high-quality Samsung camera experience that we have come to expect. It takes great pictures and video.
The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 starts at $1,800 and is available right now from most major retailers, cell phone providers and directly from Samsung.
The Little One
On the smaller side is the Galaxy Z Flip 3. Think “classic flip phone format” that opens up to become a full-sized touchscreen phone. The Flip 3 will bring back some fond flip phone memories but doesn’t skimp on modern phone technology.
Let’s start on the outside where a small screen gives you a quick look at notifications. You can check notifications, the time/date, control music playback, check alarms or add other widgets. I love this quick way of checking the phone without actually opening up the full phone screen. Personally I think this might even help me control my constant phone addiction. (we all do it, just admit it!) I was a little disappointed that you can’t actually reply to a text message on this screen, only view it. With voice-to-text becoming so common why not let me send a quick reply using my voice instead of forcing me to open the phone? Hopefully an update will add this option.
My favorite feature of the outside screen is the ability to take pictures and video without opening the screen. It uses the full feature camera sensors that are right next to the screen so you actually get better quality pictures than you’ll get with most selfie cams. Just another reason NOT to open up the flip phone… I love it!
Once you do actually flip the phone open you’re graced with a beautiful full-sized touch screen. Like the larger Fold 3 there is a slight crease in the middle of the screen where it folds but you won’t even notice it. I expected to be annoyed by the crease but it didn’t bother me at all. When the Flip is open you get the great Samsung Android experience that many of us have grown to love. The selfie camera isn’t as good as the outside cameras but you still get a decent 10MP shooter.
The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 is the first foldable screen phone from Samsung to come in under $1,000. You can buy it right now from most major retailers, cell phone providers and directly from Samsung.
So… would you buy it?
For me, the Fold is too big and costs too much. When closed it just feels bulky. If you carry a purse, maybe this isn’t a deal breaker but for me, there’s just no way I could pocket this. On top of that, $1,800 is alot of money! It’s worth it, with the two big screens but I just don’t think I could personally stomach that pricetag.
With that said, I’m 100% on-board with the Flip 3. It’s the first foldable screen phone that I have personally considered buying. It’s nice and compact when closed, provides just enough functionality in the closed position and feels like a great full phone experience when it’s opened up. At $1,000 the price isn’t insane. I think Samsung finally nailed it with the Flip 3!