This is part 2 of our Galaxy Unpacked product review – the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3. We already reviewed the Galaxy Z Flip3 so you can catch up with that review first because many things said in that review will be applicable to the Galaxy Z Fold3 too.
But I have to admit, I spent most of my time with the Fold3 more than the Flip3 – mainly because I resonate with the Fold’s idea more than the Flip. So, let’s begin.
Okay, the Galaxy Z Fold3, in my opinion, is an iterative upgrade over the Galaxy Z Fold2. It’s still a pretty big upgrade overall but it’s not something that the specs sheet can show.
Let’s start off with the design of the Galaxy Z Fold3. It comes in a total of 3 different colors – Phantom Black, Phantom Silver, and Phantom Green. Since we have both the Galaxy Z Fold3 and the Galaxy S21 Ultra in Phantom Black color, we can do a quick comparison.
From what I realized, the Galaxy Z Fold3 is darker and also less reflective.
The hinge cover is also following the phone color choice – but the hinge cover is glossy instead. That is in contrast with the Galaxy Z Flip3’s matte hinge cover – no idea why there’s a difference but it’s worth pointing out.
And now – let’s take a look at the camera cutouts. It’s relatively thin, honestly. We have a total of 3 different cameras on the Galaxy Z Fold3. All of these cameras are identical to last year’s Galaxy Z Fold2, which – to be honest – I was quite disappointed.
Sure, all the cameras can still take some amazing pictures but I do wish for some upgrades – particularly the inclusion of laser autofocus and the telephoto cameras.
To have a look at all the pictures taken with the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3, watch our video at the top of this review.
I got too complacent with the Galaxy S21 Ultra’s telephoto cameras that I always use the 10x optical zoom to take pictures of the dogs – but 10x is the maximum digital zoom on the Galaxy Z Fold3.
That under display camera
And we obviously need to talk about the under-display camera, or UDC for short. The Galaxy Z Fold3 is Samsung’s first smartphone to be using this technology – and I think Samsung’s implementation is pretty okay.
While viewing something black, that UDC essentially looks like a hole-punch selfie camera on other OLED phones. When we start to view something white, then we can start to see that octagonal shape. Of course, we used our camera to zoom in to look at this UDC. But with my own eyes – I think it’s pretty well-hidden.
And I think this is a very divisive technology as of now. It’s a choice between selfie camera quality against how well the selfie camera is hidden under the display. If you want the selfie camera to essentially disappear, then the selfie camera quality is going to be horrible – and vice versa.
I compared the selfie camera quality between the under display camera, the cover display’s selfie camera, and also the rear-facing camera. The quality difference is quite huge.
I’m… generally okay with the results. I’m not expected that selfie to look great – but I also know that this is technically the company’s “first publicly available version of the UDC”. I also took a selfie with the selfie camera on the cover display and also with the rear-facing cameras, because the Galaxy Z Fold3 allows us to do this.
In the specs sheet, the main display remained the same. It’s still using a 7.6-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X display with a unique resolution of 1768×2208 pixels running at 120Hz refresh rate.
The second change is the new material used for the screen protector. Galaxy Z Fold2 had a pretty bad screen protector that caused colors to shift and also catches a lot of fingerprints. The new Galaxy Z Fold3 uses PET material which is transparent, durable, and also just feels a lot better.
The cover display though, did get an upgrade. It’s now a very long 6.2-inch display with a resolution of 832×2268 pixels, but with 120Hz refresh rate since it’s also using the Dynamic AMOLED 2X panel.
By the way, we also tested both displays for their color accuracy. The main big display covers:
98.92% Adobe RGB
As for the cover display, it covers
93.43% Adobe RGB
Comes equipped with the Snapdragon 888 chipset and we’re not gonna talk much about it since we all know how the Snapdragon 888 chipset will perform. But, I can see how the Galaxy Z Fold3 could be used for gaming – so we did another gaming video dedicated to this phone.
For the software side of things, the Galaxy Z Fold3 is using Samsung’s One UI 3.1.1 and you guys already know how much I love One UI. You can watch our Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra long-term review to know why.
Specifically for the Galaxy Z Fold3, all the features from the previous generations are carried over, plus some improvements and additions. One of the things that I noticed was the ability for games to literally transition between the cover display and the main display seamlessly. Of course, not all games work – but Genshin Impact works.
Pokemon Go works too, by the way.
Samsung also gave us the option to “force” apps to work in Flex Mode too. I can see this feature being more usable on the Galaxy Z Fold3 compared to the Z Flip3 – so you can view content in tripod mode instantly.
Perhaps for some tabletop gaming? But after installing a bunch of games, only Brawhalla works – but even that is with bugs since the controller just stopped working in Flex Mode.
And just like what we mentioned in our Galaxy S21 Ultra long-term review, we’re thrilled that Samsung is putting user experience and aftersales support as its top priority as we do get a software update every month, without fail.
Oh – and we can also play two games side-by-side since it becomes “two long phones” and that’s quite an amazing feat. Both games run smoothly and respond immediately.
However, I was initially worried about the battery of the Galaxy Z Fold3. Turns out, I was worrying for nothing. That 4,400mAh battery can power through about 9 hours in our battery life test when unfolded, at 120Hz refresh rate. That is the worst-case scenario as I would expect users to switch between the main display and the cover display.
As for the charging speed – well, Samsung decided to exclude the charger from the box. Luckily, we can still charge the Galaxy Z Fold3 at its full 25W since this device supports USB-PD PPS fast charging standards – which is appreciated as it is not a proprietary standard.
It charges from 15% to 100% in about 80 minutes – which I think is okay since we can get a whole day’s use with just a single charge.
Other miscellaneous things to highlight
IPX8 which I still can’t wrap my head around how Samsung did it. I mean, foldable devices with IPX8-rating… what?? And water definitely seeped inside the device since I wiped the hinge dry, then unfolded the device and folded it back again – and the hinge is wet.
Samsung DeX also works with the Galaxy Z Fold3 too – so that’s nice.
And then there’s the S Pen support. That’s something we can’t test now since we don’t have it with us – but from what we know, you’ll need a brand new S Pen to use it with the Galaxy Z Fold3 since the old S Pen does not work. Perhaps we will test this in the future. However, I think the S Pen with the Galaxy Z Fold3 is like a match made in heaven.
So – conclusion time. With all of that said, I am actually considering getting myself a Galaxy Z Fold3. I do think that foldable devices are now mature enough since it now has IPX8-rating and most importantly – the price drop.
I was expecting it to be RM6,999 but nope, Samsung Malaysia dropped the price to only RM6,699. My jaws dropped.
However, I am already using the Galaxy S21 Ultra. Changing to the Galaxy Z Fold3 means I have to downgrade the cameras by quite a significant margin. But, I’m willing to do it as the user experience will be so much better as I can run apps, or even games, side by side.