Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G review

GSMArena Team, 20 August 2021.

Design

The Galaxy Z Flip3 5G's key selling point lies in its looks and style; there's no two ways about it. Samsung itself repeatedly stresses it in promo materials, using wording like 'fashion statement' and 'turn heads'. The very existence of a total of 7 color variants, right at launch, means it's not reason (the specsheet) that will sell the Flip, but rather emotion.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G review

We have a small beef with the Cream review unit that we have here that all but interferes with Cupid's work. You see, Samsung portrays this particular colorway as having more of a champagne hue to the frame, to match the glass color like on all other color versions.

In real life, however, the frame is closer to silver in most situations making for a slightly distracting contrast against the rest of the phone. That's not very easy to show in pictures, however. If you're not seeing it, or you like it just as it is, all the better - it's just that this particular colorway would not be our favorite, let alone the hero color.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G review

That's where the three other colorways come in handy. These are called Phantom Black, Green, and Lavender and in all three, the frame appears to be tinted closer to the glass panels' hue.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G review

We spent some brief moments with the Green model, and that has an understated stylish look without being a nondescript Black. We approve.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G in Green - Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G review Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G in Green - Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G review Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G in Green - Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G review
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G in Green

Three more colorways will be available exclusively on Samsung.com - Gray, White and Pink. Those will have a contrasting black frame, on purpose.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G review

That's probably enough on color, for now, let's talk materials. The frame and the hinge backing are made out of what Samsung calls Armor Aluminum. The company says it's the strongest aluminum material used in a smartphone, though we didn't hear the implied word 'alloy' mentioned anywhere.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G review

Speaking of durability, the Fold3 and Flip3 are the first foldable phones to carry an IP rating for water resistance. They are IPX8-rated, so you still better keep the Flip3 away from dust, though it should be safe for up to 30 minutes under 1.5m of water.

Essentially, the two halves housing the sensitive electronics are water-tight with sealed openings for the wiring. The hinge itself is exposed to water by design, but it's been lubricated and treated against corrosion.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G reviewThe first water-resistant foldable phones - Galaxy Z Flip3 5G next to Galaxy Z Fold3 5G

The outer glass panels are made out of Gorilla Glass Victus, Corning's latest and greatest. The new 1.9-inch cover display is placed in a black strip up top, together with the two cameras - the unfolded phone almost has a Panda Pixel 2 XL vibe. The flash couldn't fit in there, sadly.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G review

On the inside, the foldable display is covered by a new protective film, which Samsung says is 80% more durable than the one on the original Flip and has been rated to withstand up to 200,000 folds. A word of warning once again - do not remove that film.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G review

The 6.7-inch screen folds in the middle, and when unfolded, it still has a crease you can feel when you run your finger up and down. It's arguably more tangible than on the Fold simply because vertical swiping is how we scroll our lives away, and the crease runs across the display here as opposed to alongside the vertical axis.

You may or may not experience it depending on your particular scrolling habits - the phone is tall enough that maybe, just maybe, your scrolling action takes place only within the bottom half. And even if you do feel the crease, it's very likely that you'll simply start ignoring the sensation a couple of weeks into using the Flip3.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G review

When unfolded, the Flip3 is one taller Galaxy S21 - the width of the two is all but identical. It's not a little taller - the Flip is, in fact, taller than even the S21+, so you can forget about reaching a lot further than the crease anyway.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G review

You could argue that the Flip3 is a two-hands smartphone, to begin with, despite the superficial notion that it's a compact device simply because it folds in half. Using both hands is the easiest and safest way to open the Flip, and certainly the one that will make you feel the least uneasy about damaging the internal display.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G review

Opening it up with one hand is very much possible, but early attempts while you're still not sure you won't break it are anything but elegant. It's nothing like the Moto Razr (be it V3 or 5G) that pretty much snaps open - the Flip wants to be able to maintain almost any angle between its two halves, and that's incompatible with easy opening.

Now, if you do manage to get comfortable with the process, there's the fingerprint unlock to contend with. The fingerprint reader is placed in the top half of the handset, and at no moment of the unflipping process is it in a natural spot for either your right thumb or a left index finger.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G review

Any other phone you can pretty much pull out of your pocket, and by the time it's in front of your face, you can have it unlocked. On the Flip, that's conceptually a two-step process: Step one - you open it; Step 2 - you tap on the fingerprint reader to unlock.

If you use your Flip with your right hand, the sensor is generally easy to reach with your thumb, though we'd still think the placement is higher than ideal. Even so, when you pry open the phone with your thumb, the thumb is now on the screen, and the fingerprint reader is not, requiring another action.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G review

If you're a smartphone leftie, after the already somewhat unsettling process of unfolding the phone, you need to readjust your grip once again to get at the fingerprint reader with your left index finger, and that's an even less elegant maneuver.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G review

Alternatively, you could set up face unlock. Sure, it wouldn't be as secure as the fingerprint option, but it will be one better than no biometric lock at all. We found face unlock to actually work very nicely, and the phone is ready and unlocked the moment you open it.

Closing the Flip3? That's straightforward and trouble-free. So much so that after a week or so of testing, it became second nature and this reviewer repeatedly tried to fold his Galaxy S21.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G review

Circling back to the topic of compactness, the Galaxy Z Flip3 5G's chunky proportions when closed may be incompatible with tight-fitting clothes - more so than a regular, tall but skinny smartphone. So if you're approaching the Flip from this perspective, you may be disappointed.

It's not heavy, strictly speaking. With its 183g weight it slots right between the 170-ish gram S21 and the 200-ish gram S21+ (the 'ish' stemming from the different antenna configurations of the two bar phones). Ultimately, the S21 seems like a better choice if pocketability is the top priority, though it's clear that the sexier option is the one that flips.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G review

Reader comments

  • AnonD-1014095

Too tall when opened Rubbish camera, should had the S21ultra camera. No 16gb Ram No s888+

  • Anonymous

69 hours of battery endurance rating is really disappointing tbh since the first-gen model from 2019 can do 85 hours. Since Samsung doesn't include DeX support in the first place, I may as well just save my money and buy the original Z Flip inst...

  • Anonymous

Snapdragon 888 is prone to overheating under intensive use. It feels like Snapdragon 810 all over again.