Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G review

GSMArena Team, 20 August 2021.

Android 11 with One UI 3.1(.1)

The Galaxy Z Flip3 5G runs on Android 11 with Samsung's One UI on top, a proprietary layer that most people seem to be okay with or even like, which you can't say of Samsung's efforts of olden days. The version that our review unit boots is 3.1.1, and that's .1 more than we have on the Galaxy S21s, a difference that's as minute numerically as it is in look and feel.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G review

Starting off with the one unique bit about the Flip3, the upgraded cover display now offers more functionality thanks to the increase in size. We'll talk about the camera viewfinder implementation a bit later on, but here we need to mention a few words on notifications and widgets.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G review

You can have an always-on display feature active on the cover screen in the same way you can have it on the main display - there is, in fact, no separate setting for the two. The cover screen does get its own specific clock designs, though, and you can match what's displayed there with the watch face on your, say, Galaxy Watch4.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G review

Swipes in all four directions on the cover screen do different things. Swiping up launches Samsung Pay, while swiping down brings up a brightness setting for the cover screen as well as a tri-position alert toggle to switch between silent, vibrate, and sound on.

Swiping to the right accesses the notifications through which you can then scroll up and down as well as expand. Swiping to the left brings up a selection of up to seven widgets - music player, weather, schedule, alarm, Samsung Health, voice recorder, and timer.

Cover screen settings - Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G review Cover screen settings - Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G review Cover screen settings - Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G review Cover screen settings - Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G review
Cover screen settings

When partially unfolded (between 75 and 115 degrees), the Flip3's Flex mode feature will split an app's interface by placing the 'consumption' portion in the top half and the 'interaction' part in the bottom half.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G review

Some apps support it natively, like YouTube or Samsung's own Gallery and Calendar. For others, you can force a generic Flex mode control panel. We reckon that's a solution in search of a problem, though for video call apps like Google Duo, it can be sort of useful.

Flex mode - Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G review Flex mode - Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G review Flex mode - Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G review Flex mode - Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G review Flex mode - Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G review
Flex mode

Once unflipped to a flat state, the phone is essentially no different than any other Samsung of late. There's a standard lockscreen with dialer and camera shortcuts and the usual widget options. You can have an always-on display here as well.

Lockscreen - Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G review Lockscreen settings - Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G review Shortcuts - Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G review Widgets - Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G review Always on display - Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G review Always on display - Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G review
Lockscreen • Lockscreen settings • Shortcuts • Widgets • Always on display

It's at this point that you get to interact with the fingerprint reader, and all in itself, the capacitive sensor is very fast and reliable. The thing is, actually using the sensor, placed there, on a device of this form factor, is less than ideal, as we talked about in the Design section. The options for Face unlock (the one we favor on this device in particular), as well as the usual PIN, pattern and password are available too.

Biometrics and security - Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G review Biometrics and security - Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G review Biometrics and security - Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G review Biometrics and security - Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G review Biometrics and security - Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G review
Biometrics and security

Starting with v3.1 and now in 3.1.1, pulling the notification shade covers the entire screen underneath, even if there's just one notification card or none at all. That's in contrast to a previous implementation where the unused portion of the screen below the notifications still remained visible if darkened. The quick toggles can now be edited directly from the plus button at the end of the list instead of going into the menu.

Android 11 finally includes Notification history, and that's been implemented in One UI as well. It's accessed from the Settings menu, so it's not within immediate reach, but it's there for those occasions when you dismissed a notification too quickly and didn't really see what it was about. Just make sure to enable it because it's Off by default.

Notification shade - Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G review Notifications expanded - Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G review Quick toggles - Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G review Quick toggles settings - Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G review Quick toggles settings - Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G review
Notification shade • Notifications expanded • Quick toggles • Quick toggles settings

All of the standard layout adjustments and toggles for the quick panel and taskbar are accounted for. Android 11 has a new way of handling notifications for instant messenger apps called Bubbles, and One UI 3 adopts it, too. That's in addition to a previously available similar feature offered by Samsung by the name of Smart pop-up view. You'll find these settings under the 'Floating notifications' submenu, where you can alternatively turn both of them off and opt for the old-school cards-only interface.

Notification settings - Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G review Notification history - Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G review Floating notifications - Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G review Floating notifications - Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G review Floating notifications - Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G review
Notification settings • Notification history • Floating notifications

Android 11's refined multimedia controls have made their way on to One UI. You get a stack of the active audio playback apps right below the quick toggles and swiping to the side switches between the apps.

The Media screen was already available on One UI pre-Android 11, and it offers similar functionality for picking the output device or using Samsung's Music share feature. The volume control panel has gotten a makeover too, and now the four sliders are vertical instead of the horizontal ones of One UI's past.

Samsung's Music Share is just one example of a fairly advanced software feature that originally launched as a flagship one and is now bringing a lot of added value to the mid-range. The feature allows you to play music through Bluetooth accessories connected to a friend's Samsung phone. It is pretty nifty.

Media controls - Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G review Media controls - Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G review Media controls - Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G review Media controls - Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G review Media controls - Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G review Media controls - Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G review
Media controls

Yet another of the native Android 11 improvements that Samsung also includes in One UI 3 is the ability to pin apps to the top of the sheet with Share options. We'd like to be able to remove some of the options, too, because that list could sure use some decluttering, but that's not possible yet.

One more thing that Google tweaked in this year's release is the permission handling, and Samsung's implemented it in One UI 3. With this version, you will see a new prompt for permissions every time an app requests it, letting you deny permission, allow it only while using the app, or just for this one time. If an app requires constant access to permission, you also get a fourth option that takes you to a setting page where you can provide it. This is done to prevent the user from accidentally selecting this option while blazing through the permission dialogs.

The settings menu has seen a subtle but meaningful makeover. Subcategories are made more legible by using a dot separator and extra intervals, while recent searches are now shown as bubbles instead of a list. Additionally, there's a newly added feature to search settings by hashtags - for conceptually related things found in different places in the menu.

Share options pinning - Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G review Share options pinning - Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G review Permissions handling - Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G review Permissions handling - Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G review Settings UI - Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G review Settings UI - Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G review
Share options pinning • Share options pinning • Permissions handling • Permissions handling • Settings UI

There are plenty of other smaller visual changes scattered all throughout One UI 3.1. Samsung's excellent theme support and rich online selection are present, as well. The same goes for the system navigation options, with a few tweaks and layouts available for gestures, as well as old-school button controls, even the really-old original style, with the back button on the right side.

Homescreen - Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G review Folder view - Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G review App drawer - Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G review Themes - Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G review Navigation options - Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G review
Homescreen • Folder view • App drawer • Themes • Navigation options

There is also the Edge panels interface, Bixby and full integration of the SmartThings platform. The Game launcher is the hub for all your games, along with options for limiting distraction while playing.

Additional software features - Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G review Additional software features - Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G review Additional software features - Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G review Additional software features - Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G review Additional software features - Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G review Additional software features - Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G review
Additional software features

One notable omission from the Flip3's feature set is Samsung Dex. While that's understandable on lesser models in the A-series, the Flip probably deserves to have it, though maybe this particular phone's target audience will happily live without it. Even in its absence, though, you can still get a lot of its functionality through the Link to Windows feature that has been implemented in cooperation with Microsoft.

Synthetic benchmarks

The Galaxy Z Flip3 5G features the top-tier Snapdragon 888 chipset. Unlike plain flat high-end Galaxies and similarly to previous Samsung foldables, there is no regional divide and no Exynos version. The Flip3 comes with 8GB of RAM and either 128GB or 256GB of UFS 3.1 storage - we have the base version.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G review

In GeekBench, the Galaxy Z Flip3 5G posted average numbers for an SD888 in the multi-core test and a relatively low result in the single-core test. The other Galaxy we've seen in Snapdragon trim, the S21 Ultra, is more in line with competitors under single-core load.

GeekBench 5 (multi-core)

Higher is better

  • vivo X60 Pro+
    3749
  • OnePlus 9 Pro
    3636
  • Asus Zenfone 8
    3604
  • Sony Xperia 5 III
    3549
  • Xiaomi Mi 11
    3489
  • Samsung Galaxy S21+ 5G
    3476
  • Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G
    3441
  • Oppo Find X3 Pro
    3316
  • Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G (Snapdragon)
    3244
  • Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 5G
    3239

GeekBench 5 (single-core)

Higher is better

  • vivo X60 Pro+
    1143
  • OnePlus 9 Pro
    1126
  • Asus Zenfone 8
    1118
  • Sony Xperia 5 III
    1117
  • Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G (Snapdragon)
    1109
  • Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 5G
    1095
  • Samsung Galaxy S21+ 5G
    1091
  • Xiaomi Mi 11
    1085
  • Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G
    979
  • Oppo Find X3 Pro
    926

Antutu doesn't make the Flip3 look good either, and in v9 of the popular benchmark, this Galaxy is posting fairly low scores for a handset with the latest high-end Snapdragon. It's a similar story in Antutu 8 as well.

AnTuTu 9

Higher is better

  • vivo X60 Pro+
    836826
  • Asus Zenfone 8
    799738
  • Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 5G
    752218
  • Sony Xperia 5 III
    708394
  • Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G
    682223

AnTuTu 8

Higher is better

  • vivo X60 Pro+
    734811
  • OnePlus 9 Pro
    691055
  • Asus Zenfone 8
    676001
  • Xiaomi Mi 11
    668722
  • Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G (Snapdragon)
    657273
  • Oppo Find X3 Pro
    656467
  • Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 5G
    635918
  • Samsung Galaxy S21+ 5G
    622276
  • Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G
    596866

In graphics benchmarks, the Flip's results are, again, uncharacteristically low for the hardware. In the offscreen tests, it consistently ranks around the bottom of the pack, though the 1080p resolution allows it to pull ahead of 1440p competitors in the onscreen tests. It's looking like Samsung deliberately tuned the Flip a couple of notches below the chipset's full potential.

GFX Manhattan ES 3.0 (offscreen 1080p)

Higher is better

  • OnePlus 9 Pro
    174
  • vivo X60 Pro+
    170
  • Oppo Find X3 Pro
    164
  • Asus Zenfone 8
    164
  • Xiaomi Mi 11
    155
  • Sony Xperia 5 III
    155
  • Samsung Galaxy S21+ 5G
    154
  • Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G (Snapdragon)
    142
  • Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G
    142
  • Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 5G
    100

GFX Manhattan ES 3.0 (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • vivo X60 Pro+
    119
  • Asus Zenfone 8
    119
  • Samsung Galaxy S21+ 5G
    118
  • Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G
    117
  • Sony Xperia 5 III
    107
  • Xiaomi Mi 11
    88
  • Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G (Snapdragon)
    86
  • Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 5G
    64
  • OnePlus 9 Pro
    60
  • Oppo Find X3 Pro
    60

GFX Manhattan ES 3.1 (offscreen 1080p)

Higher is better

  • OnePlus 9 Pro
    119
  • vivo X60 Pro+
    119
  • Asus Zenfone 8
    117
  • Oppo Find X3 Pro
    113
  • Sony Xperia 5 III
    113
  • Xiaomi Mi 11
    111
  • Samsung Galaxy S21+ 5G
    111
  • Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G (Snapdragon)
    109
  • Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G
    86
  • Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 5G
    71

GFX Manhattan ES 3.1 (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • vivo X60 Pro+
    105
  • Asus Zenfone 8
    105
  • Samsung Galaxy S21+ 5G
    100
  • Sony Xperia 5 III
    92
  • Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G
    71
  • Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G (Snapdragon)
    58
  • Xiaomi Mi 11
    57
  • OnePlus 9 Pro
    57
  • Oppo Find X3 Pro
    55
  • Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 5G
    40

GFX Car Chase ES 3.1 (offscreen 1080p)

Higher is better

  • vivo X60 Pro+
    71
  • OnePlus 9 Pro
    70
  • Oppo Find X3 Pro
    70
  • Asus Zenfone 8
    69
  • Sony Xperia 5 III
    69
  • Xiaomi Mi 11
    67
  • Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G (Snapdragon)
    66
  • Samsung Galaxy S21+ 5G
    66
  • Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 5G
    55
  • Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G
    50

GFX Car Chase ES 3.1 (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • vivo X60 Pro+
    62
  • Asus Zenfone 8
    61
  • Samsung Galaxy S21+ 5G
    54
  • Sony Xperia 5 III
    53
  • Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G
    40
  • Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 5G
    38
  • OnePlus 9 Pro
    36
  • Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G (Snapdragon)
    33
  • Xiaomi Mi 11
    33
  • Oppo Find X3 Pro
    33

GFX Aztek Vulkan High (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • Asus Zenfone 8
    45
  • vivo X60 Pro+
    44
  • Samsung Galaxy S21+ 5G
    37
  • Sony Xperia 5 III
    29
  • Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G
    29
  • OnePlus 9 Pro
    27
  • Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G (Snapdragon)
    25
  • Xiaomi Mi 11
    24
  • Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 5G
    18

GFX Aztek ES 3.1 High (onscreen)

Higher is better

  • vivo X60 Pro+
    43
  • Samsung Galaxy S21+ 5G
    43
  • Asus Zenfone 8
    41
  • Sony Xperia 5 III
    37
  • Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G
    33
  • Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 5G
    25
  • OnePlus 9 Pro
    24
  • Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G (Snapdragon)
    23
  • Xiaomi Mi 11
    22

3DMark Wild Life Vulkan 1.1 (offscreen 1440p)

Higher is better

  • Samsung Galaxy S21+ 5G
    5757
  • Sony Xperia 5 III
    5742
  • OnePlus 9 Pro
    5701
  • vivo X60 Pro+
    5695
  • Xiaomi Mi 11
    5673
  • Asus Zenfone 8
    5666
  • Oppo Find X3 Pro
    5653
  • Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 5G
    5635
  • Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G (Snapdragon)
    5547
  • Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G
    5261

The Flip3 did throttle under repeated benchmark runs, but the drop in performance wasn't as rapid as we've seen from other devices recently, at least not in the CPU department. We gather that with the fairly conservative initial baseline, it takes the phone longer to build up heat. In the CPU throttling test, the Flip could sustain up to 80% of its maximum performance for about 20 minutes, at which point it dropped to less than 50% and a few minutes later settled at a little under 60% for the remainder of the 1-hour test.

In the 3DMark Wild Life stress test, the second loop was already at 72% of the first one, dropping to 63% on the 6th loop and maintaining that for the rest of the test.

CPU throttling test - Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G review 3DMark Wild Life stress test - Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G review
CPU throttling test • 3DMark Wild Life stress test

Ultimately, the Flip3 is a strong performer, though it is bested by other handsets with similar internals. None of them foldables, of course, unless you count the Fold3, which we don't think you should.

Reader comments

  • I love phones
  • 27 Aug 2022
  • nyH

Awesome device, I had the first flip for almost 2 years so this one was a natural progressio. If you had fold or flip you know you can recommend it with ease- its not a phone for everyone thats a fact, also battery could be a bit bigger- on the plus ...

I came here to compare Motorola Razr 5g with Samsung Z Flip 5g. At the beginning of 2021 I began to yearn for the days of my old folding phone, a Samsung e210 (I think) because I hate big heavy phones for both aesthetic and practical reasons. Even m...

  • croth
  • 24 Jun 2022
  • qnx

I've experienced the same issue with my 8 month old Z Flip 3. Screen started with black line in fold area and gradually grew to the entire screen (about 8-10 hours). Was told to go to Best Buy store for support and given a 'case number�...