Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G Review: The foldable smartphone you actually want

The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G is very much the anti-thesis of its other latest Galaxy foldable cousin Z Fold3. While the Fold3 opens to increase display size, the Flip3 closes to reduce its overall size.

In short, the Flip3 is like a cosmetic compact that opens up to let you use the screen and closes for a compact sizing to easily put into your pocket or bag.

PRICE: From S$1,398, available in Lazada and Shopee
PROCESSOR: Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 5G
DISPLAY: 6.7-inch FHD+ Foldable Dynamic AMOLED, 2,640 x 1,080 pixels (main); 1.9-inch Super AMOLED, 512 x 260 pixels (cover)
REAR CAMERAS: 12MP f/2.2 ultra-wide-angle, 12MP f/1.8 wide-angle
BATTERY: Non-removable 3,300mAh
WEIGHT: 183g

This is the third generation of the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip series with the original Flip and Flip 5G being its predecessors. There is no Flip2, in case you are wondering.

The major improvements of the Flip3 over its predecessors are the bigger 1.9-inch cover screen (up from the 1.1-inch), a higher refresh rate of 120Hz for the 6.7-inch main screen (up from 60Hz) and the new water resistance rating of IPX8 (down to depths of 1.5m for 30 minutes).

The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G comes in an array of colours. (Photo: Samsung)

And following Apple’s lead, there is no power adapter included in the box. There is only a USB-C-to-USB-C charging cable. To me, it is still a wonder these flagship smartphones lack these accessories when entry-level and mid-range (especially the Chinese brands) smartphones have with everything including headphones, case and power adapter.

The Flip3 now comes in four colours of cream, green, lavender, black as well as three Samsung Online Exclusive colours of grey, white and pink. We reviewed the lavender model.

Regardless of the colour, the Flip3 features a two-tone design with a black column consisting of the cover screen besides the rear dual-camera system.

The Flip3 features a two-tone design. (Photo: Trevor Tan)

Its casing is made of Armor Aluminium – its strongest aluminium frame – according to Samsung. Its ultra-thin glass cover is supposed to be 80 per cent more durable as well.

Otherwise, it is practically the same sleek foldable design as its predecessor with a power/fingerprint sensor button and a volume rocker on its top right side.

When closed, it is nearly as small as a CashCard. (Photo: Trevor Tan)

When closed, the Flip3 is nearly as small as a CashCard in surface area. But when opened, it is almost as big as the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra. No more bulges on your pants’ pockets. Not to mention, it is really lightweight at only 183g when compared to the likes of iPhone 12 Pro Max or S21 Ultra.

When opened, the Flip3 (right) is as big as the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra. (Photo: Trevor Tan)

However, I find myself having to pry the Flip3 open with both hands. While feasible, it is a tad awkward to open the Flip3 with one hand though. Maybe it is also the fear that the phone might slip off my hand if I tried to open it with one hand.

The main screen is gorgeous with every piece of content looking more clear and vivid on it. You can also unfold the screen to any angle you like with the lower half utilised as a stand.

However, there is still a visible crease where the screen folds. This is especially so when the screen is off. Ironically, you cannot see the crease when you watching videos or swiping social media content.

There is still a visible crease when the phone folds. (Photo: Trevor Tan)

The bigger cover screen is a much welcomed addition though. It is bright and sharp. You can also swipe across the cover screen to toggle through the different widgets such as weather, calendar, voice recorder and timer.

The cover screen also doubles up as a viewfinder – by double pressing the power button – thereby allowing you to use the rear cameras for selfies instead of the punch-hole selfie camera.

You can take selfie using the rear cameras using the cover screen. (Photo: Trevor Tan)

Do note that when taking photos using the cover screen, the resulting photos will come out square. Perfect for Instagram but might not be what you want.

On the downside, there is no dust resistance rating. And using it for slightly more than 2 weeks, I can already see dust gathering on the edges of the protective film of the main screen.

Blessed with Qualcomm’s flagship Snapdragon 888 5G chip, the performance of Flip3 is always going to be top-notch.

In the GeekBench 5 benchmark tests, the Flip3 scored 1,118 (single-core) and 3,550 (multi-core). In other words, it performs better than other flagship smartphones such as vivo X60 Pro which has a score of 1,015 (single-core) and 3,387 (multi-core).

+ Sleek foldable design
+ Gorgeous main screen
+ Bigger and more functional cover screen
+ Great overall performance
+ Water resistant

– No telephoto camera
– Battery life can be better
– No power adapter included

In fact, the Flip3 even bettered its flagship cousin S21 Ultra that scored 939 (single-core) and 3,092 (multi-core).

With the great display and fast processor, there are no lag when playing games like Mobile Legends: Bang Bang, War Robots or Pokemon Go. Unfortunately due to the adaptive display, I am not sure if the games are played in refresh rates of 60Hz or 120Hz.

The main screen offers great visuals. (Photo: Trevor Tan)

But the visuals do look smoother when compared to playing these games on my iPhone. It is the same when I am browsing websites on the Flip3.

Unlike its camera-centric S21 Ultra cousin or even some mid-range smartphones, the Flip3 only has a modest rear dual-camera system unchanged from the Flip 5G apart from now having super clear glass with Gorilla Glass protection.

It is still made up of a wide-angle camera and an ultra-wide-angle camera both at 12-megapixel (MP). It does not feature any telephoto camera. In the main screen, there is a punch-hole 10MP selfie camera.

Photo taken using the Flip3 rear camera. (Photo: Trevor Tan)

That said, photos shot by the Flip3’s cameras are still pretty good overall. You get nice vivid pictures in bright sunlight, but there some purple fringing seen if you zoom in closely.

Portraits look great with natural bokeh effects, even when using the selfie camera. Photos taken with Night mode are decent but look visibly soft.

In fact, if you are taking photos just for your social media posts, the Flip3 will more than suffice.

Battery mileage will always depend on your usage. In our usual 720p video loop battery test with the adaptive display turned on and at maximum brightness, the Flip3 lasted 8 hours and 33 minutes.

This is quite mediocre compared to the compact-sized Asus Zenfone 8’s battery life of 9 hours 55 minutes. And in real life, the Flip3 actually lasted shorter compared to other smartphones.

With the cover screen in maximum brightness and periodically flipping the main screen open to check Facebook, Instagram and emails, the battery level dipped to nearly 30 per cent by the time I went to bed. As such, you probably will want to charge the Flip3 every night before you go to bed.

In terms of pricing, the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G is actually quite competitive starting from S$1,398. Especially so for a foldable smartphone.

If you love the sleek foldable design and the compactness it brings, this might just be the foldable smartphone you really want to buy.

DESIGN: 9/10
OVERALL: 8.5/10

Trevor Tan

Started out with dreams to become a street photographer, Trevor Tan somehow became a tech journalist with over 16 years of consumer tech experience. Maybe he plays too much video games and buys too many new gadgets.
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