The first Galaxy Fold didn’t get off to the best of starts. It wasn’t precisely the dazzling example of a folding future as Samsung had initially imagined it would be due to numerous design flaws. However, the South Korean company persisted, and starting in 2019, we were given access to a modified version and a moderately successful sequel right before the epidemic struck.
Review of the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 5G’s design and main features
The Z Fold 3 5G, which Samsung calls its “toughest foldable yet,” has received an IPX8 water resistance grade, meaning it should withstand immersion in water for up to 30 minutes at a depth of 1.5 meters. According to Samsung, it has coated internal parts with water-resistant materials, added rubber seals, and altered the wiring of the phone’s “Hideaway Hinge” to achieve this.
The Z Fold 3 is the first folding flagship that can withstand liquids, along with the Flip 3. You may wish to avoid using either phone near the beach because neither one has any approved ingress protection against dust and tiny particles (denoted by the X in IPX8).
Other design modifications include applying a new, tougher protective film to the Fold 3’s main screen and significantly rearranging the layering, which, according to Samsung, has increased display longevity by 80%. However, I’m still concerned about how delicate it feels, so I’d advise keeping the phone closed whenever you can to prevent scratches.
Review of the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 5G: S Pen
As I already noted, the Z Fold 3 is the first device to officially support Samsung’s S Pen stylus, which is somewhat coincidental given that the introduction of the new Galaxy Note was severely lacking. The Z Fold 3 appears to have replaced the Note line as Samsung’s primary work/productivity handheld, proving that the rumors were accurate and that the company has discreetly abandoned (or at least stopped) the Note line.
Additionally, there are two S Pen choices available. First up is the S Pen Fold Edition (£44), which is designed specifically for the Z Fold 3 and supports Samsung’s Air Commands in addition to allowing remote photo taking with a single push on the top button. However, unlike the Note, this stylus requires a specific cover case (also available separately) in order to be attached. It does not simply slot into the handset’s corner like the Note does.
The S Pen Pro ($99) is a more all-purpose stylus that can be used with other Samsung products, including the Galaxy Book Go and Galaxy Tab series, and can be switched between with the touch of a button. Despite being significantly thicker and bigger than the regular S Pen, the Pro model has Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) connectivity and can track its location with Samsung SmartThings.
Sadly, neither pen was included with my evaluation unit. However, according to Samsung, both S Pens have a number of additional features, including the ability to type handwritten sentences into the search bar of a web browser. In the notes app, you may also post-edit text by erasing specific letters and words, deleting blank spaces with manually created joining lines, or adding new text with straightforward arrows.
In another example, Samsung showed how watching YouTube in flex mode—with the screen partially opened at a 90-degree angle—allows you to take notes in the bottom section while the video plays at the top. This can also be utilized during video and conference calls and is accessed by double tapping the bottom of the screen while holding down the S Pen button.
Review of the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 5G: Two screens
The internal display of the Z Fold 3 is still 7.6 inches wide and has a resolution of 2,208 by 1,768, but it can now refresh at up to 120 Hz. This is obviously just an adaptive option rather than a toggle, thus the screen refresh will change based on the app, just like with Samsung’s past flagships.
The interior screen is really dang nice in terms of quality. I noticed that out of the two color modes available, the Natural setting was the most accurate in terms of color, with an average Delta E of 2.57, sRGB color gamut coverage of 91.7%, and overall volume of 93.3%.
The visuals in HDR video and games were astounding. My X-rite display colorimeter indicated that the display’s brightness peaked at a stunning 1,089cd/m2; it truly is a delight for the eyes, even though the square aspect ratio results in black borders at the top and bottom of the screen while viewing conventional 16:9 or 21:9 content.
The front cover screen on the Fold 3 is the same size as before (6.2 in.) and supports 120Hz as well. However, the resolution has barely changed from last year’s 2,260 x 816 to 2,268 x 832.
UI and software evaluation of the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 5G
On the software side of things, there is a lot to discuss. With a split-view revamp (you can change the size of the panes within apps) and the ability to install a static taskbar that works similarly to a panes PC or Mac, Samsung has significantly improved the Z Fold’s multitasking capabilities.
Additionally, Samsung and Microsoft have teamed up to create an Office program suite that is easier to fold. For instance, you may now open and edit two documents at once in Microsoft Word’s two-page mode, which is similar to reading a book.
Review of the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 5G: Battery life and performance
The Z Fold 3 still comes with 12GB of RAM and a choice of either 256GB or 512GB of UFS 3.1 storage, but the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 CPU replaces the outdated Snapdragon 865 of the previous generation. Additionally, it has slots for two nano SIM cards (with eSIM capability as well) and runs on dual 2,200mAh batteries instead of the standard 4,400mAh.
With such specifications, it should come as no surprise that the Fold 3 5G performs phenomenally well. The Fold 3 5G’s Snapdragon 888, whose processing speeds are among the fastest, achieved a single-core processing result of 1,127 in the Geekbench 5 test and a multicore score of 3,584.
Review of the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 5G: Cameras
Along with the selfie camera built into the display, the phone has a 12MP (f/1.8) rear camera, a 12MP (f/2.2) ultrawide camera, and a 12MP (f/2.4) telephoto camera with 2x optical zoom. The cover camera has a single 10MP (f/2.2) sensor without optical image stabilization, while the primary and zoom cameras both have OIS.
You have a shocking number of cameras at your disposal, but it’s unfortunate that none of them are very unique. Don’t get me wrong, the Z Fold 3 5G can capture some incredibly beautiful images, as my camera examples below demonstrate. Simply put, the camera isn’t as interesting as other expensive flagship phones with high megapixel counts and super zoom sensors, like the Galaxy S21 Ultra.
How effective are these cameras? They’re excellent, but not the greatest I’ve encountered. In almost every side-by-side comparison, the shots from the iPhone 12 Pro just barely edged out those from the Z Fold 3 since the iPhone was able to capture a little bit more detail and the Z Fold 3’s images tended to seem a little bit too overly processed in my opinion.
However, pictures taken with the Z Fold 3’s 2x zoom give a slight advantage. The photographs seemed more colorful, bright, and true to life when zoomed in, and there is a ton of detail and contrast. It’s also important to note that, similar to the Galaxy S21, you can digitally zoom in up to 10x.
Review of the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 5G: Conclusion
The Galaxy Z Fold 3 5G is undoubtedly a phone that is brimming with advantages. Not only is it admirable, but it is also instantly clear that Samsung has incorporated criticism from earlier iterations. As a result, it has produced one of the most complete foldables to date.
Therefore, there is no doubt that this is the phone to buy if you’re sure that the folding form factor is where smartphones are undoubtedly going and you want to get in on the action before anybody else.