Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 review: Creasing through the folds
- The Galaxy Z Fold 3 is Samsung’s latest foldable smartphone.
- It sports two displays and is Samsung’s first smartphone with an under-display camera.
- Has Samsung done enough to address the concerns with its foldable phones? We put the phone through the paces to find out.
- Read our Galaxy Z Fold 3 review to find out if this should be your next phone.
AdvertisementSamsung has a history of creating a market for new form factors for phones, and that remains true for foldable smartphones as well. From nowhere two years ago, foldable smartphones have now become a part of normal discourse thanks to the Korean smartphone maker.
After initial hiccups with the original Galaxy Fold in 2019 to the Galaxy Z Fold 3 in 2021, Samsung and foldable smartphones have come a long way. From being gimmicky and highly delicate to robust, sturdy and water resistant, Samsung has made some major leaps in bringing its foldable smartphones to the mainstream.
For old followers of the smartphone industry, this might seem like déjà vu. Samsung created the phablet form factor – a mish-mash of tablets and phones, basically, phones with giant displays – out of nowhere with the original Galaxy Note in 2011. That was a time when phones with sub-5-inch displays were the norm, and anything bigger than that was basically an outlier.
Samsung brought big display smartphones into the mainstream and the Galaxy Note series proved to be a major success for the company. Now, with foldable smartphones, Samsung is trying to recreate the same magic yet again.
That’s enough for a backstory, and let’s come back to the topic – the Galaxy Z Fold 3. We have been testing Samsung’s latest foldable smartphone for a few weeks now, and here’s our detailed review. Dig in.
The Galaxy Z Fold 3 price in India starts at ₹1,49,999. It comes in Phantom Black and Phantom Green colour options. HDFC Bank debit and credit card users can avail of a cashback of ₹7,000. Additionally, there are other offers that you can check out on Samsung India’s official website.
The box includes the phone, a USB Type-C to Type-C cable for charging, a SIM ejector tool and the quick start guide.
Alternatively, if you want a slightly more affordable foldable phone, the Galaxy Z Flip 3 is another option worth considering at a starting price of ₹84,999.
The Galaxy Z Fold 3 sports a familiar design – it has a book-like form factor that Samsung has retained since the original Fold. It has a secondary display on the top and a foldable large display on the inside. This design approach helps protect the relatively delicate foldable display, while the external display is protected by Corning Gorilla Glass Victus.
The foldable magic is possible thanks to the hinge and the ultra-thin glass on the inside. However, one side-effect of a foldable phone is that it is going to be bulky – in part due to the phone folding in half, and in part due to the gap between the folded parts of the inner display.
This is immediately visible when the phone is folded and you either hold it or put it in your pocket. There’s no escaping the fact that it is chunky and bulky – at 271 grams, it is one of the heaviest smartphones out there.
The phone can be a little slipper at times, especially when you hold the phone vertically. However, the narrow aspect ratio is useful in this instance, as it gives you a better grip. Samsung says it has used a stronger aluminum material, and combined with the Gorilla Glass protection, it looks and feels premium.
The narrow aspect ratio makes the phone comfortable enough to hold, allowing you to use it like a normal smartphone. The fingerprint sensor is mounted on the right side, integrated with the power button. The back of the phone is bare, except for the camera module.
The display is the primary attraction of the Galaxy Z Fold 3 for obvious reasons. Both the displays are AMOLED and offer 120Hz refresh rate. The external display is 6.2-inches and appears taller than smartphones with comparable displays – this is due to the 25:9 aspect ratio at a time when most smartphones offer around 19:9 aspect ratio displays.
In simpler terms, the external display is not as wide as you would see in normal smartphones. This does not have a major impact on regular usage, but it is noticeable while watching videos, for which you’ll most probably use the main display.
Beyond the size and form factor, the external display is responsive, bright and since it is an AMOLED panel, the blacks are true and the contrast is excellent.
AdvertisementThe primary display – the foldable 7.6-inch canvas on the inside – is the key selling point of the Galaxy Z Fold 3. It has a much wider 5:4 aspect ratio, which makes it an excellent option for things like reading ebooks, or multitasking. The addition of S Pen support is another clear indicator that Samsung is focusing on making it easier to run multiple apps at the same time. Tasks like opening spreadsheets, taking notes or just creating art – it’s easier to get things done thanks to Samsung’s excellent implementation of multi-window and the large canvas at your disposal.
This brings us to the crease – there’s no denying that it is present and noticeable, but it can be ignored while viewing content. Again, this depends on the kind of content being viewed – the crease becomes more noticeable while viewing content with light background. It’s not a big deal but it cannot be wished away.
The Galaxy Z Fold 3 is also one of the first few mainstream smartphones with an under-display camera – it has a 4MP camera that is mostly invisible when you are using the phone, and appears as soon as you open the camera app to click selfies. The area that houses the camera is less pixel-dense than the rest of the display to allow the sensor to capture adequate light. It can be ignored for the most part but is slightly noticeable while viewing content.
Overall, though, Samsung has done a great job to make a highly usable foldable smartphone that is true to its roots while still making a lot of sense for day-to-day usage.
AdvertisementThe Galaxy Z Fold 3 is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 chipset – the top-of-the-line chipset that is currently available from Qualcomm. It is paired with up to 12GB of RAM and up to 512GB of UFS 3.1 storage. This is as fast as a modern Android smartphone can get, right now.
In regular usage, the Galaxy Z Fold 3 was a breeze to use. Samsung has done very well to balance performance and efficiency, with a seamless transition from the exterior display to the internal one. For instance, if you have an app open with the phone folded, it opens up in the same state when the phone is unfolded.
The phone also comes out with flying colours while playing games – the massive screen real estate is a treat to use and gives you more room to use and viewing area when compared to normal smartphones. We tried several titles like Battlegrounds Mobile India, Call of Duty: Mobile, Pokemon Go, or simpler titles like Subway Surf, and they worked well.
In terms of the battery life, we did not expect the phone to last long enough considering the fact that it powers two high refresh rate screens. The phone did struggle to last an entire day’s worth of usage, but this involved gaming for two hours, streaming videos for one hour, with voice calling and texting throughout the day.
The phone is backed by a 4,400mAh battery and supports 25W fast charging and 10W wireless charging, which is on the slower side when compared to the competition. The Galaxy Z Fold 3 could have benefited from faster charging speeds, given that it has to power two high refresh rate displays.
The Galaxy Z Fold 3 has five cameras in total – three on the back, one above the external display and one under-display camera inside.
The rear camera setup consists of a 12MP primary camera, a 12MP ultrawide angle snapper and a 12MP telephoto shooter. There is a 10MP camera above the external display and a 4MP under-display camera.
Coming to the camera quality, the Galaxy Z Fold 3 manages to click detailed clear photos in daylight conditions. The images tend to be slightly oversaturated, but they look great on the phone and social media. However, if you prefer neutral tones, you might want to use the manual mode.
AdvertisementSelfies are mostly good, especially those captured with the 10MP camera. It misses out on autofocus, but that is not a dealbreaker considering you can use the 12MP primary cameras as well.
Coming to the 4MP under-display camera, the results are just acceptable. This is Samsung’s first attempt at under-display camera technology, so you can expect improvements going forward. At this point, though, you are likely better off using the other four cameras at your disposal.
Lastly, you can use the 12MP primary cameras for selfies as well by unfolding the phone and using the external display as the viewfinder. You get the full power of the 12MP camera trio, complete with optical image stabilisation and much better lenses.
Should you buy the Galaxy Z Fold 3?
The Galaxy Z Fold 3 is a fancy smartphone that offers the best foldable phone experience to date. Period. From sturdiness to multitasking and performance, Samsung has nailed almost everything that needs to be.
AdvertisementThe cameras are not the best from Samsung’s stable, the charging speeds aren’t the best by today’s flagship standard especially for the price it comes for, but as far as foldable smartphones are concerned, it doesn’t get better than this.
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