Samsung has managed to reduce the production costs of its foldable smartphones and surprise everyone: the Galaxy Z Fold 3 is more powerful, more beautiful and cheaper. But does this mean that the smartphone is more affordable? Should you change your smartphone for this new Z Fold 3? Here are our first impressions of the smartphone.
My first impressions of the Samsung Galaxy Fold3 in brief
The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 was announced today, Wednesday, August 11, 2021, with a suggested retail price of $1,799. This means a considerable price reduction compared to the previous generation, which launched last year at a price of $2,020. Marcus Becker, Samsung’s product manager in Germany, explained to us that this was made possible by reducing costs and optimizing the production process of foldable smartphones.
However, it is important to note that the third generation is not only cheaper, but offers considerable improvements in technical features and design. The Galaxy Z Fold 3 is more solid, has received support for the S Pen and has a SoC that is unique among Samsung flagships in many markets. In other words, we are getting a nice upgrade.
But will this be enough for fans of the Galaxy Note series to embrace the foldable smartphone in the absence of a true productivity smartphone in Samsung’s catalog? That question may not be answered for a long time, but one thing is for sure, this is a device that changes the way we use smartphones.
The Galaxy Z Fold 3 is available for pre-order starting today, August 11, on the Samsung Store in select markets, and will arrive in stores on August 27. To motivate fans around the world, the manufacturer is offering owners of a Samsung smartphone a $200 discount on pre-order.
In addition to the Z Fold 3, Samsung also introduced the Galaxy Z Flip 3 as well as the Galaxy Watch 4 and Watch 4 Classic, and the Galaxy Buds 2.
Refined design and increased robustness
The Galaxy Z Fold 3 is more beautiful, more polished and all aspects of the design are more refined than in the previous model. The smartphone is made of armored aluminum, which Samsung says ensures greater strength.
In addition, the Galaxy Z Fold 3 is IPX8 certified and this is a first since the model was launched. This means that it is protected against water ingress or can be used in the rain, but it is not protected against dust. However, there is inside the hinge, a protection against dust penetration.
During my hands-on, I was able to compare the new Z Fold 3 to its predecessor, which allowed me to see that Samsung has made significant efforts to improve the quality of materials and finishes of the device. The triple camera module is less protruding and better integrated with the overall design of the smartphone. This is really remarkable.
In addition, it’s nice to use the device with one hand thanks to the 24.5:9 aspect ratio of the external screen. However, as a smartphone that doubles in size when unfolded, the Z Fold 3 is still quite heavy at 271g.
As far as colors go, there aren’t as many options as with the Galaxy Z Flip 3, as the Z Fold 3 can be purchased in Black, Green and Silver. I particularly liked the latter variant and it’s the one shown in the image above.
Screens as exceptional as ever
Curiously enough, the screen of the Galaxy Z Fold 3 is 80% more resistant than that of the Galaxy Z Fold 2 . According to Samsung, this was made possible by the use of Gorilla Glass Victus, which protects the device from scratches, and a protective PET film.
The main display has been dubbed Infinity-Flex and measures 7.6 inches; it uses Dynamic AMOLED technology and offers FHD+ resolution. The Z Fold 3’s external display, meanwhile, measures 6.2 inches, uses a 24.5:9 aspect ratio and the same Dynamic AMOLED technology.
The screen is 29 percent brighter and uses power even more efficiently. Like many 2021 flagships, the Galaxy Z Fold 3 uses an adaptive refresh rate of up to 120 Hz on both the main display and the external display. This means that consuming content on the screen is smoother and interacting with the interface in general is faster.
Unlike the previous model, the selfie camera is now located under the main screen. However, the technology used by Samsung does not offer a really smooth experience, as we see the pixels almost like a grid over the camera hole. The manufacturer has added 172 pixels above the selfie camera and calls it an under-screen camera, but it is not!
This is noticeable when browsing a web page or in an application on the smartphone. However, to tell the truth, while following a video, I barely noticed the hole on the screen reserved for the camera.
Overall, the Galaxy Z Fold 3’s screens offer a good experience, but when using the smartphone with the main screen, it is inevitable to notice the crease in the middle. But this is one of the current (dis)advantages of having a foldable smartphone.
Galaxy Z Fold 3 is compatible with the S Pen
The S Pen aims to transform productivity in the Z Fold series.
Samsung has focused on its foldable smartphones in this second half of 2021, in other words, it’s pretty clear that there will be no Galaxy Note this year. As a result, the Galaxy Z Fold 3 is now compatible with the S Pen, a feature that has long been reserved exclusively for the Galaxy Note line.
Samsung has chosen to offer two versions of the S Pen for use with the Z Fold 3. So you will be able to choose between the S Pen Fold Edition and the S Pen Pro. During the launch keynote, it was explained that both pens have a specially designed retractable tip to regulate the pressure on the screen. Latency has been reduced, without losing the natural writing experience.
I had very little time to test the S Pen’s functionality on the Z Fold 3, but I have to admit that I have changed my mind about using the stylus on the Z Fold line. The fact that the Z Fold 3 is a smartphone that already has a number of folding mechanisms always made me think that adding an S Pen to the mix would be confusing.
Fortunately, however, Samsung’s solution was not to integrate the S Pen into the Z Fold 3 as was the case in the Note series. If you want to use the S Pen, it will be an additional accessory that can be carried in a dedicated case.
To learn more about using the S Pen with the Galaxy Z Fold 3, we invite you to read our full review of the smartphone that will arrive very soon. However, the fact that Samsung is working with partners like Google and Microsoft to deliver apps optimized for split screen use already makes me realize the potential of using productivity apps with the S Pen for content production.
The Galaxy Z Fold 3 5G is equipped with the Snapdragon 888 SoC, which makes it an exception among Samsung’s flagships in 2021. The manufacturer has also chosen to use this SoC in the new Galaxy Z Flip3 5G. Thus, both smartphones should be on par with flagships like the Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra and Sony Xperia 1 III, whose performance was praised in their tests on .
The Snapdragon 888 is backed by 12GB of RAM and either 256 or 512GB of internal UFS 3.1 storage. However, there is no option to expand the storage via a microSD card.
The fact that Samsung opted for Qualcomm’s high-end SoC instead of the Exynos 2100, which powers the Galaxy S21 series in many countries, might make many people interested in the manufacturer’s current flagships come to opt for the foldable model.
The smartphone runs on One UI 3.1.1 based on Android 11
Like the Galaxy Z Flip 3, the new Z Fold 3 runs on Android 11-based One UI 3.1.1. As a high-end smartphone, Samsung guarantees at least three years of Android updates and four years of security patches. All this is very good, however, there is still a big limitation of the possibilities of this foldable smartphone by the OS.
Android is an OS meant for smartphones, it has never really managed to achieve excellence when it comes to tablets. And, unfortunately, that’s not likely to change with the release of Android 12 scheduled for later this year. In other words, OS performance is one of the weak points of this smartphone. And this is not unique to the Z Fold 3, but to all tablets running Android.
In total, the Galaxy Z Fold 3 comes with five cameras. There is a triple photo module on the back and each screen has a selfie camera. Here are the smartphone’s camera specs:
- 12 MP wide angle main sensor (with f/1.8 aperture and 1/1.76″ pixels) ;
- 12 MP ultra wide angle camera (with f/2.2 aperture and 1/3.24″ pixels) ;
- 12 MP telephoto lens (with f/2.4 aperture and 1/3.6″ pixels);
- 10 MP selfie camera1 (external) (with f/2.2 aperture and 1/3.24″ pixels);
- Front camera2 (internal) 4 MP wide angle camera (with f/1.8 aperture and 1/3.1″ pixels).
I don’t need a full Galaxy Z Fold 3 test to know that the smartphone has a versatile camera, just look at the spec sheet. The smartphone offers the duo wide-angle and ultra-wide angle camera capable, as well as a telephoto lens, which helps to limit the loss of quality in zoomed images.
However, the “wow” effect of this camera seems to lie in the software features. Photo features like Flex Mode and Quick Shot seem to be the most surprising for those who will use the Galaxy Z Fold 3 for the first time. While the former allows you to take selfies without using your hands, the latter uses the external screen as a preview to quickly capture photos and videos with the cameras on the back without having to open your smartphone. Quick Shot is excellent in terms of image quality, which is obviously superior.
I’m really curious how this camera will perform in the full test, especially because it wasn’t possible to take pictures in different environments and lighting during the handheld. But at first glance, it seems to me that Samsung made the right choices.
A smaller battery
Samsung has reduced the battery capacity of the new model compared to its predecessor. While the Galaxy Z Fold 2 had a 4,500 mAh battery, the one in its successor has a capacity of 4,400 mAh. Of course, the manufacturer claims that the display is more energy efficient, but let’s face it, this is a smartphone that has two screens, a state-of-the-art SoC and is 5G compatible.
Fast charging isn’t impressive either, with 25W of power on wired charging and 10W on wireless charging. Making a quick comparison between the flagships available on the market, Samsung is not far behind in terms of battery capacity, but in terms of power and charging time, yes .
However, considering all the features that the Galaxy Z Fold 3 offers, it is possible that these 4,400 mAh are not enough. But of course, in order to talk more about the Galaxy Z Fold 3’s battery life, we’ll have to fully test the smartphone first.
The complete technical file
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 5G
The complete technical data sheet at a glance!
|Model||Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 5G|
|Memory (RAM / internal storage)||12 GB / 256 GB
12 GB / 512 GB
|Dual SIM||Yes (SIM1 + SIM2 or SIM1 + eSIM)|
|Display||Main Screen: 7.6-inch, 22.5:18 aspect ratio, Dynamic Display AMOLED, QXGA+ (2,208 x 1,768 pixels), 120 hertz refresh rate
Front Screen: 6.2-inch, 24.5:9 aspect ratio, Dynamic AMOLED (2,268 x 832 pixels), 120 hertz refresh rate
|Protection||Gorilla Glass Victus | IPX8 certification|
|Size||Closed: 158.2 x 67.1 x 16mm
Open: 158.2 x 128.1 x 6.4 millimeters
|Connectivity||5G, LTE, WLAN 802.11 a/b/g, Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth, USB Type-C, GPS|
|Main Camera||12 MP with 1/1.76″ pixels, f/1.8 aperture|
|Ultra wide angle||12 MP with 1/ 3.24″ pixels, f/2.2 aperture|
|Telephoto camera||12 MP with 1/3.6″ pixels, f/2.4 aperture|
|Front camera 1||10 MP with 1/3.1″ pixels, f/2.2 aperture|
|Front camera 2 (internal)||4 MP with 1/3.1″ pixels, f/1.8 aperture (wide angle)|
|Battery capacity||4,400 mAh|
|Charging technologies||Fast charging at 20W, wireless charging at 10W|
|S-Pen support||Yes, Fold Edition and Pro Edition|
|Audio||Stereo speakers, Dolby Atmos, Music Share|
|Price||$1,799 / $1,899|
|Launch||from August 27|
The Galaxy Z Fold 3 is an almost complete redesign of the previous model and it seems to have worked. I’ve spent too little time with the smartphone to be able to say that the new version is a true upgrade, but at first glance, everything looks better. Some features haven’t changed, however, such as the fact that Android and One UI still don’t seem optimized for this type of device.
It is now clear that there will be no new Galaxy Note in 2021, because as expected, the S Pen has arrived in the Z Fold range. Another important decision was to use the Snapdragon 888 in this super smartphone, making it easier to choose between models in the Galaxy S and Z Fold lines.
Only time will tell if this will increase the popularity of both Samsung lines. However, it is certain that the manufacturer has seen sales of its flagships decline in recent months, and having two new foldable smartphones offering considerable improvements at a lower price than previous models is a sign of change at Samsung.
What do you think of the Galaxy Z Fold 3? Would you be willing to buy it? Let’s discuss it in the comments!