all our impressions of the premium foldable smartphone

Third generation of Fold, the Galaxy Z Fold 3 is the most successful of Samsung’s foldable smartphones. Without being revolutionary, it is however more affordable and more adaptable thanks to the support of the S-Pen. But has Samsung managed to erase the small flaws of the Fold 2? Can the smartphone replace a Galaxy Note? And above all, does it really suit all tastes? Answers in this comprehensive test.

In less than three years, despite a somewhat chaotic start, Samsung has quite logically become the undisputed leader in the foldable smartphone segment. The Galaxy Fold 2 greatly impressed us last year, with great ergonomic and technical qualities. And this despite the prohibitive selling price. We often criticize Samsung for lacking realism in its pricing position. More about these foldable screen smartphones.

Even if it is not always cheerful, the Korean giant listens to the remarks. And this year, we saw, during the Unpacked conference in August 2021, a significant effort on the prices of Galaxy Z, whether it is the Galaxy Z Flip 3 or the Galaxy Z Fold 3. However, at Samsung, a price reduction is often associated with some technological concessions. We therefore feared a degradation of the experience.

The launch of the Galaxy Z Fold 3, instead of a hypothetical Galaxy Note 21, also raised some questions. Is the Fold 3, now compatible with an S-Pen, supposed to replace the Note? Is it a platform only made to work, if at all? Can we do something else with the Fold 3? And most importantly, is the Fold 3 better than the Fold 2 (or, at least, as well)? These are some of the questions we asked ourselves before writing this test and which we will answer throughout this comprehensive test.

Technical sheet

Galaxy z fold 3
Screen Internal
7.6 ”
Dynamic AMOLED 2X Infinity Flex
2208 x 1768 pixels
374 pixels per inch
120 Hz
HDR10

External
6.2 “
Dynamic AMOLED 2X Infinity-O
ratio 25: 9
2260 x 816 pixels
387 pixels per inch
120 Hz

Chipset Snapdragon 888 (5nm)
BONE Android 11
One UI 3.0
RAM 12 GB
Storage 256/512 GB
microSD No
Photo sensors Main :
12 megapixels
1.8 µm
f / 1.8
optical stabilization
dual pixel autofocus

Ultra-wide angle:
12 megapixels
1.12 µm
f / 2.2
viewing angle: 123 °

Telephoto
12 megapixels
1.0 µm
f / 2.4
optical stabilization
phase detection autofocus
2x optical zoom and 10x digital zoom

Selfie sensors External
10 megapixels
1.22 µm
f / 2.2

Internal
4 megapixels
2 µm
f / 1.8

Drums 4400 mAh
25W fast charge
11W wireless charging
Reverse wireless charging
5G Yes
Biometrics Fingerprint reader on the edge
Audio two AKG stereo speakers
AKG USB Type-C headphones included
Water resistance IPX8

Price and availability date

The price of the Galaxy Z Fold 3 is one of the “good” surprises of this edition. The smartphone is more affordable than its predecessor. The Galaxy Fold 2 was sold at its launch for 2020 euros. Its successor is proposed from 1799 euros. That’s a little over 200 euros in savings. Of course, it is still expensive. But this is close to the upper range of high-end smartphones, like the iPhone 12 Pro Max which is offered at 1609 euros in its best version.

samsung galaxy z fold 3 test

Unlike its predecessor, the Galaxy Z Fold 3 comes in two configurations. They both have 12 GB of RAM, the maximum offered by the brand today. The first variant integrates 256 GB of storage. This is the case with our test unit. And the second variant takes advantage of the double. The latter is marketed 100 euros more. This amount is correct, especially compared to Apple, which charges more than double this storage level (230 euros to be precise).

The Galaxy Z Fold 3 is, as of this writing, up for pre-order. These opened on August 11, 2021 and will end on August 26. On August 27, the folding smartphone will be officially available, either in the official Samsung store or at authorized resellers. If you pre-order the phone, you will be offered three accessories. The first is a fast charger. The second is an S-Pen Fold Edition, worth 49 euros. And the last one is a Flip Cover with a slot for the S-Pen.

samsung galaxy z fold 3 test

This accessory pack is very interesting and complements the contents of the smartphone box. Indeed, the Galaxy Z Fold 3 comes with only two accessories: AKG wired headphones very good quality (we will talk about it again in the audio part of this test) and a USB type-C to USB type-C cable. No wall outlet here. No hull. And even less of S-Pen. That’s a shame : the S-Pen was included with all Galaxy Note. His absence is a bit stingy.

Design

So let’s start this test as usual by observing the design of the product. The ergonomics of the Fond 3 are obviously atypical compared to conventional smartphones. Whether in open or closed position. Open, the Fold 3, like its predecessors, is halfway between a tablet and a large smartphone. And closed, it is a more “classic” product, even if the format of its screen is more elongated than usual and the thickness is equivalent to that of two smartphones.

samsung galaxy z fold 3 test

Let’s go into detail and take a look at the main screen. It measures 7.6 inch like always. As soon as the product comes out of its box, you will notice a fold in the center. This is normal: this is where the screen curves. In use, you will have very few opportunities to pass on it, whether it’s gaming, watching a movie, or working on an Office document. This slab is rectangular (a little less wide than it is high). Its format is 22.5 / 18th. This means that it is a little taller than it is wide. It is still protected by reinforcements on the sides that prevent users from trying to “peel” the flexible display.

samsung galaxy z fold 3 test

The hinge that supports the Fold’s screen is firm. For example, it allows the device to be left ajar, like a mini-computer. This offers some interesting possibilities thanks to theexcellent multitasking management (which we will see in the interface part). It seems to us that the mechanism is similar, but we suspect that some improvements have been made on this extremely delicate element. Once the mobile is closed, the hinge reveals the signature of the Korean brand.

samsung galaxy z fold 3 test

Let’s take the opportunity to take a look at the outdoor screen. It measures 6.2 inch (0.03 inch shorter than that of the Fold 2). It is covered with Gorilla Victus, the latest generation of Corning mineral glass. We will see its specifications in a few lines. Its ratio is 25 / 9th. There is a punch for a selfie sensor and a wide border on the left side.

By returning the product, you will find a Gorilla Victus shell (very elegant brushed iridescent effect) with a vertical photo block with three lenses. Here you find the version Phantom silver. We would have liked to test the Phantom Green version. But the gray version is already very elegant. The contours, very complex, are also made of aluminum.

samsung galaxy z fold 3 test

Finally, let’s go through the sections whose technical elements have changed somewhat. The fundamentals remain in their places. Power button with fingerprint reader right (when Fold 3 is open), accompanied by volume controls. USB Type-C port at the bottom with one of the two speakers and the main microphone. The SIM drawer is on the left, but it has been deported edge to edge. Finally, on the upper edge, we find the second speaker accompanied by no more than one, but several microphones.

samsung galaxy z fold 3 test

Fans of the Fold line will discover two other important differences between the Fold 2 and the Fold 3. First of all at the level of the main screen. The Fold 2 punch, which replaced the Fold 1 notch, is gone. The selfie sensor is placed behind part of the screen which turns off when you activate this component. You can clearly see the location of this hole whether the screen is on or off.

The second important change is the photo module: that of the Fold 3 is much thinner. However, the module still has just as many elements. But the flash was moved below the lowest sensor. The ends are also rounded and the edges are bevelled. It is therefore a module that is intended to be more discreet. Recall that the Fold 2 module was inspired by that of the S20 and Note 20. Here, it is unlike any other recent high-end model.

samsung galaxy z fold 3 test

Screen (s)

Now let’s talk about screens. They are two in number. We observed them when we talked about the design. We will now detail their technical characteristics, first with the foldable screen, which provides a rather astonishing experience of Android and the usual applications, then with the external screen, which offers a more traditional handling, despite a format here also quite atypical.

Foldable screen

Of course, the foldable display attracts more of our attention. This large 7.6 inch slab. We’re on tablet sizes, like the iPad Mini. The definition is 2208 pixels in height and 1768 pixels in width. Let a resolution of 374 pixels per inch, unchanged compared to Fold 2. This resolution is lower than that of the Galaxy S21 Ultra, for example (515 pixels per inch), but it is very largely sufficient for all uses: reading, video, game, office, web , etc.

samsung galaxy z fold 3 test

Note the “false punch” on the upper part, visible, without being too much. Here, the definition is much lower. Once again, with use, it is quickly forgotten. Below is a photo of the intersection between the display with “normal” definition and the part behind which the selfie sensor is hidden. The photo is taken, as always, with the Oppo Find X3 Pro’s microscope. You can see that the pixels are much bigger and more widely spaced.

The panel is compatible with a refresh rate of 120 Hz. This was already the case with the Fold 2. And we expected no less here. By default, the rate is fixed at 120 Hz. But it is possible to pass it to 60 Hz. Note however that the 120 Hz mode is adaptive: it varies according to the content. The sampling frequency is unofficial. But it must logically reach a value twice as high as the refresh, or at least 240 Hz.

samsung galaxy z fold 3 test

The nature of the slab is ” Dynamic AMOLED 2X Infinity Flex Display “. An extended name that means this is the latest generation of flexible AMOLED display from Samsung. The firm therefore promises that the blacks are deep and the contrasts very high. What does our probe say? Rather, she agrees with the promise. The contrast is endless, despite the nature of the screen protector which is more reflective than glass. Also, the maximum manual brightness is excellent: 578 cd / m2.

Let’s finish with the colors. Like all Samsung smartphones, you find two color profiles: vivid, set by default, and natural. The natural mode is a classic, with an almost perfect behavior. a Average Delta E of 1.8. No color above a Delta E of 4. A color temperature of 6250 °. Only downside, the brightness does not exceed 480 cd / m2, but it is already good.

samsung galaxy z fold 3 test

Vivid mode is not as precise. While some colors are very well rendered, the majority are not. The average Delta E reaches 5 and the temperature is slightly too high: 6800 °. Fortunately, this mode has tools to counteract its few shortcomings. You can accentuate the color temperature towards hot or cold. There is also a finer tuning to reduce the emission of green, blue and / or red. These settings are not available in natural mode. But you wouldn’t have needed it anyway …

External display

The external display also takes many of the attributes of the Fold 2’s. However, it benefits from more substantial improvements. One of the changes is the size, as we noted earlier: 6.2 inches, up from 6.23 inches. The ratio changes slightly: 24.5 / 9th against 25 / 9th. In addition, the definition is no longer the same: 638 pixels in width and 2278 pixels in height. Which is slightly higher than the predecessor’s screen. The resolution remains close: 387 pixels per inch.

samsung galaxy z fold 3 test

The sampling frequency here is 120 Hz, against 60 Hz previously. This means that you benefit from the same fluidity with the two screens. This was not the case with the Fold 2. It helps provide a seamless experience when you switch an application from one screen to another. The sample rate is not disclosed here either. But we think it should at least hit 240Hz.

The nature of the panel has changed: we are moving from a fairly classic Super AMOLED panel to a panel Dynamic AMOLED 2X Infinity-O. It is therefore a more recent AMOLED technology (with punch for a selfie sensor). The blacks are deep, of course, and the contrasts are endless. The brightness of the external screen is more uniform than that of the internal screen: between 565 and 570 cd / m2 (depending on display modes).

samsung galaxy z fold 3 test

Let’s finish with colorimetry. Like the internal screen, the external screen benefits from both vivid and natural profiles. The second offers excellent color reproduction, with a Average Delta E of 1.9 and a Delta E that never exceeds 4 here either. The average color temperature is close to 6500 °, the ideal value. The average gamma remains very good, but sometimes tends to deviate from perfect values ​​(without ever going above 2.4).

Vivid mode is, unsurprisingly, a little less precise. The average Delta E is 4.4. The average color temperature is 6870 °. And five colors exceed a Delta E of 6: brown, light blue, light green, purple, and orange.

Note that you cannot choose a color profile or refresh rate for each screen. The settings are common to both screens: if one is in 120 Hz or in vivid mode, the other too. And this, even if the nature, the reflectivity and the maximum luminosity are different between the two panels.

Interface

Like all recent Samsung smartphones, the Fold 3 runs on Android 11 with the overlay One UI 3.0 (based on Android 11, until migration to Android 12). Here, the overlay adapts perfectly to the very particular format of the smartphone screens. Whether big or small. We note, however, that it is not so easy to write even a short message with the small screen. Vertically, the keys of the virtual keyboard are very small. And horizontally, the keyboard takes up so much space that you only see a tiny bit of the text. Pity.

samsung galaxy z fold 3 test

One UI is an interface that we know well now. As always, you will find two home screens, a news area, an application drawer, and a notification and quick-setting area. When the internal display is unfolded, applications are usually displayed in all available space. Some are optimized, such as the messages, contact, mail applications or the settings menu: the navigation tabs are on the left and the viewing pane on the right. The vast majority of applications can move from one screen to another when you open or close Fold 3.

samsung galaxy z fold 3 test

In fact, juggling apps isn’t just about moving from screen to screen. Fold 3 is the king of multi-tasking: One UI can display multiple applications at the same time. There is a split screen mode. But it is possible to open a third application superimposed on the others. And almost all of them are compatible with the different modes. A menu allows you to switch an application from one mode to another: full screen, split screen or stand-alone window. It feels like Windows!

samsung galaxy z fold 3 test
Three open applications, internal screen and external screen

Samsung’s preinstalled apps are not that many and most are useful, even among those that are the subject of a marketing partnership. We are thinking in particular of Microsoft Office and Outlook, which take full advantage of the display surface and S-Pen support. You also find Samsung Notes, a special note-taking application already present in the Galaxy Note and the S21 Ultra. By their side, we find Onedrive, LinkedIn, Netflix, Spotify and Facebook.

samsung galaxy z fold 3 test
Samsung Note on the left, stylus menu on the right

Alongside the applications imposed by Google, the Samsung range is present, such as Galaxy Store, Samsung Members, Game Launcher, Samsung Global Goals, Samsung O, Samsung Members, Galaxy Shop, Samsung Health, Galaxy Shop, Bixby, AR Zone, Galaxy Wearables , Smart Switch, Samsung Pay and an additional Internet browser because two are better than one (and Chrome alone is obviously not enough). Fortunately, some can be deleted to save space. Because, remember that the storage space is not expandable here.

S-Pen stylus

Before we get into the performances, let’s take an aside on the stylus, since the Fold 3 is the first Fold to be compatible with the accessory. Samsung supplied a copy of the S-Pen Fold Edition with our test unit. And we obviously took the opportunity to test the latter with the Fold 3 to assess its relevance and use … at the risk of pressing on an annoying detail: no S-Pen is supplied with the Fold 3, despite its price. Not even the Fold Edition.

samsung galaxy z fold 3 test

As with the Note and Tab, using the S-Pen is convenient and enjoyable with the Z Fold 3. Is it more so? Maybe a little more than with a traditional smartphone, but not necessarily more than with a tablet. Text entry. Note taking (with engine for converting handwriting to typed format). Diagram. Design. Quick annotation. “Smart” selection. Translation (by selecting the text with the stylus). Etc.

Samsung is building on a decade of experience with S-Pen and Note interactions here (the first being released in 2011). And the result is nice. Support for the S-Pen Fold Edition is immediate – no need to configure anything. The latency is very low. Note also the sound effect which mimics the friction between a pen and a sheet of paper. All that’s missing is a pen slot in the Fold 3’s chassis for the full experience.

samsung galaxy z fold 3 test

One of the important points to note about this new S-Pen is its incompatibility with the external display. You can therefore only use the S-Pen with the internal screen. This means that you have to open the Z Fold 3 to take a quick handwritten note. Note that this is also the case with earlier S-Pens: not only will the Z Fold 3 warn you not to use them with the internal display, they also won’t activate with the external display.

By extension, Air Actions are not compatible with the S-Pen Fold Edition. They can only be activated when you pair the Z Fold 3 with an S-Pen Pro, which is compatible with the S21 Ultra, Note 20 and 20 Ultra and Z Fold 3. Air Actions allow you to control camera and access additional handy shortcuts. Too bad this use is conditional on the purchase of a premium accessory.

Performance

The Fold 3 is equipped with a high-end technical platform. Unlike the Galaxy S21, which take advantage of an Exynos 2100, the Fold 3 features a Qualcomm SoC (like its predecessor). This is the Snapdragon 888, of course: overpowered octo-core, but suffering from a fiery temper, as we saw at Xiaomi and Asus in the spring. The component is associated with 12 GB RAM, the highest RAM volume at Samsung. Unlike the Fold 2, there is no 8 GB version of the Fold 3.

samsung galaxy z fold 3 test

Let’s move on to the results obtained with the benchmarks. We score slightly over 760,000 points on AnTuTu. This is the first surprise. And a “bad” one, since this score is well below those of other models under Snapdragon 888 (with the same version of AnTuTu, of course). The Xperia 1 III, for example, scores over 800,000 points. The Mi 11i, meanwhile, grazes this bar. ZenFone 8, ROG Phone 5, and Legion Duel 2 are well above 820,000.

samsung galaxy z fold 3 test

On Geekbench and PC Mark, the Fold 3 fared much better, scoring around the very good average for the high-end segment, like the Mi 11 Ultra, for example. We have an explanation for this: Samsung has reduced the performance of the GPU, which is much more demanding, but kept a very large part of the performance of the CPU, which is much more useful for managing multitasking.

samsung galaxy z fold 3 test

The results obtained by the Fold 3 with 3D Mark confirm our hypothesis. Unlike most smartphones running Snapdragon 888, the Fold 3 is one of the few (if not the only) that does not exceed the maximum score in the Slingshot test. This therefore confirms our impressions with Geekbench and AnTuTu: Qualcomm’s SoC is restricted here. On Wildlife, the scores are 20% to 25% lower with the Fold 3 than with the Xperia 1 III.

samsung galaxy z fold 3 test

There are certainly two reasons for this choice. First of all reduce energy consumption, because the battery is not gargantuan (far from it, as we will see shortly). Next, avoid overheating the smartphone (We’re not sure the Fold 3’s flexible display can handle heat as well as the S21’s rigid AMOLED displays). This second objective is very well achieved. The Fold 3 is one of the only Snapdragon 888 smartphones to handle heat very well: no unpleasant sensations, either in game or during technical tests.

samsung galaxy z fold 3 test

And that’s what the 3DMark stress test shows. While most smartphones running Snapdragon 888 passed through our hands have seen their internal temperature rise to 45 °, or even above 50 °, the Fold 3 does not exceed 40 °even during an extremely demanding technical test. We would have thought that, thanks to this, the stability of the platform would be there. It’s not always the case. It varies between 60% and 80% depending on the tests. Which is correct. And slowdowns are, in use, infrequent (even with Genshin Impact!)

samsung galaxy z fold 3 test

Note that there is no major difference in benchmarks depending on the screen that is used to launch them. The Fold 3 is better on graphics tests on the small screen (certainly because the definition is less), while it is better on general tests on the large screen.

Drums

After observing the behavior of the smartphone during technical tests, it’s time to look at the battery, range and charging. As a reminder, the Galaxy Z Fold 3 is equipped with two batteries of 2200 mAh each. That is to say a total capacity of 4400 mAh. This figure is down compared to the Galaxy Z Fold 2 (4,500mAh), Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, Galaxy S21 Ultra, and Galaxy S21 +. So this is not a very good sign at first glance. But that’s a slightly higher capacity than the original Fold and the Galaxy Note 20. So the situation is not hopeless.

Autonomy

Samsung has done a great job of optimizing here. Because, despite this battery at half mast, the Fold 3 offers decent autonomy. We rate this at a short day and a half, provided you limit the refresh rate and do not call on the phone continuously. We would obviously have preferred a much better battery life than this, because the Fold is not only a smartphone, but also a potential work tool.

samsung galaxy z fold 3 test

If you are a gamer, the answer is slightly different. The Fold 3 lasts around 4 hours with a demanding title played on the internal screen. 3DMark’s WildLife stress test results in 9% to 10% battery loss in 20 minutes. Or a little more than 3 and a half hours of theoretical autonomy. This is a better score than expected. And which proves once again that the Fold 3 is very well optimized (or restricted, according to some). But it’s not a great score.

We also did two 15-minute sessions with Genshin Impact on the internal screen. The first with moderate graphics (default) and the second with high graphics. During each of them, the Fold 3 lost 7% of battery power. Or a theoretical autonomy of 214 minutes. Or 3 and a half hours as well. This therefore confirms the impression offered by 3DMark.

Recharge

Once the Z Fold 3 is fully discharged, it must be recharged. As a reminder, the Z Fold 3 is compatible 25 watt fast charge and 11-watt wireless charging. These are the same numbers as the Fold 2 and S21 Ultra. And these are disappointing figures. We will find it surprising that Samsung does not integrate in its “ultra premium” smartphone a capacity similar to the height of the stake and inferior to other Galaxy, such as the S20 Ultra and Note 10+ which benefit from a power of 45 watts wired and 15 watts wireless.

samsung galaxy z fold 3 test

As we have seen previously, the smartphone does not come with a suitable wall outlet. It’s available for if you pre-order the phone, but there’s also a good chance you’ll make the decision to purchase it after August 27th. This means that you will need to use an incorrect charger. And that is obviously a big weak point.

If you are using a third-party charger, the Z Fold 3 will use safety power. We waited more than two hours before the smartphone is fully charged (exactly 2 hours and 10 minutes). No need to rush on an Oppo Super VOOC charger – it will be counterproductive. In an hour, you have only recharged half of the smartphone’s total capacity.

samsung galaxy z fold 3 test

We recommend that you use a Samsung charger, whether it is that of an S20, an S21 or a Fold 2. With, you can charge the smartphone in About 75 minutes. Which is already much better, even if the competition is doing much better in this area. Here, the experience offered by Samsung is truncated. It’s too bad.

Audio

Now let’s continue with the audio part. Il y a trois points à signaler dans ce paragraphe. Parlons d’abord aux deux haut-parleurs optimisés par AKG. Vous en trouvez un sur la tranche supérieure et un autre sur la tranche inférieure. Ils sont tous les deux aussi puissants l’un que l’autre et offrent un son généreux sur toutes les fréquences audibles. C’est l’un des atouts de cette configuration symétrique : la stéréo est équilibrée et les basses sont présentes de chaque côté. Ce choix est bien plus pertinent que celui de tous les S21, modèle Ultra compris.

test samsung galaxy z fold 3

Le deuxième point est une extension du premier. Il s’agit de l’écouteur téléphonique (que vous placez à côté de votre oreille pour téléphoner). À l’emplacement habituel, en façade, des écouteurs téléphoniques, il n’y a rien. Le son sort directement de la grille du haut-parleur supérieur (il faut donc descendre légèrement le Fold 3 quand vous le tenez à l’oreille). Il y a deux hypothèses : soit l’écouteur est logé dans l’emplacement du haut-parleur ; soit il n’y a pas d’écouteurs et le haut-parleur supérieur assure le remplacement.

test samsung galaxy z fold 3

Troisième point important : les écouteurs AKG fournis avec le Fold 3. Ce sont les mêmes écouteurs que ceux que vous retrouvez avec d’autres terminaux haut de gamme de Samsung. Nous les avions déjà découverts avec les Galaxy S21, S21+ et S21 Ultra. Ils sont intra-auriculaires. Ils sont filaires (avec un câble renforcé avec du nylon, pas trop court, mais pas très long non plus). Et ils sont compatibles USB type-C. Et ils sont accompagnés de quatre embouts (deux à gauche et deux à droite) sont fournis pour adapter les écouteurs à la forme de votre oreille.

test samsung galaxy z fold 3

La qualité de ces écouteurs est très bonne. Le port est agréable. La tenue est ferme. Le son est riche, sur les médiums, les aigus et même les basses. Une latence très faible (parfait pour jouer, par exemple). Et Samsung propose même un outil pour calibrer les écouteurs. À titre de comparaison, l’expérience offerte ici est bien meilleure que celles des écouteurs fournis avec les iPhone, mais aussi d’une grande partie des smartphones haut de gamme. Et la qualité n’ira qu’en s’améliorant, puisque le firmware de ces écouteurs peut être mis à jour via One UI. Samsung profite ici pleinement du rachat d’AKG.

Photo

Finissons avec la photo, un exercice où les Fold n’ont jamais vraiment brillé. Ils ne sont pas mauvais, loin de là. Mais ils n’égalaient pas la qualité des Galaxy S et des Galaxy Note, notamment au niveau des capteurs selfies, mais pas uniquement. Il y avait donc un enjeu avec le Fold 3 : donner au plus cher des Galaxy un équipement digne de son positionnement.

test samsung galaxy z fold 3

Présentation de l’équipement

Le Fold 3 est équipé de cinq capteurs photo au total. Trois sont placés dans le module photo principal. Un quatrième est placé dans le poinçon de l’écran secondaire. Et un dernier est, presque invisible, caché derrière l’écran principal. La très grande majorité des capteurs présents dans le Fold 3 sont hérités du Fold 2. Nous retrouvons notamment le capteur selfie externe de 10 mégapixels (avec objectif ouvrant à f/2.2) et les trois capteurs 12 mégapixels du module photo principal.

Le premier est associé à un autofocus à détection de phase et un objectif stabilisé qui ouvre à f/1.8. Les pixels sont relativement gros : 1,8 micron de côté. Le deuxième est placé derrière un téléobjectif, stabilisé également, et ouvrant à f/2.4. Il dispose d’un autofocus. Et le rapport de zoom optique est 2x. Le dernier est placé derrière un objectif grand-angle (123°) ouvrant à f/2.2. Pas d’autofocus ici.

test samsung galaxy z fold 3

Le dernier capteur, celui qui se trouve sous l’écran flexible, est un modèle 4 mégapixels. Son objectif ouvre à f/1.8. Ses pixels sont très gros : 2 microns de côté. Les pixels s’éteignent entièrement autour de ce capteur quand vous prenez une photo. En vidéo, le Fold 3 filme en 4K à 60 images par seconde. Pour profiter de la stabilisation, il faut passer en 1080p (jusqu’à 240 images par seconde), ou en 720p pour le mode ralenti.

Résultat des tests

Dans l’ensemble, le Galaxy Z Fold 3 propose une expérience photographique de bonne facture, mais loin d’être parfaite. Nous voyons une nette différence de traitement entre le Fold 3 et le S21 Ultra, par exemple, lequel bénéficie de quatre capteurs à l’arrière qui sont tous stabilisés, d’un mode « Super Steady » en vidéo avec le capteur grand-angle, de deux capteurs avec téléobjectif (dont un périscopique avec zoom optique 10x), d’un autofocus laser, etc. Avec le Fold 3, nous sommes moins bien lotis… malgré un prix de vente plus élevé.

test samsung galaxy z fold 3
Capteur principal, mode automatique
test samsung galaxy z fold 3
Capteur principal, mode automatique

Malgré cela, le Fold 3 ne démérite pas. L’expérience de Samsung en termes de colorimétrie, de luminosité et de contraste ressurgit. Et ce, malgré un équipement que vous pourriez davantage retrouver dans un Galaxy milieu de gamme premium (type Galaxy S20 FE). De jour, le capteur principal, avec ses gros pixels et son objectif lumineux, réalise de bons clichés. Belles lumières. Belles couleurs. Du piqué et du contraste. Des détails un peu perdus à cause de la faible définition.

test samsung galaxy z fold 3
Capteur zoom optique, mode automatique, zoom 4x

Le capteur avec zoom optique propose également de bons clichés en pleine journée, quand les conditions de lumière sont généreuses. Du piqué, de l’équilibre et de bonnes couleurs sont présents. Avec le zoom 4x, cela reste très correct. Et, de jour, le zoom 10x (le maximum proposé ici) est encore exploitable.

test samsung galaxy z fold 3
Capteur grand-angle, mode automatique
test samsung galaxy z fold 3
Capteur grand-angle, mode automatique

De jour, le capteur avec objectif grand-angle réalise aussi des clichés profitant des mêmes atouts, avec un peu moins de contraste, mais toujours un bon équilibre. Quelques distorsions mal gérées dans les coins (nuage en haut à droite, arbre et barrière en bas à droite) et quelques artéfacts qui apparaissent dans les ombres.

test samsung galaxy z fold 3
Capteur principal, mode portrait
test samsung galaxy z fold 3
Capteur principal, mode portrait

Le mode portrait (compatible avec le capteur principal et le capteur avec zoom optique 2x) offre de beaux clichés. Le détourage du sujet est assez précis (attention toujours aux mèches de cheveux rebelles). Les teintes de la peau sont naturelles. Et le lissage n’est pas trop présent. Une fois encore, il y a une perte de détail rapide dans les ombres et lors d’un zoom.

test samsung galaxy z fold 3
Capteur principal, mode nuit
test samsung galaxy z fold 3
Capteur principal, mode nuit

Les trois capteurs sont compatibles avec le mode nuit. Mais c’est le capteur principal qui profite le plus de ce mode en offrant plus de lumière, plus de contraste pour les couleurs et un bon équilibre. Le mode nuit parvient à améliorer les détails dans les zones sombres et à maitriser les sources de lumière, comme les néons et les lampadaires.

test samsung galaxy z fold 3
Capteur principal, mode nuit
test samsung galaxy z fold 3
Capteur principal, mode nuit (haut) et mode automatique (bas)

Attention, une fois encore, à la perte de détail en recadrant la photo : elle est rapide. Le mode nuit illumine les clichés réalisés avec l’objectif grand-angle, lequel est moins lumineux. Les couleurs vous sembleront toutefois toujours un peu ternes. Le capteur avec zoom optique offre également des résultats intéressants avec le mode nuit. Grâce à lui, les clichés avec le zoom numérique 4x sont plutôt bons, même si des artéfacts apparaissent. Sans le mode nuit, le zoom 4x est très sombre. Les résultats sont plus aléatoires avec le zoom 10x et souvent inexploitables.

test samsung galaxy z fold 3
Capteur grand-angle, mode nuit
test samsung galaxy z fold 3
Capteur zoom optique, zoom 10x, mode automatique (gauche), mode nuit (droite)

Notez que l’intelligence artificielle est parfois capable de détecter que vous prenez une photo de nuit et l’activera aussi en mode automatique. Ce mode n’est, par défaut, pas accessible aux côtés des modes principaux : il vous faudra aller le chercher dans le menu secondaire et faire glisser son mode à côté de ceux déjà présents sous la prévisualisation.

test samsung galaxy z fold 3
Capteur selfie externe, mode automatique (gauche), mode portrait (droite)
test samsung galaxy z fold 3
Capteur selfie externe, mode automatique (gauche), mode portrait (droite)

Le capteur selfie externe est le meilleur. Mais il n’est pas extraordinaire. Si les photos réalisées sont équilibrées, les couleurs tirent vers le jaune. Les autoportraits sont détaillés (autant que possible) et il n’y a aucun lissage. Attention au mode portrait qui manque de précision dans le détourage du sujet. Plus encore qu’avec le capteur principal, le capteur selfie manque souvent un détail à détourer. De nuit, mêmes remarques.

test samsung galaxy z fold 3
Capteur selfie interne, mode automatique

Le capteur selfie interne est donc le moins qualitatif des deux. Il l’est d’autant plus qu’il n’est compatible qu’avec deux modes : photo et vidéo. Pas de mode nuit, pas de mode portrait. Ce capteur est clairement considéré par Samsung comme une « webcam », un capteur pour faire de la visio. Les photos qu’il produit sont passables, sans plus. Un peu ternes. Pas très contrastées. Des couleurs pas toujours bien respectées. Mais, pour un capteur placé sous un écran, nous nous attendions à pire.

Conclusion

Le Fold 3 offre assurément une expérience comme nulle autre. Vous avez vraiment deux appareils dans la poche (à condition qu’elle soit grosse) et non un seul. Le Fold 3 s’utilise aussi bien comme un smartphone qu’une petite tablette. Il pourrait même remplacer à l’occasion un petit ordinateur portable type « Chromebook ». Il a la puissance pour cela. Il a aussi l’écran pour cela. Et il a une interface étudiée pour le multi-tâche.

test samsung galaxy z fold 3

Mini-ordinateur donc. Mais maxi plate-forme de divertissement, avec ses atouts aussi bien visuels qu’auditifs. Le Fold 3 se révèle excellent pour lire, pour regarder une série ou un film, ou encore pour jouer. Une fois encore, l’écran interne offre un confort inégalé pour un smartphone. Et, même s’il n’est pas très facile à entrer dans une poche, c’est évidemment cette flexibilité, autant physique qu’usuelle, qui est son meilleur atout.

Comparé au Fold 2, le Fold 3 est surtout plus attractif économiquement. Car au-delà de cet aspect, il n’offre que peu d’évolutions. Un peu plus de puissance. Un châssis légèrement retouché. Un écran externe revu. Et ce capteur selfie sous l’écran pour améliorer le plaisir visuel de l’utilisateur. Nous remarquons aussi un retrait au niveau de la batterie et toujours cette charge rapide qui manque justement de rapidité. Nous en voulons à Samsung d’avoir retiré ici le chargeur, dont l’absence multiplie par deux l’immobilisation du téléphone pour la recharge.

Nous ne comprenons pas aussi l’intérêt de ne pas livrer le S-Pen Fold Edition avec le Fold 3. Cet accessoire à 49 euros aurait dû être offert. D’abord parce qu’il l’était avec les Note. Ensuite parce que le Fold 3 se distingue du Fold 2 par sa prise en charge. Enfin parce que le Fold 3 est vendu près de 1800 euros. L’absence de ces deux accessoires est frustrante malgré la baisse de prix de 200 euros.

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