It happened. Samsung has opted to leave the Note line on the refrigerator to make its folding line shine. O Z Fold is one of them: the first generation, which, let’s face it, was more of a prototype, didn’t get high marks like the Z Fold 2 due to screen and design issues. A lot was resolved in the previous version, but the 2021 model arrives with a display 80% more resistant, brings support to the S Pen, a sophisticated design and IPX8 certification (yes, I don’t know how, but Samsung got it).
It also has a state-of-the-art processor, Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 888, with 5G network support, 12 GB of RAM, 6.2-inch Dynamic AMOLED external display and 7.6-inch internal display with 120 Hz refresh rate For photographers on duty, Samsung delivers five cameras, one hidden under the display. After all, what is the purpose of this product? O Techblog had the opportunity to review the Galaxy Z Fold 3 before launch and you can get inside the device for the next few minutes.
Galaxy Z Fold 3 Review in Video
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The Galaxy Z Fold 3 was provided by Samsung on loan and will be returned to the company after testing. For more information, visit tecnoblog.net/etica.
Analyzing the high point of the device, which is the design, I can say that Samsung didn’t make any radical changes in the physical part — the Galaxy Fold 3 still reminds us of the Fold 1 and the Fold 2. Despite that, there is good news for here, as I will comment later. Before inspired by the imposing relief of the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, the camera module is now more discreet and, even so, Samsung did not fail to highlight the three lenses allocated there, of course.
The South Korean design team made some curious changes to the color chart. The iconic bronze that marked the past generation was extinguished and the Z Fold 3 arrived in three options that matched the format of the device very well: dark green, silver and black. O Techblog evaluated the darkened version that captivated me from the start for being discreet and the matte material used on the back helps to give an air of sophistication to the product.
The structure reductions also contributed to the look and promoted an excellent grip. The Galaxy Z Fold 3 is 11 grams lighter and also thinner. When closed, the 16 mm thickness doesn’t quite sacrifice usability and what I felt the most was the weight, making the phone tire your hands when you spend too much time tinkering with this configuration. The company says the model is “super-tough and 10% more durable”; the Z Fold 3 is built in aluminum that still has the mission of preserving the hinges.
Now, the pinnacle of design is, without a doubt, the IPX8 certification that the device has earned. I didn’t have the guts to put the world’s first water-resistant folding smartphone to extreme tests, but I decided to splash some water along the frame a few times — luckily, the phone stayed working until the end of this review.
External folding screen
The external screen that “transforms” the Z Fold 3 into a “normal cell phone” is 6.2 inches. It is Dynamic AMOLED, has 2268 x 832 pixels, 24.5:9 aspect ratio and 120 Hz adaptive refresh rate. Fortunately, this display is not just there to show notifications and allows the user to trigger the device faster. Because it’s not that wide, the usability, at first, can be strange, but the One UI interface is very well optimized, which makes things a lot easier around here. Here, you can normally access Netflix, browse social networks, access device settings and much more.
As you’d expect from a high-end, the outer panel remains decent. The strong glow helps make everything more vivid and crisp, the definition of icons and text is satisfying, and the deep black of the AMOLED, which joins the darkened edges of the device, creates an immersive experience. It is, in fact, a huge improvement over the first Fold.
The folding screen positively impresses for the quality and other solutions behind it. My analysis is that Samsung wanted to improve the immersion that was already comprehensive and, in the end, it seems to have worked very well. The panel remains the excellent Dynamic AMOLED 7.6 inches with a resolution of 2208 x 1768 pixels with a refresh rate of up to 120 Hz. Although not all apps are optimized for a display with this setting, like Instagram, I see the 7.6 inches is a delight for anyone who consumes a lot of video content, I include myself here because I enjoy watching content on tablets.
Is there a crease on the screen? There is, but I confess that on the first day of use I was already used to it there. Samsung says the internal display is 80% tougher, information that provides relief for future owners who will have to shell out a lot of money to buy the product. Another highlight of this generation is the front camera hidden under the display: it was a smart idea to favor the full display of photos and videos, but it only impresses for that reason. When accessing the settings screen, for example, without the dark mode, it is possible to see some pixels in the lens region. I won’t say that these dots disturb usability, but ignoring them is inevitable.
In the review of Galaxy Z Fold 2, Higa commented on the cheap film that Samsung applied to foldable. Z Fold 3 also came with the same simple application; protection greases so fast that it spoils the display definition; that’s why I decided to remove the film in this test (but beware: I recommend you leave this film until you find a better one on the market). This still reminds me that the smartphone gained support for the S Pen stylus, but unfortunately the manufacturer did not grant the accessory to the Techblog. Please note that the item is sold separately and there is no compartment on the Z Fold 3 to store it, so you will need a compatible case.
In summary, talking about the quality of Samsung panels is rain on wet and what I want to highlight about the folding screen is the immersive user experience, which has been improved. The different angles, the high refresh rate that ensure smoother navigations and the hidden camera make the model a very competent folding one. The Galaxy Z Fold 3 is one of the best smartphones for those who consume a lot of video content and I must point out that it is the best on the market to run Asphalt 9.
In software, the Galaxy Z Fold 3 leaves the factory running Android 11 accompanied by the One UI 3.1. In practice, the interface has no major changes and brings a layout similar to other branded devices. But I must congratulate Samsung on impeccable optimization: the One UI adapts well to the large, foldable screen, and consumers already immersed in the brand’s ecosystem can get used to the system within the first few hours of use. The app drawer is pretty and well-fitted, the settings screen has a simple, easy-to-navigate feel, while the notification center remains uncluttered.
The big advantage of the folding screen is the various usage possibilities that benefit multitasking. For example, with split screen mode, I can open two different apps on the same screen; the interface even lets you change the aspect ratio and orientation. There’s still the pop-up display, which leaves the app floating on the home page. Finally, when selecting a video on YouTube, by folding the screen, turning the phone into a “notebook”, you can watch it on one half and read the comments on the other half; something similar happens with the Samsung Notes, which divides notebook and keyboard.
And since we’re talking about multitasking, of course DeX couldn’t be missing here. The feature that creates a desktop TV experience until it worked well on my TV of the same brand that is about 7 years old. DeX tweaks the interface and leaves application screens floating, just like a real desktop. You can also do this communication with an HDMI cable, but here it worked without a headache for Miracast.
The Galaxy Z Fold 3 has so much camera that you can get lost in the first few days of use. The rear trio consists of main, ultrawide and telephoto lenses — all with 12 megapixels of resolution. Feeling of déjà vu, isn’t it? Well, it’s the same setting as last year and no absurd resolutions like 108 megapixels, for example. The rest of the lenses are dedicated to selfies: the external screen houses a 10 megapixel camera, while in the foldable display the hidden component produces 4 megapixel photographs.
The main one goes well in any situation, delivering photographs with strong brightness, controlled exposure and high saturation that we are used to seeing in the brand’s devices. Definition and dynamic range are excellent; I had no problems with excessive noise and details were present both outdoors and indoors.
The telephoto lens, which can capture distant objects, can also act as a macro, and had a slightly inferior quality compared to the main one: the definition is reduced and, depending on the environment, the focus may fail. Still, you can get amazing results through this lens. The ultrawide, which has a 123-degree viewing angle, performs well, capturing details well. The shine and sharpness are even pleasing, but the edges are slightly distorted. Also, chromatic aberrations can show up, as you can see in these tests.
At night, the dark mode radically improves registers and spots where there is artificial lighting, the Z Fold 3 does not create ghosting and leaves everything very well balanced. The weak point is for very dark regions; in this scenario, sharpness is impaired. But what bothered me most were the blurry photos that the device delivered even without you moving much. It’s something I haven’t seen on other high-end smartphones like the iPhone 12.
Samsung has managed to undermine the quality of the folding screen’s internal camera and the engineering to “hide” the lens may explain this. When taking a selfie, you get the impression that the photo was taken with an intermediate device: the sharpness is low and there is a lot of visible noise. The external one, in turn, is excellent. Post-processing doesn’t overly smooth the skin, colors stay vivid and the level of detail is pleasing.
Hardware and Connectivity
In hardware, the Galaxy Z Fold 3 comes with the powerful Snapdragon 888 5G, from Qualcomm, which also equips other high-end phones. On a daily basis, the foldable delivered an excellent performance, whether on social networks or running Asphalt 9 with the details at the most. By the way, I already said that the Z Fold 3 is the best smartphone to play Asphalt 9? Besides that, other light and heavy titles from the Play Store ran without bottlenecks.
The good performance is also a result of the 12 GB RAM and, even with many apps open, the device didn’t hiccup. Our test drive still had 256GB of internal storage, which should be enough for most people; Samsung also announced a version with 512GB. And, following Apple’s footsteps, don’t expect to expand the internal space, as the Z Fold 3 doesn’t have a microSD slot.
Although the 5G is walking slowly around here, it’s good to know that the Galaxy Z Fold 3 is ready for the tech, especially given the amount of money Samsung must charge. For you of the future, the South Korean didn’t reveal the price of the device while I was producing this review (before the release).
With two screens, both AMOLED and with a rate of 120 Hz, how is the autonomy of this device? For starters, the Z Fold 3 had a downgrade, as the battery went from 4,500 mAh to 4,400 mAh, which is strange since the current model tends to be more spent. Anyway, these numbers are acceptable and follow the market trend, which has been between 4,000 mAh and 5,000 mAh. In practice, the result is just ok.
Connected to 5GHz Wi-Fi, with full screen brightness and adaptive mode, I consumed 3 hours of Netflix, 1 hour of YouTube, 1 hour browsing social media and ended up with 15 minutes of Asphalt 9. Conclusion: the battery went from 100% to 39%.
To power the two batteries inside, you’ll have to purchase a charger from the outside, as Samsung doesn’t ship. Fully discharged, I did a test with a 20 watt plug adapter and the accessory made the cells reach 100% after 1h54min, an interesting time. Samsung says the device supports 25 watt fast charging, 10 watt wireless fast and 4.5 watt reverse charging.
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3: is it worth it?
I spent a week using the Galaxy Z Fold 3 as my main cell phone and I can say that during that short period the usability, in full, was excellent. I, who always like to look at screen immersion on smartphones, have the feeling that Samsung has reached the pinnacle of that experience. If you ask me if it’s worth having a Z Fold 3, I’ll say yes, because this is the best folding smartphone on the market and there are no competitors. Still, my confirmation doesn’t mean this is a device for everyone, quite the contrary.
Unfortunately, we still don’t know how much Samsung will charge for this game, but don’t expect to pay less than R$14,000 (the Galaxy Z Fold 2 was released costing that). But if you like Samsung’s ecosystem, you’re passionate about Samsung’s innovative products, and of course, if you can afford to pay for what they’re supposed to ask for, then go ahead, as the South Korean has done her homework very well.
The Z Fold 3 is a hybrid device (mobile and tablet) that will efficiently serve you who are looking for productivity and entertainment. The screens, even with the crease, are quality, supporting the S Pen and 120 Hz rate; the performance with the Snapdragon 888 is decent — everything here works without a hitch.
The manufacturer still deserves to be recognized for the One UI that works at ease in a device with these characteristics, without visible hacks and many apps are already optimized. Even better is knowing that such an expensive product won’t die if it accidentally catches water. Among the negative points, I highlight the 4 MP camera, which I don’t recommend for selfies and should be more useful in video calls; and autonomy is still not convincing. Who knows in the next generation, right? Either way, the Galaxy Z Fold 3 has more pros than cons and puts Samsung at the forefront of folding. Can you imagine what she can do with the Z Fold 4?
- External: 6.2 inches, Dynamic AMOLED 2X panel, 2268 x 832 pixel resolution, 24.5:9 aspect ratio, 120 Hz refresh rate, Infinity-O;
- Internal: 7.6 inches, Dynamic AMOLED 2X panel, 2208 x 1768 pixel resolution, 22.5:18 aspect ratio, 11 to 120 Hz refresh rate;
- Processor: Snapdragon 888 octa-core up to 2.84 GHz, 5 nm with Adreno 660 GPU;
- RAM memory: 12GB;
- Internal storage: 256GB or 512GB;
- Triple rear camera:
- main: 12 megapixel f/1.8 with optical image stabilization (OIS);
- ultrawide: 12 megapixels f/2.2;
- telephoto: 12 megapixels f/2.4, OIS;
- Frontal camera:
- external: 10 megapixels f/2.2;
- internal: 4 megapixels f/1.8 (under the screen);
- Drums: 4,000 mAh;
- Operational system: Android 11 with One UI 3.1;
- Connectivity: 5G, 4G, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC, GPS;
- closed: 158.2 x 67.1 x 16 mm;
- open: 158.2 x 128.1 x 6.4 mm;
- Most: water resistance (IPX8), Gorilla Glass Victus, S Pen support;
- Weight: 271 g;
- Colors: Phantom Black, Phantom Green and Phantom Silver.
Updated at 9:24 pm
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3
- AMOLED screens are excellent and support the S Pen
- Like a good top of the line, the design is very beautiful and sophisticated
- IP68 certified on a cell phone with these features? Wow
- Performance is great, running all apps without bottlenecks
- One UI and apps are optimized for big/folding screen
- Very good for productivity and entertainment
- 4-megapixel front camera looks like a mid-range device
- There was a battery downgrade and the autonomy is still average
- Model must be expensive and still restricted