Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 5G review

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Introduction

We could have sworn that Samsung’s original plunge into foldable displays was not that long ago. It definitely feels that way. Yet, here we are with the latest and greatest Z Fold3 – a third-generation product, or perhaps even fourth, depending on how you count the initial failed Fold launch back in the day. Foldables are maturing and already a staple, of sorts, within Samsung’s lineup. In fact, the Korean giant has now been consistently delivering Fold devices on a yearly schedule, and this year, it came at the expense of the new Galaxy Note lineup. Oh, how the tables have turned.

In fact, the Z Fold3 is arguably closer to a Note than ever. One of its major highlights being S Pen support. A first with a foldable display and quite the technical challenge to pull off. Speaking of firsts and technical challenges, the Z Fold3 is also the first foldable to sport an official ingress protection rating. Nothing too ambitious, just IPX8, but quite the engineering challenge to pull-off, as well.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 5G specs at a glance:

  • Body: 158.2×128.1×6.4mm, 271g; Glass front (Gorilla Glass Victus) (folded), plastic front (unfolded), glass back (Gorilla Glass Victus), aluminum frame; IPX8 water resistant (up to 1.5m for 30 mins), Stylus support.
  • Display: Foldable: 7.60″ Dynamic AMOLED 2X, 120Hz, HDR10+, 1200 nits (peak), 1768x2208px resolution, 11.24:9 aspect ratio, 374ppi; Cover display: Dynamic AMOLED 2X, 120Hz, Corning Gorilla Glass Victus, 6.2 inches, 832 x 2268 pixels, 25:9 ratio.
  • Chipset: Qualcomm SM8350 Snapdragon 888 5G (5 nm): Octa-core (1×2.84 GHz Kryo 680 & 3×2.42 GHz Kryo 680 & 4×1.80 GHz Kryo 680); Adreno 660.
  • Memory: 256GB 12GB RAM, 512GB 12GB RAM; UFS 3.1.
  • OS/Software: Android 11, One UI 3.1.1.
  • Rear camera: Wide (main): 12 MP, f/1.8, 26mm, 1/1.76″, 1.8µm, Dual Pixel PDAF, OIS; Telephoto: 12 MP, f/2.4, 52mm, 1/3.6″, 1.0µm, PDAF, OIS, 2x optical zoom; Ultra wide angle: 12 MP, f/2.2, 123-degree, 12mm, 1.12µm.
  • Front camera: Under-display: 4 MP, f/1.8, 2.0µm, under display; Cover camera: Wide (main): 10 MP, f/2.2, 26mm, 1/3″, 1.22µm.
  • Video capture: Rear camera: 4K@60fps, 1080p@60/240fps (gyro-EIS), 720p@960fps (gyro-EIS), HDR10+; Front camera: 4K@30fps, 1080p@30fps, gyro-EIS.
  • Battery: 4400mAh; Fast charging 25W, Fast wireless charging 11W, Reverse wireless charging 4.5W.
  • Misc: Fingerprint reader (side-mounted); NFC; Samsung DeX, Samsung Pay, Ultra Wideband (UWB) support.

The list of improvements on the Z Fold3 also includes an under-display selfie camera in place of the older punch-hole one. Another impressive engineering move, but one that has both its positives and negatives, which we will get into. The smaller external display is also slightly different this time around in terms of dimensions, but more importantly, it can now do 120Hz refreshing, just like the main folding panel.

There are, of course, other smaller differences between the older Z Fold2 and the Z Fold3 here and there, which we will do our best to highlight in the review. Things like a sturdier aluminum build on the new model. With all said and done, however, the Z Fold3 is not a monumental upgrade over its predecessor. It is very much an incremental one. Another fact that has its benefits and drawbacks.

Unboxing

Before we get to all that, let’s start with the unboxing experience and accessories. No point beating about the bush here, Samsung has really skimped on the accessory package here. All you get inside the box is a relatively short USB Type-C to Type-C cable, a SIM ejector tool and some leaflets. That’s all. No charger, no case, nothing.

And mind you, the Z Fold3 is by far the most expensive phone currently in Samsung’s lineup. Sure, the ecological angle for not including a charger is valid. Even so, we feel like Samsung could have thrown in a case for this sort of money. It has with past Fold devices. In fact, the Z Fold2 unit we got even had a nice pair of Type-C headphones by AKG. The accessory bundle has really gone downhill.

At least there are some nice pre-order bonuses for the Z Fold3 on most markets. Make sure to check your local retailer, but most do seem to get an official case, S Pen Fold edition, that fits inside said case and a 25W wireless charger. Not a bad bundle.

As for the retail box itself, it definitely looks slick and premium. Nothing too fancy or exuberant in terms of materials, but a solid two-piece box, with a lot of padding on the inside, as one would expect.



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