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Pho­to: techcrunch.com

In 2021, Sam­sung released two fold­able smart­phones at once: Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Galaxy Z Flip 3. One turns into a mini tablet, and the sec­ond unfolds like every­one’s favorite clamshells. We’ll test both Sam­sung’s fold­able flag­ships and decide which one is a suc­cess and which one still needs to be worked on.

Design

Galaxy Z Fold 3

The phone folds like a book, and when unfold­ed it is slight­ly small­er than stan­dard tablets. Pho­to: cnn.com

The smart­phone received an IPX8 pro­tec­tion rat­ing. This means that it can be immersed in water to a depth of 1.5 meters for 30 min­utes. But due to the fold­able design, the smart­phone is not pro­tect­ed from dust and sand. There­fore, it is bet­ter not to take it to the beach.

The body of the phone is made of alu­minum rein­forced with addi­tion­al met­als and Goril­la Glass. The glass pro­tects your phone from scratch­es and drops.

The smart­phone weighs 269 grams and is avail­able in two col­ors — black and dark green.

It has a stan­dard but­ton lay­out: on the right side — the vol­ume and pow­er on with a fin­ger­print scan­ner. On the rear pan­el is a triple cam­era and a flash on a slight­ly pro­trud­ing plate.

At the bot­tom and top left are the speak­ers, and on the right are the micro­phone and charg­ing port.

The phone clos­es loose­ly, there is a space at the very fold of the screen, into which dust can get. The rest of the assem­bly is very high qual­i­ty, the smart­phone eas­i­ly folds and unfolds.

Galaxy Z Flip 3

The Flip smart­phone has an unusu­al design. Pho­to: cnn.com

The assem­bly of the smart­phone is absolute­ly iden­ti­cal to the Fold mod­el: the body is made of the same mate­r­i­al using spe­cial Sam­sung tech­nol­o­gy. Instead of two col­ors, you can choose from sev­en. There are four main col­ors — beige, black, laven­der, green. In addi­tion to them, the com­pa­ny came up with three cus­tomiza­tion options — gray, white and pink.

The phone is square in shape. It looks and feels very small and weighs 183 grams — almost one and a half times less than the Z Fold. There are two cam­eras and a mini-dis­play on the front pan­el, under which there is a flash.

When fold­ed, the smart­phone resem­bles the fold­able phones of the ear­ly 2000s, as intend­ed. True, like the Fold, it does not fold com­plete­ly, leav­ing space at the fold. There­fore, the pro­tec­tion rat­ing of Flip is the same. When unfold­ed, the phone looks like a reg­u­lar phablet.

On the right is the vol­ume con­trol, at the bot­tom is the speak­er, micro­phone and USB‑C port. On the left is the pow­er on and the fin­ger­print scan­ner. The build qual­i­ty feels good. Even though the phone is fold­able, it feels sol­id and does­n’t wob­ble any­where.

Screen

For both phones, Sam­sung uses the same advanced tech­nol­o­gy. The screen is cov­ered with a PET film, which increas­es its endurance by 80% com­pared to the first ver­sion. The first fold­able dis­plays were not durable, so the com­pa­ny start­ed upgrad­ing them. The screens on both devices have a 120Hz refresh rate.

Com­pared to stan­dard pan­els, the screens of fold­able smart­phones are less bright. In addi­tion, they are very sus­cep­ti­ble to fin­ger­prints. Clamshell dis­plays get dirty quick­ly and require fre­quent clean­ing.

Galaxy Z Fold 3

The sec­ond screen is Sam­sung’s flex­i­ble dis­play. Pho­to: cnn.com

A large smart­phone has two screens. The first one can be called the main one, since it is like­ly to be used more often. This is 6.2 inch cov­er dis­play, or cov­er dis­play. It uses a Dynam­ic AMOLED pan­el with a res­o­lu­tion of 2268x832 pix­els. The screen has HDR10+ sup­port for rich­er and more vibrant col­ors.

The front dis­play is almost iden­ti­cal to the one that appears on the clas­sic top Sam­sung smart­phones, but it is nar­row­er. Because of this, the but­tons on the key­board are thin­ner, so it can be uncom­fort­able for those with large hands to type. Pages on this screen fit less text.

The sec­ond screen is much larg­er diag­o­nal­ly — 7.6 inch­es. Even when unfold­ed, a fold is notice­able in the mid­dle of the screen. It does not dis­tract from the pic­ture, but still it is impos­si­ble not to notice it. The screen has large bezels, but they do not visu­al­ly inter­fere.

The res­o­lu­tion of the inter­nal screen is 2208×1768. Bright­ness is increased by 29% com­pared to the pre­vi­ous mod­el thanks to Eco dis­play tech­nol­o­gy. Now it is about 422 nits, which is still half the screen of the S21 Ultra.

The front cam­era is hid­den under the screen. When it is active, the cam­era is almost invis­i­ble. In a light image, it looks like a more pix­e­lat­ed dot.

The new fold­able Galaxy is slight­ly small­er than stan­dard tablets, but def­i­nite­ly larg­er and more com­fort­able than most smart­phones. It is great for work tasks, espe­cial­ly when fold­ed at 90 degrees: some appli­ca­tions are already adapt­ed to this for­mat.

Galaxy Z Flip 3

Despite the sim­i­lar form fac­tor, the Flip is noth­ing like Moto’s clamshell smart­phone. Pho­to: techcrunch.com

This phone also has two screens. One of them, a small one, is on the cov­er. The pre­vi­ous mod­el of the series had an oval win­dow, but now the devel­op­ers have added a full col­or dis­play. It is larg­er, with a diag­o­nal of 1.9 inch­es, and works almost like a smart watch screen. The dis­play responds to touch­es — one allows you to show the time on the screen, the sec­ond includes an ani­mat­ed screen­saver pic­ture like the one on smart­watch­es. Of course, that’s not all the dis­play can be used for. It dis­plays noti­fi­ca­tions and cur­rent tasks — for exam­ple, tracks in the play­er.

The open phone has a large dis­play — a 6.7‑inch diag­o­nal OLED pan­el with a res­o­lu­tion of 2640 × 1080. There is a notice­able black frame around the edges, and out­ward­ly the device looks like a stan­dard smart­phone. Even the fold on the screen is com­plete­ly invis­i­ble. The screen has a fast and touch response, rich col­ors, deep shad­ows and fast scrolling.

Smartphone power

Both devices run on Android 11 with OneUI 3 inter­face. The sys­tem is spe­cial­ly adapt­ed for fold­able devices. For exam­ple, the mode Flex divides appli­ca­tions into two parts, and the phone works like a lap­top.

Galaxy Z Fold 3

The Fold runs on one of the lat­est chips, but not the +-marked gam­ing one. Pho­to: cnn.com

The phone is pow­ered by a Snap­drag­on 888 proces­sor and 12GB of RAM. Two stor­age options are avail­able — 256 GB in the stan­dard ver­sion and 512 GB in the advanced ver­sion.

The device is pow­er­ful — due to the large dis­play, such a phone should be suit­able for games. Fold can run a large num­ber of appli­ca­tions at the same time, includ­ing videos and games.

For exam­ple, one of the most demand­ing games — Asphalt 9 — starts quick­ly and runs almost with­out inter­rup­tion. But it was still not pos­si­ble to avoid small lags, they become notice­able when switch­ing from an appli­ca­tion to anoth­er.

In the Geek­bench 5 test, the Fold shows a result of 3418 on all cores and 1107 on one. This is almost the same as the top smart­phone Galaxy S21 Ultra, but less than the iPhone 12 Pro Max, run­ning on Apple’s native chip.

Accord­ing to the WildLife graph­ics test, the phone showed 33 fps, which is not much less than the “apple” com­peti­tor, which scored 39.

Galaxy Z Flip 3

The fold on the screen is not con­spic­u­ous. Pho­to: techcrunch.com

The Flip runs on the same chip as the Fold, the Snap­drag­on 888. But it only has 8GB of RAM. The smart­phone is avail­able in 128GB or 256GB stor­age options. The gad­get turned out to be quick to use. Appli­ca­tions start very quick­ly and there are no prob­lems dur­ing use.

In the Geek­bench 5.0 test, the Flip scored 1089 for one core, and 3427 for sev­er­al. Its per­for­mance is high­er than that of the Fold smart­phone, but in prac­tice this is prac­ti­cal­ly not notice­able.

Battery

Smart­phones sup­port reverse charg­ing. From Flip, as well as from Fold, you can charge oth­er devices, such as head­phones.

Galaxy Z Fold 3

The bat­tery is capa­ble of sup­port­ing both dis­plays and demand­ing appli­ca­tions. Pho­to: cnn.com

This smart­phone has a bat­tery capac­i­ty of 4400 mAh. But the two screens obvi­ous­ly take more ener­gy. There­fore, the Fold only lasts 7 hours at 60Hz at 150 nits of bright­ness, and 6 hours and 35 min­utes at 120Hz.

Due to the fact that there is no adapter for an out­let includ­ed with smart­phones, you will have to use what is avail­able or buy sep­a­rate­ly. But keep in mind that the smart­phone sup­ports 10W wire­less charg­ing.

If you plug your smart­phone into a 25W adapter (the one that came with the Galaxy S21), it will charge 47% in 30 min­utes.

Galaxy Z Flip 3

The bat­tery capac­i­ty is too low for a dual screen device. Pho­to: techcrunch.com

This smart­phone received a sur­pris­ing­ly small bat­tery — its capac­i­ty is only 3300 mAh. It may seem that this is not enough for every­day work. How­ev­er, it demon­strates sat­is­fac­to­ry results: if you use a smart­phone at 120 Hz and with a bright­ness of about 80% for web surf­ing and chat­ting in instant mes­sen­gers, the bat­tery will last for about 11 hours. You can watch videos on YouTube for a lit­tle more than 7 hours, you can play the same amount. The bat­tery is phys­i­cal­ly reduced in order to achieve a com­pact device. I’m glad it did­n’t affect the results.

The Flip charges at 15W through the wire and 10W with­out it. The smart­phone does not come with its own adapter.

cameras

Galaxy Z Fold 3

The triple main cam­era is impres­sive, wor­thy of a flag­ship device. Pho­to: cnn.com

In total, the smart­phone has five cam­eras, includ­ing a front cam­era built into the large screen and a 10 MP sen­sor on the cov­er screen.

Three 12 megapix­el cam­eras are locat­ed on the back — reg­u­lar, wide-angle and tele­pho­to. If you do not pay atten­tion to the low­er res­o­lu­tion, then the smart­phone takes quite good pho­tos. In good light, his pho­tos can com­pete with those of the flag­ship iPhone and Pix­el.

The main self­ie cam­era on the cov­er screen also pro­duces sharp, clear and rich pho­tos. The dis­ap­point­ment was the UDC cam­era (front cam­era built into the screen) — pho­tos from it are not always sharp and they are notice­ably dim­mer than on the oth­er front cam­era.

Galaxy Z Flip 3

The price of a smart­phone is high, but not because of the cam­eras. Pho­to: techcrunch.com

The Flip’s cam­era is even more frus­trat­ing. The own­er of the smart­phone is wait­ing for only three sen­sors — 12MP stan­dard and wide-angle with the same res­o­lu­tion. The front cam­era of the phone has a 10MP sen­sor.

Image qual­i­ty is good only in bright light. The footage comes out detailed, with clear lines and vibrant col­ors. It also pro­duces good por­traits with nat­ur­al skin tones.

The wide-angle cam­era pro­vides a per­spec­tive that is good for shoot­ing archi­tec­ture, but over­does it with con­trast, tak­ing pic­tures with less dynam­ic range.

In low light, the phone switch­es to a slow shut­ter speed, so there is a high risk of blur­ry footage.

Outcome

Now Fold and Flip are a suc­cess­ful­ly devel­oped scheme for cre­at­ing fold­ing smart­phones, put into prac­tice. It becomes clear that Sam­sung does not aban­don the idea of ​​clamshells and is try­ing to improve them. Choos­ing the best of the two is quite dif­fi­cult: yes, they are sim­i­lar, but the pur­pos­es of the devices, prices and fea­tures are dif­fer­ent.

pros Z Flip 3 and Z Fold 3:

  • styl­ish design;
  • high per­for­mance.

Minus­es:

  • there is no adapter includ­ed;
  • cam­eras are weak­er than many flag­ships.

Dif­fer­ences:

  • Fold received a pow­er­ful bat­tery, but Sam­sung decid­ed to save on the Flip bat­tery;
  • on the Fold 3 screen, a trace from the fold in the cen­ter of the screen is very notice­able;
  • if we com­pare the form fac­tor, the Flip phone con­cept is much more inter­est­ing. And Fold is still infe­ri­or to con­ven­tion­al tablets.

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