I recently reviewed the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3, and now it's time to take a closer look at its more style-oriented cousin, the Galaxy Z Flip 3. Despite the name, this is the second generation of the Galaxy Z Flip and not the third, but it does share a lot of features and capabilities with the Galaxy Z Fold 3. The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip has always been more of a lifestyle product, targeted at those who want to make a fashion statement. It's still an expensive one, but at least it's now more durable and IPX8 water resistant which makes it more viable for everyday use. Should you consider this if you're thinking of buying your first foldable phone? Let's find out.
The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 is priced way lower than the Galaxy Z Fold 3, but it's still an expensive phone and sits in proper flagship territory. The price starts at Rs. 84,999 for the variant with 8GB of RAM and 128GB of storage, and goes up to Rs. 88,999 for 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. The inbuilt storage is not expandable, so choose wisely before you buy. I would have liked more RAM in the more expensive variant. Just like the Galaxy Fold 3, if you pre-booked the Galaxy Z Flip 3 then you would have been eligible for cash back offers and also would have gotten a year of Samsung Care+ bundled.
Coming to colours, Samsung has only launched two at the moment in India — Cream and Phantom Black — but the phone is also available in Lavender, Gray, White, Green, and Pink in some other countries.
The dimensions of the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 are very similar to those of the first model and it even weighs exactly the same (183g). However, the aesthetics and finish of the materials have changed. The outer aluminium frame now has a matte finish, which looks really nice but makes the body very slippery. The big design change is the new dual-tone look and the larger outer display or cover screen. It now measures 1.9 inches (up from 1.1 inches) and has a higher resolution. It's also a lot more responsive, but its functionality is still limited, which we'll get into a bit later.
Samsung has darkened the entire area around the cover screen, enveloping the camera module too, in order to give the illusion of a much larger display panel. The other half of the top panel and the entire bottom panel are of a different colour, depending on which one you choose.
Even though the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3's design resembles iconic clamshell phones of the past, you can't exactly ‘flip' it open – you'll still need two hands. If you're persistent enough, then you could learn to unfold it with one hand, but it's a struggle and you could end up damaging the folding display with your fingernails. The hinge feels solid and has slightly less resistance compared to the one on the Galaxy Z Fold 3, which makes it easier to open and close.
The glass on the outside of the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 is Corning Gorilla Glass Victus, while on the inside, you get Samsung's Ultra Thin Glass (UTG). The latter is said to be more durable than what was used for the previous generation, but just like we observed with the Galaxy Z Fold 3, even slight pressure from sharp objects will leave a mark. The crease is very noticeable every time you swipe past the middle of the inner display while scrolling or interacting with your content. It's a little distracting, but I got used to it after a while.
The main 6.7-inch display is a Dynamic AMOLED 2X panel with the same resolution as the previous model, only now it has a 120Hz maximum refresh rate. Colours are vivid and brightness is good enough for indoor use, although the screen washes out under direct sunlight. There's a hole-punch cutout in the display instead of the lower quality under-display camera used in the Galaxy Z Fold 3, which I think is for the best.
There's not much in the retail box apart from the phone itself. All you get is a USB Type-C cable and a SIM eject tool. Samsung has made a variety of cases for the Galaxy Flip 3, like this keychain-type case that it sent me which costs Rs. 3,799. The quality is good and it makes the phone easier to grip.
The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 is powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 SoC, just like the Galaxy Z Fold 3, and is said to support the same number of 5G bands too. The Galaxy Z Flip 3 does not get S Pen stylus support but it is IPX8 rated for water resistance. Another feature that's missing is Dex support. The battery is not too large at just 3,300mAh and the maximum “fast” charging speed is just 15W, instead of 25W like on the Galaxy Z Fold 3. This means that even when connected to a high-Wattage USB PD charger, the Galaxy Z Flip 3 takes well over an hour to fully charge. This isn't exactly quick by any standard, and is especially disappointing when you look at how much this phone costs.
Some of the OneUI software tricks that we saw on the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 have been modified for the Galaxy Z Flip 3. Due to its slender form, you can only open two apps at once in split-screen mode and up to five in floating windows. You can force apps to use the multi-window and Flex modes even if they don't natively support them, but the other Labs features that I saw on the Galaxy Z Fold 3 aren't supported here.
This brings us to the cover screen, which although much better than the one on the previous model, is still not functional enough. You can set different widgets and backgrounds for the cover screen, and the increased size means you can now preview your notifications, but you can't reply to a message or email directly. I would have liked the option to send at least some basic templated responses like an “okay” without having to open the phone. The Motorola Razr 5G's cover screen is way more functional in this respect. Come to think of it, Samsung could have used an even larger display panel if it had wanted to add more functionality.
The cover screen does support some gestures. A swipe down lets you change the phone's ringing mode and adjust the brightness of the outer display; a swipe right shows you unread notifications, and a swipe up from the bottom brings up Samsung Pay. If you keep swiping left, you can cycle through the widgets for music, weather, alarms, voice recorder, etc. You can choose which widgets are displayed and their order in the Settings app. Finally, a double-press of the power button opens the camera app and lets you use the cover screen as a viewfinder.
The performance of the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 was pretty solid during the review period. The first things you'll want to do when you begin using the phone are increase the grid size on the homescreen and app drawer so the icons don't look comically large, and also reduce the height of the keyboard, which tends to take up a little more than half of the entire bottom portion of the display by default. OneUI runs smoothly for the most part, but I noticed a hint of lag when trying to open many floating windows over two apps that were already running in split-screen.
The Galaxy Z Flip 3 is definitely more manageable than the Galaxy Z Fold 3 in your hand. When closed, it can be easily pocketed without creating any unsightly bulges. Call quality was also good. Answering a call through the cover screen automatically engages the speaker, but when you open the phone, it doesn't automatically switch to the earpiece, which is what I would have liked. Closing the phone during a call automatically cuts it.
Benchmark scores were in line with those of the Galaxy Z Fold 3. The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 scored 6,87,029 points in AnTuTu and managed 119fps in GFXBench's T-Rex gaming test. These numbers translate well when playing actual games too. Titles such as Asphalt 9: Legends and Call of Duty: Mobile looked and ran great. The stereo speakers are quite capable, and there's an option to enable Dolby Atmos. HDR videos look really good but most of them will have thick black bars on the left and right, unless you're watching native 21:9 content.
Battery life was decent as long as I wasn't watching a lot of content or playing games. With light usage, I was able to stretch the battery life to just over a full day, but on days on which I watched a lot of video or played games for long stretches, this dipped quite a bit. The phone ran for just 10 hours and 52 minutes in our HD video loop test, which is well below average. The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 supports 10W wireless charging and can be used to wirelessly charge other devices too.
The cameras on the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 are modest as far as flagships go. The setup is similar to what you get with the Galaxy Z Fold 3, minus the telephoto camera. You get two 12-megapixel sensors on the outside with wide and ultra-wide lenses, as well as a 10-megapixel selfie camera. The phone can shoot up to 4K 60fps videos and you get all the standard shooting modes that we've come to expect from Samsung's 2021 flagships.
If you give the sensors adequate light, the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 can capture good details and colours. HDR is also handled very well, with highlights exposed well and enough detail in the shadows. Digital zoom goes up to 10X, but the quality is expectedly weak at the highest magnification. Close-ups pack in very good detail and a pleasing background blur.
Low-light photos come out pretty good too as the camera app automatically engages Night mode. Strangely, it doesn't do this when using the ultra-wide camera, and in my experience, I had to switch to Night mode in order to get a usable long exposure shot with the ultra-wide camera. Videos pack in good detail and are stabilised well under good lighting, but in low light, footage can look noisy and jitter creeps in when you walk and shoot. The selfie camera captures good-looking selfies during the day and does a decent job in low light too.
The only real direct competitor to the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 is the Motorola Razr 5G, which retails for Rs. 89,999 and there's only one option, with 256GB of storage. This makes it very similar in price to the Galaxy Z Flip 3's 256GB variant too. Between the two, there isn't much competition if you think about it since the Razr 5G is a mid-range phone, as opposed to the flagship specs offered by Samsung.
The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 makes a strong style statement and feels refined enough for everyday use, just like the Galaxy Z Fold 3. I have to point out again that as tough as the exterior is, the folding display still needs some tender love and care. Battery life is not great, especially if you're in the habit of consuming a lot of content, and I still think the outer screen needs to be more functional. If you don't fuss about these things too much, the Galaxy Z Flip 3 could be a fun little smartphone to add to your digital life.