Samsung obviously believes that folding phones are the future. Announced earlier this month at the brand’s Unpacked event, the Galaxy Z Fold3 5G is the third iteration of the phone that folds from a standard, if narrow, traditional smartphone to a larger-screened version of itself that’s much more like a tablet.
Here are the ins, outs, closed and opened, of the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3.
Easily the most distinct aspect of the Galaxy Z Fold3 is its brick-like presence when folded and its massive 7.6” unfolded screen.
It’s got more heft than an iPhone 12 Pro or Galaxy S21 but not much. It’s still lighter than an average tablet. All of these aspects aren’t a major departure from the previous phones in the Z Fold line but they do come together to refine the Z Fold3 in a way that hasn’t been realized until now.
Those refinements include fully submersible water resistance, a beefed up hinge that’s durable and sturdy as hell and a front-facing camera that’s neatly hidden beneath the main screen so it doesn’t interrupt the way a notch or hole punch might.
In the hand or in a pocket, the Z Fold3 feels…significant. It’s a well-made phone that, despite any preconceived notions about the fragility of a folding screen, truly feels like a feat of engineering, even after the novelty wears off.
Samsung may have initially pushed the Z Fold because of that novelty but three versions in, the focus has definitively shifted to what a folding phone can actually do.
That means the Z Fold3 now benefits from software that better adapts to whatever configuration the phone is in. Switching from the narrow outer screen to the wide inner is seamless.
Or keeping the phone in a 90 degree fold (aka “the laptop”) gives access to video on top with digital media controls on the bottom. Similarly, shooting photos using either the front or rear facing cameras allows for several different ways to take the perfect picture while also having full access to viewfinder functions.
There’s also a new emphasis on multitasking and the Fold3 performs admirably in that department. Running a video while also taking notes and quickly responding to texts were all easily doable simultaneously and without feeling cramped.
Speaking of note taking, the addition of an S-Pen (not included) adds a very intuitive level of function to the phone’s UI though it doesn’t respond on the outer screen and Samsung does warn against pressing too hard on the unfolded screen. It’s a bummer there’s not one included and that the Fold3 can’t hide one away internally like the Galaxy Note phones do.
One of the interesting takeaways from a week of usage is that there’s never a situation thrown at the Fold3 that feels better suited for a different device.
Normal tasks like texting or checking email are handled well by the front screen but the moment there’s content to consume or a work situation to sort out, simply flip open the phone and get to it on the larger screen.
The Fold3 kills the urge to physically switch from phone to tablet, because it’s both…and an excellent version of both at that.
It’s also worth mentioning that Samsung is again teaming up with designer Thom Browne for special edition versions of both the Z Fold3 and the Z Flip3 as well as a bundle package that includes an S-Pen Pro, Buds2 earphones, and Galaxy Watch4, all decked out with Browne’s Olympic-inspired colorway.
That may seem gimmicky but the reality is that the partnership makes for really, really good-looking devices that stand out as unique among a world of black glass and muted, matte color options.
Apple could learn a lesson here as Samsung continues to pave the way for cool collaborations on signature devices that somehow make phones and earbuds look and feel more luxurious.
Technically, the Z Fold3 5G is still available for pre-order here but that switch will soon be flipped to fully available online and in retail store locations.
The Z Fold3 does carry the heavy-duty price tag of $1800 but considering it pulls double duty as both a phone and a tablet, that price might be easier to swallow.
Add in the fact that the Fold3 is Samsung’s finest example of bleeding-edge consumer tech jammed into one damn sexy package and the cost feels more than justified.
Price aside, Samsung has raised the bar for all their competition by creating a phone that’s innovative and exciting. Let’s hope their competition takes note.