The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 5G launched locally in September 2021 and has amazed me on multiple fronts, though it is heavier and thicker than any mobile I’ve used in the past (I do remember my Dad’s brick phone in the early 90’s, but I’m talking ones I’ve personally owned). The obvious benefit is the ability to fold the screen whilst still being able to watch a movie or play a game on it. Whilst this is the third in the Fold range (there’s also a Flip range of phones too), it’s the first time I’ve seen a screen bend like this. It’s quite remarkable really and it comes with a hefty price tag of $2499, but it’s essentially multiple devices in one switching from a phone to a tablet (flex mode) with ease. This is actually cheaper than the starting price point when the Z Fold2 was released in 2020. This Fold3 is sure to suit those busy business people who need to focus on multiple tasks at once. This is a phone, a tablet, a notebook, a sketch pad, a movie player, a handheld game console, a camera, and likely other applications that I hadn’t thought to test.
Holding the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 feels quite weighty, however this is actually the lightest of the Fold range weighing 271 grams (compared to my iPhone 12 Pro which is 189g). Flipping it over shows one half that looks like the rear of most mobiles, featuring a metallic finish and the vertical panel of three 12MP cameras and flash. The second half is the cover panel that is disabled when in flex mode. It looked like two phones connected side by side and I was cautious of where my fingers were placed when holding it one or two-handed, though fingerprints were inevitable.
The 7.6-inch AMOLED Infinity Flex Display utilises a 22.5:18 ratio at 2208×1768 resolution, with HDR10+ and 120Hz adaptive refresh rate. When watching videos or playing games, you cannot see the seam at the flex point of the device until you tilt it and look from a different angle. The first time folding the phone, I was hesitant to ‘bend the screen’ but folding the device together felt firm and solid once closed. I partially closed the device whilst watching a YouTube video and the video kept playing uninterrupted as I flexed and positioned the device to stand on the desk by itself.
A look under the hood shows this particular model of Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 contains a 5nm 64-bit Octa-Core processor, 12GB RAM and 256GB of storage (215.7 useable) which is good power and ample storage for mobile gaming. The battery capacity is 4400mAh which gives up to 12 hours of internet usage, 18 hours of video playback and 34 hours of talk time. The battery can be charged with 25W fast charging and supports 10W fast wireless charging. Video recording can reach up to UHD 4K 3840×2160 @ 60fps and video playback can support UHD 8K 7680 x 4320 @ 60fps which is awesome for a handheld device.
The sound quality coming from the rear of the device is fantastic compared to other mobile devices I’ve used recently. It didn’t surprise me when I discovered this phone features Dolby Atmos and stereo speakers. My wife in the adjacent room told me to turn it down as she thought I was playing music from my PC, and that was just as 60% volume too so I was suitably impressed! Happy wife, happy life as they say, so I paired some Galaxy Buds2 (sold separately) with the Fold3 playing YouTube videos in full screen which looked and sounded great, even if the aspect ratio caused black bars at the top and bottom of the videos which isn’t unfamiliar. I remembered back to all my old business trips with 5-hour flights, struggling to sleep and without in-seat TV’s, whiling the hours away. Having these devices at your fingertips would be the ideal business companion and smaller than an iPad, Surface or laptop.
Folding the device activated the 6.2-inch cover screen. Holding it one-handed felt thick and heavy measuring 16mm on the hinge side tapering to 14.4mm at the join, which is twice the thickness of my iPhone 12 Pro. Using the phone like this, I was able to tap, swipe and navigate apps like normal but it did feel slightly narrow, especially after coming from the unfolded viewpoint. Still, it gave you enough information if you wanted to check the status of the battery, check the time or for reminders. Unfolding the device switched back to the main screen in flex mode and there was no interruption to the task I was doing previously. It really is a dynamic experience and a novelty being able to switch from using it as a phone and then to effectively a tablet with ease.
Imagine you’re on the phone talking to a client. You don’t have your calendar or a notepad/pen in front of you and want to lock in a meeting. Rather than scrounging for pen and paper or a napkin at the coffee shop, you can put the client on speaker, unfold the phone to flex mode, switch to the calendar app and either type in the new meeting time, or use an S Pen Pro to write yourself some notes on the device. Even better, if you’re on a video call, you could move the the video call to the left half of the screen and using the side menu, drag the notes app to the right side of the screen and start writing notes which can convert to text if you don’t like your handwriting. The versatility and practicality of the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3, especially in a business setting, is unmatched in my experience.
I’ve used a stylus on phones before but none of them have been as large and sturdy as the S Pen Pro (sold separately). It is rounded except for one flat section that has a connection button and a mode switch, and felt like holding a slightly weighted pen. The S Pen has a 1.5mm tip and low latency such that when I was scribbling and writing a note, there was no lag as I typed words. The interface was easy to use with an eraser button where I could erase segments of letters or just rub out the whole thing, and the ability to change the tip type, shape and colour at the tap of a button. It also features Bluetooth built in so you can use it as a remote too. I wish I had something like this years ago for work! The S Pen Pro comes with it’s own separate sheath to protect the device, but if you’re going to be using a pen regularly, you’ll want to get the Flip Cover with Pen that enables you to sheath the pen into the phone’s cover.
The user interface of the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 in flex mode utilised a resolution of 2208×1768 and at 120Hz, created a clear space to view and browse the apps you commonly use without any eye strain or blurry transitions. This screen layout can be further adjusted in settings and varies between apps, but enables you to multitask apps. Typing messages has the keyboard split either side so that both thumbs are utilised. I wasn’t used to this at first and made lots of typos but I quickly adjusted. Photo-wise, the quality of images produced from the main 12MP cameras were great and with the extra screen space, navigating the different photo options was easy. What’s great though is the concealed hole for the 4MP selfie camera on the main screen. When in basic apps, you can see the presence of it at the top right, however when you’re in a full screen game or video, it’s hidden from view completely – incredible.
As for gaming, the extra screen real estate in flex mode meant you’re seeing more of the battlefield and the action. I noticed no loading or frame rate lag when loading or playing various games. The visuals were great in games like Subdivision Infinity and The Elder Scrolls: Blades. The controls were easy to use in Subdivision Infinity no matter the orientation, but it was a bit more fiddly with TES: Blades (a problem with the game itself having portrait and landscape modes). Need For Speed No Limits ran beautifully too.
Overall, the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 5G is a fantastic device suited for busy professionals who like to multitask often. It’s definitely powerful enough for games/video consumers too, providing you can afford the price tag. The extra screen space in flex mode means you can work on multiple apps at the same time with ease. For an everyday phone, social media or gaming device, there are cheaper and more effective options on the market. It is heavier than most mobile devices and a lot thicker, so feels bulky in your pocket, but when in flex mode is still lighter than an iPad. I was very impressed with it’s capabilities and the Dolby Atmos sound was very good for watching YouTube and playing games.
This review utilised a Phantom Silver loan unit, S Pen Pro and Galaxy Buds2 supplied by Edelman. The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 5G is available in two storage options – 256GB HDD $2499 and 512GB HDD $2699. Colour options are Phantom Green, Phantom Black or Phantom Silver and you can purchase these from Harvey Norman, JB Hi-Fi and The Good Guys.
Written by: @ChrisJInglis