Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 review: The best foldable phone just got better

The Galaxy Z Fold 3 appears to be the most durable foldable phone, featuring S Pen support and a better design. Multitasking is even more impressive on the Galaxy Z Fold 3. While the Galaxy Z Fold 3 doesn’t have the latest cameras, you will still need to protect your stylus. Overall the Galaxy Z Fold 3 looks great for power users.

For

More durable, water-resistant design

Dual 120Hz displays

S Pen support

Multitasking enhancements

More Foldable Apps Optimized

Against

Still pricey

Camera hardware has not been upgraded

No S Pen or Charger Included

Bulky when closed

Battery life could be improved

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3: Specs

Price: $1,799 (256GB), $1,899 (512GB)
CPU: Snapdragon 800

RAM: 12GB

Storage: 256GB, 512GB

External display: 6.2 inches (2268 x 832) 120Hz Adaptive

Internal display 7.6 inches (2208 x 1768) 120Hz Adaptive

Rear Cameras: 12MP Wide (f/1.8); 12-MP Ultrawide (f.2.2), 123° FOV); 12MP Telephoto (f/2.4; 2x Optical Zoom, 10x Digital Zoom)

Front cam:10MP. (f/2.2).

Under-display camera: 4MP (f/1.8)

Battery 4,400mAh

Charging 25W (charger is not included).

Size, 6.2×2.6x 0.56– 0.62 inches (closed); and 6.2x5x0.25 inches (open).

Weight 9.55 Pounds

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 is determined for the victory of foldable phone skeptics. You are worried about the durability. The display is up to 80% harder than others, and the phone is completely water-resistant. The massive 7.6-inch screen allows you to do more. S Pen support and an Under-Display Camera make this a more immersive screen.

Do you think that folding phones are too expensive for your budget? You’re wrong. The sequel’s price is $1,799 but it is $200 cheaper than its predecessor. The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 for $999 is a great option if you want a foldable device at a reasonable price. (For a deeper comparison, see our Galaxy Z Fold 3 vs. Galaxy Z Flip 3 face-off.)

There are other notable upgrades to the Galaxy Z Fold 3, including a brighter LCD and enhanced multitasking functions, along with a Windows-like taskbar. However, the battery life could still be improved, the design remains quite bulky, and Samsung should include the S Pen.

The Galaxy Z Fold 3 is still a niche phone, but it’s a great choice for those who need a smartphone and tablet in one device.

Galaxy Z Fold3 review: Quick pros/cons

The under-display camera is a great feature on the Galaxy Z Fold 3. It can disappear while you view content. However, selfies are not possible with the 4MP resolution.

It’s easier to view the main 7.6-inch LCD display outdoors since it gets up to 30% better light. The cover display now features a 120Hz refresh rate.

The Taskbar feature is my favorite. You can pin your favorite apps to the side, and they will follow you wherever you go. It works exactly the same way as Windows. You will need to find the Labs setting in order to turn this on.

There is no denying that the Galaxy Z Fold 3 has a thick phone closed. It’s easy to notice the phone-tablet combination when it’s in your hand.

It’s a good thing to see that even more apps have been optimized by the Galaxy Fold 3. These include Spotify, Gmail Chrome, TikTok, and TikTok.

We love the S Pen support, but we wish Samsung wouldn’t charge an extra for it.

The overall image quality is excellent from the Galaxy Z Fold 3. It captures sharp, colorful images for the majority. However, the iPhone 12 Pro is superior.

The Galaxy Z Fold 3 battery life is not as good as it could be. This foldable lasts less than 8 hours while we surf the web, while some flagships last for 10 hours.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 review – Release date and Price

The Galaxy Z Fold 3 is now available with a release scheduled for August 27. Pre-orders for the Galaxy Z Fold 3 will get you $200 in Samsung.com credit, and 12 months of Samsung. Care+ is completely free when your three-year plan is signed up.

The Galaxy Z Fold 3 is available in two versions: 256GB and 512GB.

Take a look at our Galaxy Z Fold 3 best deals page to get the best discounts. And don’t forget our guide on the best Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 cases.

Galaxy Z Fold 3 sale: AT&T trade-in – Existing and New Customers get the Galaxy Z Fold3 3G 5G up to $1,000 with an eligible trade-in

Galaxy Z Fold 3 review – Design and durability

The Galaxy Z Fold 3 adds some durability to the device, even though it’s bulky.

The Galaxy Z Fold’s IPX8 water resistance means it can be submerged in water for up to 30 minutes. This foldable is unlikely to be dipped in water by most people, but it can take everything from splashes and rain.

Unfortunately, water resistance cannot be tested on the review sample. But, we have ordered a Galaxy Z Fold 3 and will test that unit and update this review. You should note that the Z Fold 3 does not resist dust, so you won’t feel comfortable taking this folding device to the beaches.

Galaxy Z Fold 3’s strong Armor Aluminum body is combined with Gorilla Glass Victus display to resist drops and scratches. Samsung claims the Z Fold 3 features a new protective PET layer that when combined together with “optimized” main screen layers, makes it 80% more durable.

Galaxy Z Fold 3 measures approximately 6.2 x 2.5 x 0.56 – 0.62 inches closed and 6.2x5x 0.25 opened. It is 9.5 ounces in weight. Comparing this to the Galaxy Zfold2, which measures 6.2×2.6x 0.66inches (closed), 6.2x5x 0.27inches (open), and 9.9oz (open), you can see that it is 9.5 ounces. You’ll still feel it in the pocket, even though it is thicker and heavier closed than most phones.

The Galaxy Z Fold 3 can be purchased in Phantom Black, Phantom Green, or Phantom Silver. The silver pops best to me.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 displays, audio

Galaxy Z Fold 3 again has two displays: an OLED cover screen of 6.2 inches and the main screen of 7.6 inches that can be revealed when the device is unfolded.

Both panels feature a 120Hz adaptive refreshing rate. I was impressed by smooth scrolling, overall performance, and the ease with which I could use the phone.

The interior screen resolution remains the same at 2208 x 1768 pixels. However, the good news is that Eco display technology is now 29% brighter than it was before.

The Galaxy Z Fold 3’s main LCD display is stunning. This is due to the addition of an under-display cam. Instead of looking at a punch hole or notch, the UDC is almost indistinct, especially when the Galaxy Z Fold 3 displays full-screen content such as photos and videos. It is visible when the display screen is dark, like on the home screen, but it isn’t that obvious.

In our lab testing, we found that the Galaxy Z Fold 3 displayed brightness of 422 nits. Although this is acceptable, it’s less than the 821 nits of brightness that the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra produced (821), and the iPhone 12 Pro Max reached a remarkable 654 nuits.

The Galaxy Z Fold 3’s speakers have a powerful sound quality and deliver clear, loud sound whether you are listening to Spotify or making calls. The Z Fold 3’s sound can become a bit muffled if it is placed on a desk. One of the speakers is located on the bottom. But overall, the audio quality is good from this foldable phone.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 multitasking with app support

The Galaxy Z Fold 3 is a multitasking powerhouse. Multi-Active Window lets you run two or more apps at the same time. You can drag and drop content between them, or even run three. Now, the App Pair enhancement allows you to create shortcuts that will take you back to the exact same app you were using.

Are you tired of constantly tapping in from the right side to view the Edge Panel and other apps? Samsung’s new Taskbar feature allows you to quickly switch between apps. It is located on the right side like the Windows taskbar. To make the Taskbar work, I had gone to Settings and activated Samsung Labs. This is something that most people will not know how to do.

The Taskbar, once activated, is a wonderful addition. I love that I can quickly look at the number of notifications in Slack and switch to the right app. Or I can quickly open my favorite App Pair Gallery and Messages.

Samsung Labs has the ability to force apps that have not been optimized for foldable displays into Multi-Active Windows mode. I could place Netflix on the left, and then continue to watch Outer Banks. While keeping my eye on messages on right, I could also park Netflix there.

Drag and split is another feature that’s very cool. To open a new browser, drag and drop is an example. So you can see the details of one product and also compare other products to the left. Samsung Message is supported by MS Office, One Note, One Note, MS Office, and MS Office.

Flex mode lets you use the Galaxy Z Fold 3 to display content and control the bottom. This is possible on YouTube and Camera. I used it also during a hands-free Google Meet video call. Flex mode can also be disabled in apps. I think it’s better to see more developers embrace Flex mode.

Samsung is also working closely with third-party app developers to release more apps that natively work with the Galaxy Z Fold 3 These apps including TikTok. Netflix. Spotify. YouTube. Spotify is an example of this. You’ll see the Now Playing windows on the bottom left, and the rest in the discover menu on your right. This makes it easy to multitask.

My favorite optimized app is Chrome for the Galaxy Z Fold 3 though. I like the ability to see all my tabs in one place and then move them around as I would on a desktop.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 S Pen

Samsung’s 7.6-inch folding phone now supports S Pen. This is a refreshing move, as I have never found using a stylus with even the largest phablets too cramped. This gives you more room to write, sketch and mark up documents without having to zoom in.

However, the Galaxy Z Fold 3’s S Pen compatibility is not working right away. While the stylus works with the foldable device, it isn’t included. Instead, the S Pen accessory can be purchased separately in addition to the $1799 already spent on your smartphone. An additional purchase is needed to store the pen in a special case.

There are two S Pen options available — the $49 S Penfold Edition or the $99 S Pen Pro. The S Pen Pro has Bluetooth connectivity and supports Air Gestures, as well as other remote control capabilities. The S Pen Fold Edition is simply a writing instrument. However, it’s specially designed with collapsible tips to fit the Galaxy Z Fold 3 display.

The S Pen Fold Edition stylus was well tested. The button on the S Pen was hard to locate at times. Simply hovering the pen on the Galaxy Z Fold 3’s active screen will bring up the S Pen Menu, which allows you to access various tasks with the stylus.

Galaxy Z Fold 3’s huge 7.6-inch canvas provides ample space for quick notes. To start writing, just hold that button on your S Pen and tap the screen. To create a memo off-screen, just press and hold down the S Pen key.

Screen Write (a markup feature), Smart Select(pull text from other apps) or translate (where words can be tapped to determine their meaning in different languages). Live Message is a feature that allows you to capture and add text to an image. AR Doodle, where you can superimpose your drawings onto real-world objects, is another example of an S Pen-powered feature.

Please note that the Galaxy Z Fold 3 only supports the S Pen on its main screen. The cover display does not support input with the stylus. This seems like an oversight. Maybe you don’t want the device to be unfolded if you need to quickly jot down something.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 cameras

With the Galaxy Z Fold 3 camera hardware, there’s not much new except for the under-display camera. Samsung has brought back some of the best features from the Galaxy S21 Ultra including Single Take (Dynamic Videos) and Director’sView (for simultaneously using the front, and back cameras). You can also see your photos in the rear camera and the Capture Mode, which lets you view both your live preview and your photos.

The rear cameras include three 12-megapixel lenses, one f/1.8 wide-angle, one ultra-wide f/2.2, and one telephoto. Our photo comparisons show that the Galaxy Z Fold 3 can take sharp, colorful, and vivid photos. The iPhone 12 Pro is better in terms of detail and has more realistic colors. It also lacks the zooming power offered by the Galaxy S21 Ultra.

This photo of portulaca flowers clearly shows that the Galaxy Z Fold 3 has the ability to produce vibrant colors. But, it’s possible to see how the petals looked when I zoomed in. The iPhone 12 Pro Max offers a more striking contrast to my taste.

The Galaxy Z Fold 3 does a fine job with the blurring effect and the bokeh effect in this portrait. However, the leaves to the right of the image are very prominent. My blue shirt stands out and there is plenty of detail in the hair. But my skin tone looks a little washed-out. The iPhone 12 Pro provides a warmer, more realistic look.

Here’s another colorful shot was taken by the Galaxy Z Fold 3. This time, it shows various peppers with saturated colors like yellow, orange, and red. This time the detail was quite strong, even as I zoomed into the sign and some stickers. It’s almost as good as the iPhone 12 Pro Max. But Apple’s phone is slightly more appealing because of the increased contrast. The oranges are also richer.

You can see in this beach scene that the Galaxy Z Fold 3 struggled to deliver the same level and subtlety as iPhone. This is especially true when it comes to translucence, variations in sunlight, and bark in the tree on right.

Night mode enabled, I compared Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Galaxy S21 Ultra. I found that the Fold has a clearer look and more natural colors. The S21 Ultra’s photo is brighter with an orange tint.

The Galaxy Z Fold 3’s selfie capabilities were tested using both the 4MP and 10MP under-display cameras. My face looks blurrier, washed out, and my hair and shirt look better with the UDC picture. Check out my Galaxy Z Fold 3 Under-Display Camera Test Results for more information on the UDC.

Too bad you can only get 2x and 10x optical zooms with the Galaxy Z Fold 3. Galaxy S21 Ultra comes with dual telephoto lenses. It has 3x, 10x, and 100x digital zooms.

The Z Fold 3 captures a shot almost as good and sharp as the S21 Ultra at 10. x. As you can see, the Galaxy Z Fold 3 takes things further.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 performance

The Galaxy Z Fold 3 performed very well in our hands-on testing. That’s due to the fact that it uses a powerful processor. It’s powered by a Snapdragon 888 processor and 12GB of RAM. There is also a standard of 256GB for internal storage, although you can opt to have 512GB.

The Galaxy Z Fold 3 proved to be a fast device in daily use. I could run multiple apps at once and race around the Asphalt 9 track with it. I did experience some problems with the device, including when switching between the main and cover displays.

Geekbench 5, which measures overall efficiency, measured that the Galaxy Z Fold 3 scored 3,418 for the multicore portion and 1,107 for the single-core. This score is on par with the Galaxy S21 Ultra (3.400/1.123), however, it’s well below the iPhone 12 Pro Max (4.100/1.600).

The Galaxy Z Fold 3 did not fare well in comparison to the iPhone 12 Pro Max during the 3DMark Wild Life graphics exam. Samsung could produce 33 frames per minute, compared with 39 on the iPhone.

It took the Galaxy Z Fold 3 50 seconds to transcode a 4K to 1080p video using Adobe Premiere Rush. The Galaxy S21 Ultra took 1 minute 2 seconds to transcode a 4K video to 1080p, but it was faster than the Galaxy Z Fold 3. It is still slower than that of the iPhone 12 Pro Max who took 28 seconds.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold2 battery life and charging

The Galaxy Z Fold 3 comes with a 4,400mAh dual lithium battery. This is less than the Z Fold 2’s 4500 mAh pack. The results of our web surfing battery tests, which involve surfing the web over 5G with 150 nits of brightness, were disappointing.

The Galaxy Z Fold 3 lasts just 7 hours, 52 seconds in 60Hz display mode. This is even lower when you switch to adaptive mode (up to 120Hz) at 6 35. The Galaxy Z Fold 2 lasts longer at 10:10, 9: 05 and respectively at 9: 05 using the same screen modes. T-Mobile’s network played a part in our last year’s performance, so this may explain some of the differences. We will provide more information and test results.

As expected, the Galaxy Z Fold 3 comes without a charger. To test the charge time, we used a 25W Samsung charging adapter. The phone reached 47% in 30 minutes.

The Galaxy Z Fold 3 supports up to 10W wireless charging. You can reverse wireless charge other devices using the Z Fold 3’s back.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 review – What about iPhone 13 Pro Max

Foldables belong to their own category and Samsung is the only player in this market. Apple claims to make it is own foldable but we can only make comparisons with what’s currently available: the iPhone 13 Pro Max.

It might seem unfair to compare these phones because of the differences in form factors. But Samsung needs to convince people to buy Fold 3. The Fold 3 is a far inferior phone to the iPhone’s new model in many ways. Battery life and camera quality are key. The iPhone 13 Pro Max was a clear choice for our top phone battery life and best camera phones lists.

Foldables still have a lot to learn, but you can get an even better phone for hundreds of dollars less than the Galaxy Z Fold 3 in many ways. It’s a great phone/tablet. But Apple beat it this year. Fold 3 can’t keep up in certain areas.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 review verdict

Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold 3 is still the best foldable smartphone. This phone is more durable, has better multitasking, and displays for less than the previous model.

The under-display camera is a great design improvement. You can see more of the screen even when it’s not in use. You will need to sacrifice some image quality with this 4MP shooter.

Samsung is also credited for working with developers on optimizing more apps for foldable. Samsung should have included the $1,799 stylus, which I appreciated. Also, the battery performance and overall design could be improved.

Overall, the Galaxy Z Fold 3 has been a success, but this phone is only for people who can afford a premium to get a double-sized tablet and a phone.

More Galaxy Z Fold 3 S Pen support is awesome, but the price is shocking

Mark Spoonauer has been the global editor chief of Tom’s Guide for nearly two decades. Mark is responsible for the direction and management of Tom’s Guide. He also reviews dozens of mobile phones and other gadgets. Mark is an industry speaker and frequently appears on TV to discuss the latest trends. Mark was the previous editor in chief for Laptop Mag. His work also appears in Wired and Popular Science. Follow him @mspoonauer on Twitter.

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