I’ve never been a fan of shiny backs. Something about those who always called me cheap and catchy, even on premium badge phones.
So seeing that Samsung opted for a matte metallic finish this time was a pleasure to the touch and to the eyes. The Phantom Black variant I got made the phone look even sleeker.
Larger cover screen to do more
The screen of the cover has grown and now measures 1.9 inches with 260 × 512 px. After that, it has also become more functional.
Previously, the home screen was mainly used to check the time and date, check notifications, or monitor media content. You now have access to a variety of features, such as swiping left to access the alarm, voice recorder, weather, Samsung Health, and more.
Swipe right shows you notifications, swipe down lets you control the brightness of the cover screen, and swipe up gives you access to Samsung Pay (which I don’t use, but it’s nice to have this option for those who do).
True, despite these updates, you wish you could do much more on the cover screen, such as responding quickly to a message. While this may require the cover screen to be a bit larger, I don’t think many users have any issues.
You can use the cover screen to take a quick selfie, a feature that was also on the Z Flip, but has now been improved and is called Quick Shot.
The advantage of Quick Shot is that you can take a quick shot (duh) by just pressing the power button and tapping on the cover screen. You can also record a video. These come out with decent quality because both cameras are used, instead of taking a selfie normally with the front camera.
But, for example, if you’re more particular about how your environment looks in the selfie, it wouldn’t give you much use for Quick Shot. You can really only see yourself, so you can’t control what’s in the rest of the frame in terms of environment.
Dual cameras that integrate seamlessly
The dual cameras on the back of the Z Flip3 no longer have their own housing. Instead, they are integrated into the cover screen, giving the phone a more modern look.
Instead of being aligned horizontally, they have also been rearranged to align them vertically, which is much more suited to the flow of the long body of the Z Flip3.
However, in terms of specs, you’ll find exactly the same on the old Z Flip. Perhaps the lack of an upgrade in this area is a sacrifice that Samsung had to make to improve other features and reduce the price of the Z Flip series, but later on.
That said, by no means are the cameras on the Z Flip3 horrible. When using the photo and portrait mode, the captured details are crisp.
Zoom options are more limited and getting close to an object translates into a capture that has many details removed. On the S21 Ultra, for example, there was a zoom lock feature that helped stabilize your photo with zoom, making it less blurry, and later artificial intelligence would magnify the image after capture.
The Z Flip3’s selfie camera is fine, but if you’ve already used the Z Flip, there’s nothing to shout about either because they’re the same specs.
Soft and safe hinges
I mentioned it in my paper first impression piece of the Z Flip3 that the hinges felt much better this time around, but my memory isn’t the best, so maybe grab it with a grain of salt.
These hinges should withstand the years of folding and deployment, but instead of being too tight to compensate for the detachment over time, they feel good.
Very soft to open with both hands (recommended not to damage the screen with your fingernails) and the phone will not close or open on its own.
This means that you can also balance your phone when folded to varying degrees, which gives you more flexibility with certain features.
For example, if you want to take a hands-free photo with the timer, you don’t really need a tripod. Simply seat your phone, adjust the folding angle, set a timer, set and click.
Of course, it has its limitations that can be overcome by a suitable tripod, such as when the surface on which you place the phone is not the right height to get the right frame.
Aside from that, the flexibility allows you to take selfies with both rear cameras, as you can adjust your attitude through the lid screen. I anticipate that this is the main use of its folding, as the experience doesn’t really do the rest of things, like video hands-free viewing and virtual calling.
If you watch a hands-free video with your phone folded, your video will look quite small, occupying only half the screen, or if it is shown in full screen, you would be left with an awkward “folded” video.
One of the biggest advantages of the Z Flip3’s folding capability is that it can become a fairly compact phone, making it easy to slip into your jeans bag or pocket. There’s also less risk of the screen scratching, unless you throw it away with some loose keys and coins that might make their way between the locked phone.
A screen that is a feast for the eyes
Compared to the Z Flip, the Z Flip3 features an updated 2X dynamic folding AMOLED display with a 120Hz refresh rate. To be honest, I don’t know what all this means, but the screen is very vibrant and sharp and its 1,200-night brightness further enhances the clarity.
It’s a pleasure to watch videos or play games, complemented by stereo speakers (a new feature in the Z Flip series) that made the media sound richer. Please note that there is no headphone jack, so you’ll need to opt for Bluetooth wireless headset for more privacy.
A 120Hz screen is a nice plus, but that’s what it’s for me: a plus. It is not a necessity. Also, the 3,300mAh battery runs out much faster, so I opted to keep the phone in power saving mode, which meant being a farmer with a 60Hz refresh rate.
The Z Flip3 has the same Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 processor and 8GB of RAM as the Galaxy S21, which means its performance should be at the same level as most newer flagship phones.
Of course, I had to highlight Genshin Impact in this review as usual, as it is my most demanding game to see how a phone’s performance is maintained.
I was able to enjoy relatively lag-free experiences for an hour or so each time, albeit in medium settings so as not to overclock the phone. The gaming experience, of course, was not as fast as usual on a laptop or PC.
The phone would warm up slightly in the viewing area of the cameras / lid while playing without pauses, but nothing too uncomfortable. With minor games and my daily personal use of phones, the Z Flip3 could run without charging for a good 12 hours before running out, I would say.
Price is an important factor in my decision when buying devices, and now that the Z Flip3 starts at a much lower price (RM 3,999) than did the Z Flip (RM 5,888 at launch), it is has made it a more viable purchase.
It is definitely an update of the Z Flip and, with a price similar to most flagship phones currently on the market, Samsung is trying to make the Z Flip3 a more accessible device for everyday users, not just for those who are they adopt early.
The biggest downside of the Z Flip3 right now is probably its cameras, which are a lower version if you’re used to the quality you get from other Samsung flagship phones.
But if that’s not a major breaker (and, as mentioned, they’re still worthy cameras), I’d say the Z Flip3 is worth buying and more than just to brag about rights.
|Enlarged cover screen with more functions||The same old cameras with poor zoom functions|
|Stereo speakers enhance the richness of audio|
|Vibrant and sharp screen|
- Read our first impressions on your phone hereand you can now book the Z Flip3 here.
- Read more Vice President’s Verdicts here.
Verdict VP is a series where we personally test products, services, fashions and applications. Want to suggest something more to try? Leave a comment here or post the suggestion on our Facebook page.