Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 review: A splash-proof foldable display multi-tasker now made a reality

PHOTO: Hardware Zone

Third time's the charm?

The Galaxy Z Fold3 seeks to repeat the allure of its preceding Fold2.

It's the same book-style foldable display with a full-length Cover Screen and a squarish Main Screen tucked within the handset.

At its core, it's designed to accomplish everything it had before.

But, the Galaxy Z Fold3 does it with a slightly slimmer and lighter body, while throwing in S Pen support, better Main Screen optimisations (Labs and Taskbar pinning), an updated Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 flagship processor, and a Cover Screen with a higher refresh rate.

It had to make do by packing in a slightly smaller battery, sitting at 4,400mAh.

PHOTO: Hardware Zone 

Other changes that went into improving the Z Flip3 - like IPX8 water resistance, Armor Aluminium, improved Main Screen durability for scratches - are also present on Fold3.

With a starting price of $2,398 for 256GB (and $2,548 for 512GB), the new premium flagship foldable is significantly more affordable than its older variants.

The first commercially available Galaxy Fold was $3,088, and its follow-up Z Fold2 started at $2,888.

It's still really pricey among Android alternatives, though.

Can the Galaxy Z Fold3 finally make you part with all that money? Is the third time a charm, or does it fall short despite the big price cut? Let's find out.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 5G

Launch SRP From $2398
Operating system Android 11 (One UI)
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 888
Built-in Memory 12GB RAM
Display

Cover Screen:

  • 6.2-inch, Dynamic AMOLED 2X, 120Hz refresh rate
  • 2,268 x 832 pixels resolution (387ppi)

Main Screen:

  • 7.6-inch, Dynamic AMOLED 2X Infinity Flex Display, 120Hz refresh rate
  • 2,208 x 1,768 pixels (373ppi)
Camera

Rear:

  • 12MP, f/1.8, wide-angle 1.8µm, OIS Dual Pixel PDAF, OIS
  • 12MP, f/2.2, ultra-wide, 1.12µm, 123° FOV
  • 12MP, f/2.4, telephoto, 1.0µm, OIS 2x Zoom

Cover:

  • 10MP, f/2.2, selfie, 1.22µm

Front:

  • 4MP, under-display, f/1.8, portrait, 2.0µm
Connectivity
  • LTE / 5G (NSA, SA, Sub6, mmWave)
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/axe, dual-band, Wi-Fi Direct, hotspot, Bluetooth 5.0, A2DP, LE
  • GPS, GLONASS, BDS, GALILEO, BeiDou
  • NFC, UWB
Storage Type
  • 256GB
  • 512GB
  • No MicroSD slot

Battery

  • 4,400mAh
  • 25W Fast Charging
  • 10W Wireless Fast Charging
  • 4.5W Reverse Wireless Charging
  • Wireless PowerShare
Dimensions
  • Folded: 67.1 x 158.2 x 14.4 - 16.0mm
  • Unfolded: 128.1 x 158.2 x 6.4mm
Weight
  • 271g
PHOTO: Hardware Zone 

Design and handling

The Galaxy Z Fold3 5G has many durability upgrades seen in Samsung's other foldable phone.

PHOTO: Hardware Zone 

As mentioned, Fold3 5G itself and its users are also getting perks like upgraded Armor Aluminum frame, IPX8-certified water resistance, and an enhanced film layer that's more durable to scratches on the Main Screen.

We've covered them over at the Flip3 5G review , so be sure to check these features out over at that piece.

PHOTO: Hardware Zone 

With Samsung making Fold3 slightly lighter (by 11g) and thinner (by 0.8mm at the hinge), the phone does feel a little friendlier in hand.

Despite these improvements, the Z Fold3 is still heavier and bigger than typical Android phones.

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However, downsizing the Fold's hefty stature didn't take away its premium build quality, and the Z Fold3 upholds that with a solid, responsive hinge, tight form, and a matte finish to top it off.

PHOTO: Hardware Zone 

While it feels nice to hold, the phone's handling traits stayed the same.

Cover Screen offers a typical phone experience, albeit in a narrower frame.

It's extremely convenient for tasks that don't involve typing (like reading articles and hilarious conspiracy theories in Telegram and Facebook 'expert' groups), but it's still really easy to make fat-finger typos when replying to anything due to the narrow screen width.

PHOTO: Hardware Zone 

While its Main Screen is an impressive display that's better for replying to e-mails and messages, it's still prone to accidental input.

Turning the phone around or reaching a finger further in to tap on stuff might make the handset register inputs from your palm.

PHOTO: Hardware Zone 

If you're interacting with highly visual content (videos, Instagram, TikTok), the Main Screen still offers a better overall experience since the Cover Screen feels claustrophobic, especially if you're used to regular phones.

Display and audio

On the outside is the same 6.2-inch HD+ Cover Screen as before, but it now uses Dynamic AMOLED 2X instead of Super AMOLED, with slightly higher pixel resolution and pixel density (by 1 PPI, which is quite negligible).

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The biggest upgrade is 120Hz refresh rate - apps feel more seamless when switching between either display, and browsing is buttery smooth.

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Inside is a 7.6-inch QXGA+ Dynamic AMOLED 2X Main Screen.

Its core upgrades, however, lies in S Pen support and 120Hz refresh rate.

PHOTO: Hardware Zone 

Yet another new feature of the Main Screen is the half-hidden under-display front camera.

In our first encounter with the Fold3, we've seen how the camera stayed visible despite patching up the camera hole - especially for apps with white backgrounds.

Our extra time with the phone showed us how the camera is less prominent on lower brightness settings and darker background colours.

PHOTO: Hardware Zone 

It's also less noticeable when watching videos in landscape mode.

If so, the camera "eats" into your 16:9 videos, but it's away from the central action to really detract you (as seen in the snap above).

You could always watch your streaming videos in portrait mode to avoid it, but that would mean bigger black bars.

Nevertheless, we feel that an under-display camera still beats having a permanent cutout.

PHOTO: Hardware Zone 

The Galaxy Z Fold3's crease feels even more prominent than on the Flip3.

That's because the Fold3's vertical crease always meets your gaze whenever you're browsing on your phone, assuming your line of sight starts from the top before going down.

Read Also
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G review: Living the flip life confidently
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G review: Living the flip life confidently

The Flip3's horizontal crease, while equally present, isn't always immediately visible at first glance.

They share similar viewing angles limitations too, so previewing shots during photography can get challenging when your subject is centre-focused.

Fortunately with its creaseless Cover Screen, it's better to keep the device folded when shooting with its rear cameras.

Like the Z Flip3, Samsung also needs to figure out ways to improve the viewing angles around the crease to maximise Z Fold3's premium asking price and display quality.

The heartache of seeing the crease on a $2,000+ device is very real, even if we're fully aware of current display technology limitations.

That said, if you do own the phone for a while, the crease may not bother you too much as you would have adapted to its traits, including enjoying the expansive real estate that no other phone accords you.

UI and features

Galaxy Z Fold3 uses Android 11 with Samsung's One UI interface - no surprises there, so we'll look at the cooler software features the Koreans plonked in to make the foldable more user-friendly.

Labs and pinnable taskbar for main screen

If you intend to use Galaxy Z Fold3 as your daily driver, you must check out Labs.

PHOTO: Hardware Zone 

Under the Settings, Advanced Feature tab is the Labs submenu that houses all old, new, and experimental tweaks to maximise the Main Screen's real estate.

Controls are very granular; for example, Auto-Rotate lets you decide - on a per-app basis - whether to follow the phone's orientation or let the app's natural orientation take precedence.

Almost every app you have installed can be manipulated through Labs - whether to abide by Flex Mode (where you half-fold the device for use), what aspect ratio it needs, and whether you permit Multi-Window multitasking.

PHOTO: Hardware Zone 

Another cool new feature is the ability to pin your Edge Panel inside the Main Screen.

Doing so transforms the normally-hidden apps there into a Taskbar similar to pinned taskbar programs seen on Windows 10.

If you're busy with a fullscreen app, the pinned taskbar (along with Android's three-button navigation) hides away, and shows up only when you swipe away from the display's edge. Very handy.

PHOTO: Hardware Zone 

These extras play nicely with older features, like App Continuity (app remains active when you switch displays) and resizable Multi-Active Windows.

No doubt, the Main Screen is better than before, thanks to all these additions.

Face recognition unlock, even with an under-display camera

The Z Fold3 5G's face recognition unlock via its under-display camera has no accuracy problems - it doesn't matter if you choose to unlock through the Cover Screen or its under-display camera on the Main Screen.

PHOTO: Hardware Zone 

We've also experimented with the lens by testing face unlock with a mask on, and it rightfully denied access.

S Pen support sold separately

At the time of writing this review, Samsung has yet to provide its separately-sold S Pen Fold Edition stylus ($78) for us to explore the Galaxy Z Fold3's viability as a Galaxy Note replacement.

At our physical first looks demo, we've tried swiping and annotating, and Z Fold3 could handle it all.

However, we've yet to see how it holds up for handwriting and cross-app use, seeing how the S Pen Fold Edition is specially made to be soft-nibbed and spring-loaded to prevent damage to the Main Screen.

JerryRigEverything explored this in his video that we think you'll be interested to know.

PHOTO: Hardware Zone 

This is why Samsung discourages users from using older S Pens on the Z Fold3.

Our attempts with an older S Pen from a Galaxy Note20 Ultra saw the phone detecting, and then refusing to let the old S Pen do its work by warning you about potential damage to the Z Fold3's display.

Read Also
3D model of the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S21 FE revealed
3D model of the upcoming Samsung Galaxy S21 FE revealed

If you have every intention of using an S Pen without destroying your $2,398 phone, you absolutely have to get either the soft-nibbed S Pen Fold Edition, or the S Pen Pro ($168), which has a physical toggle to switch between solid and retractable nib (the latter called Z Fold mode).

If you're hoping to replace an ageing Galaxy Note with the Galaxy Z Fold3, it's great to know that the stylus' features are mostly intact.

Our gripe lies in having to '"top up" for what was once a core feature on Samsung's stylus-friendly phones.

Galaxy Z Fold3 also lacks a dedicated slot to store the S Pen Fold Edition, which inadvertently (or by design) makes the Flip Cover with S Pen ($118) necessary just to hold both tools conveniently.

We've mentioned several Fold3 accessories at this point.

If you're really curious, the official retail prices for all Z Fold3's add-ons are here .

SIM card matters

The Fold3 has the space to take in two nano-SIM cards and a digital eSIM, making it very versatile for business travellers. Despite that, the phone lacks a microSD slot.

PHOTO: Hardware Zone

Imaging

The only tangible upgrade to the Z Fold3's rear cameras are the lenses' new protective Corning's Gorilla Glass with DX.

PHOTO: Hardware Zone

Camera specs largely remain unchanged, and photography/videography in Flex Mode makes a return to the new foldable.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 5G camera config

Triple rear Cover Screen Main Screen
  • 12MP, f/1.8, wide-angle (main) 1.8µm, OIS Dual Pixel PDAF, OIS
  • 12MP, f/2.2, ultra-wide, 1.12µm, 123° FOV
  • 12MP, f/2.4, telephoto, 1.0µm, OIS 2x Zoom
  • 10MP, f/2.2, selfie, 1.22µm
  • 4MP, under-display, f/1.8, portrait, 2.0µm

The camera that did change is - you guessed it - its 4MP, 2.0μm, f/1.8 aperture under-display camera inside the Main Screen.

We'll include some samples to gauge its effectiveness as a shooter, seeing how we already know it's not great as a display.

Sample images

Main camera.
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Main camera.
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Ultra-wide angle.
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2x Zoom.
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5x Zoom. We liked how it's much better at handling telephoto shots than the Flip3.
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10x zoom (max).
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Main camera vs under-display camera

Note: the under-display camera shots were taken with the Main Screen facing the subject, hence the inverted shots.

Main camera shots had the Main Screen acting as the viewfinder, facing the shooter.

Main camera.
PHOTO: Hardware Zone
Under-display camera.
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Main camera.
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Under-display camera.
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Main camera.
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Under-display camera.
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The under-display camera has a long way to go in quality and accuracy.

Flaws well-known to such cameras aren't excluded from the pricey Z Fold3, like its hazy aftereffect (in part due to the display's pixel circuitry getting in the way), its off-kilter white balance, and general lack of detail across the board.

While it's harsh to expect a video-conferencing camera to pull in nice images, Samsung still has to work fast on improving it or risk falling behind, since other phone brands are aggressively perfecting this nascent tech as well.

Benchmark performance

Galaxy Z Fold3 shares the same processor as the Z Flip3 - Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 - so both devices face similar flagship competition.

Instead of the older Flip phone, we'll swap in the Fold2 to see the generational differences in performance.

We've conducted all the benchmarks here with the phone unfolded and Main Screen running for what it's worth.

 
  Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 5G Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G ASUS ZenFone 8 Xiaomi Mi 11 Oppo Find X3 Pro Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra Samsung Galaxy Z Fold2
  Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 5G Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G ASUS ZenFone 8 Xiaomi Mi 11 Oppo Find X3 Pro Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra Samsung Galaxy Note20 Ultra Samsung Galaxy Z Fold2
Launch SRP From $2398 From $1398 From $999 From $999 From $1599 From $1798

From $1898

From $2888
Operating system Android 11 (One UI) Android 11 (Samsung One UI) Android 11 on ZenUI Android 11 on MIUI 12 ColorOS 11.2, based on Android 11 Android 11 (One UI 3) One UI, based on Android 10 Android 10 (One UI 2.1)
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 Samsung Exynos 2100, 5nm octa-core (2.9GHz + 2.8GHz + 2.2GHz) Samsung Exynos 990 Qualcomm Snapdragon 865+
Built-in Memory 12GB RAM 8GB RAM 8/16GB RAM (LPDDR5) 8GB RAM (LPDDR5)
  • 12GB RAM
  • LPDDR5
12GB or 16GB (LPDDR5)
  • 12GB RAM
  • LPDDR5
12GB
Display

Cover Screen:

  • 6.2-inch, Dynamic AMOLED 2X, 120Hz refresh rate
  • 2,268 x 832 pixels resolution (387ppi)

Main Screen:

  • 7.6-inch, Dynamic AMOLED 2X Infinity Flex Display, 120Hz refresh rate
  • 2,208 x 1,768 pixels (373ppi)
  • 6.7-inch Main Screen / 2,640 x 1,080 pixels (425 ppi) / Dynamic AMOLED 2X Infinity Flex / 120Hz adaptive refresh rate
  • 1.9-inch Cover Screen / 512 x 260 pixels (302 ppi) / Super AMOLED
  • 5.9-inches 2,400 x 1,080 pixels (445 ppi) AMOLED, 20:9 ratio, 120Hz refresh rate, HDR10+, 1,100-nits brightness
  • 6.81-inches 3,200 x 1,440 pixels (515 ppi) AMOLED, 20:9 ratio, 120Hz refresh rate, HDR10+, 10-bit colour
  • 6.7-inch / 3,216 x 1,440 pixels (525 ppi) / 120Hz refresh rate / 240Hz touch sampling rate / AMOLED Display
  • 6.8-inch, curved, Dynamic AMOLED 2X, Infinity-O
  • 3,200 x 1,440 pixels (515ppi)
  • 120Hz adaptive refresh rate
  • Eye Comfort Shield
  • 6.9-inch / 3,088 x 1,440 pixels (496 ppi) / 120Hz refresh rate / 240Hz touch sampling rate / HDR10+ / Dynamic AMOLED 2X Infinity-O Display

Cover Screen:

  • 6.2-inch, Super AMOLED, 25:9 aspect ratio
  • 2,260 x 816 pixels resolution (386ppi)
  • 60Hz refresh rate

Main Screen:

  • 7.6-inch, Dynamic AMOLED 2X, 22.5:18 aspect ratio
  • 2,208 x 1,768 pixels (373ppi)
  • 120Hz refresh rate
Camera

Rear:

  • 12MP, f/1.8, wide-angle 1.8µm, OIS Dual Pixel PDAF, OIS
  • 12MP, f/2.2, ultra-wide, 1.12µm, 123° FOV
  • 12MP, f/2.4, telephoto, 1.0µm, OIS 2x Zoom

Cover:

  • 10MP, f/2.2, selfie, 1.22µm

Front:

  • 4MP, under-display, f/1.8, portrait, 2.0µm

Rear:

  • 12MP main, f/1.8 aperture, 1.4μm pixel size, Dual Pixel, OIS
  • 12MP ultra-wide, f/2,2 aperture, 1.12μm pixel size

Front:

  • 10MP, f/2.4 aperture,1.22μm pixel size

Rear:

  • 64MP main, 1/1.7-inch sensor size, 0.8μm pixel size, 1.6μm with Quad Bayer, f/1.8, 4-axis OIS, 2x1 OCL PDAF
  • 12MP ultra-wide, 113° FOV, f/2.2, Dual PDAF, 4cm macro shooting

Front:

  • 12MP, 1.22μm pixel size, Dual PDAF

Rear:

  • 48 MP main, 1/1.33-inch sensor size, 0.8μm pixel size, 1.6μm 4-in-1 Super Pixel, f/1.85, OIS
  • 13MP ultra-wide, 123° FOV, f/2.4
  • 5MP telemacro, f/2.4

Front:

  • 20MP, 0.8μm pixel size, 1.6μm 4-in-1 Super Pixel, f/2.2

Rear:

  • 50MP, Sony IMX766 1/1.56-inch sensor size, f/1.8, All Pixel Omni-Directional PDAF, OIS
  • 50MP, Sony IMX766 1/1.56-inch sensor size, f/2.2, 110° FOV, 4cm Macro, All Pixel Omni-Directional PDAF
  • 13MP Telephoto, f/2.4, 5x Hybrid Zoom, 20x Digital Zoom
  • 3MP Microlens, 60x magnification, f/3.0

Front:

  • 32MP, f/2.4

Rear:

  • 108MP, f/1.8, wide-angle 0.8µm, PDAF, OIS
  • 12MP, f/2.2, ultra-wide, 1.4µm, 120° FOV, Dual Pixel AF
  • 10MP, f/2.4, telephoto, 1.22µm, Dual Pixel AF, 3x Optical Zoom
  • 10MP, f/4.9, telephoto, 1.22µm, Dual Pixel AF, 10x Optical Zoom
  • Laser AutoFocus sensor

Front:

  • 40MP, f/2.2, portrait, 0.7µm, PDAF

Rear:

  • 12MP Ultra Wide Camera, 1.4μm pixel size, 120 ̊ FOV, f/2.2 aperture
  • 108MP Wide-Angle Camera with PDAF and OIS, 1.4μm, 79 ̊ FOV, f/1.8
  • 12MP Telephoto Camera, 1.0μm, 20 ̊ FOV, f/3.0
  • Laser Autofocus Sensor
  • 5x Optical Zoom
  • 50x Super Resolution Zoom

Front:

  • 10MP Selfie Camera with Dual Pixel AF, 1.22μm, 80 ̊ FOV, f/2.2

Rear:

  • 12MP, f/1.8, wide-angle 1.8µm, Super Speed Dual Pixel PDAF, OIS
  • 12MP, f/2.2, ultra-wide, 1.12µm, 123° FOV
  • 12MP, f/2.4, telephoto, 1.0µm, PDAF, OIS

Cover:

  • 10MP, f/2.2, selfie, 1.22µm

Front:

  • 10MP, f/2.2, portrait, 1.22µm
Connectivity
  • LTE / 5G (NSA, SA, Sub6, mmWave)
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/axe, dual-band, Wi-Fi Direct, hotspot, Bluetooth 5.0, A2DP, LE
  • GPS, GLONASS, BDS, GALILEO, BeiDou
  • NFC, UWB
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/axe, 5G (NSA, SA, Sub6, mmWave), 4G (LTE Cat 20) , Bluetooth 5.1, MIMO (2x2), GPS, GLONASS, BeiDou, NFC, USB-C
  • Wi-Fi 6/6E (802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/axe, 2x2 MIMO), Bluetooth 5.2, L1+L5 GPS, L1 GLONASS, E1+E5a GALILEO, USB-C, NFC, 3.5mm audio jack
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/6, Bluetooth 5.2, L1+L5 GPS, G1 GLONASS, E1+E5a GALILEO, Beidou, USB-C, NFC
  • Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n/ac/axe (2.4Ghz, 5.1Ghz, 5/8Ghz), Wi-Fi Direct, hotspot, Bluetooth 5.2, A-GPS, Beidou, Glonass, Galileo, GPS
  • LTE / 5G (NSA, SA, Sub6)
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/axe, dual-band, Wi-Fi Direct, hotspot, Bluetooth 5.0, A2DP, LE
  • GPS with A-GPS, GLONASS, BDS, GALILEO
  • NFC
  • 5G (NSA, SA, mmWave), LTE (4x4 MIMO up to Cat 20), Wi-Fi 802.11a/b/g/n/ac/axe (2.4GHz, 5GHz, MIMO), NFC, Bluetooth 5.0, GPS, Beidou, Glonass, Galileo, BeiDou, Ultra Wide Band
  • LTE / 5G (Sub6)
  • Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/axe, dual-band, Wi-Fi Direct, hotspot, Bluetooth 5.0, A2DP, LE
  • GPS with A-GPS, GLONASS, BDS, GALILEO
  • NFC
Storage Type
  • 256GB
  • 512GB
  • No MicroSD slot
  • 128GB internal storage
  • 256GB internal storage
  • UFS 3.1
  • 256GB internal storage, UFS 3.1
  • 128/256GB internal storage, UFS 3.1
  • 256GB internal storage
  • UFS 3.0
  • 256GB or 512GB
  • No microSD card slot
  • 256GB internal storage
  • 256GB
  • No MicroSD slot
Battery
  • 4,400mAh
  • 25W Fast Charging
  • 10W Wireless Fast Charging
  • 4.5W Reverse Wireless Charging
  • Wireless PowerShare
  • 3,300mAh
  • 15W Fast Charging
  • 10W Fast Wireless Charging
  • Wireless PowerShare
  • 4,000mAh
  • 33W wired fast-charging
  • 4,500mAh
  • 55W wired fast-charging
  • 50W wireless fast-charging
  • 10W reverse wireless charging
  • 4,500mAh
  • 65W SuperVOOC 2.0
  • 30W AirVOOC (wireless charging)
  • 5,000mAh
  • 25W Super Fast Charging
  • 15W Wireless Fast Charging
  • 4,500mAh
  • USB PD 3.0 Fast Charging, AFC, QC 2.0
  • Samsung Fast Wireless Charging 2.0 (15W)
  • 4,500mAh
  • 25W Super Fast Charging
  • 15W Wireless Fast Charging
  • Wireless PowerShare
Dimensions

Folded: 67.1 x 158.2 x 14.4 - 16.0mm

Unfolded: 128.1 x 158.2 x 6.4mm

Unfolded: 166.0 x 72.2 x 6.9mm

Folded: 86.4 x 72.2 x 15.9 - 17.1mm

148 x 68.5 x 8.9mm 164.3 x 74.6 x 8.06mm 163.6 x 74.0 x 8.26mm 75.6 x 165.1 x 8.9mm 164.8 x 77.2 x 8.1mm

Folded: 68 x 159.2 x 13.8 - 16.8mm

Unfolded: 128.2 x 159.2 x 6.0 - 6.9mm

Weight 271g 183g 169g 196g 193g 227g 208g 282g

JetStream 2.0

JetStream 2 is a combination of a variety of JavaScript and Web Assembly benchmarks, including benchmarks that came before like SunSpider and Octane.

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It primarily tests for a system's and browser's ability in delivering a good web experience.

It runs a total of 64 subtests, each weighted equally, with multiple iterations, and takes the geometric mean to compute the overall score.

AnTuTu

Note: As of March 9, 2020, all AnTuTu benchmarks were removed from the Google Play Store.

This move likely arose from Google's attempts to relieve the Play Store of apps that violate their policies. AnTuTu is working with Google to restore their app listing.

For this review, we used the APK file that was available on AnTuTu's website.

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AnTuTu is an all-in-one benchmark that tests CPU, GPU, memory, and storage.

The CPU benchmark evaluates both integer and floating-point performance, and the GPU tests assess 2D and 3D performance, the memory test measures available memory bandwidth and latency, and the storage tests gauge the read and write speeds of a device's flash memory.

Geekbench 5

Geekbench CPU is a cross-platform processor benchmark that tests both single-core and multi-core performance with workloads that simulate real-world usage.

Geekbench 5 scores are calibrated against a baseline score of 1000, which is the score of an Intel Core i3-8100.

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3DMark Sling Shot Extreme

3DMark Sling Shot is an advanced 3D graphics benchmark that tests the full range of OpenGL ES 3.1 and ES 3.0 API features including multiple render targets, instanced rendering, uniform buffers and transform feedback.

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The test also includes impressive volumetric lighting and post-processing effects. The test's Unlimited mode ignores screen resolutions.

We're also collecting scores with 3DMark's new benchmark, Wild Life. Below are the test's Unlimited Mode scores.

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Battery life

Our standard battery test for mobile phones has the following parameters:

  • Looping a 720p video with screen brightness and volume at 100 per cent
  • Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity turned on
  • Constant data streaming through email and Twitter
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Nearly ten hours of uptime puts the 4,400mAh Galaxy Z Fold3 5G almost on par with its predecessor's battery life - which is great, considering the jump in processing power and its slightly smaller capacity.

It's not so great if you're expecting this big foldable phone to last longer than other Android SD888 alternatives though.

In our usage, an idle folded Fold3 left overnight can consume 9 per cent (on average) of its battery life.

It took only 38 minutes to charge from 0 per cent to 50 per cent, and 97 minutes for a full charge with a third-party fast-charger.

When we checked at our battery readings, the fast-charging speed tapers off to normal charging speeds at the 86 per cent mark.

If you recall, we were already not pleased when Samsung left out a charging adapter with the Z Flip3 5G.

The Z Fold3 also excludes that accessory, which irks us further - you'd think that Samsung could've fit the accessory in with the Fold3's premium sticker price.

USB-only charging with the provided cable doesn't let Fold3 owners take full advantage of the fast-charging profiles on its high-specced phones either.

Conclusion

The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 is a better book-style foldable than the Z Fold2 because of its added water resistance, S Pen support, extra nano-SIM slot, and the extra attention paid to make the form factor carry its weight.

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Having current-gen flagship-grade performance and a 120Hz Cover Screen helps to justify its premium positioning among Samsung's many alternatives.

Plus, it also helps that older Fold owners are paying less to upgrade this time around, while getting better performance.

Where the Fold3 shines is what Samsung already did well with its predecessor, which is now further refined with Labs and a pinnable Taskbar to enhance the phone's productivity and user experience.

Where it surprised us was its under-display camera, which didn't get in the way of facial recognition unlocking of the phone.

The older Fold had a literal hole for its Main Screen camera cutout, so it's still a quality-of-life upgrade without compromising on functionality, even if it doesn't offer flatteirng photo-taking experience.

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Beyond that, the Z Fold3's inherent concerns remain.

If the crease on the more affordable Z Flip3 is enough to put you off - well, Z Fold3 comes with an even bigger crease.

Let's not forget that it's also significantly bulkier than other phones, even after its weight reduction in its third iteration.

The Cover Screen may be better for browsing, but it still isn't any better for typing than before.

Then, there's the lack of a charging adapter in the box for such an expensive device - it borders on poor taste, which is uncharacteristic for a brand making consistently high-quality phones.

Why not offer it as an option for those who do need a suitable new fast charger, but without the added cost?

We'll add our complete thoughts on the Fold3 being a viable Galaxy Note upgrade once Samsung sends us a compatible S Pen.

At this point, Samsung skipping the Galaxy Note brings up an inevitable comparison to the Z Fold3.

The lack of compatibility with older S Pens (and having to pay for a new S Pen separately) isn't exactly convincing to Note fans, even though the display is utterly amazing for extra doodling, annotations, and cross-app use on its huge screen.

PHOTO: Hardware Zone

Without the S Pen, The Galaxy Z Fold3 still makes for an excellent upgrade over the first and second Fold.

It's also a pleasant handset for users who want to see more, do more, and get more out of their mobile phones. It is after all, made for consumers who want to rock a big screen in pocketable fashion but without lugging a full sized tablet.

However, if you're happy with paying 'normal' flagship prices for 'normal' flagship-tier mobiles and 'normal' phone experiences, you can continue to give the Fold3 a miss and treat yourself to a nice Galaxy Buds2 and a Samsung Galaxy Watch4 with the money saved (or even purchase another pair for your other half).

That said, you shouldn't sleep on the Fold3, because the big screen really changes how you use smartphones as a whole - once you figure out how you plan to carry the phone as well as which kidney to sell.

Don't forget to check out all the pricing and availability details here to maximise your purchase options and to factor in all the accessory costs.

This article was first published in Hardware Zone.