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Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 hands-on review

We get our hands on the water-resistant Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 with flagship power and colors aplenty

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3
(Image: © Basil Kronfli/Digital Camera World)

Our Verdict

Raising the bar on durability and dropping the price on its entry-level foldable, the Galaxy Z Flip 3 is a landmark smartphone, costing less than a top-tier iPhone while delivering a foldable screen and a design that feels solid in the hand. The cameras aren’t groundbreaking and foldable displays are still a luxury; but we’re eking ever closer to a world in which folding mobiles could well become the norm.

For

  • Feels solid and premium
  • IPX8 water-resistant
  • Steady shooting in Flex Panel mode

Against

  • No telephoto camera
  • Last-gen 12MP camera spec
  • Better value imaging elsewhere

Launched alongside the Galaxy Z Fold 3, Samsung’s new Galaxy Z Flip 3 is a 5G flip phone which breaks foldable rules by adding water-resistance to the mix. With a focus placed firmly on fashion, when compared to the Z Fold 3 at least, it’s fun looking, compact, easy to clasp clamshell that unfurls into a full-sized smartphone and comes in plenty of colors. 

One standout feature of the Z Flip 3 is its 1.9-inch cover screen. Matching the Motorola RAZR 5G’s more closely, instead of being a tiny ticker as found on the original Galaxy Z Flip, this time around, there’s an ample mini display capable of showcasing custom clock faces and up to four notifications. Samsung also created widgets for the front screen too, so you can check the weather, keep tabs on your step count and pay for items without having to flip open your Z Flip 3.

(Image credit: Basil Kronfli/Digital Camera World)

Key features

The rest of the design of the Z Flip 3 is similar to that of the original. When opened up, there’s a 6.7-inch Dynamic AMOLED display with a 120Hz refresh rate (up from 60Hz on the Z Flip). Biometric security comes in the form of a side-mounted fingerprint scanner, and you'll also find a USB-C port at the base, not to mention a prominent hinge with a Samsung insignia blasted across it. 

The phone is also water-resistant, which is a big deal for folding smartphones as their moving parts make them much harder to weatherproof, let alone achieve an IPX8 rating.

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Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3

(Image credit: Basil Kronfli/Digital Camera World)
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Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3

(Image credit: Basil Kronfli/Digital Camera World)
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Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3

(Image credit: Basil Kronfli/Digital Camera World)
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Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3

(Image credit: Basil Kronfli/Digital Camera World)
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Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3

(Image credit: Basil Kronfli/Digital Camera World)

The phone’s new inner display is also around 29 percent brighter than the original, which should make for improved outdoor viewing, and the Galaxy Z Flip 3’s stereo speakers also feature Dolby Atmos tuning.

Under the hood, there’s 2021 power in the Z Flip 3, and what’s great is that there’s no difference in power between the global and US versions. Both feature Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 silicon, which has generally been reviewed well, performing with flagship gusto, albeit occasionally warm temperatures on phones like the Xiaomi Mi 11 Ultra.

Thanks to the fact the Z Flip 3 runs Android, app support is ample, and Samsung’s UI has also been boosted to make better use of the flip screen. The new Flex Panel feature recognizes when the phone is partially folded and pushes active apps to the top half of the display while showcasing handy tools like brightness controls in the bottom half. The mode also extends to the camera, so even though you don’t have the best sensor in the world on the Galaxy Z Flip 3, you can use its folding form to prop it up and take a perfectly still long exposure shot at a low ISO.

Cameras

(Image credit: Basil Kronfli/Digital Camera World)

The Galaxy Z Flip 3 enjoys two cameras next to the external display: a 12MP wide primary camera, and a 12MP ultra-wide secondary camera. Not quite as specced out as the 12MP main camera of the new Z Flip 3, it features a slightly smaller sensor, with 1.4-micron pixels, though is matched with the same f/1.8 aperture and optical image stabilization. As for the ultra-wide camera, it’s another 12MP sensor with a 123-degree field of view, an f/2.2 aperture, and 1.12-micron pixels. When you open the phone up, you also get a selfie camera that packs a 10MP sensor, matched with an f/2.4 lens, and 1.12-micron pixels.

While the Z Flip 3 definitely won’t be taking home the best camera phone crown, which is still reserved for the S21 series in Samsung’s portfolio, it’s nevertheless a handy selfie smartphone, with the 1.9-inch cover screen able to act as a live viewfinder. That means you preview photos of yourself and your chums with the best camera available as you take them. 

Pricing & colors

Available in Bold Phantom Black, Cream, Green, Lavender, or traditional Grey, Pink and White, color options are plentiful, and the pricing is also slightly more accessible than last year's Z Flip, with the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 costing $999 in the US, £949 in the UK and AU$1,499 in Australia. 

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Basil Kronfli

Basil Kronfli is a freelance technology journalist with a number of specialisms. He started his career at Canon Europe, before joining Phone Arena and Recombu as a tech writer and editor. From there he headed up Btekt as a director and then Future as a Senior Producer, sharpening his considerable video production skills. 


His technical expertise has been called on numerous times by mainstream media, with appearances and interviews on outlets like Sky News, and he provides Digital Camera World with insight and reviews on camera phones, video editing software and laptops, on-camera monitors, camera sliders, microphones and much more.