Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 5G review: Samsung is hands down leading the foldables race

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There was a time when we thought foldable devices were a technology that may take decades to get to. Heck, some people thought we’d never see such devices at all. At the same time, we have had some curved glass devices; folding that glass seemed undoable. But leave it to Samsung to push the technology to get us there faster. Enter the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 5G and its little brother, the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G.

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At this point, it’s not hard to say that Samsung is leading the foldables race at a substantial rate. After all, the company has been working on flexible and folding screen technology for over ten years. At CES 2011, Samsung showed off one of its prototype flexible displays, which is likely the grandfather to what the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 5G uses. Check out the video below to see what that display looked like.

While others have tried their hand at this technology, and there are up and comers, Samsung is still ahead in the race.

The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 and the Flip3 smartphones are a result of a lot of research, trial & error, and lots of testing. Samsung’s first Fold was interesting, but it needed a lot of work. This third iteration is the best version and the one that’s finally ready for mass purchasing. Read on for the full review of the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 5G.

Specifications

The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 5G has the following features and specifications:

Screen
TechnologyFoldable Dynamic AMOLED 2X
Touchscreencapacitive touchscreen
Display colors16M
Screen size7.6″
Screen area179.9 cm
Screen format25:9 (height:width)
Screen to body ratio88.8%
Screen resolution1768 x 2208 px
PPI /points per inch/374 PPI
Screen protectionCorning Gorilla Glass Victus
Other– 120Hz
-HDR10+
-1200 nits (peak)
-Cover display: Dynamic AMOLED 2X, 120Hz, Corning Gorilla Glass Victus, 6.2 inches, 832 x 2268 pixels, 25:9 ratio
Camera and Video
Rear camera, main12 MP, Triple
Camera specs-12 MP, f/1.8, 26mm (wide), 1/1.76″, 1.8µm, Dual Pixel PDAF, OIS
-12 MP, f/2.4, 52mm (telephoto), 1/3.6″, 1.0µm, PDAF, OIS, 2x optical zoom
-12 MP, f/2.2, 123˚, 12mm (ultrawide), 1.12µm
FunctionsLED flash, HDR, panorama
Video4K@60fps, 1080p@60/240fps (gyro-EIS), 720p@960fps (gyro-EIS), HDR10+
DxOMark Main Score124
DxOMark Photo134
DxOMark Video103
Front camera, selfie16 MP, Single
Specifications4 MP, f/1.8, 2.0µm, under display
Cover camera:
10 MP, f/2.2, 26mm (wide), 1/3″, 1.22µm
FunctionsHDR
Video4K@30fps, 1080p@30fps, gyro-EIS
Performance
Operating system OSAndroid 11, One UI 3.1.1
ChipsetQualcomm SM8350 Snapdragon 888 5G (5 nm)
Processor CPUOcta-core (1×2.84 GHz Kryo 680 & 3×2.42 GHz Kryo 680 & 4×1.80 GHz Kryo 680)
Graphics processor GPUAdreno 660
External memoryNo
Internal memory256GB 12GB RAM, 512GB 12GB RAM
Antutu 9 score780874
GeekBench 5 Single Core1125
GeekBench 5 Multi-Core3350
Communication and Connectivity
SIM cardNano-SIM and eSIM
NetworkGSM / CDMA / HSPA / EVDO / LTE / 5G
Show all network frequencies:
SpeedHSPA 42.2/5.76 Mbps, LTE-A (7CA) Cat20 2000/200 Mbps, 5G
GPRSYes
EdgeYes
Wi-FiWi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n/ac/6e, dual-band, Wi-Fi Direct, hotspot
GPSYes, with A-GPS, GLONASS, GALILEO, BDS
NFCYes
USBUSB Type-C 3.2
Bluetooth5.2, A2DP, LE, aptX HD
Music and Audio
RadioNo
Headphone jackNo
Others– 32-bit/384kHz audio
-Tuned by AKG
Other features
– Sensors – Fingerprint (side-mounted), accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass, barometer
– Bixby natural language commands and dictation
-Samsung DeX (desktop experience support)
-Samsung Pay (Visa, MasterCard certified)
-Ultra-Wideband (UWB) support
– Fast charging 25W
-Fast wireless charging 11W
-Reverse wireless charging 4.5W
– IPX8 water-resistant (up to 1.5m for 30 mins)
-Stylus support
-Unfolded: 158.2 x 128.1 x 6.4 mm
-Folded: 158.2 x 67.1 x 14.4-16 mm

What’s In The Box

  • Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 5G
  • USB charging cable
  • SIM Tool
  • Manuals and Documentation

Design

Good Lord, there is a lot to cover about the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 5G; I am bound to miss a lot, and I may jump around. I noticed the expansive display when I unboxed the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 5G. Once you remove the dust cover, you’re greeted with the display as well as the crease, more on that in a bit. The display has a layer of Corning Gorilla Glass Victus to protect it.

Flip the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 5G (unfolded) over, and you have that smaller 6.2″ display and the three-camera setup. The back is high-quality aluminum, while the front screen is Corning Gorilla Glass Victus.

Along the bottom edge are the USB-C port and one of the speakers. Along the top edge are the other speaker and the microphone array. The left side houses the SIM card tray, and the right side is where the fingerprint sensor/power button and volume rocker are.

As for weight, it’s not that much heavier than the iPhone 13 Pro Max. The iPhone weighs 240 grams, while the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 5G weighs 271 grams. When folded, it is quite a bit chunkier than other smartphones, but it is not unmanageable.

It will be a two-handed device for most users when it is not folded. I can hold it reasonably comfortably with one hand, but it’s not ideal. Holding it while folded is very easy but takes some getting used to in the comfort department due to the added girth.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 5G back and cameras
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 5G back and cameras

The odd aspect ratio of the outside screen also makes it a bit strange to use. The display is narrow and tall, making things feel squished. It’s not horrible; it’s just something to get used to, and honestly, I used the larger inside display far more than the outside display.

UPDATE: Weeks after this review was posted, I noticed that the scratches I point out below and in the picture above was not on the display. I had failed to remove the screen protector that was on the front display, so there was ZERO damage to the display. It was the film protector that was used to ship the device that was damaged. We regret our mistake, and any mention of scratching on the display should be ignored.

As for durability and construction, the inside display has survived my use fine, and folding the phone closed helps with that protection. I did drop this review unit by accident, and the aluminum chassis near the hinge did suffer a slight ding. The exterior display did not fare well against sand when I placed the phone on its front display to take a video; some sand on the table slightly scratched up the front glass.

I think the durability of the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 5G is good, but it could be better. No smartphone in this category is indestructible, and users should take care when using the Fold3.

Overall, the design is different. It’s not so different that there isn’t a sense of familiarity, but it is different enough that you’ll need to find different ways of doing things than you would on other phones. Anyone considering the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 5G is likely going in understanding this.

Display

That front display does well enough for quick use, checking messages, emails, and quick internet searches. I know many people could use the front display for many other things and for a longer time, but I felt the inner display was where I enjoyed being 95% of the time.

Still, the front display is bright, vibrant, and delivers everything you would expect from a Samsung smartphone display. Its narrow aspect ratio took some getting used to, but it’s nothing most of us can’t deal with. There is nothing wrong with it at all.

Unfolding the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 5G presents you with this expansive 7.6″ display that’s unlike anything most users have used in the past. It sits comfortably between smartphone and tablet size. It offers a much more expansive experience and makes viewing content much nicer. And if you’re curious, yes. The crease is there and visible when the display is off but quickly becomes a non-issue when the display is on.

The only other time the crease can be seen is when there are dark portions in the content you’re viewing; if the light in the room hits it just right, you can see the crease. But seriously, there is no way of getting around the crease, for now anyway.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 5G sand damage
The damage was caused by sand on the dining room table.

Another handy use for the extra screen real estate is the split-screen mode. You can have two apps side-by-side, and you can even have three apps running on the same screen. That is handy for many users; I only ran one app at a time because I loved having the extra space to view it.

Like the Z Flip3, the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 5G display is vibrant and bright, with 1,200 nits of peak brightness. Using this display in sunny conditions, including sunlight, was very easy. Many screens will wash out once bright light hits them, making it hard to view what’s on display. I had no issue with the Galaxy Z Fold3 5G in bright conditions.

Since this is a Samsung AMOLED display, you can expect a display with punchy and vibrant colors. Blacks are also deep and very dark, making the whites even cleaner and crisper. You also get a 120Hz refresh rate which is variable.

Scrolling is snappy, and while I don’t think non-techie people will notice a huge difference, I think they will see something is different but not know what is different. Pinch to zoom, and all of the everyday gestures all work fantastically here. Like the Flip3, the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 5G grabs fingerprints like a magnet. I’m not a fan of a dirty screen, so I found myself cleaning it at least once a day.

One thing to note, there is a protective film that is already installed on the Fold3, and you should not try to peel this off. I think the protective cover is better than previous versions as I didn’t see any visible evidence of indentations from my fingernails or the Adonit stylus I tested with this. Speaking of the stylus, the Samsung Pen will work on the Fold3.

Overall, this is a Samsung display, and you get precisely what Samsung delivers in its displays, bright, vibrant, black, and snappy. The only real differentiator here is that the display folds, given that it folds and prior generations have seen wear in a short time. I believe the jury is still out as to how well the Gen3 display will hold up on the Samsung Galaxy Fold3 5G.

Software

The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 5G comes with the regular Samsung software that every other Samsung phone comes with. Except for Flex Mode. Samsung does not have many apps that natively take advantage of Flex Mode, but they are working on making it more compatible.

Samsung does offer a way to force Flex Mode on any app, but that doesn’t always work so well. Some apps work OK when forced, but it feels exactly that way as if it’s forced. I’m not too deeply disappointed because I know that software always takes time to catch up to new devices like this. I know Android 12 is supposed to be better with Flex Mode, but we tested the Fold3 on Android 11. Hopefully, Android 12 brings better compatibility for Flex Mode.

As usual, Samsung is using its One UI skin over the top of Android, and as I have said in the past, I like it. The rest of the software is standard Samsung and Google fare. Wallpapers, themes, Always On Display, Android Auto, and Quick Share.

Since this review, Samsung started rolling out One UI 4 to the Fold3 and Flip3. We tested our unit with One UI 3, so there really isn’t much of a difference between our past Galaxy reviews here.

The biggest change and feature is using multiple apps in split-screen mode with more screen real estate and Flex Mode. The software makes it a much better experience to multitask and do more with your mobile. My uncle purchased the Fold3 and does a lot of business travel. He reported back to me that he enjoys the more prominent display and the ability to multitask on one screen that serves as his mobile device and workstation.

Overall, the software is familiar in Android 11 and One UI 3 and has some new features that optimize the dual screens and larger areas in those screens.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 5G inner display outside
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 5G inner display outside

Performance

The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 5G has the same internals as the Flip3. Before I jump into the performance of those internals, I think that Samsung should have probably bumped the internals up for the Fold3 given the high price tag, and that would help separate it from its little brother.

The Qualcomm SM8350 Snapdragon 888 5G CPU paired with the Adreno 660 GPU gives the Fold3 5G plenty of power. Users can easily do gaming on the Fold3 5G, and all of your essential everyday functions are snappy and responsive.

The one spec that is different from the Flip3 is that the Fold3 has 12GB of RAM, which is an essential factor and warranted. Given the extra screen size and multitasking abilities, that extra RAM will be necessary for many users. The Flip3 only has 8GB of RAM, and that would have been a poor choice had Samsung done the same for the Fold3.

I felt the Flip3 would be just fine with 8GB of RAM, but the Samsung Galaxy Fold3 5G really does need that extra horsepower to help it through intensive tasks and multitasking.

Overall, I had no issues with performance on the Z Fold3. All apps were smooth; I never once had a frozen app or unresponsive app. Scrolling and gestures all worked great. Multitasking and multiwindow all worked flawlessly. While Samsung should have given the CPU and GPU a bump to separate it from the Flip3, the internals are strong enough to handle what most users will throw at it.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 5G USBc and speaker
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 5G USB-C and speaker

Speakers/Sound

The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 5G speakers are night and day versus its little brother, the Flip3. The Flip 3 has stereo speakers, and they worked just fine for most things. But the Fold3 brings the A-game in the sound department.

Like the Flip3, the Fold3 has stereo speakers, but they have a much broader soundstage. Watching movies on the Fold3 is very enjoyable, but these speakers’ added performance gives the experience that much more pleasure.

To be clear, these speakers will not replace a great pair of headphones, but they’re also not complete trash when it comes to sound for entertainment purposes. They do not sound tinny, nor do they lack so much low-end response that they are not usable. On the contrary, they have a good enough low-end and excellent mids to watch movies and play games.

Overall, the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 5G speakers are outstanding, even beating my favorite speakers on the iPhone 13 Pro Max.

Camera

We have spent a lot of time on the camera sections of reviews in the past. But cameras on mobile phones have gotten so good that it really comes down to a visual preference for each user. Samsung tunes their cameras differently than Google or Apple, and they each have their pros and cons.

The cameras on the Z Fold3 and Z Flip3 have taken some criticism, but I think it is unwarranted. The differences between the S21 and iPhone 13 Pro cameras and these cameras are razor-thin.

The colors are bright and punchy, and photos taken in good lighting are always great. Low-light performance is OK, not the best, but Night Mode does a reasonably decent job; I still think the Pixel and iPhone do better with Night Mode.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 5G Camera Samples

Samsung’s camera software is choked full of features, many of those features most users will never use. But they are there, and if you are willing to poke around, you can do an awful lot with these cameras. One thing I do LOVE is using the inner display to frame and compose a shot. The extra-large screen really gives you a better canvas for setting up a shot and seeing what it will look like.

Overall, the Fold3 has flagship cameras that will not disappoint most users. Camera results are subjective, and viewing a photo taken on the Fold3 on an iPhone will look different. There are so many factors that it is has become difficult to really pick a true winner in the camera department. The photos coming out of these cameras are excellent, and they look fantastic when viewed on the inner display.

Reception/Call Quality

Not much to say here; Bluetooth and cell reception were excellent, which should be the case for a flagship phone. The call quality was also excellent, and speaker calls were outstanding.

Battery Life

Battery life on the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 5G is phenomenal. I was able to get almost two days of regular use with no problem at all. That’s email, social media, YouTube, random apps, and streaming music.

You can still get almost a full day when you throw in gaming and movie streaming. The battery life is significantly better than the Z Flip3 5G, but there is also much more interior space for a larger battery to be used.

Battery life is going to vary wildly by the user. We all use our devices differently, and there isn’t any one reasonable opinion on if the battery life is excellent or not. For my use, the battery life was outstanding; your experience might be different.

Price/Value

Priced starting at US$1,799, the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 5G is expensive. There are deals to be had with trade-ins and discounts, so you can most likely get it for less than the shelf price, so look around. As for value, for the right person, the Z Fold3 will be worth every penny. For the average user, look to the Flip3 if you want a foldable device.

Wrap Up

There is no question in my mind that the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 5G and Flip3 5G are leading the foldable market. Some competitors are coming out of the woodwork, but as it sits now, Samsung is the king of the hill. The Fold3 5G is an excellent evolution of its flagship foldable, and we think it will only get better going forward.

Last Updated on July 21, 2022.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 5G

From US$1,799

Design

9.0/10

Display

9.5/10

Software

9.5/10

Performance

9.5/10

Speakers/Sound

10.0/10

Camera

9.5/10

Reception/Call Quality

10.0/10

Battery Life

9.5/10

Price/Value

9.0/10

Nailed it

  • The Z Fold3 and its little brother the Z Flip3 are the best designed foldable on the market
  • Big improvements over previous generations
  • Foldable design delivers a lot of flexibility
  • Nice design and nice materials
  • Flagship features
  • Great displays inside and out
  • Performance is outstanding
  • Great software experience

Needs work

  • Expensive
  • Life of display and hinge is still not completely tested in the real world
  • There is cause to worry about dust in the hinge
  • Not enough Flex Mode apps
  • No wall charger included, flagship phones should include a value add
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