Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 review: An exercise in ambition

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(Pocket-lint) - The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 is 1 of those few 'wow moment' devices to get successful 2021. Not due to the fact that it's a immense advancement implicit its predecessor - arsenic it's truly not - but due to the fact that that monolithic foldable surface is astir apt dissimilar thing other you'll person ever seen. It's similar staring into the future.

Key to that show is the caller nether sheet camera (UPC), which attempts to fell the selfie camera from presumption for an uninterrupted ocular experience. It's surely typical of the Z Fold 3's sheer ambition, contempt not being wholly palmy successful its endeavours.

There are different tweaks successful an effort to marque this third-gen instrumentality much enticing than ever earlier too: the asking price, portion inactive monolithic - don't gasp excessively loudly, it starts from £1599/€1799/$1799 - isn't arsenic ample arsenic its predecessor; positive there's the summation of S Pen stylus support.

But is being ambitious genuinely capable to merchantability a foldable instrumentality implicit the existent norm? We've been surviving with the Z Fold 3 for a afloat week to spot if this is the aboriginal oregon simply an overambitious foldable flop.

What's new?

  • S Pen stylus support
  • Slightly slimmer (16mm)
  • More almighty processor
  • More streamlined rear camera array
  • 120Hz dynamic refresh for beforehand screen
  • Under show camera for foldable screen

If you laic the Z Fold 2 adjacent to the Z Fold 3 you'll spot they're not massively antithetic looking. However, the newer instrumentality does streamline the camera statement truthful it's smaller - though that present causes irksome 'table wobble' erstwhile popping it onto a table oregon different level aboveground - and the beforehand show is really a small little gangly (it's 24.5:9 facet alternatively than 25:9 of the older device) but offers a 120Hz refresh complaint too.

The bigger take-aways are, arsenic we already pointed out, the nether show camera (UPC) and the summation of S Pen enactment - but the stylus isn't integrated into the instrumentality truthful doesn't marque arsenic important a alteration arsenic you mightiness think. There's a caller no-Bluetooth S Pen Fold Edition which, arsenic its sanction suggests, lone works with the Z Fold 3 (the S Pen Pro is besides compatible, portion being suitable for different supporting devices successful Samsung's scope too). We've not been provided with the stylus, however, truthful cannot remark connected its functionality.

Design & Displays

  • Colours: Phantom Black, Phantom Green, Phantom Silver
  • Dimensions (folded): 67.1 x 158.2 x 16mm / Weight: 271g
  • Dimensions (unfolded): 128.1mm x 158.2 x 6.4mm
  • Front display: 6.2-inch Dynamic AMOLED, 2268 x 832 resolution, 120Hz dynamic refresh
  • Unfolded display: 7.6-inch Dynamic AMOLED, 2208 x 1768 solution (XQGA+), 120Hz dynamic refresh

In its folded presumption the Z Fold 3 is the slightest spot slimmer than its predecessor - astatine a neat 16mm connected the folding edge; 14.4mm astatine the other extremity - but that's hardly slim by immoderate modern telephone standards. It's truthful a large wedge to clasp successful this 'normal phone' format.



The beforehand sheet is besides marginally antithetic to before, present delivering that 120Hz refresh complaint and that 24.5:9 facet ratio, truthful it's shaved a millimetre disconnected the wide footprint height. You won't truly consciousness that successful the hand, though, but astatine slightest this main show fills the bulk of the device's beforehand - thing that wasn't the lawsuit with the first-generation model. That said, the beforehand show has an astir perplexingly tiny consciousness astir it - it's conscionable a spot excessively constrictive to truly consciousness similar an expansive flagship instrumentality successful this folded sandwich format.

But the existent crushed to bargain the Z Fold 3 is due to the fact that of its monolithic foldable screen, featured within, which measures 7.6-inches connected the diagonal erstwhile open, and delivers a high-resolution and 120Hz refresh complaint too. Sound familiar? That's due to the fact that it's fundamentally identical to the Z Fold 2's offering. So it's nary bigger, nary sharper, nary better.

It's supposedly amended connected relationship of 1 main reason: that nether sheet camera (UPC). Thing is, having astatine archetypal been impressed by this hidden camera, it's go wide implicit longer word usage that it's really conscionable arsenic distracting - if not much truthful - than a punch-hole camera successful definite scenarios. White backgrounds uncover a criss-cross mesh that'll inadvertently drawback your eyes, for example, truthful unless there's 'busy' contented covering it you'll excessively often announcement its presence.

As breathtaking arsenic this monolithic surface is, it does inactive endure from the inherent issues that plague immoderate foldable device. As the OLED sheet beneath needs to beryllium protected - and evidently solid can't fold, truthful that's not a worldly enactment - this is achieved by utilizing a plasticky coating to let for each this bending and flexing. That works well, but integrative is reflective and truthful catches reflections acold much than a well-made solid panel.

It's besides the crushed wherefore foldable panels often amusement a 'crease' crossed the fold, wherever the sheet isn't rather perfectly level - which besides rings existent with the Z Fold 3, but arsenic the face-on idiosyncratic of the instrumentality you'll seldom ever absorption connected this (those viewing adjacently are much apt to spot the crease catching reflections, but that's not a realistic use-case, moreso the viewpoint of a funny observer).

But each this is portion and parcel of owning a folding phone, arsenic the pay-off is that humongous screen. Here it's bright, it's colourful, it's been glorious for consuming content. It's truly approaching tablet-like successful its scale.


  • Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 processor, 12GB RAM
  • 4400mAh artillery capacity

After transferring our apps and integer beingness implicit to the Z Fold 3, we've recovered it to relation each spot arsenic smoothly arsenic anticipated. It's a massively almighty device, acknowledgment to a Snapdragon 888 processor nether the hood, alongside a meaty 12GB RAM arsenic standard. That ensures moving aggregate apps, including those optimises for the larger screen, relation with small hold and navigating betwixt them is simply a breeze.

Just arsenic we said of the earlier Z Fold 2, erstwhile you get utilized to this elephantine sheet you'll statesman to admit its adeptness with antithetic layouts successful definite apps - Outlook, for example, is simply a split-screen acquisition with inbox connected the near and preview connected the close - which is wherefore this ultra-unusual facet ratio and real-estate makes a batch of applicable sense. 

When it comes to gaming that overmuch larger facet ratio is similar a full caller presumption onto virtual worlds, too, with our favourite games revelling successful the further tallness that's connected connection present erstwhile playing successful scenery orientation. There's besides Game Booster controls to guarantee nary unwanted distractions from different apps travel into play, which is surely handy.

Initially we wondered whether having the top-tier Qualcomm processor for 2021 would origin issues with overheating. But arsenic there's truthful overmuch country for components to beryllium dispersed retired down that elephantine display, we've not recovered overheating to beryllium an contented astatine all. Even an hr astatine a clip of playing South Park: Phone Destroyer hasn't caused immoderate problems with vigor oregon battery-sapping behaviour.

Battery beingness we've not recovered to beryllium excessively bittersweet overall. With emblematic use, including immoderate gaming, astir 12-14 hours of usage volition instrumentality america to the last 20 per cent of complaint - which is conscionable capable for a moving day. That's astir close considering the 4,400mAh compartment present and that monolithic screen.

Sadly, however, Samsung doesn't see an existent partition plug successful the Z Fold 3's box. You lone get a USB-C-to-USB-C cablegram (i.e. tiny fitting astatine some ends). Which, for us, isn't precise utile arsenic we don't person immoderate spare mains plugs with a USB-C larboard type, they're each Type-A alternatively (the larger fitting). Seeing arsenic we constitute astir tech and determination into a caller telephone for reappraisal beauteous overmuch each different week, if we find that a problem, past astir buyers volition person a conundrum erstwhile it comes to charging.

So Samsung truly should person included the partition socket charger successful the box. We swapped retired for a modular plug and cable, sourced elsewhere, meaning we couldn't utilise the fastest charging speeds disposable (up to 25W). There's besides wireless charging disposable (up to 10W), truthful investing successful a Qi wireless charging pad whitethorn beryllium your champion bet.


  • Triple rear cameras:
    • Main: 12-megapixel, f/1.8 aperture, Dual Pixel autofocus
    • Tele (2x): 12MP, f/2.4, optical stabilisation (OIS),
    • Wide-angle (0.5x): 12MP, f/2.2
  • Cover camera: 10MP, f/2.2 / Under show camera: 4MP, f/1.8

Samsung hasn't importantly pushed guardant successful presumption of the Fold 3's camera spec - arsenic you're getting a triple 12-megapixel offering, delivering a wide-angle, ultra-wide, and 2x telephoto zoom (with up to 10x integer zoom) - but they're reasonably decent cameras overall. 


Z Fold 3 folded photograph  13

The large displacement for this third-gen instrumentality is with the camera lodging design. It looks overmuch neater and tidier, successful a smaller container, and doesn't protrude an unsightly magnitude from the rear of the phone. It fits amended into the Samsung household plan overall. Still, we'd alternatively person seen immoderate higher-resolution offerings successful the premix this clip around, to enactment the Fold up determination with Samsung's precise best. This, surely, volition beryllium wherever the next-gen Z Fold 4 volition measurement things up successful 2022.

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Anyway, backmost to the telephone astatine hand. Using the Z Fold 3 to instrumentality pictures tin astatine times consciousness a small strange, arsenic the sheer standard of the unfolded telephone makes it consciousness much similar shooting with a tablet. That said you don't person to person the telephone unfolded, the aforesaid cameras are disposable successful its closed position, too, but the representation preview is simply a small tiny with a batch of the surface blacked-out successful bid to support the shooting facet ratio.

The app is beauteous straightforward to use, with savvy autofocus, look detection, and easy-to-use tap-to-focus that works truly good whether focusing connected adjacent oregon far-away subjects. Swapping betwixt wide, mean and zoom is disposable astatine the pat of a button, too, which is bully and easy.

All 3 present bully results, showing that you simply don't request the extent sensors, achromatic and achromatic sensors and whatnot that different makers are truthful keen to peddle. By keeping it simple, and the bundle acquisition strong, Samsung shows-off what's imaginable with the halfway basics. The trio of cameras are comparatively accordant successful presumption of results, too, which shows a occupation good done.

Samsung has besides done a large occupation with low-light capture, either erstwhile shooting astatine nighttime oregon conscionable erstwhile there's small lux available. The camera conscionable seems to recognize erstwhile you're successful a truly low-light concern and footwear into the due car nighttime mode, continuing to present decent prime results. Sometimes the numerical values truly aren't what matters, it's down to the results, arsenic this foldable acquits itself well.


On the look of it the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 isn't vastly antithetic to the Z Fold 2 that came earlier it. But that's conscionable fine, due to the fact that it continues its presumption arsenic the apical canine of foldable phones. That monolithic folding show is simply a existent eye-catcher, adjacent if the nether sheet camera (UPC) isn't ever wholly convincing.

That there's been nary terms summation for the Z Fold 3 is simply a existent connection of intent. It's really a little asking terms than erstwhile its predecessor archetypal went connected sale. Don't get america wrong, though, it's not inexpensive by immoderate means - starting astatine £1599/€1799/$1799 - and truthful you've got to really privation to put successful this ambitious idea, including the aspects that don't consciousness rather 100 per cent.

Owning a folding instrumentality inevitably comes with its stock of foibles - present the surface reflections, the cardinal crease, and the not ever convincing nether show camera being the evident ones - but for sheer show-off origin the Z Fold 3 is an unbeatable portion of modern technology. It won't beryllium for everyone, but successful presumption of sheer ambition it's gone all-in.

Writing by Mike Lowe. Originally published connected 11 August 2021.

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