Dhruv Bhutani / Android Authority
The future is foldable — at least if Samsung has anything to say about it. I’ve spent a lot of time with the company’s Galaxy Z lineup, and I’m inclined to agree. They haven’t reached their final shapes yet, but the fold and flip series is what I’ve enjoyed most with a pair of devices in a long time. A year later, I’m still working on buying a pocket-friendly Samsung foldable phone when I’m switching phones, and none of its charms have lost theirs. The Galaxy Z Flip 3 might not be perfect, but it’s enough to convince me that the Oyster is the best foldable phone on the market.
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The friendliest form factor
Dhruv Bhutani / Android Authority
Samsung’s Galaxy Z Flip 3 is a big phone, like most 6.7 inch devices. However, it’s a big phone that rarely looks like one, thanks to its unique ability to fold. You’ll never feel like you’re putting a phablet-sized monster in your pocket, and you don’t have to worry about how much space it will take up just by adding a bag. Instead, it’s friendly enough for most users, even those who care about the limited real estate of women’s pants pockets.
The Galaxy Z Flip 3 is, as I see it, the perfect form factor for foldable phones. Indoor and outdoor displays have distinct purposes, allowing access to notifications and widgets without having to unlock your phone every time. It’s easier to use your phone less, and check notifications as needed than to get distracted when you just need to check the weather. The different uses are in contrast to Galaxy Z Fold 3where you can easily have the external screen alone – overcoming the point of the larger foldable internal screen.
The Galaxy Z Flip 3 encourages the use of both screens, while you can easily get the Galaxy Z Fold 3’s external option.
Also, if you’ve tried to prop up your Galaxy Z Fold to take a photo, you know it looks like a house of cards ready to fall apart. You count on a slim, pleated edge and a healthy dose of balance. On the other hand, Flip rests comfortably on a wide, flat platform ready for TikTok dances or carefully placed family photos.
I’ll admit I don’t have the biggest hands, so being able to open the Flip with one hand and access everything I need is essential. Of course, I can’t reach the top edge of the screen, but that’s the one-handed mode. On the other hand, it is impossible to use the chain fold with one hand, at least while opening. Its size and weight turn one-handed use into a balancing act, and you’re already limited by the length of your thumb. You can always make use of a file S Penbut you will need a second hand or a desk that you can put the fold on.
There are foldable book-style phones that come close to the usability of the Galaxy Z Flip, most notably Oppo Find Inn. However, the powerful Oppo device is not readily available in the US, which limits its potential to many buyers. If Samsung copies a smaller foldable approach, we may have a real battle on our hands.
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Dhruv Bhutani / Android Authority
Single User Interface It’s already one of our favorite Android skins, and the foldable creases make it even better. I have customized all the UI elements on my external screen so I rarely have to unlock my phone unless I want to. I can get a feed of text messages and emails and check the weather during the day without laying eyes on the home screen. Even better, Samsung keeps adding widgets to the mix, so there are usually new ways to make a phone look like yours.
Tools that somehow encourage light phone use make the overall experience more enjoyable.
While the widgets are great, the unique twist of the camera app makes the Galaxy Z Flip 3 shine. I mentioned above that it’s much easier to use when folded, and Samsung’s camera controls automatically adjust to the folded shape. Instead of dividing the viewfinder above and below the crease, the image stays on top while all the controls live on the bottom. You can also use the external display as a selfie preview, giving you a pair of 12MP selfie cameras instead of the internal 10MP option.
Even something as simple as a video stream helps explain the difference between the Galaxy Z Flip 3 and its sibling, the Galaxy Z Fold. Sure, TVs were square in shape, just like the Galaxy Z Fold 3’s internal screen, but those days are far behind us. Watching a movie leaves you with thick black bars across the top and bottom, which slices the 7.6-inch screen to a fraction of its original size. On the other hand, the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 is ready for the widescreen lifestyle with minimal losses.
Learn more: Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 Buyer’s Guide
room for growth
Eric Zeman / Android Authority
I said it above, but the Galaxy Z Flip series isn’t perfect — at least not yet. Its smaller form factor limits some of its internal components, while the Galaxy Z Fold has more real estate to flex its muscles. The battery and charging capabilities are the biggest gap between the two, with the larger device capturing an extra 1,000mAh over its pocket-friendly sibling. Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold 3 also charges at 25W compared to a wired rate of 15W.
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Then there is the issue of cameras. The tiny Flip carries a pair of 12MP shooters, which are as excellent as the dual selfie lenses, yet feel poor as the primary matrix. You get a third 12MP lens with the foldable lens and the nice – but not very useful – 4MP lens under the display. I’m not asking for an under-display lens on the next Galaxy Z Flip (mostly because it’s not ready yet), but it’s time to take the chance a few steps forward.
Samsung has a clamshell market in the palm of its hand, but it has hardly changed the Galaxy Z Flip from its original gadgets.
The Galaxy Z Flip 3 is basically unchanged from the first version, although it has become the most popular foldable phone in the world. Samsung has captured a whopping 88% of the global foldable market, yet the content seems to be sitting on an existing design, at least for now.
Furthermore, Samsung has a clamshell market of horns. The only real competition is Huawei P50 Pocket, which suffers from the usual list of Huawei problems. However, the P50 Pocket offers sharper cameras overall and a 4000mAh battery with a much faster 40W charging. Its lack of Google services casts it into a supporting role, but its hardware should be enough to push Samsung to higher goals.
In my view, the shell is secure in its position as the best foldable for most people. Form factor, software adjustments, and a touch of nostalgia make it easy to pick up and use every day. However, the Galaxy Z Flip (and by extension the Motorola Razr) has some lessons to be learned from its book-like siblings if they want to get even better. I’ll continue to have access to my trusted oyster clamshell, but I’m ready to take the next step forward.
What kind of folding do you prefer?
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