It used to be said that “all modern phones are the same”. Samsung proves that it does not have to be so, and Galaxy Z Fold 3 5G is already the third generation of their folding smartphone. Is the progression from its predecessor enough to consider buying it? We’ll find out in our test.
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 5G is a phenomenon in the world of smartphones. When the Korean giant presented the first Fold in 2019, many treated it as a curiosity, a temporary fad. It turned out that the series has its audience, survived two years and will continue to be developed. Is it because the Fold line has practically no competition in the market? Certainly in part, although a large part in this is the work of Samsung engineers, who the third generation of folding smartphone significantly refined. Fold 3 5G is a great device, although not without flaws. Is it worth spending more on it than many laptops?
The Fold 3 5G’s design is a special element, because it’s what sets Samsung’s smartphone apart from the rest. When the Fold 3 is folded, it resembles a classic, albeit somewhat slim and chunky mobile device. The folded Fold measures 158.2 by 67.1 by 14-16 mm, while when unfolded it measures 158.2 by 128.1 by 6.4 mm. It’s hard to say that it’s compact, although when folded it fits easily into a kidney, jacket pocket or even pants. The Fold 3 weighs 271 grams, which is much less than its predecessors, but still quite a lot (for example, the Galaxy S21 Ultra weighs 227 grams).
In the case of Fold 3, it is worth considering its two faces. In its folded form, it is very comfortable and ergonomic – you can easily operate it with one hand. It is very pleasant to take pictures in this mode. Unfortunately, the front screen does not work in every situation – typing messages here is difficult, and some elements of the display may be less visible. When we unfold the Fold 3, we turn it into a tablet, and that’s when the device shows its true potential. Watching series, multimedia, photos or even writing e-mails in this mode is pure pleasure. Of course, you need both hands to operate the unfolded Fold.
The quality of workmanship and fitting of housing materials are top shelf. Fold 3 is in a class of its own and probably the best-made smartphone from the Koreans. Even the screen hinge seems more solid than in previous generations and will probably survive more This should not surprise anyone, after all, we are talking about a smartphone for more than 8000 zł.
The big advantage of Fold 3 is that it features IPX8 protection standard – it is water resistant, so you can easily take it with you to the pool or beach. With this beach is cautious, however, because Fold 3 officially does not have a dedicated protection against dust and particles (then it would be IPX68 certification), which is a consequence of the presence of an ingenious, but complicated screen hinge. In practice, it’s not so bad, because during several weeks of testing I did not happen to have any fines hindering the opening of the smartphone. According to Samsung, the Folda 3 hinge is supposed to clean itself. However, it should be remembered that due to the folding screen, Fold 3 is not as resistant to extreme situations as other smartphones on the market.
What deserves praise, however, is the fingerprint reader built into the Power button, which works superbly. It is virtually flawless (even in the case of an unevenly placed finger), and at the same time lightning fast. This is one of the best solutions of its kind on the market.
Two screens are better than one
Fold 3 has the best screens among smartphones, because Samsung has always been famous for high-quality displays. Much better is the front one – now we are dealing with Dynamic AMOLED 2X panel with 120 Hz refresh rate (resolution of 2268 by 832 pixels). Its diagonal is 6.2 inches, and the aspect ratio is 25:9. The screen is covered with a Gorilla Victus layer and a protective film applied at the factory. Although the outer screen might seem to be the “inferior” one, it is practically no worse than the best displays in competitors’ smartphones. Since it is narrow, you do not use it comfortably in all situations.
Much more possibilities are offered by the foldable screen – it is also a Dynamic AMOLED 2X panel, but with a diagonal of 7.6 inches and a resolution of 2208 by 1768 pixels. The size of the unfolded screen imposes associations with a tablet and it is in such categories that we should consider Folda 3. It works very well for watching movies, series and YouTube clips. It is also good for viewing photos (even in a few people) and the brightness of 1200 nits provides readability in bright sunlight. Combined with good speakers, you can really enjoy long movie sessions on Samsung’s new foldable.
The unfolded home screen is not perfectly flat – in its center you will find a fold, which is admittedly subtle, but requires getting used to it. When we look at the smartphone screen from an angle, it is very noticeable. However, it is worth reassuring all unbelievers – during normal use of the screen, the bend practically does not interfere at all.
Five selfie cameras
In terms of build quality, screens and technical specifications, the Fold 3 is an absolute top smartphone. However, it is not a strictly photographic phone. It takes very good pictures, which for most users will be enough (especially after applying an instagram filter), but to the best devices on the market it lacks a lot (e.g. Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra).
The Fold 3 has a 12 Mpix main camera (f/1.8, 26mm, Dual Pixel PDAF, OIS), a 12 Mpix telephoto lens with dual zoom (f/2.4, 52mm, PDAF, OIS), a 12 Mpix ultra-wide angle lens (f/2.2, 123˚, 12mm), a 4 Mpix selfie camera under the home screen and a 10 Mpix selfie camera in the external display.
It’s worth noting that optical stabilization has both the main camera and the telephoto lens – this makes life a lot easier, and we can quickly switch between cameras when recording video at 30fps (the option is not available at 60fps). We can still shoot video in 4K, but no longer in 8K.
It’s hard to complain about the quality of photos that the Fold 3 offers, and that’s because Samsung has implemented very good algorithms for processing them. A great job is done by the optical stabilization, because thanks to it you really have to make an effort to take a shaky photo. The detail of the photos is high, as is the tonal range, but these are details that many people will not pay attention to. In low light conditions, the Fold 3’s cameras perform a little worse.