The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 is finally a reality, after what seemed like an endless string of rumors and leaks. On Wednesday, Samsung announced the third-generation folding phone, as well as the Galaxy Z Flip 3, at a virtual Unpacked event. Both phones demonstrate that Samsung has not abandoned foldables. In fact, the Z Fold 3 is the best foldable phone money can buy.
Many of the issues that people had with the original Fold were addressed in last year’s Galaxy Z Fold 2. Nonetheless, despite a much-needed boost in premium features and specifications, the Z Fold 2 needed to earn our trust. Many of us were left wanting a foldable that felt more like a phone and less like an experiment after seeing the second Fold.
On paper, the Galaxy Z Fold 3 appears to be a step up in every way. Samsung gave the Fold a Fitter Happier makeover: it’s slimmer, lighter, more productive, longer-lasting, and less expensive. With a 120Hz adaptive refresh rate on the cover screen, an under-display selfie camera, S Pen support, and a lower price, you’ve got a solid all-around phone.
You can tell Samsung is confident in the Z Fold 3’s durability improvements because the company encourages you to use a small pointy thing on the folding screen. All of these tweaks, tucks, and additions make the hardware and software appear more streamlined and approachable.
The Z Fold 3’s main screen has a new protective film that Samsung claims is smoother, more scratch resistant, and 80 percent more durable than the one on the previous Fold. The metal frame and hinge are made of a new material called Armor Aluminum, which Samsung claims is 10% more durable than the previous Fold’s hinge.
This new aluminum also reduces the phone’s weight by 11 grams compared to the previous Fold. That is a lot of weight to remove from a phone. To put things in perspective, the Z Fold 3 is still one of the heaviest phones expected in 2021. It weighs 42 grams more than the Galaxy S21 Ultra, which I consider a heavy phone. It weighs just 30 grams less than an iPad Mini with a 7.9-inch display.
There are five cameras in the house. The outside camera bump is equipped with a 12-megapixel wide lens, a 12-megapixel ultrawide lens, and a 12-megapixel telephoto lens with 2x optical zoom. Optical image stabilization is available on both the wide and telephoto cameras. A hole-punch cutout for a 10-megapixel camera is located on the cover screen. And you have to open the Z Fold 3 to see – or try to see – the fifth camera. It’s Samsung’s first under-display camera, which means there are no notches or holes in the main screen. You have a clear view of the screen.
Samsung conceals the camera with display elements and transparent wiring that allows the camera to see through the screen. The camera has only 4 megapixels (which also helps it see through the display), but it creates photos and videos using AI image processing. The Z Fold 3 has built in AR filters, can record 8K video and offers a bevy of capture and preview modes that take advantage of the Z Fold 3’s unique build.
The Galaxy Z Fold 3 runs Android 11 and includes a slew of software updates that push the Fold beyond the boundaries of a traditional phone. There are significant enhancements to multitasking, as well as the addition of new UX elements and more ways to use Flex Mode. For quick access to apps, the edge panel can now be pinned like a Windows taskbar.
The Z Fold 3 uses the same Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 chip as the Galaxy S21 Ultra. I’m surprised it’s not the newer Plus version found in some gaming phones. The Z Fold 3 has a whopping 12GB of RAM and storage options of 256GB or 512GB.