What is happening
The Galaxy Z Flip 3 and Z Fold 3 are Samsung’s best foldable devices yet, but there’s room for improvement when it comes to design, camera quality, and battery life.
Why is it important?
Companies like Samsung are betting big on foldable phones, the next major evolution of the modern smartphone. But high prices and other setbacks have so far limited their appeal.
Samsung is hosting its next Unpacked event on August 10, where it may unveil the Galaxy Z Flip 4 and Z Fold 4.
Foldable phones have come a long way since Samsung’s original Galaxy Z Fold debuted in 2019. Last year $1,800and $1,000 are the most polished versions of the company’s foldable devices, with improvements to software and overlay screens.
But there’s a lot Samsung could do to make these devices even better, and I hope to see such changes in upcoming apps.and .
Both phones are expected at the time of their debutOn August 10. They will represent Samsung’s latest gambit to gain a leading position in the nascent but growing foldable phone market.
TM Roh, head of Samsung’s mobile experience business, said that almost 10 million foldable phones were shipped in 2021. That’s in line with estimates from market researcher IDC, which says 7.1 million foldable phones will be shipped in 2021 overall, a 264% increase. 2020.
These numbers show that foldables are starting to attract more than just early adopters and tech enthusiasts. But Samsung and other companies have some hurdles to clear before foldable devices can become as ubiquitous as standard smartphones.
Samsung’s foldables come at a premium compared to their standard smartphones, which could make them a tough sell. This has been changing in recent yearsespecially since it’s one of the most affordable foldables ever. The Galaxy Z Flip 3 starts at $1,000 without a purchase, which brings it to the same price as the phone. . The Galaxy Z Fold 3 is considerably more expensive, with a regular starting price of $1,800 without purchases, though that’s still a welcome improvement over the $2,000 Galaxy Z Fold 2.
New software features
Galaxy Z Flip 4 andthe folding designs certainly set them apart from most phones. But the software must match the hardware.
Samsung is off to a good start in this regard. Both Galaxy Z Fold and Z Flip have a feature called, which reorients and optimizes certain apps to fit the device’s screen when folded in half. For example, Flex Mode moves some compatible apps to the top half of the screen while displaying navigation and playback controls on the bottom.
My favorite example of this mode being put to good use is in the Galaxy Z Flip’s camera app. When the device is opened halfway, the shutter button, photo settings and other controls sit on the bottom half of the screen, while the top half serves as the viewfinder. Flex Mode combined with the Z Flip’s ability to stay open on its own makes it a great camera-tripod combo.
Apart from Flex Mode, the Galaxy Z Fold can also run multiple apps on the screen to take advantage of its tablet-sized screen.
These are great additions, but there’s plenty of room for Samsung to do more. Surprisingly, the software matches the hardware when it should be the exact opposite. While Flex Mode and the Z Fold’s versatile features are a great start, they aren’t compelling enough on their own to justify buying a foldable phone.
I would like Samsung to develop more attractive software features. Although I wouldn’t recommend buying itsince it doesn’t work as well as a regular phone, I think Microsoft is on to something when it comes to software.
Surface Duo 2 splits compatible apps between screens almost like you’re using an app in a whole new way. Amazon’s Kindle app turns the Duo into a digital book, Xbox GamePass turns it into a Nintendo 3DS-style handheld game console, and Outlook’s split-screen view turns it into a mini-laptop. There’s a lot of promise with foldable devices, and I hope Samsung finds more ways to capitalize on it.
Longer battery life
Battery life is one of the most important features of any phone, and foldable phones are no exception. Unfortunately, the Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Z Flip 3 both had poor battery life. My colleague Patrick HollandWith the Galaxy Z Fold 3’s 4400 mAh battery capacity. The Galaxy Z Flip 3 made it through about 11 hours before requiring a charge.
Hopefully Samsung will improve the battery life or develop new ways to work around it in the next iterations of the Z Fold and Z Flip. And by “work around,” I mean Samsung could improve the devices’ fast charging speeds or improve the power-saving modes. The Galaxy Z Fold 3 charges up to 25 watts, while the Z Flip 3 charges at 15 watts, neither of which is anything special. Galaxy S22 Plus andfor example, both have a charging speed of 45 watts.
When it comes to the most important thing in a phone, camera quality goes hand in hand with battery life. The cameras on the Galaxy Z Flip 3 and Z Fold 3 are good, but there’s room for improvement. The Galaxy Z Flip 3 has a 12-megapixel wide-angle and 12-megapixel ultra-wide primary camera setup that, as my colleague wrote in the review, is “the equivalent of cameras you’d find on a $700 phone.” The Galaxy Z Fold 3 has a triple camera system that adds a 12-megapixel telephoto lens in addition to 12-megapixel wide and ultra-wide lenses.
These cameras are suitable for most people. Anyone considering buying one of these phones is undoubtedly more interested in the screen than the cameras. But for the price, I’d like to see camera quality that at least matches Samsung’s best non-folding phones. Like my colleague Patrick: “The Z Fold 3 has B+ cameras for an A+ price.” This is especially true of the Galaxy Z Fold 3’s under-display camera, which is a selfie camera for the phone when used in tablet mode.
Fortunately, rumors suggest that the Galaxy Z Fold 4 will come with some serious camera improvements that will speed it up..
Thoughand Z Flip 3 are Samsung’s sleekest foldable devices yet, phones with bendable screens are still relatively new. So it takes time to get the ergonomics right, and Samsung still has some work to do here.
Let’s start with the Galaxy Z Fold. The Z Fold’s biggest downside is that it’s still a bit awkward to use like a regular phone when closed. Samsung has made some design improvements to the Z Fold 3, making it lighter and thinner than its predecessors. But it’s still an unusually bulky phone when closed, which can cause some discomfort when using it with one hand.
Anyone who bought the Z Fold likely did so because of its large internal display, not its cover display. But think about how many times you pull out your phone to quickly check a notification or reply to a text message. In some cases, it’s more convenient to perform these tasks when the Z Fold is closed, such as when you’re on the go and opening the device seems impossible.
Another design improvement I’d like to see on the Z Fold is the ability for the S Pen to magnetically attach to the hinge of the device. A stylus storage slot like the Galaxy S22 Ultra doesn’t seem like a plausible solution as it would increase the thickness of the Z Fold.
The Galaxy Z Flip already feels like a standard phone, but the improvement I’d like to see is a larger cover display. The Z Flip 3 is a huge improvement over the original Z Flip in this regard. While Samsung’s first foldable flip phone had just a small pill-shaped cover display, the Z Flip 3 is large enough to house widgets for weather, music, alarms and more.
But I would still like to see more rows of text and widgets on this screen. Since the flip display can serve as the camera’s viewfinder, the larger display will make it easier to take a quick selfie without opening the phone. Thankfully, rumors suggest that Samsung is planning to increase the size of the cover display.
I also hope Samsung finds a way to make the creases less obvious on both the Galaxy Z Fold and Galaxy Z Flip. The creases on Samsung’s current foldables aren’t too distracting, but they’re definitely noticeable—both to the eye and to the touch. Chinese tech giant Oppo has found a way around thisby implementing a “waterdrop” hinge that makes it difficult to see and feel the crease of the device when opened. Motorola’s similarly making the foldable Razr’s crease less noticeable.
Samsung’s Z Flip and Z Fold phones are gradually getting closer to standard, non-folding phones in terms of price, and hopefully that trajectory will continue. Foldable phones will always require some sort of trade-off, regardless of camera quality or device thickness. I just hope that starting with the Galaxy Z Flip 4 and Fold 4, the list of compromises will shrink over time.