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Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 review – powerful smartphone in the right hands

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  • VERDICT

The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 is a device that can create a lot of possibilities for the user. In the right hands it can be a game changer.

The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 is the type of device for the customer whose smartphone is the centre of their world for their work, multitasking, for their entertainment, for creating content and consuming content.

This device delivers on all of those fronts like no other smartphone on the market.

But it’s definitely not for the casual user.

Owning this device takes commitment – it’s bigger and heavier and does a lot more than a regular smartphone.

And while it’s not as sleek and slim and portable as other smartphones on the market – it does put a lot more features and capabilities at your fingertips.

Priced from $2499, the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 is in the high-end user category.

And with the addition of the S Pen – the Z Fold 3 will also have added appeal to Galaxy Note fans who appear to have been stranded by Samsung.

The company did not release a Note update but added S Pen compatibility to the Galaxy Z Fold 3.

Typically Note customers are high end users anyway and we suspect many will graduate to the new Galaxy Z Note 3.

The Z Fold 3 looks almost identical to the previous model with the same size front screen (6.2-inch) and the large 7.6-inch foldable display.

The front screen is quite narrow and hard to use in many cases.

Typing on the smaller, skinnier screen is difficult. It’s useful to see notifications and answer your calls and casually look at your apps.

If it was slightly wider – the same width of a regular smartphone – it would make the Z Fold 3 so much more attractive.

It would be a two-pronged benefit – a larger front display to do more without opening the device and a larger internal screen thanks to the larger front screen and rear panel.

At the moment, anytime you needed to get anything done you have to stop and unfold the device.

It’s great to see the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 has an IPX8 rating which means it’s water resistant.

And being crafted from Armour Aluminium on the frame and the hinge makes it even sturdier.

The biggest benefits of the Galaxy Z fold 3’s large foldable display is multitasking, viewing content and using that S Pen.

On the multitasking side, users are able to run several apps at once and even rotate them around the screen.

So, for example, you could have a social media platform open besides your email and a browser.
For users who need to get more done on the move the Z Fold 3 is ideal.

The other excellent productivity and creativity tool that can be used is the S Pen which now works on the 7.6-inch internal Infinity Flex display.

We were already big fans of the Note so being able to use the S Pen in a bigger and grander way was a huge benefit.

It really unleashes the power of the S Pen so you can take more notes and sketch larger drawings.

Whatever you wanted to do with the S Pen, the Galaxy Z Fold 3 opened those possibilities and made them bigger than ever.

Writing on the screen is smooth and responsive and just as good, if not slightly better, experience than the previous Note smartphone.

But what you can’t do is store the S Pen inside the chassis of the Z Fold 3 like you could with the Galaxy Note. Instead you need to but a case with a purpose built slot for the S Pen.

Viewing content on that larger display is also attractive.

And with an adaptive 120 Hertz refresh rate, the viewing experience was also smoother than ever.

This was also helpful when playing games and it helped the graphics run noticeably smoother.

Browsing websites is far easier and richer on the Galaxy Z Fold 3 along with looking at your own photos and videos.

But not all apps optimise for the screens square shape.

Some apps present a larger version of what you would normally see on a regular smartphone.

Others actually show you less. The Tesla app, for example, on the Z Fold 3 doesn’t display as much information as one would see viewing it on a regular shaped screen.

Instagram also appears in a narrow window to keep the experience as close as what you would have with a regular phone.

There is a section of the setting called Lab that allows you to adjust the aspects ratio of each app so you can see more of the app or if it fills the screen. But there is no escaping the square shape of the screen when for years apps have been designed for a long narrow display.

Viewing video content can also be done on a grander scale.

But we found that videos shown in a wider aspect ratio – like a movie – was placed in a letter box with the actual video taking up the middle third of the screen.

We actually found that watching that same video on a regular device provided the same sized and scale as the video being played on the Galaxy Z Fold 3.

So, if your intention is to purchase the device purely to watch movies you may find you get the same experience on a smartphone with a 6.5-inch display or larger.

But videos with different aspect ratios filled even more of the screen and was a lot bigger than watching the same footage on a non-folding smartphone.

On the camera side there is a three-camera system on the rear panel which is comprised of 12-megapixel ultra-wide, wide angle and telephoto cameras with up to 10x optical zoom.

The front screen has a 10-megapixel camera, and the main screen has a four megapixel under screen camera.

Having an under-screen camera on the larger main screen means there is no hole punch to interrupt your viewing.

But when it’s time to activate the camera, the pixels give way, and the camera lens shines through.

The Samsung Galaxy Fold 3 camera system is impressive but not in the same league as its Galaxy S range of smartphones.

If photography is one of your main objectives with your device, then there are better choices to make then the Galaxy Z Fold 3.

That’s not to say image quality is not decent quality – it is – it’s just not in the same league as other flagship smartphones in the market.

Battery wise, the Galaxy Z Fold 3 when we used it as our daily driver easily got us through the day.

Battery use fluctuated day to day depending on how often we were using the main screen but generally we were never left stranded in the middle of the day.

We would normally have to charge it overnight.

The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 is $500 cheaper than last year’s model which means it’s within reach of even more customers.

The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 is available in three colours – Phantom Black, Phantom Green and Phantom Silver and is priced at $2,499 (12GB, 256GB) and $2,699 (12GB RAM, 512GB).

VERDICT

The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 is a device that can create a lot of possibilities for the user. In the right hands it can be a game changer.