Three Days With the Galaxy Fold3. First Impressions of the New Foldable Smartphone
Samsung has released an updated third Galaxy Fold Z. Right now, among foldable smartphones, it is the most viable and popular. The company wants you to swap the familiar rectangle for it. Our editor looked into whether it’s time to look out for such phones. Spoiler: you’ll love this smartphone, but you probably won’t want to use it every day.
Since cell phones became touchscreen phones, they haven’t changed much in appearance. Their screens got bigger, their frames got thinner, and they had more cameras. But the overall concept has remained the same: the smartphone is a rectangular, one-piece unit. A few years ago, manufacturers were faced with the fact that people began to buy new phones poorly. Especially flagships – expensive novelties, which included the most advanced technologies capable of surprising. Surprising anything in smartphones became difficult. Three or four years ago they reached a level of development where they gave the user enough and even more than he needed. Nothing revolutionary new appeared in them. The models of the past years suited consumers.
The market lacked some kind of shakeup.
In 2019, Samsung managed to introduce a really breakthrough device – the Galaxy Fold smartphone with a flexible screen. It was the first most viable foldable phone (previously there had been devices with a flexible screen, but quite weak). We tested it too, read the review here. Not many people liked the first Galaxy Fold. Journalists of technical publications wrote that it was crude, complained about the small 4.6-inch screen when the gadget in the folded form, the fact that the applications are not adapted to the non-standard form factor. That in a nutshell. Last year, the Galaxy Fold2 came out, and they fixed the main flaws in it. And last week introduced the Galaxy Fold Z 3: updated, with stylus support and a hidden front-facing camera. In its favor, Samsung will not release its previously most expensive flagship, the Note, this summer. The company is counting on you to try to fit a foldable smartphone into your life. We’re figuring out if it’s worth it.
The main things to know about the novelty
Samsung has improved this smartphone in the third version. But there are no radical changes. The device still unfolds from a smartphone to a tablet, like a book. It has an external screen – 6.2 inches. The usual size for a smartphone, except that it is narrower and more elongated than most. When closed, it looks like two phones connected by a hinge on one side. The thickness makes it uncomfortable to carry in the back pocket of your jeans. Plus, it’s quite weighty: 271 grams, although the Fold2 was heavier by 11 grams.
Inside, a 7.6-inch screen with a resolution of 2208×1768 pixels and 120 Hz. In the form of a tablet the device consists of two screens, separated by a subtle band at the fold. The interface combines them into one screen. The result is a tablet, but not quite standard, but a little more square. It is assumed that you will use the device in tablet mode more often. That’s what it’s all about.
The big screen is great. It’s convenient to watch videos and play video games. Yes, you can play games, the device has a new 5nm Snapdragon 888 processor. The Fold3 is supposed to be able to work in full. It received support for the S Pen stylus and for him there is a separate stylus S Pen Fold Edition, to draw and write notes on the screen. On the screen you can open three applications simultaneously: at the top, say, to watch a video or chat in a video conference, and at the bottom you can simultaneously messenger and scroll through Instagram.
Fold and Fold2 users complained that some apps are not adapted for this screen. For example, photos in the Instagram feed came out with some stripes. The manufacturer worked on the adaptation of many applications. But not all, while I used it, in some places I saw some sloppy pictures in the Facebook feed. About the fact that you can open three applications on the screen – this is not new, it was so before. Is it very valuable? It’s not bad, but two windows was enough for me. Especially since when you need to, let’s say, type a message at the bottom, the keyboard climbs on the adjacent window.
There is a vertical bar in the center of the screen in the place of the fold. It is invisible if you hold the tablet directly in front of you. But at different angles it is visible. In itself, it does not seem to be a problem. I think it’s worth it to have a device that folds out to a large screen. You get used to the bar quickly: on the second day I didn’t think about it. It will probably become more noticeable after a few months of use. My acquaintance has been using the previous Z Flip for a year (not exactly the same, the Fold, understandably, is more expensive and better, especially since Samsung promises that the new Flip 3 will not have this either. But the technology is the same). There’s a distinct white scuff on the crease, like on old Dr. Martens shoes.
The biggest update to the Fold3 is the under-screen front camera. This means that there is no notch on the screen, there is such a little noticeable little circle with pixels. Ideally, the hidden frontal should not be visible at all, but it is visible (not only in Fold3). In future models, they will probably try to make it less visible. Nevertheless, front-facing cameras are an important novelty. They began to put them on smartphones a couple of years ago. Apparently, soon they will be everywhere. Phones and tablets are going to be frameless, and the front end is in the way, and developers are always having to figure out where to put it. This is the way out. The Fold3’s sub-screen camera has only 4 megapixels, so selfies on it are not very good. But you need to use it for calls. For selfies – the main camera (you need to fold the smartphone and turn on the front camera there).
Let’s take the immutable values. By what characteristics do users choose a smartphone more often? It’s the camera, the battery, the price. The novelty has three 12 MP cameras and a 10 MP front camera. Purpose: wide-angle, super-wide-angle and telephoto. They shoot quite well, Samsung’s flagships and even mid-rangers have been doing well with camera capabilities for a long time. But Samsung’s second flagship, the Galaxy, shoots better, judging from what I see, and from the reviews in the chat room of those who are the first to try the novelty. That is, smartphones half the price shoot better. It certainly doesn’t mean much when a smartphone can become a tablet. But it does suggest that the Fold3 is more about the screen than anything else.
The Fold3’s battery is a bit smaller, at 4400 mAh. At the same time, the smartphone got a more energy-efficient system-on-a-chip and it changed the display technology. The goal is for that to be the case. But three screens consume a lot anyway, I didn’t listen to music or watch YouTube for three or four hours at a time. Mostly digging into the device for this review. I had to charge it fully twice: before use and in the evening on the third day.
It’s also important to users that the smartphone is rugged, doesn’t crumble if dropped, doesn’t die if soaked in the rain. As for the super strength – this is not for smartphones with a flexible screen. Manufacturers are trying to protect them better, the Fold3 has chemically hardened, heavy-duty Gorilla Glass. But initially the basis in them – a very fragile glass. The Fold3 now has IPX84 moisture protection, which means rain won’t hurt it. But there is no protection against dust, you can not take it to the sandy beach without a case.
In the last few years, consumers have become accustomed to the fact that flagship smartphones cost as much as good computers. In Russia, it’s plus or minus 100 t. At any rate, according to my feeling, there are fewer jokes and ahs about the new iPhones (as a symbol of expensive gadgets). But the cost of the Fold3 is way out of line. The recommended price is 159,990 for the 256GB version and 169,990 for the 512GB version.
Is it worth buying a foldable smartphone?
Samsung (and others – there are already five or six only notable companies in this game) want you to choose a folding phone instead of a rectangle. They say, “This smartphone is no longer just about the wow screen, it has everything, it’s not an experimental toy anymore. Take it and get used to it.” Would I trade my usual rectangular smartphone for it?
The Fold3 gives you the joyful feeling of owning something defiantly new. I was a little sad to go back to the usual comfortable rectangle so quickly (and for a second, I’m walking around with a flagship). It was like I took off the mind-blowing 10-inch stiletto shoes and went back to sneakers. But I wouldn’t buy it for every day. One, even though the Galaxy Z Fold3 is no longer called raw like the first and second, it still resembles a toy for rich tech enthusiasts. The one that will be a backup. Maybe instead of the usual tablet (which many people rarely use). Or for fun and to show off to friends. Its main advantage remains the novelty of its form. In terms of important features, it is not superior to the cheaper flagships. The high price is the main barrier between it and ordinary consumers, who do not mind trying something new, but not for that kind of money.
Here it’s a matter of taste, specifically I never suited the idea of a tablet. I like to write texts and watch videos on a laptop with a screen diagonal of 15 inches. For use on the go and scrolling through social networks, a smartphone with a 6-6.5-inch screen is enough for me. If you are used to using a tablet (but you are not an illustrator or designer, in which case you need a more powerful gadget), you can try to implement Fold3 in your workday.
In my opinion, more interesting for the average consumer is Samsung’s second novelty – Z Flip3, also a foldable smartphone, but it does not unfold into a book, but folds in half. It is called a reinterpreted clamshell. It is also pleasingly new, but it is not thicker or heavier than a regular smartphone, and, most importantly, it is almost twice as cheap as the Fold3 (89.9 thousand). We are already preparing a review of this novelty.