Galaxy Z Fold three evaluate: Samsung’s cutting-edge water-proof phone-tablet hybrid – The Guardian

Galaxy Z Fold three evaluate: Samsung’s cutting-edge water-proof phone-tablet hybrid – The Guardian


Smoother, extra sturdy and with higher cameras, this foldable is the peak of know-how. However nonetheless comes at a worth

Wed 15 Sep 2021 07.00 BST

Samsung’s third-generation folding phone-tablet hybrid is a technological marvel – quicker, extra refined than its predecessor and can even survive being dropped within the tub. However is the general public prepared for foldable telephones?

The Galaxy Z Fold three prices £1,599 ($1,799/A$2,499), which is £200 cheaper than final yr’s mannequin, though nonetheless very costly. It joins the £949 Galaxy Z Flip 3 and £1,149 Galaxy S21 Ultra on the high of Samsung’s smartphone line.

The Fold three’s type and performance are much like final yr’s Galaxy Z Fold 2, simply 12g lighter and a bit slimmer in all instructions. However the premise is similar – a tall, slender display on the skin with the gadget opening up like a e-book to at least one bigger inside display.

Typing on its slender outdoors width takes a bit apply however it’s in any other case snug to make use of closed for typical day by day duties equivalent to messaging and checking the practice occasions.

There’s a crease in the course of the display, which you could see when mild hits it and really feel along with your finger, however is well neglected in use. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

Opening the cellphone like a e-book reveals the implausible versatile 7.6in OLED display for tablet-like actions, equivalent to watching films, studying a e-book or utilizing two apps facet by facet. The interior display is far smoother to the contact than the Fold 2, permitting your fingers to glide over its floor extra simply.

The hinge can maintain the cellphone flat or at a variety of angles, which implies you possibly can stand it up on its finish or facet for watching video or related.

The display remains to be softer than a conventional hardened-glass smartphone display, so you must be a bit extra cautious when it’s open. However it’s strong sufficient to make use of Samsung’s S Pen stylus, which makes it work like a tablet-sized Galaxy Note for sketching, marking up paperwork or handwriting notes. The stylus prices £44 and isn’t included within the field, although.

The brand new IPX8 water resistance score is a giant sturdiness improve and means it should survive dunks into water as much as 1.5 metres deep. In brief, you don’t have to fret about it getting moist.

Mud may nonetheless be a problem, however long-term testing of the Fold 2 confirmed the cellphone was up to the task of daily use.

The interior display has one of many first under-display cameras. You may nonetheless see it when the display is on, however you possibly can’t really feel it and there’s no indentation to gather mud making the show extra seamless. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian


  • Primary display: 7.6in QXGA+ Dynamic Amoled 2X Infinity Flex Show (374ppi)

  • Cowl display: 6.2in HD+ Dynamic Amoled 2X (387ppi)

  • Processor: Qualcomm Snapdragon 888

  • RAM: 12GB of RAM

  • Storage: 256 or 512GB

  • Working system: One UI three.1 based mostly on Android 11

  • Digicam: Triple rear 12MP: extensive angle, ultra-wide angle, 2x telephoto; 10MP and 4MP selfie cameras

  • Connectivity: 5G, twin sim, USB-C, wifi 6, NFC, Bluetooth 5.2, UWB and placement

  • Water resistance: IPX8 (1.5 metres for 30 minutes)

  • Dimensions folded: 158.2 x 67.1 x 16.0mm

  • Dimensions unfolded: 158.2 x 128.1 x 6.4mm

  • Weight: 271g

Quicker and smoother

The Fold three takes about 90 minutes to completely cost, hitting 60% in 40 minutes utilizing a 25W USB-C energy adaptor, which isn’t included. It helps 10W wi-fi charging too. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

The Fold three has Qualcomm’s newest Snapdragon 888 chip. It matches the efficiency of the S21 Ultra, the Flip 3 and the OnePlus 9 Pro and different high Android telephones, feeling noticeably snappier, quicker to unlock and smoother in use than its predecessor.

Battery life is extra variable than an everyday smartphone. Mild use totally on the skin display will see the cellphone simply final two days. A mixture of utilizing each screens for messaging, studying, common productiveness, watching a little bit of video and capturing a couple of pictures will see the Fold three final nearer to 35 hours, which is barely longer than its predecessor. Even on heavy-use days it manages to final at the least a day, though battery life is considerably shortened when utilizing the always-on show mode.


The again of the hinge has little brushes inside it that assist maintain mud and filth out from the transferring components. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

Samsung doesn’t present an anticipated lifespan for the batteries within the Fold three. These in related units sometimes keep at the least 80% of their unique capability for at the least 500 full cost cycles.

The cellphone is generally repairable. Display repairs price not more than £409 for the interior show or £109 for the duvet show, whereas the battery is replaceable by authorised service centres.

Samsung gives trade-in and recycling schemes for previous units however the smartphone doesn’t embrace any recycled supplies. The corporate publishes annual sustainability reports however not impression assessments for particular person merchandise. The Fold three doesn’t ship with a charger or earphones, only a USB-C cable.

One UI three.1

Faucet an app icon within the recently-used apps menu and choose ‘open in break up display view’ to place it to at least one facet of the display. Then choose the second app you need from the listing. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

Samsung’s customized model of Android 11, One UI three.1, has been refined considerably to benefit from the massive inside display.

Closed, the Fold three behaves similar to an everyday cellphone. Open it and you may choose as much as three apps from the not too long ago used apps menu to make use of in a split-screen configuration. It can save you your favorite mixtures of apps to a multitasking menu for fast entry, too.

Not like final yr’s mannequin, when you change to a different single app or shut the cellphone, if you return your mixture of split-screen apps remains to be accessible as a web page within the not too long ago used apps listing. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

You resize the home windows by dragging the little two and three-dot handles that separate the apps. The entire split-screen expertise feels extra refined and is a particular advance on earlier efforts.

Many extra apps take correct benefit of the massive inside display, too, such because the two-column settings app, Google’s Pictures, Maps, Gmail and the uncover feed. Third-party apps equivalent to Evernote have began displaying multi-panelled interfaces too, all of which makes the interior display extra like a pill and feeling much less like only a blown-up cellphone display.

You may have a unique house display layouts on the inside and outside screens, so you possibly can have phone-type apps present when closed and tablet-like apps when open. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

Many of the different unique software features from the Fold 2 are carried over. The app you’re utilizing on the skin display can change to the within one if you open it and visa versa. However when you go away this characteristic off, locking the cellphone by shutting it’s actually satisfying.

The Fold three will obtain at the least four years of software updates from launch, together with monthly security patches, making it one of many longest-lasting Android units accessible, however a couple of yr or so behind Apple’s five-year-plus assist for its iPhones.

5 cameras

The digicam app has varied modes for capturing on each the inside and outside screens, together with full and split-screen views (as proven). I discovered capturing pictures with the Fold three closed like a conventional cellphone the simplest. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

The Fold three has a triple 12MP digicam system on the again, a 10MP selfie digicam on the entrance and an extra 4MP selfie digicam hidden beneath the highest proper of the interior display.

The principle rear digicam is superb. It’s basically the identical as that fitted to the S21+ and retains up with the competitors, together with improved low-light efficiency in contrast with its predecessor. The ultrawide digicam produces good photos in brilliant situations however suffers a little bit of grain in decrease mild ranges. The 2x optical telephoto digicam is stable with usable digital zoom as much as about 5x. It will probably’t compete with optical zooms as much as 10x, equivalent to that on the S21 Ultra, nonetheless.

The skin selfie digicam is superb, producing good element all the way down to moderately dim mild, however struggles a bit with backlighting. The under-display selfie digicam is actually spectacular know-how by mixing extra seamlessly into the gadget, however pictures lack element with noticeable grain – finest confined to make use of for video calls.

Total, the cameras on the Fold three are a marked step up over final yr’s mannequin and compete properly with all however one of the best cameraphones in the marketplace.

The fingerprint scanner beneath the ability button is quick and correct, and considerably extra dependable than its predecessor. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian


The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold three prices £1,599 ($1,799/A$2,499) with 256GB of storage or £1,699 with 512GB.

For comparability, the Galaxy Z Flip 3 prices £949, the Galaxy S21 Ultra prices £1,149, the Galaxy S21+ prices £949, the OnePlus 9 Pro prices £829 and the iPhone 12 Pro Max prices £1,099.


The Galaxy Z Fold three is a real technological marvel from Samsung.

The South Korean agency has improved nearly every thing with its third-generation folding tablet-phone hybrid. It’s quicker, smoother, has a lot improved software program, higher cameras, a extra dependable fingerprint scanner and is £200 cheaper – though nonetheless very costly.

Water resistance is a giant step ahead for sturdiness. The know-how behind it feels extra mature whereas nonetheless being essentially the most thrilling cutting-edge gadget accessible. Stylus assist is an added bonus that gained’t be for everybody, however for Galaxy Note followers that is the powerhouse alternative for you.

There’s nonetheless a crease within the display and the show stays comfortable and have to be handled with extra care. However the greatest subject for the Fold three is that it’s an on-the-go gadget, at a time when many people are caught at house – a pill that matches in your pocket is way extra helpful if you’re out of the home, at work, on the commute or sharing movies with buddies. At house, there’s often a much bigger and higher show inside arm’s attain.

Professionals: a cellphone and pill in a single, water resistance, helpful split-screen apps, nice cowl display, implausible pill display, high efficiency, good battery life, good cameras, head-turning design, S Pen assist.

Cons: very costly, no 5x optical zoom digicam, inside display might be marked extra simply than conventional glass, heavy, thick.

‘Flex mode’ divides the interior display in two in order that video sits on the highest half so to stand the Fold three up or related for different apps. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs/The Guardian

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