Hands on: Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 review

Is it really the Flip 3 or more like a Flip 2?

What is a hands on review?
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3
(Image: © Future)

Early Verdict

The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 is probably the best clamshell foldable phone out there right now - not that that says much with the limited competition - though it doesn’t present any major changes to its predecessor. It has a sturdy design and good-looking screen, though the cameras aren’t great and the battery is fairly small. Some slight tweaks and a slightly lower price might win over those who were on the fence about such phones before.


  • +

    Just ‘expensive’, not ‘very expensive’

  • +

    Flip design feels durable


  • -

    Still feels wide in the hand

  • -

    Cameras aren’t fantastic

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The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 (opens in new tab) is finally here - if you were wondering 'what's happening with the Z Flip 2', well it seems the 5G version of the original Galaxy Flip technically counted as that, despite the lack of the number.

Launched alongside the Z Fold 3, and just like that bigger foldable phone, you'll find the Z Flip 3 is more of an iterative update on its predecessor than a hugely different device, though there are some welcome tweaks. The 'big' change here is that the price is lower than the original Flip, though the reduction certainly isn't enough to make the Z Flip 3 a more appealing device.

This is the best clamshell foldable phone there is right now - that's not saying much, given the only competition is the Motorola Razr 2020 or the original Z Flip. The fact of the matter is, however, that even with this reduction in asking price, the Z Flip 3 just isn't worth the cost right now.

Beyond the novelty of a folding smartphone, the Z Flip 3 doesn't justify its price tag - as well as some issues with the form factor, like the fact there's a gap in the phone when you close it, how stiff it is to close, or the way-too-high fingerprint scanner, it has problems that'd plague any smartphone experience like a tiny battery and iffy cameras 

So while the Galaxy Z Flip 3 is a neat party trick or fashion statement, it's not so great as a normal, day-to-day smartphone. You should spend your money on a rigid device because foldables just aren't there yet.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 release date and price

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3

The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 is a great device for reading TechRadar. (Image credit: Future)

The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 comes in two storage sizes: 128GB, which costs AED 3,799, or 256GB which will set you back AED 3,999. The Flip 3 is definitely more affordable from last year's model, although it’s still a good deal more than what you’d pay for many top-spec non-folding devices.

The Galaxy Z Flip 3 goes on sale on August 27, with preorders open now. In the UAE, Samsung is offering promotions on pre-ordering the Galaxy Z Flip3 5G by getting a complimentary AED 550 eVoucher to redeem eligible wearables and accessories.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3

There's a lovely shade of purple as one of the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3's color options. (Image credit: Future)

Design and display

To look at it, the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 doesn’t seem to offer much that’s different from its predecessor. But looks can be deceiving, and once you get the phone in your hand you’ll notice some improvements.

The phone has a ‘Glasstic’ plastic back with glass surrounding the camera module, unlike the all-glass original, and while its dimensions and weight are basically the same as before, the new phone feels sturdier to hold. Plastic is more drop-resistant than glass, and is generally easier to grip too, meaning the Flip won’t slide out of a wet hand.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3

The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 sits half-open if you want. (Image credit: Future)

Some of this reassuring firmness of the phone is probably thanks to the hinge mechanism, which feels less wobbly and more secure than the one on the first Flip. 

Like the original Galaxy Z Flip, the Z Flip 3 has a side-mounted fingerprint scanner; and as on the original, this is a little hard to reach when the phone is unfolded. There’s also somewhat of a gap between the two halves when the phone is folded, which makes the phone less hardy in this position than it might be.

One of the original Z Flip’s weirder design choices returns here: when folded, the Z Flip 3 is almost square in shape, and just as wide as your average smartphone. That means it can be a bit of a squeeze for smaller pockets, even if the phone isn’t as long as your average handset. 

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3

The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 has a large 6.7-inch inner screen. (Image credit: Future)

The phone comes in a few different colors, including beige, black, green and purple, though some are exclusive to Samsung’s website depending on your region.

The main display is the same 6.7-inch FHD+ panel as the 2020 model, though its refresh rate has been bumped up to 120Hz. The folding mechanism isn’t too obvious behind the display, unlike on the original Flip and all the Fold models, which is a nice change, though it’s still not totally hidden by any means.

Bigger improvements have been made to the outer display, which was 1.1 inches on the original Flip but gets a sizable increase to 1.9 inches here. This makes it easier to see the redesigned layout for this display, which is useful due to new settings which let you change the apps on the cover display to mimic your Galaxy Watch 4.

Cameras and battery life

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3

The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 Flex Mode lets you sit the phone down while you take a selfie. (Image credit: Future)

This is going to be a fairly short section, as both the headline camera specs and the battery are the same on the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 as on its predecessors.

On the back are 12MP wide and 12MP ultra-wide snappers, although the sensors have bigger pixels than those in the original Flip, so pictures are a little brighter and more colorful. The 10MP front snapper is also essentially unchanged, though we don’t know about the sensor size here.

The collection of camera modes seems identical too. There’s Flex Mode, so you can part-fold the phone at a right-angle and use one side as a stand to keep the other, camera-toting side steady, along with the standard modes you’ll find on the Galaxy S21. Zooming is all-digital, and goes up to 10x.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3

The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 has a gap when it's properly folded. (Image credit: Future)

The camera setup here doesn’t compare to what you’ll find on other recent Samsung flagships like the S21, so don’t buy this phone expecting to take fantastic photos.

The Galaxy Z Flip 3 has the same 3,300mAh battery as its predecessor, which is on the light side for a phone with a 6.7-inch display, but we’re guessing the form factor restricts how large the power pack can be. As this is a hands-on review we haven’t had enough time yet to properly test the phone’s stamina, but we found that the original Flip sometimes struggled to last a whole day.

There’s no change to the 15W charging either, which we’d consider slow if the battery wasn’t relatively small. There’s also wireless charging here, which works better when the phone is folded shut due to the charging coil’s placement in the phone.

Performance and specs

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3

The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 preview screen is bigger than before. (Image credit: Future)

The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 brings some small performance upgrades over its predecessor – chief among these are that it uses the Snapdragon 888 chipset, the top-end Android processor available to it (save for a Plus version of the 888 that few phones have).

Thanks to this processor, and 8GB of RAM, the phone felt pretty powerful to use when we were scrolling through menus or apps. We didn’t test any games on the phone – we were too busy folding it and unfolding it ad nauseum – but we have used plenty of other Snapdragon 888 phones, so it’ll likely be a pretty powerful device.

The software is Samsung’s OneUI, a fork of Android with some of the company’s apps thrown in – like most Android reskins, what you make of it, and the accompanying bloatware, is largely down to personal taste.

Early verdict

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3

You can wear the phone half in your pocket for some hip fashion - literally. (Image credit: Future)

Don’t order the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 expecting a hugely different phone to the original Z Flip – it has the same dimensions, cameras, battery and software. And after testing it fully, we're not convinced we'd part ways with lots of money for it - the issues with the form factor lurk around the Z Flip 3 like a dark cloud.

There are, however, a few improvements that might appeal to those who skipped the original Flip but were still tempted by it. The chipset is better, you’re getting a larger outer display, and the inner screen has a faster refresh rate.

But it might be the price that ultimately wins you over – while this phone is still super-expensive, it’s not as super-expensive as its predecessor, and we’re hoping this price drop is a sign of things to come in the foldable phone space.

Tom Bedford
Deputy Editor - Phones

Tom's role in the TechRadar team is to specialize in phones and tablets, but he also takes on other tech like electric scooters, smartwatches, fitness, mobile gaming and more. He is based in London, UK.

He graduated in American Literature and Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia. Prior to working in TechRadar freelanced in tech, gaming and entertainment, and also spent many years working as a mixologist. Outside of TechRadar he works in film as a screenwriter, director and producer.

What is a hands on review?

Hands on reviews' are a journalist's first impressions of a piece of kit based on spending some time with it. It may be just a few moments, or a few hours. The important thing is we have been able to play with it ourselves and can give you some sense of what it's like to use, even if it's only an embryonic view. For more information, see TechRadar's Reviews Guarantee.