OPINION: Ever since I used the first iteration of the Galaxy Fold I’ve been of the opinion foldables exist simply to offer something a bit different.
I have used a number of other folding phones since that initial launch and my view has rarely changed. There have been some impressive devices no doubt, but nothing that really made me think they were ready to go mainstream.
And then I swapped my SIM card over to the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3.
Even though I have only been using this £949/$999 phone for a short time I already feel far more at home with it than any other foldable phone. This is because, it just works.
Now, of course, this isn’t the first version of the Flip. But there are a number of big changes here that help it feel more complete and less like a tech demo.
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The outer screen, for example, is much larger (1.9-inches compared to 1.1-inches) and is actually now useful. Instead of being able to see the time and a few lines of a notification, you can now scroll through your latest messages, play or pause music or even quickly set a timer. I’ve already found myself keeping the Flip closed when I’m flipping through songs or just triaging Slack messages.
Samsung’s focus on durability also makes itself known immediately. The stronger aluminium sides have a great feel while the IPX8 rating gives me added reassurance that I’m not going to ruin the phone with an accidental drop in the bath. These might sound like little things, but they combine for a meaty upgrade.
Whereas the Galaxy Fold uses its foldable panel to turn a phone into a small tablet, the Z Flip 3 uses the same tech to give you a regular-sized Android phone that folds down into something far more pocketable.
When folded, Z Flip 3 is a joy. It slips into a back pocket or a small handbag with ease and by not having a screen on show I find it easier to ignore when I am trying to stay away from my phone. A quick tap on the outer display to check any notifications and I’m not distracted by anything else.
The original Moto Razr was my first phone and I have huge amounts of nostalgia for the whole flip phone style. Samsung has recreated that here, but in a modern format that stands apart from the rest of the Android market.
Of course, I will need to spend much longer with the Z Flip 3 than I have done so far to render a full verdict. I’m wary of how good the battery life will be, or how comparable the two outward-facing 12-megapixel cameras are to other phones at this price.
But, for now, I can say with ease the Z Flip 3 is the most consumer-friendly foldable phone to date – by some distance.