72 hours with the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3: is it any good?


Like many of you, I spent quite a bit of time this weekend with the new Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3. On the surface, the device isn’t much different than its predecessor, but the $999 sticker price has made this foldable smartphone significantly more appealing for those who have no qualms paying $1000 for a flagship smartphone.

For the most part, the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 hits all the right marks, but it’s still far from perfect. I’ll be going in-depth on the Flip 3 and everything it has to offer in my upcoming review, but I wanted to share my first impressions of the device after using it for 72 hours.

Updated Design

I really had no issue with the original design of the Galaxy Z Flip until I held the Flip 3. Overall, the only significant change in the design is the larger cover display and the flattened edges of the phone. In theory, flattening out the edges of the device will make the phone feel larger, but this slight change make the phone look so much better when it’s folded. I’m not sure what it is about flat edges on a smartphone, but I’ve always been a fan when Samsung and other manufacturers introduce this design element.

It’s certainly not as comfortable to hold since the corners dig into your hand more, but that also means you’re able to get a better drop on the phone, keeping it from accidentally slipping out of your hand. Since this is a flip phone, having a good grip is more important than ever since you’ll be tempted, as I have, to flip the phone open with a single hand. I haven’t dropped the Flip 3 (yet), but I’m definitely more comfortable with my drop on this phone than I was with the original Galaxy Z Flip.

The larger cover display is quite prominent this time around. If you were a fan of the black and white Pixel 2 (lovingly named Panda), you’ll love this new look on the Galaxy Z Flip 3. Two-tone devices always stand out in a crowd, especially when the phone folds in half.

Battery life

If you’re a bit hesitant about the Flip 3 because of its 3300mAh battery, you should be. So far, I haven’t made it through a full day on a single charge. Judging a phone’s battery life during the first 3-4 days is hard since you spend so much time setting it up, testing out the camera and poking around to try out all the new features, but the Flip 3 is easily one of the worst phones I’ve tested this year when it comes to battery performance. 

I expect battery life will get better over the next few days, but if you’re planning to use the camera a lot or play games on this phone, the Snapdragon 888 chipset will be more than happy to suck the battery dry way before the sun goes down in the evening.

Adding insult to injury, Samsung decided to limit the Flip 3 to a mere 15W charging speed and didn’t even bother including a charger in the box. I’ve been critical of the 25W charging speeds Samsung has been using on its flagship devices, but taking things down to 15W is like stepping back into 2014 when Qualcomm Quick Charge 2.0 was introduced with 18W charging.

Cover Display

I’ve already talked about the larger cover display o the Galaxy Z Flip, but it definitely deserves to be mentioned again. As mentioned already, it’s larger and gives the phone a fresh new look, but the larger size also makes it exponentially more useful than the tic-tac-sized cover display Samsung used on previous generations of the phone.

It’s now extremely easy to double-tap the display to see the time and scroll through the available widgets to see the weather, upcoming calendar appointments, notifications and control your music. It’s still not on par with the Quick View Display on the Motorola RAZR which allows you to change phone settings, view Google Maps navigation, send text messages, place external calls and much more.

How to SIM unlock the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 for free

For me, the most useful feature of the Z Flip 3’s cover display is the camera integration, allowing you to use it as a viewfinder for the two 12MP cameras on the outside of the phone. The only real reason you should ever use the selfie camera is during a video call.

My only complaint is that if you launch the cameras when the phone is folded, it only allows you to capture square photos and videos. If you want the normal aspect ratio, you’ll have to launch the camera fro the main display, switch on the cover display feature and then flip the phone around. Unfortunately, this method doesn’t allow you to use the cover display controls for the camera.

I’m not sure what Samsung was thinking when they implemented the camera features in this way, but I hope they’ll have a fix for it soon.

Final thoughts

I’m not quite ready to give the Galaxy Z Flip my full endorsement after using it for 72 hours, but I will say that it’s by far the best foldable smartphone I’ve used. I think the phone’s $999 price tag will make the Flip 3 the best-selling foldable smartphone to date.

Nick Gray
I'm a life-long tech enthusiast who has a soft spot for HTC. After writing about tech for more than a decade, I jumped at the opportunity to take on the role of Editor in Chief at Phandroid. Please contact me at [email protected].

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