Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 5G unboxing and first impressions: a fine and fab flip phone

We go hands-on with the new flip foldable from Samsung

While one use case of a foldable smartphone is a phone that turns into a tablet, as on the Z Fold3 (first impressions), the other mainstream implementation we’ve seen thus far is the modern avatar of the iconic clamshell design. It’s a phone that basically folds in half, shrinking to a compact device the size of a makeup compact.

Samsung’s latest offering, the Galaxy Z Flip3 5G, which comes as an upgrade to last year’s Z Flip2, has just landed and it’s time to give it a quick once over before it gets into our review pipeline.

Before we do that, however, a quick mention of the unboxing experience. Ensconced in a slim box, the Galaxy Z Flip3 comes bundled with a Type-C to Type-C cable and little else, as Samsung doesn’t include a charger or a case inside the box.

Unlike the Z Fold3 which lends itself well to both entertainment as well as productivity-based use cases, the Z Flip 3 is more about style. Unfolded, it’s a full-sized smartphone with a 6.7-inch display and folded, it’s a small li’l box that measures 4.2-inches diagonally, and simply disappears into pockets and bags.

Not that you can’t do anything with it while it’s closed. The cover screen size has been bumped up to 1.9-inches and using this, you can snap photos, check notifications and time, respond to messages and even shoot videos… all without opening the phone.

And when you do flip it open, you’d be greeted by a 2,640 x 1,080 Super AMOLED display that measures a generous 6/7-inches and offers up to 120Hz refresh rate. And as with most Samsung smartphones, the display looks gorgeous and feels super smooth. The Z Flip3 can’t boast an under-display camera like its Fold3 sibling but gets a 10MP front shooter integrated into the punch hole on top. The primary shooting options comprise a pair of 12MP sensors (an ultra-wide and a wide-angle), placed on the back.

With the phone open, you’ll see the SIM tray on the left. On the right spine, there’s the volume rocker, along with the power key that hides a fingerprint scanner. The bottom is home to a Type-C port along with a speaker, while the rear has a black panel on top that holds two cameras and the cover screen. An LED flash is placed just below this.

The Galaxy Z Flip3 might not come with an under-display camera, but does get the same durability enhancements as its bigger foldable sibling. For one, it’s IPX8 rated and can survive a bit of rain and water splashes. Next, Samsung claims that the Ultra Thin Glass on the main screen combined with a panel layer and protective film makes it 80 percent more durable than before. That’s not all, the device is layered with Gorilla Glass Victus on the back and on the cover screen, and as per Samsung, the frame is made of aluminium which is tougher than before. The device can supposedly withstand up to 2,00,000 folds.

Hardware innovations like this can be complemented with the right software tweaks to add more functionality, and that’s exactly what Samsung has done on the Z Flip3. There are enhancements on the software side to make the best use of its unique form factor and foldable design. You can multitask and run two apps in split-screen mode for one. And since the device doesn’t need the support of a tripod to stay propped up on its own, you can use the Flex mode to take handsfree selfies and photos, shoot hyperlapse videos, and hold handsfree Google Duo calls too. As far as the platform is concerned, you get Android 11 with OneUI, and standard set of apps from Samsung, Google and Microsoft preloaded, along with the full range of signature ecosystem services and related features.

Of course, the Galaxy Z Flip3 is a flagship smartphone, and therefore, you won’t be left wanting for performance, thanks to the Snapdragon 888 SoC on board. Also along for the ride are 8 gigs of RAM and up to 256GB storage. That said, the battery with its 3,300mAh capacity and 15W charging speeds, does feel a little underwhelming. We’ll see how the device holds up in regular use when we take the Z Flip3 through our review grind. 10W wireless charging and 4.5W reverse wireless charging is also on offer.

The Galaxy Z Flip3 does promise to be quite a bit of a style statement, judging by its special design, the powerful specs, the durability enhancements, and the software tweaks that do look useful. One of the most interesting aspects, however, is the sticker price. You see, last year, the original Z Flip was launched at a price of Rs 1,09,990, but this time, Samsung has priced the new Flip quite aggressively. With a starting price of Rs 84,999, the pricing of the Galaxy Z Flip3 is more in line with premium flagships from other brands, which should bode well for its sales volumes in the country. As for how well it fares in regular use, you’ll just need to wait for our review… coming up soon.