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Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 review: our first look at Samsung’s new foldable phone

The first look at Samsung's third-generation foldable phone.

Our rating 
4.5 out of 5 star rating 4.5
£1,599
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3

Our review

All the additions to this third-generation foldable phone including IPX8-rated water resistance and S Pen support make it more durable and practical. It's still painfully pricey but Samsung is continuing its dominance in foldable phones.
Pros: IPX8-rated water resistance
Huge 7.6-inch display
Superb 120Hz refresh rate
S Pen support
Cons: Expensive
Good, but not exceptional, cameras
Hinge does leave small indent down the main display

The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 5G is the third iteration of the foldable device from the brand. This new release takes an already superb Android phone in the form of the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 and makes it more practical and, hopefully, durable.

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While the basics of the design (shape and size) remain the same, Samsung has added IPX8-rated water resistance, a new stronger ‘Armor Aluminium’ hinge and a new protective film on the display that offers 80% more protection.

Then, there’s the addition of S Pen support. The new Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 works with the S Pen Pro and the specifically designed S Pen Fold Edition so that you can take notes, draw or design on the huge 7.6-inch main display.

Ahead of its release, RadioTimes.com managed to get its hands on the new foldable phone. Here are our initial thoughts, in this first-look Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 review.

See how the Z Fold 3 compares to Samsung’s other new foldable phone in our Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 review. Or, head to our best smartphone guide for the cream of the crop.

Our current star rating is based of a hands-on test where we assessed the smartphone’s design, camera and some of its features. Our full, comprehensive review will be published later this month but we are confident that further testing will not lower the score. 

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Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 review: summary

Samsung has a strong base to work from in the form of its predecessor, the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2, and the brand has worked hard to make the Z Fold 3 more practical for everyday life. The main display remains a whopping 7.6 inches but now has a 120Hz refresh rate for much smoother scrolling and gameplay. A new hinge made from a material Samsung calls ‘Armor Aluminium’ is 10% more durable than the previous generation, and a new screen film offers 80% more protection.

There’s a couple of small caveats in that the cameras are good but not spectacular and that the hinge does mean there’s a small indent in the main display when flat, but the Samsung remains the industry-leading when it comes to foldable phones.

Price: The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 costs £1,599 and is available to pre-order now at Samsung.

Key features:

  • 7.6-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X main display
  • 6.2-inch Infinity Flex cover display
  • 120Hz refresh rate
  • 10MP under-display camera
  • rear triple-camera set-up (12MP Ultra Wide, 12MP Wide, 12MP Telephoto)
  • IPX8-rated water resistance
  • Dolby Atmos
  • S Pen support

Pros:

  • IPX8-rated water resistance
  • Huge 7.6-inch display
  • Superb 120Hz refresh rate
  • S Pen support

Cons:

  • Expensive
  • Good, but not exceptional, cameras
  • Hinge does leave a small indent down the main display

What is the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3? 

The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 is the third-generation foldable phone from the brand. The original Galaxy Z Fold was released back in 2019, followed by the Galaxy Z Fold 2 a year later.

Announced at this month’s Samsung Galaxy Unpacked event, Samsung looks to improve on the success of the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 with improvements to durability to make the foldable phone stronger and more practical.

Read our first-look Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 review to see what we think of the brand’s new smartwatch also released at the event.

What does the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 do?

The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 has a lot going for it, including 5G connectivity, a new stronger ‘Armor Aluminium’ hinge and a new protective film for the display that offers 80% more protection.

Other key features include:

  • 7.6-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X main display
  • 6.2-inch Infinity Flex cover display
  • 120Hz refresh rate
  • 10MP under-display camera
  • rear triple-camera set-up (12MP Ultra Wide, 12MP Wide, 12MP Telephoto)
  • IPX8-rated water resistance
  • Dolby Atmos
  • S Pen support

How much is the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3?

The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 costs £1,599 and is available to pre-order now at Samsung. While this still makes it one of the most expensive smartphones Samsung has released, it is £200 less than what its predecessor was priced at when it launched.

Samsung will also be releasing an S Pen designed for the Galaxy Z Fold 3. The S Pen Fold Edition will be available on 27th August for £100.

Pre-order the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 now at Samsung

Is the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 good value for money?

With a price tag of £1,599, it is always going to be a struggle to say that the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 is brilliant value for money. However, we would say it is good value for money. Samsung’s foldable phones remain some of the best, and the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 has some new features such as a 120Hz refresh rate, Dolby Atmos and S Pen support that help justify the price.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 features

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3

The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 features a 7.6-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X display with a 120Hz refresh rate. This is a huge improvement on the previous generation that had just a 60Hz refresh rate. The result is a bright display that has extremely smooth scrolling and gameplay. There’s a secondary display on the cover for when the phone is folded, which is a 6.2-inch Infinity Flex display to make it easy to check notifications and respond to messages.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 S Pen

There is also S Pen support. Unlike the Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, there is no S Pen slot in the device itself, but the new S Pen Pro and S Pen Fold Edition (both of which work with the Galaxy Z Fold 3) come supplied with cases. The new S Pen Fold Edition has been specifically designed for this smartphone, so it has a retractable nib that will pull back if too much pressure is applied to protect the screen. The S Pen Fold Edition will be available from 27th August for £100.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 camera

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 hands on 1

The three main cameras of the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 are found on the rear of the device. The triple-camera set-up features a 12MP Ultra Wide, 12MP Wide and 12MP Telephoto lens. On the main display, you’ll then find the first-ever under-display camera to be featured on a Samsung phone. It is only 4MP but is completely invisible during games or when watching videos.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 display

The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 can also be used to film simultaneously with a split-screen view that allows you to see videos from both the rear cameras and display camera in tandem.

The cameras themselves are good, but nothing exceptional. They’re more than adequate for everyday use, but if camera quality is the most important factor for you, you may want to consider checking out our best camera phones guide instead.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 design

The design is where we’ve seen some great improvements. While the basics remain the same (size and shape), Samsung has added some additional features that should increase the phone’s durability.

The IPX8-rated water resistance is the highest of any foldable phone, and the new ‘Armor Aluminium’ succeeds in being 10% more durable than the previous generation’s hinge while also being lighter.

And finally, the new protective film. The display now features a protective film that is 80% more durable than on the previous generation to prevent scratches or damage to the screen. The addition of S Pen support will likely help with this, too. These are all nice assurances to people that would consider foldable phones too flimsy for everyday use.

The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 will be available in a matte finish and three colourways; Phantom Black, Phantom Silver and Phantom Green.

What is the difference between the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3?

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 and Z Fold 3

The most obvious difference between the new foldable phones is the size. The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 is considerably smaller and will easily fit in a pocket or small handbag. When unfolded, the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 features a decent 6.7-inch display, but it’s still considerably smaller than the huge 7.6-inch display on the Galaxy Z Fold 3.

The prices are also considerably different. The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 has a pretty hefty price tag of £1,599, which makes the £949 the Galaxy Z Flip 3 costs look almost affordable.

There are some smaller differences, too. The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 does not come with S Pen support but does come in a wider range of colours. While the Galaxy Z Fold 3 only comes in Phantom Black, Phantom Silver and Phantom Green, the Galaxy Z Flip 3 has seven colourways, including lavender, white, cream, green, grey and pink.

However, there are some overlapping features. Both smartphones feature IPX8-rated water resistance, the new ‘Armor Aluminium’ hinge and the protective film on the display to prevent scratches. Which foldable phone you choose will largely depend on your budget and if you think you’d make use of the Z Fold 3’s massive display and S Pen.

Our verdict: should you buy the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3?

The release of the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 5G shows what a stronghold the brand has on foldable phones. The improvements largely focus on making the smartphone more durable and practical to use for everyday life, but there are no complaints from us. The IPX8-rated water resistance, new protective film on the display and new stronger hinge are all welcome additions. The same goes for S Pen support, which helps you make the most of that massive 7.6-inch display and the 120Hz refresh rate that brings it in line with the likes of the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra and OnePlus 9 Pro.

The high price tag will remain a sticking point for some but, if you’re set on getting a foldable phone, you’re unlikely to mind. When it comes to foldable phones, Samsung remains leaps and bounds ahead of its competition.

Our rating:

Features: 5/5

Camera: 4/5

Design: 4/5

Overall rating: 4.5/5

Where to buy Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3

The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 5G is available to pre-order now for £1,599.

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For more product reviews and guides, head to the Technology section. Or, try our list of Samsung Galaxy phones with prices for a full rundown of what the brand offers.