I spent six months with the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3. Autonomy, resistance of the screen and the hinge, updates, evolution of the price, daily use… we take stock of this smartphone really not like the others.
I spent six months with the Galaxy Z Flip 3. As a reminder, this is Samsung’s latest foldable smartphone in the “folded in the middle” format. It had three main advantages when it was released: a much lower price compared to its predecessors (1059 euros at the time), a larger exterior screen and a frankly seductive and compact design when folded.
After six months of good and loyal service, it’s time for him to leave my pocket. The questions that arise are therefore: if I had bought it when it was released, would I regret it? Is it still worth it six months later, now that the hype has passed? Let’s break it all down.
The price is a big yes
On the price front, we can say that the situation is even better six months after its release. The phone has lost much of its value, including when new, making it a much better deal than when it came out. You can now find a Z Flip at a maximum price of 750 euros by looking a little at the moment, with prices flirting with 600 and 550 euros in refurbished.
When it was released, its detractors pointed out – quite rightly – that the Z Flip cost almost as much as a premium smartphone like a Mi 11 Ultra or an S21 Plus for example, without the traditional advantages of the formula (QHD screen, photo at the top, etc.) In a sense, the current cost of the Z Flip seems to us more and more its “natural” price, at which one can moreover have the impression of getting what you pay for.
Autonomy: the big flaw
The first of the defects, the one that surpasses all the others, the one that must imperatively be taken into account before jumping eagerly on the beautiful design of the Z Flip 3, is undoubtedly its disastrous autonomy. We had already underlined this in our test, by defining how the Z Flip 3 is not an autonomous smartphone (7h46 of battery via our ViSer protocol, a mandatory charge in the middle of the afternoon so as not to return no phone), we can’t stress enough that it’s not getting any better at all.
I would have liked to provide you with precise data on the autonomy of the Z Flip 3, with typical use cases, this kind of choice. But the truth is simpler: I spent those six months with a 25W Samsung charger (not supplied with the phone) permanently in my bag, so I could charge it once or twice a day to get it back on its feet.
The worst comes when you really use the phone. I think of this morning when I left home at 9 a.m. with a full battery, that I crossed Paris by metro with the GPS, took notes once I arrived at my appointment and where I was familiar with the 25% autonomy at 11:30 a.m. This phone is not only weak in autonomy, it also heats up a lot as soon as it is used a little intensely. So it tends to discharge faster than average in my experience.
Personally (I work in an office, not far from my home, I rarely go more than an hour from my home in my everyday life), so I put up with this big flaw without complaining too much , accepting it as a downside I could live with in my routine. I of course cursed here and there, like the times when I had to wait to recharge it a little before jogging or going out to see friends. I got used to it, because my personal and professional life allows me to. On the other hand, I would not recommend this phone to anyone who needs even a little, a battery that holds up to the shock. Or I would advise him to find a bundle with an external battery (it’s a joke, it doesn’t exist).
A smartphone that we close is a smartphone that we choose to open
It’s all the more infuriating that the Z Flip 3 is, if we forget this battery concern, a smartphone that is most exciting on a daily basis.
The most interesting point in my eyes will probably not appeal to everyone. But if you’re prone to falling under the influence of your phone as soon as you see the slightest notification, the Z Flip has this immense advantage of allowing you to stay in the know with its external screen, without being a swipe or two away from Tik Tok or Twitter. It may not seem like much, but in an age where the slightest application wants to make you fall into a behavioral addiction, this physical barrier (the phone is closed, I have to open it to enter) helps a lot to maintain a healthy distance with his precious companion.
The pendant of this design choice is immediate: for the slightest action, you must first choose to open the phone. Some will see it as a real gauge on a daily basis, where others will appreciate this little decompression chamber between the phase “I don’t use my smartphone” and “I use it”. A bit like you suddenly find the sometimes blurred borders between these two states. It’s funny to see that for a function that seems so anecdotal (the phone closes like a valve), we can arrive at such a different relationship to the object.
The interior screen holds the good end
Now let’s move on to analyzing the phone once opened. First remark: I have continued, throughout these six months, to appreciate the fact that the Z Flip offers the best of both worlds: a compact phone when folded, while enjoying a large screen of 6, 7 inches. So compact that I have literally forgotten it in the bottom of my pocket and turned over my whole apartment thinking I’ve lost it.
The screen ratio of 22:9 is also the point that ended up causing the most weariness over time. It’s nothing prohibitive, but no longer being able to enjoy YouTube videos without suffering two huge black bars on the sides clearly ends up making you regret this choice a little. Certainly, some more cinema-oriented content adapts much better to this format, since they remove the black bars at the top and bottom of the screen. There, it’s a real pleasure, but a too rare pleasure: only some 10% of what I watched on this phone fell into this box.
Where the very elongated aspect of the Z Flip 3 is perfect, however, is on more recent social networks like TikTok for example, where verticality is central. I appreciated this little extra space that the 22:9 offered me.
Another rather unique advantage of the formula, which I continued to use during these six months on a very regular basis: the phone holds itself in balance when it is folded at 90 degrees. You can even choose to display certain applications differently with controls on the lower part of the screen and the application interface at the top. I no longer count the evenings spent on my PC using the Z Flip as a central hub, sitting quietly on my desk. It allows me to scroll a bit while chatting on Discord, manage my music, or whatever. If you can do all that with a classic smartphone placed on a stand, I still appreciated the comfort of a smartphone capable of offering this type of experience without accessories. This is probably the feature I miss the most.
Is it aging well?
At the sight of this frail skiff, many are those who wonder about its solidity. This is therefore one of the obvious advantages of this long test, even if it remains partial. A smartphone in very good working order 6 months after its purchase can lose reliability after an example.
The exterior, to begin with, seems to me to resist the ravages of time quite well and retains most of its character. On the other hand, we prefer you to provide a case for this phone. We noticed the gradual appearance of scratches on the cream part and small impacts on the edges of the phone, which are a little softer than the rest of the device.
The screen meanwhile, holds up well except for one small detail. Overall, we get used to the plastic aspect that is supposed to imitate the glass of the screen very well. It is also very resistant and unmarked for 98% of its surface. The problem is that at the hinge, in the last month of use, I started to notice that my thumb was hanging a little more. Very quickly, some micro scratches began to appear. Fortunately, these are not at all visible on a daily basis. Still, I only used the phone for six months, and let’s be clear, without its screen protector that was included with the purchase. We can therefore advise you on daycare.
Among the concerns about the durability of the object, it should also be noted that after four to five months, the phone no longer opens at 100%, but at around 99.8%, probably due to an accumulation of dust. If this is not particularly annoying, it is nevertheless a little frustrating to be able to open its hinge entirely.
Another important element for the life of the phone: I was able to update it to One UI 4 (Android 12) and thus take advantage of all the little new features of the latest version of the interface. Despite some bugs in the first month, the transition went smoothly and I even feel that the smartphone has gained some ease of use. Notifications, for example, consume much less space.
A Z Flip doesn’t offer what you’d expect from a premium smartphone, but that’s okay
In the end, I really enjoyed these six months spent with the Galaxy Z Flip 3. It’s a smartphone really like no other that is very comfortable to use on a daily basis, if you have a socket nearby.
On the other hand, the Z Flip 3 is certainly too expensive for its own good, in that it does not offer the qualities expected of a premium smartphone in 2022. For example, I have spoken very little about photos in this article, and this for a simple reason: these are much lower than anything that can produce the flagships released in recent months. The somewhat dated sensors of the phone certainly have something to do with it. That said, the quality remains quite correct, do not be afraid.
All in all, Samsung’s foldable isn’t really a premium smartphone in the traditional sense, but it does offer a lot of unique qualities you won’t find elsewhere. Qualities that I continued to use daily during these six months. You would have thought that once the hype died down, I would end up using it like any other smartphone, but that’s not really the case. And the real good news is that six months after its release, it no longer costs the price of a premium smartphone at all.
The Z Flip 3 therefore remains a phone not to be put in all hands. But if you think you are a customer of its many qualities, while being able to ignore its flaws, it is simply the best smartphone with its format on the market. That’s not bad.
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