Regular readers know I’m a fan of Samsung’s foldable phones and have spent a few thousand dollars the past couple of years picking up the Galaxy Fold and then the Z Fold 2, but in both cases I went back to a standard smartphone after a couple of months. There were a couple of major reasons for my limited period of ownership, but it looks like the new Galaxy Z Fold 3 addresses my issues and it may indeed be true that the third time is the charm.
While I have enjoyed months with the first two foldables from Samsung, the Note series has also been in my hand since the Note 3 many years ago. It doesn’t look like we are going to see a new Note in 2021, which gives me even more of a reason to pull out the credit card for the Z Fold 3. Foldables are likely to increase in popularity, driven forward by the innovation, available options, and more affordable prices offered by Samsung.
As I look at the new Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3, it’s clear to me there are several reasons to consider an upgrade from the Z Fold 2 from just a year ago. If you have the original Galaxy Fold, then the decision to upgrade is even easier. Here are 10 reasons to pick up the Z Fold 3:
- S Pen support: The Z Fold devices with the big main screen are perfect for S Pen use and this is the major feature that I hoped to see from Samsung. I had my doubts that the company could actually achieve this capability with a foldable and am extremely excited to test it out soon. With the Galaxy S21 Ultra 5G providing support for the S Pen it looks like any reason for a Note has now gone away.
- IPX8 water resistance: The second major reason I couldn’t keep the previous generation Fold devices was the lack of water resistance. I live in Washington State and live, work, and play in the rain and other environments where a level of water resistance is needed. I’m impressed again that Samsung was able to achieve this on a foldable and at a high IPX8 level.
- Main screen camera is hidden: The big main screen experience is a major selling point of the Fold line and this year Samsung took things a step further than I expected. The main screen selfie camera is now located under the display. It’s not the highest resolution camera, but it should work well for video calling and I look forward to trying it out.
- Armor Aluminum body: Samsung made the Z Fold 3 a bit lighter and sleeker, while also making it stronger thanks to some interesting materials engineering innovations. The Armor Aluminum looks to be a great material for this application.
- Lower price: Samsung’s S21 devices launched $200 less than the S20 series and it’s great to see this trend continue with the Z Fold 3. A $1,799.99 starting price point is still expensive, but it’s a savings over the Z Fold 2 and more is offered here by Samsung. You should also be able to get a fairly high trade-in price for your Z Fold 2, but make sure to take advantage of the early pre-order launch specials that are more generous before the phone is widely available.
- High refresh rate cover screen: The cover screen of the Z Fold 3 now supports a 120 Hz refresh rate. We have seen high refresh rates on flagships and once you use a display like this it is hard to go backwards. It’s great to see the cover screen now match the main screen.
- 11 grams lighter: The Z Fold devices are a bit big and bulky so a savings on weight is appreciated and 11 grams is better than a weight increase.
- More durable main screen: Samsung has a new screen protector and updated main screen that is advertised to be 80% more durable than previous foldables. Make sure to use Z Fold 3 certified S Pens as the tips of other pens may have a negative impact on the Z Fold 3 display.
- Gorilla Glass Victus: The latest and greatest Corning glass material is now present on the cover screen. The S Pen cannot be used on the cover screen (maybe that is coming in the Z Fold 4), but it is nice to see improved glass on the outer display.
- Trade-in special: Not really a feature of the phone, we really need to see it first to come up with more reasons, but Samsung will now let you trade in two phones to purchase the Z Fold 3. Clean out your drawers and gather together a couple of phones to trade in and save some money, that’s what I’m doing this week.
I was honestly a bit disappointed to see the same three 12MP cameras on the back of the Z Fold 3 that we saw on the Z Fold 2. These cameras perform very well, but Samsung has more advanced cameras on the S21 Ultra and for the premium you are paying I was expecting some upgrade in the three cameras. I was at least expecting some improvement in the telephoto camera, but we’ll have to look for possible camera improvements next year.
As an engineer with machine design classes in my background, I cannot help but be fascinated with the level of engineering and craftsmanship provided by Samsung in the Z Fold 3. I have lamented selling my first two generation Fold devices in order to upgrade to other phones to write about here on ZDNet, but am planning to order that lovely Phantom Green model as soon as it is available to order and hope to not look back again and wish I had kept a Samsung foldable.