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The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 impresses in everything, if you discount its subpar cameras

I have a soft spot for Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold phones, especially the Fold2. It’s what got me into playing Genshin Impact, back before I made the leap and purchased a proper gaming laptop.

In summary, I had a blast with the Fold2. I don’t really do work on my phone, so for entertainment purposes, it was a great gadget.

That’s not to say that it didn’t make a good phone in general, as it was on par with most flagship phones. But that was the standard it was at: just on par, not better. So, the RM8K price tag didn’t feel justified.

How does the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 compare?

Cosmetic changes: the good and the bad

In terms of colours, the Fold3 is available in Phantom Black, Phantom Silver, and Phantom Green, compared to the Fold2’s Mystic Black and Mystic Bronze options.

Changes to the back of the phone would seem mostly cosmetic for users, but Samsung claims that the aluminium used is more durable now. I quite liked how Samsung stuck with the matte finish that was on the Fold2, as it feels and looks a lot more premium. To add, the phone now has an IPX8 rating, compared to the lack of one on the Fold2.

Size-wise, the minor alterations are practically indiscernible unless you’ve got the Fold2 and Fold3 up against one another, though weight-wise, the Fold3 is lighter at 271g.

Based on my old photo comparisons, it would seem that Samsung has moved the volume and power buttons lower on the side of the phone towards the centre, which was convenient when gaming, as it meant I wouldn’t be triggering unwanted commands by accident.

One of the more noticeable changes to the unfolded Fold3 would be the absence of a punch-hole front camera, meant to create a more seamless and uninterrupted display. On a darker screen, this works as intended.

But open up a light-coloured background or window, and you’ll have to squint to really convince yourself there’s nothing there. Not a bad attempt, but it would seem that it suffers the same fate as other under-display cameras (UDCs). To add, its specs have been downgraded from 10MP (Fold2) to 4MP, meaning overall poorer camera quality.

To fold, or not to fold?

Coming to the foldability of the phone, this is where it can get polarising. Those who prefer easier to hold phones would likely go for the Flip3, as the Fold3 is a lot bulkier and less elegant to open.

Naked, its smooth edges make it a bit harder to get a good grip to open the phone smoothly, but a phone case should give added friction.

I personally like the fact that it can go from a slim smartphone length-wise to becoming a mini-tablet. Once it’s unfolded, however, it’s near-impossible to treat it like you would a regular phone (which the cover screen emulates), where typing one-handed is easy.

Due to its size, you can opt for the Split Keyboard option that lets you type without stretching both thumbs across the middle of the screen, but if you’re someone who watches what buttons you press, you may find it disorienting. In that case, you still have the nice old Standard Keyboard.

The advanced Labs feature allows you to open up to 3 different app windows and yes, they all work at the same time

So-so software

Both the cover and main display now boast an adaptive 120Hz refresh rate, compared to the Fold2 where the cover display only had a 60Hz refresh rate.

A very lanky cover display

Samsung’s display game never fails to disappoint, particularly with the newer models, so the Fold3 doesn’t have much more to boast about.

The Fold3’s processor is an upgrade to the Snapdragon 888, but I can’t tell you how my Genshin Impact gameplay was affected compared to playing it on the Fold2’s Snapdragon 865. Gameplay was again smooth, and brought back memories of my time with the Fold2.

I suppose this is what I like best about the Fold phones—the fact that mobile gaming is better because I can see more of the game’s environment.

Having an overall larger screen makes it much more immersive

Of course, actually getting used to holding the Fold3 for long hours of gaming might be a bit of a challenge due to its size and weight, but I found it alright.

Unfortunately, as beautiful as gaming on the Fold3 was, I definitely felt its battery drain faster with frequent usage and greedy apps. That’s likely because it took a slight hit to the battery portion with a downgrade from 4,500mAh to 4,400mAh.

Thankfully though, charging it up to 100% is fast, taking just under an hour, so I’d usually take a break from the device then.

Out of everything else the Fold3 offered, I was most disappointed with its cameras. For one, not only did the main display camera get worse, but the specs of its triple-cameras and cover display front camera remained largely unchanged.

Already I wasn’t impressed by the Fold2’s cameras, so seeing no improvements to the Fold3’s felt unsatisfying. The Flip3 suffered a similar fate though, and I had put it down to the fact that it was the sacrifice Samsung made to bring the phone’s price down, so I’ll say the same for the Fold3.

Regarding the camera quality between the Flip3 and Fold3, the Flip3 won by a landslide and I’m not quite sure why, because the specs on paper seem similar. But more on this in an upcoming article comparing the Fold3 and Flip3.

Verdict

Something new to the Fold phone is also S Pen compatibility, which pushes the narrative of it being a mini-tablet. Before you get too excited though, do note that the Fold3 will only work with the new S Pen Fold edition (RM199) or the S Pen Pro (RM499), neither of which are provided with the phone.

Any attempts to use other S Pens or styluses will result in a warning popping up on-screen stating that you may damage the Fold3’s display, and you can’t proceed further.

With everything that’s been shared, I’d conclude that the Fold3 is still a phone that impresses me, subpar cameras aside. It starts at RM6,699, which is a drop from the Fold2’s original price.

I would say that if all you need is a familiarly designed smartphone, the Fold3 isn’t for you. It caters better to those who want some versatility with their gadget, and perhaps for them, the still-high price tag may be worth it. Is it worth an upgrade from the Fold2 then? I’d say no.

ProsCons
Improved durability, button placements, and weightS Pen not included, limited compatibility
Better cover display specsPoor camera quality compared to flagship models
S Pen compatibility for productivity
  • Learn more about the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 here.
  • Check out our review of the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip3 here.
  • Read more VP Verdicts here.

VP Verdict is a series where we personally try and test out products, services, fads, and apps. Want to suggest something else for us to try? Leave a comment here or send the suggestion to our Facebook page.

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