The durability of Samsung’s foldable phones has gotten a bad rep in the past. Users have reported dust getting into the hinge and damaging the display, nicks on the flexible screen, and the accidental removal of the thin display layer that looked like a screen protector.
Samsung has come a long way from those initial mishaps, and it returned with new and improved versions of its foldables with the Galaxy Z Fold3 and Z Flip3 launched in 2021. Yet they remain polarising devices, with many either explicitly loving or hating them. I’m in the former camp.
As a clumsy person, I’ll admit my initial response to getting the Z Flip3 3 months ago was fear, but together, we’ve experienced growth. (By the way, I’ve named him Fillipé and given him he/him pronouns.)
Here’s how our time together has been like so far.
1. His hinges have withstood my dramatic phone-shutting
One might imagine that the amazement of using a foldable phone fades over time. Maybe Fillipé and I are still just in our honeymoon phase, but it really hasn’t gotten old for me.
Slamming him shut right after a call or sending an angry text is gratifying. The feeling is on par with slamming your laptop shut after a stressful day at work.
Beyond making me feel like I’m the protagonist of a drama though, Fillipé’s folding abilities come in handy for other more practical purposes.
His tight hinges let him “sit” at a certain angle, which means I can read articles and watch videos at the dining table without needing to prop my phone up against another object. And before you ask, no, the crease in the middle doesn’t bother me.
You know what I think will never get old though? Being able to fit the folded Fillipé in my tiny, lady-sized pockets.
2. He can be independent, but with a few catches
Speaking of his “sitting” ability earlier, another situation in which it comes in handy is for photo-taking. Despite his limitations in terms of framing a picture (which is dependent on the angle of the fold), he’s enabled me to take more faraway group pictures without the need for a tripod.
It takes a bit of manoeuvering to make sure that he’s not toppling over when opening him on a wider angle, but so far, I’ve not had any mishaps nor scratched the cameras.
To briefly review the cameras, they’re subpar compared to Samsung’s other flagships like the S21 series, but are a major personal upgrade from phones I’ve had previously.
My Managing Editor has always pointed out how previous pictures I’ve taken for tech reviews usually looked blurry, but she’s been real quiet with her criticism ever since I’ve gotten Fillipé.
3. Fillipé’s a survivor, and tougher than he looks
I’m an extremely clumsy person. When I first got Fillipé, I was handling him like a raw egg. Fillipé is slippery to hold without a phone case, which means more room for error.
It wasn’t easy finding a case for him initially, but I eventually got one and it’s barely come off ever since. Like other phones, he’s not immune to scratches, but despite literally being two halves of a phone held together with hinges, he’s pretty durable.
I’ve dropped him once (and my heart did the same), but it hasn’t impacted his usability at all. Of course, I don’t plan on repeating that.
Fillipé’s flexible screen comes with its own protective layer, but I’ve heard of people scratching it accidentally with just too-long nails.
Yet Samsung advises against adding screen protectors as they could interfere with the folding display. Even if you’re stubborn about getting one, phone accessories stores will not dare to fit an additional screen protector on the Z Flip3. I was personally advised against doing so by a Ninjaz worker too.
To that end, Fillipé’s front remains naked, and with just a bit more care than usual, I’ve kept his screen scratch-free so far. The more I use him, the less afraid I am about handing him, but not all my concerns are alleviated.
4. But I still don’t have full peace of mind when using him
Fillipé has held up well to my 3 months of usage, and as I’ve learnt that he’s not as fragile as initially assumed, he’s also taught me how to be more careful.
Despite that, he’s still a phone that causes me the greatest concern. I can’t toss him around as I did with my older, non-foldable phones, nor can I leave Fillipé open (unfolded) without worrying about his screen getting nicked.
In a nutshell, I’m a lot more conscious about how and where he’s placed, which means I daren’t leave him unattended with someone who’s never handled a foldable before.
Each time someone wants to hold him, I act like a protective mother, giving them advice on how to handle him properly, especially with his screen.
All in all, I’ve really enjoyed my time with Fillipé, but if you plan on getting your own, I feel responsible to tell you that there are certain things you should be aware of.
1. His weak battery can’t even handle his best features
Although the 120Hz screen is a nice perk to have, I barely get to use it because it drains Fillipé’s 3,300mAh battery quickly.
The only way to get Fillipé to last a whole day (other than having a power bank on hand) is by keeping him on power-saving mode, which meant being a commoner with a 60Hz refresh rate.
Furthermore, while the phone is capable of fast and wireless charging, I didn’t initially have the utilities to benefit from it and had to wait 2.5 hours to get its juice up from 30% to 85%.
This was because, perhaps taking inspiration from Apple by not including a charging brick, Samsung did the same, only supplying a USB-C to USB-C charging cable in the Z Flip3’s box.
Frustrated with the slow charging times, I had to fork out some extra cash to buy a 40W charger, and charging the phone hasn’t been an issue anymore.
2. The screen’s a dust magnet and requires frequent cleaning
With an IPX8 rating, where the X means, “untested for dust,” Samsung has paid little attention to giving the Z Flip3 any dust resistance.
While it doesn’t hinder the phone’s usage in any way, it is worrying because the screen is just a dust magnet. It’s irritating to see dust scattered across the screen, adding stress on top of the fact that it’s already sensitive to scratches. Thus, if I want to clean the screen, I need to be careful of how I’m doing it.
But in terms of the previous generation Galaxy Fold having dust entering the hinge and damaging the display, that has so far not happened with Fillipé.
Perhaps it’s my obsession with doing frequent wipedowns on the phone that could be preventing this issue, but it’d be much better if the next display simply wasn’t so prone to dust sticking.
The last time that I’ve felt this in love with a phone was in 2014 when the iPhone 6 had newly launched and I got to call it mine.
Can I go back to regular, non-foldable phones though? It’s likely still a yes, but I doubt I’d be returning to small-sized phones like my Galaxy S10e.
As for whether it’s worth its RM3,999 price tag though, I can’t say for sure. I haven’t been with Fillipé long enough to truly know him inside and out, and though times are quite enjoyable now, I can’t predict what things would look like 6 months or 1 year down the road.
Furthermore, my experience with him was only improved due to spending on add ons, such as a 40W fast-charger and power bank. I personally spent about RM200 on those, so if you don’t already have the same gadgets, you’d need to factor in these costs too.
The real test for Fillipé will come when Samsung releases newer and improved foldables, likely soon, so it’d be interesting to see how he holds up against his successors.
|Foldability allows it to stand on its own, meaning hands-free photos, reading, and more||Subpar camera quality compared to its non-foldable peers|
|Able to fit in small pockets||Poor battery life, which limits full usage of the phone|
|A great conversation starter and icebreaker||Not dust-resistant, and the screen is a dust magnet to boot|
|More durable than expected||Still requires more care than your average phone|
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