Samsung Z Fold 3 Review

– Hey, what’s up, MKBHD here

And this…

Actually I should.

And this is a Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3.

(bright upbeat music)

So the Z Fold 3 is basically
a better built version

of the Fold 2.

And it’s 1800 bucks now.

So it’s still an
expensive specialty phone,

but with serious ambition.

And that’s what I wanna
talk about in this review

is the ambition of this phone,

which I believe is the second best

folding phone out right now.

See, Samsung drop 2 Folding
phones on us this month,

the Fold 3 that you’re seeing here,

but also the Flip 3,
the vertical clamshell,

and I fully believe the
Flip 3 at this point

is the best Folding phone option
out there for most people.

The most reasonable to
actually recommend today.

But as great as it is,

the Flip 3 has less
ambition than the Fold.

So like here,

I already sort of explained
this on the way from podcast.

So sorry if you’ve
already heard this before,

but also if you haven’t
been subscribed over there,

you should do that.

But what I’m saying is
the Flip 3 has one goal,

which is to give you as
close to a normal smartphone

as possible experience,

and then just fold up
and getting your pocket

be smaller than normal, done.

The Fold wants to be as close

to a normal smartphone as possible,

but then also give you a huge

sort of mini tablet sized screen

and all the experiences
that are great about that.

That is a much bigger goal
and ambition for this phone.

And so I actually think that
because the phone’s ambition

is so high, this phone, the Fold 3

is actually worse at
some normal phone things,

on its way to doing some things that

literally no other phone can do.

So the most obvious place this shows up

is when you try to use
this as a normal phone

without unFolding it.

Like this is what one of
those boring normal phones

usually it looks like.

This is what we’re used to for typing

and scrolling and watching
videos, et cetera.

The cover screen on the Fold
3, it is better than ever.

It’s way better than the first Fold.

It is corner to corner now.

It’s 120 Hertz now, plenty bright,

and you can use it as a
normal phone for quick stuff

when you don’t really feel like
opening the whole thing up,

but it’s pretty narrow.

It’s a very tall aspect ratio

that makes the top pretty
difficult to reach.

Watching videos on it isn’t great.

Again, because it’s so narrow.

And even though I’ve used
the phone for over a week,

the keyboard on the cover screen
is still a little cramped.

It’s very easy to make a lot of typos

trying to hit those tiny buttons.

So it’s just not the
shape of a normal phone.

And there’s also the Z axis,

which doesn’t bother me as much,

but you’ll notice it’s also way
thicker than a normal phone.

Plus there’s a camera
bump on the corner here,

which makes it rock pretty
hard without a case,

but it’s better than the last version.

The Fold 3 is 2 millimeters thinner

and trims a little bit of weight.

And I can actually see
and feel that difference.

But overall it is objective
really an awkward size and shape

to use on a regular basis.

It’s also worse than
normal phones in car mounts

because it’s so narrow and heavy.

It usually just falls right
out of most car mounts.

And it’s also an absolute
unit in your pocket.

Like obviously there’s
lots of other big phones,

but this one is such a unique object,

in shape and size that, yeah,

it’s just an awkwardly big, clunky thing

to have in your pocket.

Now, Samsung is doing the Folding
hardware better than ever.

That the hinge protrudes
even less out the side,

and it’s just a little
more firm and solid,

even in last year’s hinge, it feels good.

And believe it or not the whole phone,

including this hinge is
IPX8 water resistant.

Not because the hinge is watertight,

but because they’ve actually
coated the components

inside the hinge and then sealed
each half of the phone off.

But as I’ve mentioned, IPX8

does not include dust resistance.

So it’s got Ingress
protection against liquids

and that’s all great.

You can splash it.

You can walk outside in the rain,

but do not take this anywhere near a beach

or a woodworking shop
or anything like that

because any solids or grit
or dirt that gets in there,

that’ll still kill a phone like this.

Now I don’t know about you,

but I really do like

the overall design here of the Fold 3.

They’re still doing the Satin

on almost everything for the Folds.

So Satin Black aluminum side rails

and Satin Black back with
this new camera bump design.

And this is the same set of cameras

that were back here on
the Fold 2 from last year,

which is to say not quite
highest end flagship caliber,

but still a very good.

Like in daylight with tons of light,

these are great, very capable cameras,

but just not quite on the
same level as the flagships

from Google and apple and even Samsung

with their own S 21 line
when it comes to sharpness,

and especially edge sharpness
and low-light performance

and video, et cetera.

So these are all 12 megapixels sensors

for the primary ultra wide and telephoto.

I’d rate these as like B plus cameras.

So that’s really not bad at all.

But you know, what is,

you know it’s really been the
biggest sacrifice on Fold 3,

battery life.

As you can imagine,

going from a 60 to 120
Hertz cover display,

and also trimming the battery slightly.

When you got thinner,

it went from 4,500 to 4400 milliamp hours

and still powering a huge bright,

120 Hertz, 7.6 inch display.

You do lose a bit of
battery in, it showed here.

And like I knew it would be worse,

but I forgot how quickly you
can actually kill the Fold

because you don’t really feel
like you can conserve battery

by using the cover screen anymore.

That’s a 6.2 inch bright,
120 Hertz display now.

So no matter how I use this phone,

which that’s for real,

I’m typically gonna have
the power user tendencies.

I was at low battery or near
dead before the end of the day.

Here’s a normal day of use
with three and a half hours

of screen on time.

And it’s got me down to 15%.

I could top out at four
to four and a half hours,

which isn’t great, but
that’s where I was at.

But look, all the
sacrifices you’re making,

all of the hinges and
keeping it away from sand

and not being able to Mount it in a car

and dealing with the
small outside keyboard.

All of those sacrifices are for this.

For unfolding it to use that big,

corner to corner uninterrupted,
7.6 inch inside display.

And that is something that
no other pocketable device

can really offer right now.

That’s what we’re really here for.

And they’ve improved this
display even over last year

with some really thoughtful things.

So first change, the top protective layer

over this folding glass is 30% harder,

which, maybe that’s a little deceiving.

Like it sounds pretty nice on paper,

but fundamentally it’s still very soft.

It still has to fold in half.

So it absolutely will
still take permanent damage

from accidental fingernails

and anything harder than a
normal finger screen press.

This is not a normal screen still.

And by the way, you can
absolutely still see the crease

as you’ve probably noticed by
now just as easily as before.

Now, I’m obviously used
to it at this point.

And I do think it has the advantage

of being vertical through the middle.

So your finger isn’t
really running over it

as much as it might on the Z flip

where you touch it a lot while scrolling.

But yeah, it’s still a bleeding edge,

very new display technology.

But what all this does
allow, now, is S Pen support.

So it’s here.

They finally done it.

The biggest screen on any phone
now supports the accessory

that so many of us love
from that Note series.

And now it will let us do
all the great stuff on this,

even bigger canvas with
the higher refresh rate

and all the great stuff about the Note.

It’s time to kill the Note, right.

Is what I would say if there
wasn’t a giant asterisk

over this S Pen,

which is that it is an optional accessory,

a very option accessory.

So Samsung made a special
Fold edition of the S Pen,

actually, it’s 50 bucks and it’s got

a special retracting softer tip

so that it won’t damage
this new folding glass

and cover material.

And you do get, yeah, pretty
much all the benefits.

Once you start using it,

all the note, taking
the higher fresh rate,

the ultra responsiveness,

the different pressure
sensitivities, the air commands.

You know, I’m not a huge artist,

but the ability to sketch
things and annotate things

and sign things, it’s all here.

But when you’re done, where do you put it?

I mean, there’s no magnets or anything

to attach it to the phone

and you definitely don’t wanna
just loose in your pocket.

So that’s another 80
bucks or so for a case

to keep it attached to the
phone for ready access.

And that case adds a
flip cover to the front,

whether you like it or not.

And it’s just a lot of extra work

just to do the S Pen dance on a screen

that’s not even an inch
bigger than the note 20 ultra.

So, you know, I’m glad they added it.

I think it’s great that this
compatibility exists now.

And I think a lot of people
will actually spend that money

and will use the S Pen on this Fold 3,

but the best S Pen experience,

if you’re dead set on an S Pen

is definitely still what the galaxy note,

where you just pop it inside
the phone and it lives there.

So I guess what I’m trying
to say is this is great,

but this shouldn’t be the reason

for the death of the Note line.

The Note line should stay around.

Samsung if you’re watching this.

But anyway, the second big change is,

the selfie camera is a
behind the display here.

Can’t even see it, can you?

But it’s back there.

So it is a four megapixel
sensor, behind the glass

and the display panel
hidden by a pixelated array.

And it’s decently hidden in most cases

where you’re not really looking for it,

better than a notch anyway,

but the image quality as we’ve seen

with this first generation of
selfie cameras is not great.

So it uses this D hazing algorithm

that successfully brings
a lot of the contrast

and sharpness back.

And even though it looks super processed,

it’s definitely usable
for just a normal selfie.

But in most instances,

you’re gonna wanna close it up

and use a whole punch selfie camera

for a much better quality.

Or if you really want
a better quality shot,

you can actually just
use the main cameras.

And that’s gonna be way better.

Now, obviously there’s
still gonna be times

where you just conveniently gotta use

the inside selfie camera.

Maybe there’s a video call

or they’re doing something
on the big screen.

You just wanna take a quick selfie,

then you’re gonna have to
deal with the RGB haloing

and you can kind of see the pixels

the camera’s looking through,

especially in bright environments
and with any highlights.

But, yeah, it’s fine.

It’s a little gimmicky,
but it does give you

that nearly bezel-less
edge to edge display.

But then of course,

the whole reason we want
this huge display like this

in the first place is all this real estate

and all the software that they’ve built

to take advantage of it.

And it’s really good.

I love using this phone.

Like I feel more productive with my phone

that opens up to a tablet size.

Like most of the time,

if I get an email that
I need to respond to

with more than one sentence,

I don’t use my phone anymore.

I just go to a computer.

But with this, I’m like
might as well type stuff out.

So there’s all the flex modes

in apps like the camera and YouTube.

I watch a lot of like
mealtime YouTube videos

and this phone’s ability to just fold up,

it makes it a little bit
easier to just watch stuff

as it’s sitting on the table next to you.

No other phone can do that
without some sort of case.

And the app panels over here on the right

can also be pinned there
after you enable it and labs.

So this is also super useful,

and there’s still badges for notifications

and cycling in recently
used apps and everything.

It’s kind of just like a full
on desktop OS Doc, very cool.

And there’s a couple of
cool apps that show columns

in landscape view like Gmail,

but you still can’t have an
email open while replying to it.

That would have been really cool.

I do like Spotify apps
columns though, it’s neat.

But you know what?

There’s also some downsides
to the software too.

Mainly, unoptimized apps.

And one of the big ones is I think,

Linus has pointed this
out a bunch of times,

the YouTube app on the Fold is
straight up missing features.

Like you can’t post to community
or post YouTube stories

on this phone’s YouTube app.

It’s kind of a nine.

And there’s also some apps that clearly

still aren’t designed to
work in a square aspect ratio

like Instagram.

And if you use them as they’re built,

they’ll put your wallpaper
blurred out behind it.

So it kind of feels
like a floating window,

but now there’s a new labs
feature that actually lets you

adjust the aspect ratio of
any app and sort of force it

into this aspect ratio to fill the screen.

And it works really well.

I was impressed and now
Instagram looks like

it was built for the Fold.

But overall, I can’t lie,

I’ve really just been
enjoying using the Fold

because it’s so different
from a normal phone.

And it kind of forces you to
start developing this habit

of every time you take the
Fold out of your pocket,

you have a moment to think,

okay, do I wanna use this closed?

Or am I about to open this up right now?

Like lots of the early
morning stuff for me,

like checking notifications,

catching up on Twitter,
maybe, some emails,

some quick replies, I’ll just
stick to the outside screen.

But as I move on with the day,

I suddenly start to wanna consume more.

Maybe I wanna watch a bigger video

or I start to type more than one sentence.

Then I have to decide to open
it up and really get into it.

But that brings me back
to my original focus here,

which is the ambition
of a phone like this.

Like I love using the Fold 3,

but I also loved using Fold 1 and 2,

but I was fully willing to deal with

the lots of shortcomings I’ve talked about

in order to be on the bleeding edge

and to have those couple of things

that no other phone could have.

And I think if you weren’t
that guy willing to do that

for Fold 1 and 2,

Fold 3 is not gonna be the
one to change your mind.

Like at the end of the
day, think about it.

If I’m someone who is willing to spend

a ton of money on a phone,

I’ve got $1,800 to spend,

I probably want the best possible phone

in as many areas as possible, right?

So I want the best possible specs.

And this phone does that,
Snapdragon triple eight,

tons of Ram, but that’s the easy part,

lots of phones do that.

I’m also gonna want the best cameras,

and the best battery life

and the best usage
experience and ergonomics.

And this phone straight up
doesn’t have those things.

I mean, even in Samsung’s own lineup,

you can get a phone that
does more of these things.

So that’s kind of where we’re at

with folding phones right now.

The trade-off is you do
still just get one thing

that no other phone has.

Maybe you really want that.

So Fold 3 gets the closest

to that particularly high ambition.

And I love that about it,

but it’s already got me
excited about the next one.

Either way, that’s been it.

Thanks for watching.

Catch you guys in the next one.


(bright upbeat music)


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