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Forget the Galaxy Z Fold 6. This new folding phone already beat it

Vivo X Fold 3 Pro camera viewfinder held in hand.
Tushar Mehta / Digital Trends

Foldable phones are pretty darn expensive. This means buying more than one is usually off the table for most folks, including those who already have the money to buy one. So if you buy a foldable that good but not great, you’re most likely going to end up with buyer’s remorse and even end up hating the form factor altogether. 

That brings me to Vivo’s newest sideways folding smartphone: the Vivo X Fold 3 Pro. It’s the most put-together foldable phone I have used to date, leading with many superlatives in the category. This includes the brightest display on a foldable, the fastest charging on a foldable, and arguably some of the best cameras paired with Zeiss’ incredible science. It may very well be the best Android phone — not just the best foldable — I have used so far. 

Vivo X Fold 3 Pro screen open held in hand.
Tushar Mehta / Digital Trends

The X Fold 3 Pro is Vivo’s third Fold, as the name gives away. But it’s only the first time that Vivo has the confidence to release it outside of China. The phone is still only selling in parts of Asia for now, and while there is some hope for it to launch in Europe, that may depend on its success in the existing markets. For Vivo, however, it’s more of a statement piece than just a product, which is why it has gone above and beyond in making it one of its most likable devices so far. 

I have been using the phone for about three weeks, and I feel it challenges the limitations that incumbent leaders in the category blame for their lack of innovation — save the folding screen. Here’s why I thnk it is the best foldable and may have beat the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 6 even before its formal announcement. 

Unmatched ergonomics

Typing on the Vivo X Fold 3 Pro.
Tushar Mehta / Digital Trends

From the earliest glimpse, the Vivo X Fold 3 Pro feels like a foldable you would want to pick up in your hands and use for long hours. That hasn’t been my experience with most foldables, especially the older Galaxy Z Fold phones, due to their restrictive outer display and brick-like composition. One exception that stood out for me was the OnePlus Open, which has been my daily driver since launch. The Vivo phone one-ups the Open’s incredible ergonomics. 

The Vivo X Fold 3 Pro is one of the thinnest and lightest foldables you’ll find, measuring 11.2mm (0.44 inches) when folded and just 5.2mm (0.20 inches) when lying flat. The phone weighs 236 grams (8.32 ounces), which is not much beyond the Galaxy S24 Ultra and the iPhone 15 Pro Max. While the Honor Magic V2 is an exception, it still runs last year’s hardware and inferior cameras, and a successor won’t launch globally until later in the year. 

Typing on the Vivo X Fold 3 Pro's outer display.
Tushar Mehta / Digital Trends

The Vivo X Fold 3 Pro’s dimensions and weight are single-digit deviations from those of the OnePlus Open. However, it goes in favor of Vivo upon realizing that it has a much larger cover display, measuring 6.53 inches, compared to the 6.2-inch cover display on the Galaxy Z Fold 5. More importantly, it follows a more conventional blueprint for the display’s aspect ratio, unlike the egregiously narrow Galaxy Z Fold or the Google Pixel Fold, which resembles a man’s two-fold wallet.

Gentle curves along the Vivo X Fold 3 Pro’s outer display and the rear glass panel delegate the same light phone impression as other phones from the brand. The design tempts you enough not only to hold the phone but also to open it up and spend a moment admiring its slenderness before you start using it. Whether folded or unfolded, the Vivo X Fold 3 Pro is easier to hold for a long duration compared to other foldables.

Using the Vivo X Fold 3 Pro with one hand.
Tushar Mehta / Digital Trends

The phone unfolds completely flat — nearly 180 degrees — and opens up with an almost camouflaged crease. Vivo credits a carbon fiber seam holding the folding hinge together for the minimal bulging in the inner folding screen, as well as the light weight. Like the outer display, the inner one is also massive and unfolds to an 8-inch footprint, larger than most foldables we know, including the OnePlus Open and the Galaxy Z Fold 5. Even leaks speculate a similarly-sized 7.6-inch inner display on the Galaxy Z Fold 6. 

Using the Vivo X Fold 3 Pro with one hand while lying down.
Tushar Mehta / Digital Trends

Despite the large displays on both ends, the X Fold 3 Pro distributes the weight evenly. At no point did I hold it in one hand and feel I would drop it due to a weight imbalance. I could easily anchor the unfolded phone between my thumb and pinky finger and continue using it in almost every reasonable position, being seated or lying down.

Outstanding displays 

Netflix on Vivo X Fold 3 Pro.
Netflix’s “3 Body Problem” with Dolby Vision on Vivo X Fold 3 Pro’s inner display. Tushar Mehta / Digital Trends

In addition to a footprint that facilitates ease of use, the Vivo X Fold 3 Pro’s staggering displays also perform heroically. Both the inner and the cover screens are among the brightest on smartphones — not just on foldables. Vivo claims a peak brightness of 4,500 nits on both of them, in the same range as the OnePlus 12 and far beyond what the Galaxy Z Fold 5 or the S24 Ultra offer. Even the Galaxy Z Fold 6 is rumored to feature a much dimmer display, peaking only at 2,600 nits. 

Of course, this peak brightness value is what the displays achieve at the level of a single pixel — while the global brightness is relatively much less. But the Vivo X Fold 3 Pro outpaces the Galaxy Z Fold 5 (or any other Samsung phone) with support for Dolby Vision — an HDR codec that pushes the display’s brightness to its highest levels, creating a richer contrast between light and dark nodes.

The biggest real-world utility of the bright displays is high visibility, even under direct sunlight. On the contrary, the phone can have really low brightness levels for easier viewing during the night. It even comes with an Extra Dim feature similar to Samsung phones to reduce the brightness even further. 

Outdoor visibility on Vivo X Fold 3 Pro.
Tushar Mehta / Digital Trends

Vivo also claims these are LTPO 8T panels, which means they can effectively switch between different refresh rate values between 1Hz and 120Hz depending on the content being played, which reduces visual tearing and improves battery life. In addition, the Vivo foldable also comes with a dedicated process to proactively change the displays’ refresh rate. The result is a super smooth and stutter-free experience, provoking an impression of some serious and reliable hardware under the hood driving it. 

Another key differentiator of the Vivo X Fold 3 Pro’s displays is the dual fingerprint scanners under both displays. So far, most brands have confined themselves to using side-mounted physical fingerprint scanners on foldables. Vivo, on the other hand, takes the unusual route of using under-display scanners — one inside and another for the outer display. Both of these are superior ultrasonic fingerprint scanners (which use sound waves to detect thumbprints) instead of the more mainstream optical ones.

Ultrasonic fingerprint scanner on the Vivo X Fold 3 Pro.
Tushar Mehta / Digital Trends

Despite the differences in materials covering both displays, the fingerprint scanners under both are incredibly fast. In line with other ultrasonic fingerprint scanners, as seen on the likes of the Galaxy S24 series, you can just touch the scanner briefly and lift your finger instead of having to hold it in that position. 

Incredible cameras

Holding Vivo X Fold 3 Pro in hand
Tushar Mehta / Digital Trends

Over the years, Vivo’s flagship X series has hauled a reputation of having some of the best cameras on a smartphone. This is largely attributed to Vivo’s partnership with German optics giant Zeiss. In addition to furnishing camera lenses with its trademark “T*” (pronounced, tee-star) anti-reflective coating, Zeiss has also endowed its expertise and helped Vivo replicate simulated versions of its classically revered camera lenses, including B-Speed, Biotar, Planar, Sonnar, and Distagon. Additionally, the partnership has bestowed Vivo’s premium phones with special color filters (also known as LUTs) to recreate the dreamy images characteristic of Zeiss. 

The Vivo X Fold 3 Pro borrows the same Zeiss-inspired camera features as the X100 series from earlier this year. That includes a 50MP primary camera with a sensor size midway between the X100 and the X100 Pro (or the newly announced X100 Ultra). Meanwhile, the other cameras — an ultrawide and a 3x periscope telephoto — are identical to the Vivo X100. 

Vivo’s flagship cameras have attained a high standard of phone photography, and the X Fold 3 Pro is expected to live up to the hype. It gets a host of presets, including combos with specific lens settings and LUT filters to re-create scenarios inspired by Zeiss lenses. 

Vivo X FOld 3 Pro camera module.
Tushar Mehta / Digital Trends

Zeiss cameras excel at making any inanimate object appear more lively and dreamy, and the Vivo X Fold 3 Pro’s camera helps achieve that to a great extent. While we have documented Vivo’s excellence at capturing glorious images time and again in our previous reviews, here are some photos I took with the Vivo X Fold 3 Pro that show its eminence. 

Irrespective of the lens you choose, the images exhibit qualities of professional cameras. These long-range shots taken from a distance have subtle blur around the leaves to help increase emphasis on the objects in focus — the post box and the building, respectively. This blurring effect is added artificially after the image is taken but makes the shot look much more lively.  

What I really admire about Vivo’s flagship cameras is their ability to recreate DSLR-like portraits, even while using the primary camera, usually meant for wide-angle shots. One can easily spot the non-uniform blurring in both of the images below, indicating digital manipulation instead of actual lens bokeh. Despite that, the onlooking person’s face in the left image and the relentless dog in the other are craftily separated from the rest of the scene, making the images appear more dramatic. 

But the real magic appears when you switch to the 3x telephoto in portrait mode. The Vivo X Fold 3 Pro’s telephoto camera with a 70mm-equivalent focal length beautifully retains the soul of the images, while the pre-crafted filters lend to an even more dramatic look. One of my favorite aspects about this camera is that it doesn’t subtract the human touch from the photos, leaving elements such as facial folds intact. 

Even when capturing subjects other than humans, the Vivo X Fold 3 Pro’s portrait camera does remarkably well at separating them from the background. My favorite testing scenario relies on using leaves because most phones often fail to focus accurately (autofocus relies on colors to separate objects). But as you can see below, the leaves in focus are shown isolated from the rest of the bunch. 

The last set compares a scenario captured in complete darkness and without any external light source (the actual scene was significantly dimmer than it appears here) apart from the moon. The f/1.7 aperture already allows enough exposure to make the leaves of the tree slightly visible. Even without using the Night mode, the X Fold 3 Pro increases the exposure time to roughly two seconds, capturing more light.

But with the Night mode engaged, there is much more visibility — and much less distortion around the dim areas. As in the images below, the night sky is transformed into a dawn sky, with the moonlight from behind the tree forming a halo around it. 

For foldable smartphones, cameras have been the weak link in the otherwise promising performance narrative. But the Vivo X Fold 3 Pro tells another story, suggesting that phone brands can no longer be excused for unexciting cameras on roughly $2,000 phones. 

Mind-blowing charging

Vivo X Fold 3 Pro fast charging while held in hand.
Tushar Mehta / Digital Trends

Another area where the Vivo X Fold 3 Pro excels is its battery performance. With a 5,700mAh capacity, it has the biggest battery on any foldable yet. After consistently using the phone for over three weeks, I can safely say it outlasts any other foldable phone I have used — and remedies one of my biggest peeves with the form factor. 

The large screens on horizontally folding phones, such as the Galaxy Z Fold 5 and OnePlus Open, consume a lot more battery than the vertical screens on standard slab phones. As a result, the battery on these devices is much shorter and barely grovels through the day without soliciting extra power. For the Vivo Fold, that’s not an issue. During my usage, the battery has easily lasted for over 30 hours. Not only does this inspire me to better utilize the inner screen but I am highly inclined to use the inner screen more and more, especially for watching video content and playing games. 

For charging, Vivo addresses another major drawback with foldables. It opts for super-fast 100-watt power delivery over a wired mechanism using its proprietary FlashCharge technology. Don’t worry about finding an aptly rated power brick, as Vivo includes a 100W charger in the box. 

Vivo X Fold 3 Pro charging graph.
Tushar Mehta / Digital Trends

Vivo suggests the bundled charger takes only 30 minutes to fully charge the phone. However, accounting for limitations such as heat generated in the process, it takes longer in real life. During my testing with an ambient temperature of roughly 90 degrees Fahrenheit, the phone took about 45 minutes to go from 5% to 100% of battery charge.

If you’re not carrying the official charger, there’s no need to worry. A standard USB-PD charger, such as one sold with a MacBook, will charge the phone in about 70 minutes.

The Vivo X Fold 3 Pro even comes with wireless charging, with up to 50W charging rate using an official high-speed vertical wireless charger or up to 5W using any other Qi-compliant wireless charger. While wireless charging is great for scenarios when you’re not using the phone for longer durations, I found myself relying on the fast charger for quick dashes of power. 

Exciting performance

Sqaud Busters Android game on Vivo X Fold 3 Pro held in hand.
Tushar Mehta / Digital Trends

A Snapdragon 8 Gen 3 chip, 16GB RAM, and 512GB UFS 4.0 storage hold the helm for performance here. The powerful combination ensures you never pine for power, even with the most demanding use cases. Naturally, gaming is one of the most demanding activities on a phone, and I nourished my newly formed inclination for the tiny multiple-shooter game Squad Busters. I played the game for several hours without even witnessing any heat building up. 

The Vivo X Fold 3 Pro handles Squad Busters effortlessly — and is expected to because of the hardware powering the phone. So I dialed the load up by playing the online battle royale title Farlight 84, which can be considered a hybrid of Fortnite and Apex Legends. I ran the highest graphics settings with anti-aliasing and high shadow details turned on.

Farlight 84 battle royale game on Vivo X Fold 3 Pro.
Tushar Mehta / Digital Trends

The game consistently ran at a frame rate of 60fps — the highest currently supported on the game’s Android version. While there was some noticeable heating, the phone never got uncomfortably hot. More importantly, it was very quick to cool down immediately after each gaming session. 

While I was already confident about the hardware’s abilities, the actual performance left no doubts about its capabilities despite the complex innards. I also found the phone had slightly better performance when used unfolded — which I suspect has to with better heat dissipation due to the larger surface area. I confirmed this by running one of the most intensive tests on the popular GPU benchmark, 3DMark. Below, I compile the results from both tests and compare them folded versus unfolded.

The test is called “Solar Bay Stress Test,” which tests the thermal response to CPU- and GPU-intensive tasks like gaming. The test is run continuously for 20 cycles to determine how the performance holds up with heat. Here is how the results compare:

Phone use state →

Metrics ↓ 

Folded Unfolded
Highest score 7,668 7,089
Lowest score 3,519 4,678
Throttling 46% 66%
Highest frame rate 37fps 33fps
Lowest frame rate 11fps 15fps
Temperature increase 17°C/30°F 9°C/17°F
Battery consumed 7% 10%

Although the phone started with higher performance in the folded state, there was a sharper decline in performance, greater heat generation, and greater throttling. This suggests that the unfolded state is better for gaming and similarly intensive tasks. 

Helpful software features

Flex mode on Vivo X Fold 3 Pro resting on a flat surface.
Tushar Mehta / Digital Trends

Along with an excellent set of hardware, the software experience is tailored for foldables. While features like flex mode have become basic features for folding Android phones, Vivo adds a few extra ones to improve usability and productivity. 

First is “Fold to Split,” which lets you flick the phone inward slightly and unfold it back to invoke a multiscreen setup. The gentle folding gesture saves the effort of manually dragging and dropping apps onto an existing open for a split-screen setup.

Fold to Split screen features on Vivo X Fold 3 Pro held in hand.
Tushar Mehta / Digital Trends

When you partially fold and unfold the phone, the existing app slides to the left, and an app drawer opens to the right, allowing you to choose the second one to open. You can only open two apps side by side, which isn’t as impressive as OnePlus’ Open Canvas feature, but the flick gesture is very functional and even cool to show off. 

The second feature I really admire is called Desk Calendar AOD. It basically converts the phone into a desk clock — with different watch options. You just have to enable the feature and place the phone on a flat surface while only partially folded.

Flex AOD on Vivo X Fold 3 Pro kept on a table.
Tushar Mehta / Digital Trends

The clock stays lit for almost an hour and turns off automatically to save battery. Besides the ingenuity and novelty, I find this feature highly reliable when settling in for sleep. I like having a very dim clock on my bed’s nightstand while still wanting to cherish complete darkness at night, and this is where the feature really stands out. 

Video on a half-folded Vivo X Fold 3 Pro.
Tushar Mehta / Digital Trends

Besides these, the outer display on the Vivo X Fold 3 Pro can also be used when only half folded, which is great for watching videos or for video calling without having to hold the phone. Of course, you can also use it to take photos in this orientation. 

Vivo gives it all, except one key thing

Vivo X Fold 3 Pro held in hand.
Tushar Mehta / Digital Trends

Vivo has gone all in to put other foldables to shame, and the features I listed above exemplify how it is one of the best foldables. The features that put competitors to shame are the display, camera, and fast charging. While the upcoming Galaxy Z Fold 6 is expected to bring some significant improvements over the Fold 5, we still don’t see it exceeding the Vivo X Fold 3 Pro in many areas, especially these three. 

There is, however, one major disadvantage that Vivo faces, and that is the lack of distribution channels. Despite the heroically charged foldable, Vivo is still limiting outreach to parts of Asia — while Samsung will sell the phone in practically every market. Even if you manage to buy the Vivo Fold from countries such as China or India, you will be paying $2,000 for the device and heavy import duties over it while not getting a global warranty. These bits make the Galaxy Z Fold a less lucrative but still more practical phone to buy.

However, if you don’t have to bother about the bills and can afford to spend a hatful of cash for the best camera, fastest charging, biggest battery, and the most attractive display on a foldable phone, the Vivo X Fold 3 Pro is simply unbeatable. 

Tushar Mehta
Tushar has a passion for consumer tech and likes to tinker with smartphones, laptops, wearables, smart home devices, and…
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