Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 vs. Galaxy Z Flip 3

There was a time when a bendy phone really wasn’t a good thing — Bendgate, anyone? But Samsung has changed the rules, and the two most impressive phones in the world right now are a pair with a big ol’ bend in the middle of their main displays. The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Galaxy Z Flip 3 are here, and they’re rewriting the rules. If you want to sample the future, then Samsung’s latest phones are your best pick for a new phone. But of course, there being two means there’s a choice to make, so should you buy the Galaxy Z Fold 3 or the Galaxy Z Flip 3?

Thankfully, these two are very different phones in a lot of ways, and we’re going to explore both of them and their differences.

Specs

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3
Size Unfolded: 128.1 x 158.2 x 6.4mm (5.04 x 6.22 x 0.25 inches)

Folded: 67.1 x 158.2 x 16.0mm (2.64 x 6.22 x 0.63 inches)

Unfolded: 166 x 72.2 x 6.9mm (6.5 x 2.8. x 0.27 inches)

Folded: 86.4 x 72.2 x 17.1mm (3.4 x 2.8 x 0.67 inches)

Weight 271 grams (9.56 ounces) 183 grams (6.5 ounces)
Screen size Main: 7.6-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X

Cover screen: 6.2-inch Super AMOLED 2X

Main: 6.7-inch Dynamic AMOLED

Cover screen: 1.1-inch Super AMOLED

Screen resolution Main: 2,208 x 1,768 pixels (374 pixels per inch)

Cover screen: 2,268 x 832 pixels (387 pixels per inch)

Main: 2,636 × 1,080 pixels (425 ppi)

Cover screen: 300 x 112 pixels (303 ppi)

Operating system Android 11 with One UI 3.1 Android 11 with One UI 3.1
Storage 256GB, 512GB 128GB, 256GB
MicroSD card slot No No
Tap-to-pay services Google Pay, Samsung Pay Google Pay, Samsung Pay
Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 Qualcomm Snapdragon 888
RAM 12GB 8GB
Camera Rear main: 12-megapixel ultrawide, 12MP wide-angle, and 12MP telephoto rear

Front main screen: 4MP under-display

Cover screen: 10MP

Rear main: Dual-lens 12MP wide

Front: 10MP ultra-wide

Video 4K at 60 fps, 1080p at 240 fps, 720p at 960 fps, HDR10+ 4K at 60 fps, 1080p at 240 fps, 720p at 960 fps, HDR10+
Bluetooth version 5.1 5.1
Ports USB-C USB-C
Fingerprint sensor Yes, side-mounted Yes, side-mounted
Water resistance IPX8 IPX8
Battery 4,400mAh

Fast charging (25W, charger not included)

Fast wireless charging (10W)

Reverse wireless charging (4.5W)

3,300mAh

15W fast charging

10W fast wireless charging

4.5W reverse wireless charging (Wireless PowerShare)

App marketplace Google Play Store Google Play Store
Network support All carriers All carriers
Colors Mirror Purple, Mirror Black Cream, green, lavender, Phantom Black, white, pink, gray
Prices $1,800 $1,000
Buy from Samsung, AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, Amazon, Best Buy, Walmart Samsung, AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon, Amazon, Best Buy, Walmart
Review score Hands-on Hands-on

Design, display, and durability

This is easily the most important category to go into for both of these phones, as the folding mechanism is probably the most exciting element for any buyer. While both phones share a lot of similarities, there are a lot of differences to be had too.

The Fold 3 is the larger of the two devices, by a large stretch, thanks to its book-like fold. Unfolded, it sports a 7.6-inch AMOLED display, running a 2,208 x 1,768 resolution with a 120Hz refresh rate. The size of it can’t be understated — it’s a tablet-sized display hidden within a phone. The cover screen is a 6.2-inch AMOLED 120Hz panel with a 2,268 x 832 resolution. It’s narrower than a regular phone but still very clear, colorful, and everything you’d want from a phone screen.

The Flip 3 takes a different approach to the folding formula with a clamshell fold. The inner display is a 6.7-inch 2,640 x 1,080 AMOLED display with a 120Hz refresh rate. It’s not as wide as the Fold 3’s screen and is definitely a more regular phone screen (aside from the bending), but it’s clear, crisp, and colorful. The cover screen is much smaller, being more keyed toward notifications and basic information, like the weather. It sports a 260 x 512 resolution and measures just 1.9 inches.

Aside from the strong physical differences, the two devices are somewhat similar. Both have an IPX8 rating for water resistance, stronger Gorilla Glass Victus glass, and an improved hinge that’s even better at keeping out the small particles that spelled disaster for the first Galaxy Fold.

So on paper, the Fold 3’s larger screens and bigger specs mean it wins, right? Well, not really. While the Fold 3’s tablet-like display is excellent and very useful once you get used to it, it means the phone is basically as thick as two phones when folded. That’s technically also an issue for the Flip 3, except the Flip 3 comes with a smaller footprint when folded, which will attract those who don’t want as large a phone in their pocket. The phone’s ability to shrink down and transform into a more regular size is as strong a selling point as the Fold 3’s massive display, and we think the two are at loggerheads. Picking between the two styles is going to be a personal preference.

Winner: Tie

Performance, battery life, and charging

Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Z Flip 3 seen from the front with open screens.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

These two foldable phones are flagships through and through, and that means strong flagship specs. Both have the latest Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 processor, which is going to be enough to keep the phone humming away happily and playing top-tier games for a long time to come. The Fold 3 does have an advantage with 12GB of RAM, and the option between 256GB or 512GB of internal storage. The Flip 3 comes with 8GB of RAM and either 128GB or 256GB of internal storage, giving the larger device a small edge. Still, it’s relatively slight.

As you might expect, the larger device also comes with a much larger battery. The Fold 3 has a 4,400mAh dual battery, while the Flip 3 has a smaller 3,300mAh dual battery inside. However, the much smaller display on the Flip 3 may mean the difference doesn’t translate to a big difference in battery life. But we’ve not been able to test the battery capacity on either phone yet, so that supposition will have to remain to be seen.

Both phones support 25W fast charging, 10W wireless charging, and 4.5W reverse wireless charging — though it’s important to note neither comes with a charger, so you’ll need to buy your own, unfortunately.

The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 wins this one, albeit narrowly.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3

Camera

Fold 3 camera array.
Ajay Kumar/Digital Trends

This is a tough category to judge, since we haven’t yet had a chance to test either of the two phones properly, but we can make some estimations based on what we know about other Samsung camera phones and the specs on offer from both phones.

The Flip 3 has the more conservative camera setup of the two phones. It has a 10-megapixel selfie camera, and a pair of 12MP lenses on the rear, one of which is a wide-angle lens. There’s no telephoto lens, and the megapixel count is a little lower than you might expect for a 2021 flagship, but this, on paper, is an acceptable setup for a camera suite. We’re expecting it’ll create good shots, even if the phone is unlikely to land on our best camera phones list.

The Fold 3 has a much larger suite of cameras. The back has a triple-lens setup with a 12MP ultra-wide lens, 12MP wide-angle, and a 12MP telephoto lens. The cover has a 10MP selfie lens as well, and as if that wasn’t enough, there’s another selfie lens hidden in the large display too. Yes, in the display. There’s a 4MP “under-display camera” (UDC) underneath the main display, and while the technology is an interesting idea, it’s clear from our initial observations that it’s a misstep from Samsung. Frankly, it just isn’t good enough in this day and age, and using the cover’s 10MP selfie lens, or even the main rear camera setup (and the cover display as a viewfinder) is recommended.

Still, even with this misstep, the Fold 3’s camera suite is likely to be the more versatile of the two on offer, but we’ll have to see how they turn out in real-world use before we can confirm this.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3

Software and updates

Galaxy Z Fold 3 cover screen.
The Galaxy Z Fold 3 closed. Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

There’s not a huge amount to say here, as both phones run similar versions of OneUI 3 (over Android 11), keyed to their particular shapes. As such, you’re going to get a similar software experience on both — and it is good software too. OneUI has come a long way since the bad old days of TouchWiz, and it’s no longer a chore to find Samsung-branded software on your device.

Updates are likely to be a tad slower than you’re used to, if you’re coming from a Google Pixel or an iPhone, though. Still, Samsung has sped up its updates in the past couple of years, so you shouldn’t be left behind by other brands by too much. You can expect to get similar update times on both of these though, so this is a tie.

Winner: Tie

Special features

Galaxy Z Flip 3 screen being opened up.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

You might have expected Samsung to call it a day and just say, “Hey, the phones fold, that’s special enough,” but it hasn’t. Both phones have a 5G connection, a special feature that’s rapidly becoming less and less special as time moves on. The Flip 3 makes the most of its compact folding shape with the Flex Mode, giving you hands-free photos and video streaming quickly and easily, but it’s the Fold 3 that really shines where special features are concerned.

The large inside screen means it’s excellent for multitasking, and you can open up to three apps at the same time. Add support for the S Pen to this (but only special, Z Fold 3-supported S Pens are allowed) and you’ve got a big, handy phone that’s versatile and powerful in equal measure. It wins this round.

Winner: Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3

Price and availability

Galaxy Fold (left) and Galaxy Z Fold 3 (right) cover screens.
Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Here’s the big one — how much will the future cost you? The Galaxy Z Fold 3 is the more expensive of the two, by a large amount. The basic model, with 256GB of storage, starts from $1,800. However, doubling storage will only cost an extra $100, and right now, Samsung is offering the upgrade for free as part of pre-orders, so there’s no reason not to go for the upgrade. Pre-orders are currently open, and the phone will ship on August 27.

Pre-orders are also open for the Galaxy Z Flip 3, and it will also ship on August 27, but the price is significantly lower. With prices starting from $1,000, it’s not an unreasonable prospect for someone looking to pick up a current-generation flagship. As such, it could be the first foldable to really burst into the mainstream.

Overall winner: Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3

While the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 will have its fans due to its smaller size and clamshell flip, the Galaxy Z Fold 3 is pretty clearly the stronger of the two devices where pure specs are concerned. It has more RAM, more multitasking capabilities, and a much larger tablet-sized screen. It’s the more powerful of the two, and it’s clear you get a lot for your money.

But does that mean you should just always buy the Fold 3? Well, not for sure. While it’s clearly the more capable of the two devices, the Flip 3 is still a very powerful device, and the clamshell fold will be attractive to anyone who doesn’t like the feel of a huge device in their pocket — and the Fold 3 very much is a large device. So if a smaller footprint is important, buy the Flip 3. If not, and productivity and usefulness are at the top of your list, well, you can’t go wrong with the Fold 3.

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