The 3rd-gen foldable from Samsung brings tons of refinementsBy Deepak Dhingra -
My team and I come across a smorgasbord of smartphones on a daily basis, as part of what we do at 91mobiles. However, we don’t get to see as many innovative devices as we’d like, and as much as the pace of technological advancements in this field would indicate. And even when do come across innovation, in many cases, it’s not meaningful enough. While at first glance, the new Galaxy Z Fold3 doesn’t appear as a true innovation – it is, after all, an upgraded version of its two predecessors, and brings along similar use cases. That said, I feel that it does pack in enough to refine that innovation and take it to a level where it’s ready for mass consumption… the high price notwithstanding. Allow me to explain.The innovation here is the foldable screen of course… that bit is clear. The Galaxy Z Fold3 employs this innovation to convert a phone into a tablet, thereby giving you a larger display to, you know… do whatever one does on a tablet. And we all know that the display is the key when it comes to interacting with a device like this. The fact that the Z Fold3 transforms from a pocketable gadget to one that lets you do so much more than a conventional smartphone is the highlight here. This, of course, isn’t any different from what its predecessors offered. So what’s so special about the new foldable then?
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The key, my friend, is the spit and polish. The refinement. The tweaks. Attention to detail. The improvements that make it not just faster, better, more capable than before, but also more usable. And these come in various forms.
For one, there’s the IPX8 rating. The Z Fold3 is the first foldable smartphone that’s water-resistant, and that’s great because if you’re spending the kind of money Samsung wants for it, a little water shouldn’t be able to spoil your prized possession. The IPX8 rating not only adds to peace of mind, but it also brings the device somewhat at par with other premium flagships, most of which are IP68 rated.Next, there’s the strong aluminium frame and the Gorilla Glass Victus that promise to keep your investment safe. I can’t say I tested this bit out thoroughly, but Samsung sure seems quite confident about the Fold3’s durability, and that bodes well for prospective buyers too.
Apart from the foldable screen, the other interesting and useful innovation here is the under-display camera. For a long time now, smartphone brands have been trying to find a suitable location to hide the front camera, and we’ve seen quite a few different implementations. Remember pop-up cameras? There was the classic notch too of course, which eventually gave way to waterdrop or dew-drop notches. We’ve seen shark fins, and even flip-ups (the Galaxy A80 and the ASUS 6Z). As of now, the punch hole seems to be the way to go for most. Generally speaking, the punch hole has now reduced to a small black dot that one gets used to with time.With the under-display camera on the Galaxy Z Fold3’s main screen, Samsung has gotten rid of that little blemish too, if I may call it that. The 4MP snapper on the main screen doesn’t handle too many selfie duties but is still essential for face unlock and video calls. But what would have been a black dot in the usual course of things, is just part of the screen on the Fold3. The black dot only appears when the camera is in use, but otherwise, there’s nothing there to obstruct your view. Sure, you can make out the pixels and figure out where the camera is if you look carefully, but for the most part, Samsung has still managed to get rid of that black dot quite effectively.
And then, there’s the added S Pen support. I actually have mixed feelings about this. Now, I didn’t get the S Pen to try out with the Z Fold3, but I”m reasonably confident that it’s a useful addition to the device’s repertoire, based on my experience with the S Pens I’ve tried earlier with Samsung’s Note series smartphones and tablets. The S Pen can add wings to your creativity, and boost your productivity if you use it to its fullest potential, and the Z Fold3’s large main screen should offer enough real estate for it to do its thing well. However, the fact that the S Pen can’t be attached to or inserted into the device makes it a bit inconvenient to carry around, unless you opt for one of those specially-designed cases.
I do appreciate how Samsung has thought through and paid attention to the software as well, and added tweaks that make use of the Galaxy Z Fold3’s unique form factor. The 7.6-inch screen is great for running multiple apps together, and thanks to the multitasking features that are baked in, you can do so quite well. Up to three apps can be opened together in split view mode, and you can add more on top as floating, pop-up windows. Running so many apps together seems overkill if you ask me, but the split-screen view can certainly be quite useful.Then are tons of other software features that take advantage of the Z Fold3’s dual screens and folding form factor too. For example, the camera app has an icon that enables dual view when the device is open, moving the otherwise full-screen viewfinder to the right side and allowing you to preview clicked shots instantly on the lift side of the screen. Similarly, another icon on the top right of the camera app toggles cover screen preview, letting you shoot selfies using the more capable rear cameras instead of using the front camera. Then there’s the Flex Mode, which offers additional functionality when the device is propped up half open on a flat surface, with the screen facing you (akin to a laptop). Flex Mode enables compatible apps to display contextual information or more functionality on the lower half of the screen, as the upper half shows the main content. For example, if you open the Gallery app and keep the device propped up half open in front of you, the bottom half of the screen turns into a touchpad using which you can scroll the pictures being displayed on the top half. Similarly, the calendar app shows the dates up top, with your meetings and schedule listed below, and the calculator app uses the bottom half as a numpad, showing the calculations up top. However, Flex Mode is supported only by a few apps as of now. While some non-Samsung apps like YouTube and Google Duo support it, you can force others to open in Flex Mode by enabling this on a per-app basis. This setting can be found under ‘Labs’, within the Advanced Settings option in the Settings apps. Forcing non-compatible apps into Flex Mode isn’t much help, however, since the bottom half of the screen only shows a few controls like brightness and volume and little else of actual use. Also present under the ‘Labs’ option is a setting that lets you enable a taskbar on the side of the main screen, making sure your favourite apps are just a tap away. This is a sort of an extension of the edge panels feature, which is also around if you want to make use of that.While I’m the subject of software, a handy new option that I found hidden deep inside battery settings was one called “protect battery”. Enabling it pauses charging when the battery levels touch 85 percent, thereby prolonging its lifespan. For those unaware, it’s always recommended not to let your phone battery charge to 100 percent or to let it drain completely on a frequent basis, as this impacts its charge cycles and reduces its lifespan. Also worth mentioning that many apps, mostly the default ones (including the settings app, the default file manager etc, among others) from Samsung, offer a dual-pane layout on the main screen, again making good use of the extra real estate.Otherwise, the Fold3 runs Android 11, with One UI 3.1.1. The whole gamut of goodies from Samsung is on board as expected, complete with access to signature features like Samsung Pay, Secure Folder, and the like. And how can I forget DeX… the super useful productivity feature that can give you a desktop-like computing environment on an external display, using an HDMI link, or if you have a compatible TV or display, wirelessly as well.
|Processor||Qualcomm Snapdragon 888|
|Rear Camera||12 MP + 12 MP + 12 MP|
|Front Camera||10 MP + 4 MP|
|Rs. 149,999.00||Go To Store|
|Rs. 149,999.00||Go To Store|
|Rs. 149,999.00||Go To Store|
|Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3||vs||Apple iPhone 12 Pro Max|
|Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3||vs||Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra|