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Galaxy Z Flip 3 early impressions
I have one of Samsung's new foldables, and I have some early impressions before I enter my review period.
Today, Samsung’s newest folding phones launch. The Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Z Flip 3 will dictate the next 12 months of foldables’ future, and I have one in my pocket right.
It’s the Z Flip 3, in case you didn’t know. I’m working on all sorts of coverage to really dive in and see what it’s like to live with a foldable phone. I also have a Galaxy Watch 4 on the way, and I’m testing the Galaxy Buds 2 as I type this newsletter.
As you can tell, I’m head-diving into the world of Samsung and its ecosystem. I’ve wanted to for years given how many people swear by it. And by the way, it’s not like I’ve never used a Samsung product before (I’ve used several). What I haven’t done is seen how well they all work together.
But that idea’s for another review on another platform. For this newsletter, I’m talking about the Z Flip 3, and I’ve got some early thoughts.
The Folding Screen is Awesome
Let me get this out of the way: if you haven’t touched a foldable phone, you will think the Z Flip 3 is one of the coolest gadgets ever. I did the moment I took it out of its box and started playing around with it. Watching the screen flex and bend the way it does on the Flip is really something else, and it goes to show you how far phones have come over the years.
More on that screen, one of the first things I noticed wasn’t the crease. It was the fact that the factory-applied screen protector (one you should never take off) has absolutely no oleophobic coating. Fingerprints are essentially magnetically drawn to the display, so if you buy this phone, expect to be busting out a microfiber cloth more often than not.
That being said, the display feels good to touch. That’s an important factor in the world of foldables since the screen has to be soft enough to, well, fold. Samsung is using a new generation of its Ultra Thin Glass that’s covered by the screen protector I just mentioned, and nothing feels gummy or delicate. The Z Flip 3’s display feels like a normal display, which is cool.
It’s still delicate though. I won’t be bringing any sharp objects or extra pointy fingernails near it anytime soon to avoid micro scratches, and I recommend you do the same.
A Sturdy Hinge
Another thing I noticed in my ~24 hours of interacting with the phone is how hard it is to open. People have said the hinge is more sturdy than last year (due to Samsung’s Flex Mode which I’ll get to), and they’re not lying. You cannot open this phone with one hand unless you forcefully fling it open like an old-school Star Trek communicator. I refuse to do this for two reasons: 1. I think I’m gonna break it and 2. I’m afraid I’m gonna drop it because of how thin it is.
A Fantastic Design
That’s the other thing. The Z Flip 3, unfolded, is incredibly thin. It’s got aluminum side rails that make it feel even thinner because they’re slightly curved. I got the Phantom Black model which came with a frosted black finish, and paired with the black sides, there’s no denying this is a sexy phone. It’s certainly not as flashy as the other color options Samsung offers, but it’s good-looking nonetheless.
Despite this, I have already ordered a case from Amazon. I refuse to risk shattering it.
Samsung’s cover screen on the Galaxy Z Flip 3 is, in no uncertain terms, terrific. It’s grown from 1.1-inches on the previous Flip to 1.9-inches which gives you a ton more room to read notifications, interact with widgets, and more. I’ve already found myself casually checking it to see if someone’s text me or if there’s an important email I should jump on. It’s not as fleshed out as Motorola’s cover screen on the foldable Razr, but do you wanna run full-blown applications on such a tiny screen anyway?
Performance, Cameras, and Battery Life
Since I’ve only had the phone for a day, I’m far from having an opinion on everything packed into the Z Flip 3. However, I have used/interacted with a lot of the device’s features in my free time. I’ve obviously felt how performance is with the Snapdragon 888 and 8GB of RAM, and I think it’s great. I’ve also enjoyed staring at the 6.7-inch Full HD+ 120Hz Dynamic AMOLED 2X display - it’s truly stunning.
I’ve also begun toying around with the cameras. Here are a couple of sample shots I got with both the main 12MP sensor and the ultra-wide 123-degree 12MP lens.
Over my first day of testing, I wasn’t impressed with the endurance from the 3,300mAh battery. However, I don’t want to dive too deep into battery life since the device’s stamina was likely hindered by me constantly using it and setting it up, something I only ever do once when I get a new phone to review.
With such unique hardware, Samsung has included plenty of software tricks to take advantage of it. The most prominent one is Flex Mode which lets you prop your phone up and have content display on the top half of the screen. That way, you can do things like watch videos without finding something to prop it up with.
The feature works with any app you want thanks to an experimental Labs feature, and it seems like it could come in handy. But the flexing feature I’ve been using the most is the simplest of them all: opening the Z Flip 3 to answer the phone. It feels like I’m using my dad’s flip phone all over again. (Oddly, you have to go into the Settings app to enable this, but it’s totally worth it.)
Also, while on the topic of flexin’, I showed the Z Flip 3 to a few of my co-workers, including my boss. They were all mesmerized by the folding aspect of the screen and how large it was. It’s definitely a stunner if you wanna impress someone.
Let the Fun Begin!
With that, I’m going deep into Samsung world as I enter my review period with the Galaxy Z Flip 3. I’m curious to see how much I’ll miss my iPhone 12 Pro, but I can already tell the foldable screen and 120Hz refresh rate will help with that.
What I’m especially curious about is how all of Samsung’s products tie in with one another. I’ve used Apple and Google’s ecosystems a lot, and they’re both consistent and reliable. Whether I get that same experience from Samsung has yet to be seen, and I’ll be reporting back here on Wiretapped during the process to fill you in on thoughts and concerns I have down the road.
Tapping the Wire
1. The person who hacked T-Mobile has apparently exposed himself
The Wall Street Journal published an article that profiles the person who claims to be responsible for that huge T-Mobile data breach. A hacker by the name of John Binns claims to have accessed unprotected routers which gave him access to a Washinton state data center that had over 100 different server credentials. Binns, a 21-year-old American who now lives in Turkey, also mentions his past and how the U.S. government is apparently after him. It’s a crazy read, to say the least.
2. Fitbit unveils new Charge 5 w/ full-color display, ECG recording for $179
I wrote an article about Fitbit’s latest addition to its Charge lineup. It’s definitely the most smartwatch-like Charge yet, and it makes me wonder what direction Fitbit will be heading in the future now that Google owns it.
3. Samsung is now the third most popular company in the smartwatch market
I guess the Galaxy Watch 4 is doing what it’s supposed to. Notably, this wasn’t a hard task since a company called iMoo was in front of Samsung before this, but it’s still impressive nonetheless.
4. Google might distance itself even more from Qualcomm than the Pixel 6 with its modems
A report from Reuters claims Google has chosen Samsung to supply 5G modems for the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro. This would be yet another jab at Qualcomm after the search giant announced it would use its own SoC for the phones. The conversation about whether Qualcomm is as dominant as it once was just got a lot more interesting.
5. Apple promises lower fees for publishers who join Apple News
If you publish news and want to use Apple’s services to let people pay for it but don’t want 30 percent of your revenue taken away, Apple has an offer for you. If you join Apple News and publish your content there, it’ll only take 15 percent. It’s part of the company’s new News Partner Program which the company detailed in a press release.
6. Microsoft is ending support for its Office Android apps on Chrome OS
I wrote an article on this because it’s important to highlight the one deal-breaking downside to this whole ordeal: Microsoft is gonna force you to use its web Office apps, and none of them (besides Outlook) have an offline mode.
7. Microsoft promotes Panos Panay to Executive Vice President, a.k.a. an advisor to CEO Satya Nadella
If you don’t know, Panay has served as Chief Product Officer for a long time and has influenced the direction of many of Microsoft’s hardware and software releases. It’ll be interesting to see how much of an influence he’ll have now in this bigger position.
8. There’s a new way to turn your Android phone into a webcam thanks to Camo
Camo’s an app that was originally available for iPhone users that let you connect your device to your computer and use its camera as a webcam. Now, that same feature set is arriving for Android users in a new beta open to the public. 9to5Google has a good article on it.
9. Snapchat introduces Scan, a Google Lens-like tool to suggest AR effects and identify objects
The Verge got the scoop on a huge new feature in Snapchat that will let you scan the world around you in hopes of you discovering new AR effects, video editing tools, and more. It’ll also help you identify different objects and creatures, if that’s your speed. I’m skeptical as to how useful it’ll prove to be in the long run, but I guess we’ll have to wait and see.
10. Google is now rolling out YouTube Music for Wear OS… on Samsung’s watches
The Galaxy Watch 4 and Watch 4 Classic can now utilize a new YouTube Music app that supports streaming and offline playback. Your watch has to be running Wear OS 3 to support the app, so you really shouldn’t get excited about this rollout until Wear OS 3 is more mainstream.
11. Kanye West wants you to edit music while you listen to it on this speaker
The Donda Stem Player, priced at $200, looks weird and does a lot of crazy things like let you control the playback of certain samples and drums in songs. It’ll also ship with a copy of Donda when, y’know, it eventually comes out.
12. OnlyFans reverses its plans to ban explicit content
OnlyFans basically said screw the banks, we’re gonna let our users upload all the sexually explicit content they want.