Samsung’s foldable phones are innovative but with some downsides

Technology

Let’s face it: smartphones have gotten boring over the last few years. They all take pictures, they have great screens, they play music and let us check social media. That’s why foldables get us interested. They’re unique, they’re new and most importantly, different.

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Samsung says interest in its new foldable phones is already at an all-time high. The company says pre-orders for the Fold 3 and Flip 3 have already outpaced sales of the previous models.

There’s no denying these devices are unique – but whether they’re worth the high price tag depends on how much you’re willing to sacrifice. I’ve spent the past two weeks with both devices and here are my thoughts.

Fold 3

The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 is the more ambitious of the duo. There’s a screen on the outside plus it opens to reveal a big, tablet like screen on the inside.

This foldable has come a long way since the first generation, which you might recall had some screen issues. Specifically, the screen was getting damaged when dust or debris would get in through the hinge.

That’s all been fixed, and the phone is an engineering miracle. However, the outside screen is just OK for quick tasks since it feels narrow and cramped. That makes you want to open the device to use the big screen.

The big screen inside is fantastic for web surfing, watching videos and playing games, but not every app is optimized for the experience. Some standards, including Twitter and Instagram, have not been coded to take advantage of the added real estate and that’s unfortunate. When you see an app that is, like Google Photos, it’s a magical experience.

The Fold is also bulky and heavy. The screens don’t quite fold flat, leaving a bit of a gap in the middle, which will eventually be closed as the tech progresses. Also, opening and closing the Fold can feel like a lot of work, and you constantly worry about ruining the screen since you’re putting so much pressure on it to open and close it.

Cameras on the Fold are great but not Samsung’s best. Since there are so many ways to take pictures, your brain is always doing some background calculations on whether you’re using the best lens for the job. Taking selfies with the rear cameras are ideal, but it’s quite the steps to getting that setup and it involves a lot of screen touching.

Overall, the Fold 3 is reserved for those willing to pay $1800 for the most innovative smartphone experience available today – even if it’s not all there yet. There is a quiet satisfaction you’ll get from showing throngs of curious onlookers what you can do with the folding screen.

Flip 3

The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 is easily more recommendable. It feels like a Samsung phone just folded in half. It is a bit narrower and longer, which can make reaching the top of the phone a bit of a challenge. Also, it’s a bit top heavy so when you have it open, you must balance it just right so it doesn’t fall backwards out of your hand.

On the Flip, the cameras are good, but not great. Kind of a weak point for a $1,000 phone. Still, it’s so fun to use that you’ll forgive it most of the time and you’ll end up with mostly good shots in well-lit situations.

Opening and closing the Flip 3 isn’t as easy as you might remember from the Razr days. The hinge has a bit more pull to it, which makes it more work. It’s not easily done one handed.

Samsung made the exterior screen larger on the Flip 3 but it’s still not particularly useful. It might be good for quickly glancing at an incoming notification, but I found that taking selfies was much easier when opened. In fact, you’ll want to open the phone for most tasks.

Overall, the Flip 3 is a fun, interesting and unique phone. It feels just one generation from being completely perfect.

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