Foldable phones are still somewhat of a niche, but Samsung is looking to change that. The company just took the wraps off of the Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Z Flip 3 — two promising folding smartphones that look to improve on their predecessors with more durable designs, cool new features (like pen support) and prices that are slightly less eye-watering than before. These phones will still run you a premium at $999 for the Z Flip 3 and $1,799 for the Z Fold 3, but they’re some of Samsung’s most attainable foldables yet.
Samsung also revealed plenty of other cool new gadgets at its Galaxy Unpacked event that won’t run you a few thousand dollars. The $149 Galaxy Buds 2 feature a gorgeous and lightweight design, as well as a number of promising features for their relatively low price (including active noise cancellation). And for the wearable fans out there, the new Galaxy Watch 4 and Galaxy Watch 4 Classic are poised to be a serious Apple Watch rival, thanks to their all-new user interface and wide range of wellness-minded features.
There’s a whole lot to unpack (sorry, we couldn’t resist) from Samsung’s big announcements today, so let’s break down the big new products you need to know about.
Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold 3 is up for preorder now with a starting price of $1,799, and is expected to ship on Aug. 27. If you preorder by Aug. 26, you’ll get a $200 Samsung credit for use on Samsung.com. You can also trade in a device to make the cost of the Z Fold 3 lower.
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 with 256GB storage ($1,799; samsung.com) Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 with 512GB storage ($1,899; samsung.com) The Galaxy Z Flip 3 is available for preorder now starting at $999 and will also start shipping on Aug. 27. Those who preorder by Aug. 26 will get a $150 Samsung Credit. Similar to previous trade-in deals from Samsung, you can trade in up to four devices to lower the price of the Z Flip 3.
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 with 128GB storage ($999; samsung.com) Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 with 256GB storage ($1,049; samsung.com) The Galaxy Buds 2 are available for preorder now for $149 and launch on Aug. 27.
Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 in white, olive, graphite and lavender ($149; samsung.com) The Galaxy Watch 4 and Watch 4 Classic are up for preorder now and hit stores on Aug. 27. Preordering either watch by Aug. 26 will get you a $50 Samusng credit.
Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 with Bluetooth (starting at $249; samsung.com) Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 with LTE (starting at $299; samsung.com) Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Classic with Bluetooth (starting at $349; samsung.com) Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 Classic with LTE (starting at $399; samsung.com) Jacob Krol/CNN
Our favorite foldable is finally getting a successor — the Galaxy Z Flip 3, a $999.99 foldable smartphone that opens up from a compact square into a full-size modern smartphone. In this latest generation, Samsung is delivering a build that feels sturdier with more refined design elements, a larger front screen and more processing power. And for those who care about 5G, the new phone supports both of the core standards here in the United States.
We’ve spent about an hour with the Z Flip 3, and while that’s not a lot of time, we’re walking away with an optimistic look on the folding phone landscape. The phone features a glass and aluminum build that feels solid in your hand. Opening and closing it doesn’t result in a cracking sound like on the Motorola Razr and feels more fluid than the first generation. The Z Flip 3 comes in many colors: gray, white, pink, cream, green, lavender and Phantom Black. Its rounded edges and more polished aluminum edges look pretty lovely and sophisticated in person on the lavender and cream units.
Plus: The Galaxy Buds 2 are an excellent pair of $149 earbuds
The front of the Z Flip 3, when closed, features a 1.9-inch Super AMOLED cover screen that’s much bigger than the previous generation. It supports touch and can be used as a viewfinder for taking selfies, but it’s also a lot more functional than before, with support for widgets from apps like Samsung Pay, music and even the weather. And whatever you’re using on the front seamlessly migrates to the main screen by just opening the device. Next to the screen, on the right, is a 12-megapixel wide and 12-megapixel ultrawide lens. And if these sound familiar, it’s because these are the primary lenses on the S21 and S21+. We’re expecting clear imagery out of these and it’s a real flagship set for the price.
The real story with the design is the IPX8 water resistance, which is a first for a folding device. Yes, Samsung still has the hideaway hinge to prohibit debris from going under the main display, but the Z Flip 3 can also handle some water. We haven’t tested this as of yet, but it should make it a more durable device.
Opening up to the Z Flip 3’s central 6.7-inch Infinity Flex Display reveals a vibrant and sharp AMOLED screen. The real kicker here is an improved 120 Hz refresh rate display, which makes watching TikToks, taking in an episode of “Loki” or scrolling through Excel sheets a buttery smooth experience. This is up from 60 Hz on the original Galaxy Z Flip. At the top of this main display is a pinhole notch containing a 10-megapixel selfie camera that offers an ultrawide view. This way, you can pack yourself and friends into the shot. You can still see the fold mark as well.
As you’d expect from a Samsung device, it’s running Android 11 with Samsung’s One UI on top of it, and not much has changed here. You’ll still swipe up to reveal the app drawer, have Edge for easy multitasking on the side and — only if you want to use it — access to Bixby. In our brief time, it felt seamless, and that’s thanks to the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 processor inside with 8GB of RAM. The base $999 Z Flip 3 is paired with 128GB of storage, while the $1,049 Z Flip 3 features 256GB.
Like the original Galaxy Z Flip, the Z Flip 3 has a dual battery, which is essentially split between the two halves of the phone. It combines into a larger 3,300mAh battery and it supports wired charging at up to 15 watts or wireless charging at up to 10 watts. You can even place a Qi-enabled device on the back to charge off the Z Flip 3.
All in all, the Z Flip 3 is a true successor to the original and takes several steps forward in terms of design and functionality. A more modern look is great (plus, we like the aluminum and glass build), but the real kicker is the IPX8 water resistance, which should make the Z Flip 3 more roadworthy than any other compact foldable. The larger front screen lets you do more and doesn’t leave you with wasted space on the front.
And at $999, it’s more affordable than previous models and is in line with the iPhone 12 Pro and Galaxy S21+ in terms of price. With that in mind, choosing between the Flip 3 and a traditional flagship really comes down to what you want your phone to do.
Samsung’s flagship foldable isn’t changing much in the third generation — the Galaxy Z Fold 3 starts at $1,799 and aims to deliver a do-it-all experience. It’s a minor refinement versus a complete redesign like we saw with the Galaxy Z Fold 2 last year. The starting price is $200 cheaper with a build that, like the Z Flip 3, feels more durable in hand and comes in new colors.
You’ll be able to pick from Phantom Green, Phantom Black or Phantom Silver. The Phantom Silver stood out as the most flashy in our brief hands-on time, while the Phantom Black and Phantom Green have a more subdued look. It’s also still a pretty hefty phone, and Samsung didn’t slim it down this year. The edges are a bit more refined, though. The front of the phone still features a 6.2-inch AMOLED cover screen and supports a 120 Hz refresh rate. There’s also a pinhole notch at the top, which houses the 10-megapixel selfie camera. It’s nearly the same setup as last year.
Opening the Z Fold 3 like a book displays the massive 7.6-inch Infinity Flex display, and there are two key upgrades for 2021. For starters, it’s a 120 Hz refresh rate, which makes viewing content much smoother and more lifelike, as the screen can refresh itself faster. And yes, there is still a crease in the middle. The other trick is making the camera notch disappear from the top right of the screen. Samsung’s hidden the camera lens under the display for the first time, which is p
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