Samsung's new foldables and how they stack up to the competition

The Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Galaxy Z Flip 3 are here, but are they really an upgrade when compared to last year's models and folding devices from other manufacturers?

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Samsung's newest folding smartphones, as of August 2021.

Image: Samsung

Samsung's 2021 Galaxy Unpacked event was the premier of several new pieces of hardware. The Galaxy Z Fold 3, Galaxy Z Flip 3, Galaxy Watch 4 and Galaxy Buds 2 were all announced, but two of those devices were definitely the stars of the show: The Fold 3 and Flip 3.

Samsung has been a leader in folding smartphones ever since the launch of the original Galaxy Fold in 2019. While its folding devices may have suffered setbacks and technical issues, Samsung has now had a couple of versions to run through before this latest series, and that gives it an edge over competing devices from Motorola, Xiaomi and Huawei, and the latter two haven't even released folding devices in the U.S.

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All in all, the Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Flip 3 have a number of improvements that make them stand out in the folding smartphone field.

Specs comparison: Galaxy Z Fold 3, Galaxy Z Flip 3, Motorola Razr, Huawei Mate X2, Xiaomi Mi Mix Fold

The folding smartphone market is still quite small, but it's worth comparing some of the key hardware features that the latest generation of devices from Samsung and its competitors.

Galaxy Z Fold 3

Galaxy Z Flip 3

Motorola Razr

Huawei Mate X2

Xiaomi Mi Mix Fold

Dimensions folded

158.2 x 67.1 x 14.4 mm

86.4 x 72.2 x 15.9 mm

91.7 x 72.6 x 16 mm

161.8 x 74.6 x 14.7 mm

173.3 x 69.8 x 17.2 mm

Dimension unfolded

158.2 x 128.1 x 6.4 mm

166 x 72.2 x 6.9 mm

169.2 x 72.6 x 7.9 mm

161.8 x 145.8 x 8.2 mm

173.3 x 133.4 x 7.6 mm

Weight

271 g

183 g

192 g

295 g

317 g (glass), 332 g (ceramic)

Outer screen

Gorilla Glass Victus, AMOLED 2x, 120 Hz, 6.2" 832 x 2268

Super AMOLED, 1.9" 260 x 512

G-OLED, 2.7" 600 x 800

OLED, 90 Hz, 6.45" 1160 x 2700

AMOLED, 90Hz, 6.52" 840 x 2520

Inner screen

AMOLED 2x, 120 Hz, 7.6" 1768 x 2208

AMOLED 2x, 120 Hz, 6.7" 1080 x 2640

P-OLED, 6.2" 876 x 2142

Foldable OLED, 90 Hz, 8.0" 2200 x 2480

Foldable AMOLED, 8.01" 1860 x 2480

Rear cameras

12MP wide, 12MP telephoto, 12MP ultrawide

12MP wide, 12MP ultrawide

48MP wide

50MP wide, 12MP telephoto, 8MP periscope telephoto, 16MP Ultrawide

108MP wide, 8MP telephoto/macro, 13MP ultrawide

Front camera

Outside: 10MP

Inside: under display 16MP

10MP

20MP

16MP

20MP

Chipset

Qualcomm SM8350 Snapdragon 888 5G

Qualcomm SM8350 Snapdragon 888 5G

Qualcomm SM7250 Snapdragon 888 5G

Kirin 9000 5G

Qualcomm SM8350 Snapdragon 888 5G

Storage

256GB/512GB

128GB/256GB

256GB

256GB/512GB

256GB/512GB

Memory

12GB RAM

8GB RAM

8GB RAM

8GB RAM

12GB (256BG), 12GB/16GB (512 GB)

Connectivity

Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.2, 5G

Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.1, 5G

Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.1, 5G

Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.2, 5G

Wi-Fi 6, Bluetooth 5.2, 5G

Battery

4400 mAh

3300 mAh

2800 mAh

4500 mAh

5020 mAh

IP rating

IPX8

IPX8

none, water-repellent coating

none

none

Price

$1,799 (256GB), $1,899 (512GB)

$999 (128GB), $1,049(256GB)

$1,079.99

~$2,800 USD (not available in USA)

~$1,500 USD (not available in USA)

How do the latest Samsung devices stand out?

Looking over that table of device specs, you may have noticed that all five compared devices have similar features with a bit of variation here and there: The Motorola Razr lacks Wi-Fi 6 support, for example, while the Xiaomi Mi Mix Fold is the only device that offers memory configuration options. 

There are a couple of areas where the Samsung Z Fold 3 and Z Flip 3 stand out, with the first being their IP ratings, which none of the other folding devices offer. IPX8 means that the Z Fold 3 and Z Flip 3 can both handle more than a meter of water, but that X may be a bit confusing if you're not sure what IP ratings mean. The first number in an IP rating, X in this case, refers to the device's particle protection and ranges from 0 (unprotected) to 6 (the device is fully dust tight). The X provided by Samsung means that they didn't test the latest Z-series devices against physical particles, which may be a disappointment for owners of previous Z Fold and Z Flip devices, both of which have had problems with dust and debris getting into the hinges.

The outer screens on the new Samsung devices also have Gorilla Glass Victus, which can reportedly handle a drop of up to two meters and is twice as scratch resistant as Gorilla Glass 6, its predecessor.

It's also worth noting something else Samsung has that two of the devices listed above don't have: U.S. availability. Folding smartphone aficionados will need to hunt down a Xiaomi or Huawei foldable to import if they want one of those. 

With that in mind, the folding smartphones that business professionals should consider are both manufactured by Samsung. Whether or not improvements to the Flip and Fold 3-series will be enough to make them practical devices for day-to-day work remains to be seen. 

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