Product Reviews

Samsung’s Latest Folding Phones Finally Feel Ready

We all use our phones on the can. There’s no shame in admitting it. Sometimes it’s just to stare at a cat nonchalantly pushing a glass off the countertop, and other times it’s to respond to Slack notifications. There are some tasks I generally loathe doing on my phone, so I usually wait until I get back to the comfort of my desk. That’s until Samsung’s new folding phone came into the bathro—er, picture.

The Galaxy Z Fold3 has the shape of the ancient Nokia E90 Communicator; it’s tall and remote-like, but it opens up like a book to reveal a sprawling 7.3-inch screen. There’s also a narrow screen on the front for the times you don’t need all that screen space (or when you don’t have two free hands). The sales pitch? Convert your phone into a mini-tablet anywhere. Even the bathroom. 

Two days into using it, the bathroom was where this premise clicked. I was responding to an email, but I needed to simultaneously look at an attachment. On a normal phone, I could’ve juggled between the attachment and the email, but that’s annoying, especially when you’re trying to reference text in the attachment. Using a cramped split-screen mode isn’t all that fun either. 

But with the Fold3, I opened the phone up and put the attachment on the right side of the screen and the email draft on the left. No need to memorize anything and no need to juggle apps. Yay! I’ve been doing many more of these tasks on the Fold3, ones I usually would’ve just saved for a laptop or PC. Not always in the bathroom! Sometimes while lying in bed before the day starts, or when I’m out walking the dog. And it’s not always work-related too. 

I’ve also spent some time with Samsung’s other folding phone, the Galaxy Z Flip3, which is less a productivity tool and more a smartphone that can actually fit in almost any pocket. These two gadgets are iterations on their predecessors but they’ve hit a level of maturity that makes them the first folding phones I feel comfortable recommending to, well, just about anyone who can stomach their prices. 

Flip Out

The Flip3 uses the familiar clamshell design.

Photograph: Samsung

Of the two foldables, the Galaxy Z Flip3 has a broader appeal. It’s delightfully colorful and stylish, not to mention it starts at an attractive $1,000, which is among the lowest price we’ve seen for a device in this category. (Its accessories look equally fantastic.) Best of all, it’s compact. Take a normal, rectangular smartphone, then fold it in half so the top edge comes down to meet the lower edge. That’s the Flip3. How can you hate that? 

In its folded state, it’s around the size and thickness of a stack of Post-Its. It can pretty much fit anywhere. Yep, even those skinny jeans, so you can shove those cargo pants back into storage. Every time I had it on my desk or nightstand, I couldn’t stop admiring how little space it took up. If you’ve ever complained about the size of modern smartphones, this is a good solution. I also really like the physicality of opening and closing a phone. I noticed I kept playing around with it in my hands when I wasn’t using it, like a super-expensive fidget spinner. 

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