Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 Review: I Love This Phone, But I Hate This Phone

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From 2002 through 2011 I was an avid PalmOS phone fan, moderating a PalmOS phone forum, and moving from the Samsung i330, i500, and i550 to the Treo line after Samsung killed off their Palm phones. After PalmOS was killed off, I have been on the Samsung bandwagon since 2011, going from the Galaxy Nexus, Galaxy S4, Note 4 Edge, Note 8, and currently the Note 10+.

Over that time, Samsung killed off some features that I loved, like having a user replaceable battery and an IR remote control, but they still had some unique features like magnetic payment via Samsung Pay and micro-SD storage.

But Samsung killed off those final features earlier this year and they failed to release a new Note phone this year. It’s unclear if there will be another Note released in the future, but there won’t be anything anytime soon for people hanging onto a Note 8/9/10 that want to upgrade.

Is it time to find a new bandwagon?

I wasn’t going to try a foldable device, but getting about $1,000 off a Z Fold3 via trade-in was enough to tempt me to try it out.

With a 6.2″ external screen, a 7.6″ internal screen, 5 cameras, 512GB storage, and 12GB RAM, it seems like a powerhouse of a phone.

What did I think of it?

  • The good:
    • When unfolded, the big beautiful display is something to behold. It has a ton of real estate that provides an excellent tablet-like experience when browsing the web or watching video.

Screenshot of the unfolded display:

    • Bizarrely, my favorite feature on the phone isn’t enabled out of the box. I found it hidden in “Labs” under “advanced settings” where more people won’t find it, the ability to select “multi-window for all apps” and “pin your favorite apps” turns the phone into a multi-tasking powerhouse. Having a list of recently used and pinned favorite apps on the side screen is reminiscent of my beloved edge screen on the Note Edge. Add in Samsung’s one-handed operation app shortcuts and this is one powerful multi-tasker!

Multi-tasking done right on the Fold3:

    • By folding the screen halfway, you can take top-down pictures with more ease than with any other device and the camera knows to split the screen into 2 automatically. From the upper screen you can easily see what’s the camera is looking at when the phone is pointed down without having to stand over your phone:

    • The fingerprint reader on the side power button is well positioned and extremely accurate and fast.
    • When you’re taking a picture of someone else in tablet mode, the subject can see what they look like from the external screen on the back of the phone. Pretty neat party trick!
    • This may be a pro or a con, but everyone will ask to see what in the world you’re holding. It’s like having a smartphone in the aughts.
    • There was zero noticeable lag time or sluggishness, everything was silky smooth.
  • The bad:
    • The front screen, while 6.2″, was too narrow for me to use. The long and skinny design is necessitated by the Fold’s large hinge. It’s extremely hard to use the keyboard to type anything with this screen and just too awkward for me to use in this mode.
    • The phone is very bulky when closed, even without a case. And it’s heavy!
    • As I didn’t use the front screen, this device requires 2 hands to use it in tablet mode, which meant I could never use it one handed.
    • The phone only charges at 25W, slower than my Note10’s 45W. It takes an absurdly long time to get a full charge on the phone.
    • Battery life was slightly better than I expected for such a resource hungry phone, but I wasn’t able to make it a full day on the battery.
    • The camera quality didn’t seem to be anything to write home about, and certainly not for a high end device. It still can’t take pictures half as good as my wife’s 3 year old Pixel 3.
    • The selfie camera on the large internal screen is a swing and a miss. It’s embedded underneath the screen and it’s a real eyesore compared to a hole punch when the screen is bright. Worst of all, the pictures from it are comically bad. And the Face Unlock doesn’t work very well from the camera either.
    • The array of cameras in the back make the phone wobbly when placed flat down, regardless of whether the phone is open or closed.
    • The Samsung Keyboard has a tablet mode that splits the keyboard into 2 sides to make it easier to use. However GBoard is a far superior keyboard, but doesn’t have tablet mode. Either way, typing on the device isn’t particularly easy.
    • The center crease when in tablet mode isn’t as bothersome as I thought it would be, but it’s always still noticeable.
    • Cases for the phone seem awful. There’s just no good way to protect this phone while keeping it fully useable in phone or tablet mode.
    • While some apps switch nicely between phone and tablet mode, some have jarring transitions. It’s strange going from Chrome Mobile with phone tabs to Chrome Tablet with tablet tabs. And it took me an embarrassingly long time to figure out how to close all tabs in Chrome tablet mode.
    • While I liked keeping the phone in tablet mode when I wasn’t on the move, you need to close the tablet in order to answer a phone call without a headset or speakerphone, which is an annoyance.
    • While the phone supports the S-Pen, you can’t use a Note S-Pen, you need to buy a special $50-$100 S-Pen for the Fold. And there’s no slot in the phone for it, you need a special case for it…and the cases are just not good.
    • While the phone is waterproof, it is not dust proof. If dust or sand get under the folding screen, good luck ever getting it out.

I really wanted to love this phone. And I did for the massive screen that really made browsing the web much more enjoyable and for the multi-tasking. But even 3 generations in, this is a heavy, thick, and unwieldy phone with just too many drawbacks. Perhaps when they figure out how to shrink the hinge and make a truly useable external phone screen I’ll give it another shot.

I switched back from the Fold3 to my Note 10+ and a smile came to my face. It may not do any fancy tricks, but it’s uncomplicated and works well, even though it has some sluggishness and can use a new battery.

Where does that leave me in my hunt for a replacement phone? Probably with a Pixel 6 or Galaxy S22 I’d guess. Samsung has killed off all of the reasons I’ve stuck with them over the past decade, so I’ll give the Pixel 6 a ride and see how it goes.

Do you have a Fold3? What are your thoughts on it?

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48 Comments On "Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 Review: I Love This Phone, But I Hate This Phone"

All opinions expressed below are user generated and the opinions aren’t provided, reviewed or endorsed by any advertiser or DansDeals.


Thanks for the feedback and review.

Samsung’s only hook for me is now the Secure folder (the Loopt tech and microsd, s-pen) with Knox tech is like having a 2nd phone as it allows me to run two sets of most apps with separate logins. Great for churning

Samsung pay is still good for MSR with a P2 card without becoming an AU, but still a few cars it can’t be used with.

Secure folder also allows a secure way to manually keep track of PW/UN changes – I’ve used Roboform for 15+ years on desktop computer, but I use Samsung pass for the phone.

I had an Android LG Gpad tablet that also allowed multiple profiles (like secure folder does) and thus dual/triple logins for apps. But that was Android 5.0/6.0.

Think I’m going to hold on to Note 10+ for another year or so.

Apple isn’t better

we love the s22


As you mentioned, I was also concerned about the weight of the Fold. Have S22 Ultra. Originally had the S22+ which was horrible. (Dropped calls, no data) Verizon couldn’t get me a replacement, so I got this one and I’ll see how it goes.


What S22? It hasn’t been introduced yet!

Yo ssi

Definitely going to stick with my Note 10+ as well.
Unfortunately nothing beats Samsung with there customizability and it’s a muti tasking champion.
Otherwise I’d take a pixel any day.


OnePlus 9 Pro 5G

Roni Lion

Thanks for an in-depth and detailed write-up. I enjoyed it from top to bottom, and love the Antarctica knick knack in the photo.


Speaking of Antarctica, Dan, when are you going to finish your trip write up???


the makes it or breaks it for me is whether it has a micro-SD slot. That’s why the latest phone I bought was the Samsung S20 FE. Does the fold 3 have one? I am pretty sure no pixels have one.


They are catering for power users, just they want them to pay monthly rent for cloud storage 🙂


sony xperia 1 lll


What about the note 20 isn’t that an upgrade from what you have?


Team #Pixel


You may also want to wait for the rumored Pixel Fold which may come out this fall

Avi L

Thank goodness I didn’t get the fold. Thank you Dan for this I got have the note 10+ and it’s still amazing has everything I need in this phone.


What about a iPhone?


An iPhone….. from Apple? You mean the company that actually destroys your phone when they decide it’s time for you to come in and buy a brand new one? Yea….. I try to be a smart consumer and avoid iPhones….,smartphone%20models%2C%20as%20some%20believed.

Sam L

Switch the region to France. Apparently it’s illegal there to slow down the phones.


it seems that you can’t put whatever you want into a phone. lets leave a phone a phone and a tablet a tablet…


You have an Uber Eats App…. in Cleveland?


I know i’m generally pretty NYC centric, but last I checked people in Cleveland were allowed to eat food.


So, I’ll rephrase. Are there kosher restaurant options on the app in Cleveland?


The reality is that it’s a “pocketable tablet” not a phone. When thought of and treated that way I think it makes more sense but only if that is the specific need you’re looking to fill. For me? I’ll pass. Personally looking forward to seeing the Microsoft Duo 2 for this Niche.


I have the fold and actually love it. The front screen took some getting used to, but once I replaced Samsungs keyboard with gboard, it improved dramatically. Samsungs keyboard is unusable on the front screen. You are right that there are no good cases though:)


I went from the Note 10+ to the Note 20 Ultra, mostly for the 5G upgrade. I regret it every day. The 5G performance is horrid – and you can’t shut it off. There are many spots in both of our neighborhoods where I consistently lose all data. And I have never seen faster that 2mb upload anywhere. Also, after the Not2 20, the removed the MicroSD slot. The 5G might get better one day (I hope!) but I will never buy a phone without a memory slot.

Keep your 10+


“I switched back from the Fold3 to my Note 10+ and a smile came to my face. It may not do any fancy tricks, but it’s uncomplicated and works well, even though it has some sluggishness and can use a new battery.”

Isn’t there a (Chassidic?) story about a man who goes to the rabbi and complains about the noise in his house, so the rabbi tells him to acquire a bunch of animals? Gmar chasima tovah.

Sam L
Sam L

@Dan – I loved seeing your home screen on your phone. Would love a post breaking down why you have each app and what you use it for. Like this:


I upgraded to the S21 5G over my S9 – total cost $50 after trade in.
Camera was certainly an upgrade, but I shoot with a DSLM so I’m never worried as long as the camera is decent enough.
Much faster, better internet.
Screen is too small for major video watching, but thats why I have a tablet at home. MicroSD hurts, so i sprang for the 256gb. Comparing to the different Note options I’m glad I stuck with the S21.


I am using the s20fe. Its a great phone for a low price. It has 5g a great camera and a SG slot. I used to love my note 9 but the battery life is way better on this one. And Dan I still have the edge for my favorites.
Gemar Chasima Tova thanks for all your excellent advice.


Give OnePlus a shot

We’d love a review


Knew it!
I tried the fold 2 and I had the same exact main complain!
Front screen too narrow for texting… So each time I got a text, I needed to open the phone… Pass!

Sam F.

I was a Palm OS lover as well! I moved to Windows Phone. That was also killed. Went to iOS after that. It’s ok, but I miss Palm/Windows features.