Galaxy Z Flip 3 — Samsung hasn’t fixed the biggest problem

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 hands-on review
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Samsung has made a big splash with the Galaxy Z Flip 3. With several big improvements over the original version and a much cheaper asking price, there are now hushed whispers that this could be the first mainstream foldable phone. However, can that really happen when Samsung has insisted on sticking with an embarrassingly small battery?

In case you're not up to speed with the specs, the Z Flip 3 features a 3,300 mAh battery, the same capacity as the Galaxy Z Flip and way smaller than basically any other modern phone. Users deserve more for their $1,000, and it's disappointing that Samsung didn't alter this in the slightest.

It's not just that the rated capacity is small - Apple's iPhone 12 line all have much smaller than average batteries for their size. However, the iPhone 12 range still manages to achieve a decent battery life. The Z Flip certainly didn't, and the Z Flip 3's chances don't seem much better.

We've yet to test how the Z Flip 3 lasts on our custom battery drain test. However, we have the results from the original Z Flip. It managed 8 hours and 16 minutes, which is still way behind the average result of around 10 hours. It did manage to do better than the only comparable foldable phone, the Motorola Razr (2019), which lasted 6 hours and 8 minutes from its even smaller 2,510 mAh battery.

Compare the Z Flip's results to other flagship phones of a similar price, and things look even worse. The 6.7-inch iPhone 12 Pro Max lasts an impressive 10 hours and 53 minutes. Samsung's own Galaxy S21 Ultra, with its 5,000 mAh battery, managed an even better 11 hours and 25 minutes. Is having that unique clamshell design really worth over three hours of battery life? I'm not sure it is.

However, there are some things that go in the Z Flip 3's favor that the original didn't have. First off, it's much cheaper than the original. At $999 for the basic model (down from $1,299), it's $100 cheaper than the iPhone 12 Pro Max and $200 cheaper than the S21 Ultra. Perhaps saving that bit of cash will offset the frustration at that tiny battery.

Secondly, the Z Flip 3 has increased the size of its external display. The 1.1-inch notification window from the first Z Flip has developed into a 1.9-inch touchscreen that you can actually control the phone with. This in theory means you'll need to open the main 6.7-inch display less frequently, and therefore use less battery. Add to that the small tweaks and improvements to the operating system and apps that Samsung's likely made since last year, and perhaps the Z Flip 3 has a chance of lasting as long as your average smartphone.

We'll have to get back to you on how long the Z Flip 3 in our testing. We can't deny that Samsung's new clamshell foldable, like its bigger sibling, is an impressive piece of engineering with its flexible 120Hz inner screen, tougher, water-resistant frame and upgraded cover display. It's just a shame that one of the key parts of any smartphone has seemingly been neglected in all the excitement.

Richard Priday
Assistant Phones Editor

Richard is based in London, covering news, reviews and how-tos for phones, tablets, gaming, and whatever else people need advice on. Following on from his MA in Magazine Journalism at the University of Sheffield, he's also written for WIRED U.K., The Register and Creative Bloq. When not at work, he's likely thinking about how to brew the perfect cup of specialty coffee.