Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 battery life tested and it's not great

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 battery life
(Image credit: Future)

The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 has a lot to recommend it, from its massive 7.6-inch display and improved durability to its S Pen support and enhanced multitasking features. But heading into my Galaxy Z Fold 3 review I was a bit worried that this foldable phone's battery life, partly because it has a smaller battery than the Galaxy Z Fold 2.

As it turns out, my fears were well founded. The Galaxy Z Fold 3's 4,400 mAh battery is only slightly smaller than the 4,500 mAh pack in the Z Fold 2, but its endurance was significantly less in our testing. Just as important, the Z Fold 3 trails top flagship phones that don't fold by a couple of hours.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 battery life results

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Row 0 - Cell 0 Battery life (Hrs:Mins)Battery capacity
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 (60Hz/120Hz)7:52/6:354,400 mAh
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2 (60Hz/120Hz)10:10/9:054,500 mAh
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 (60Hz/120Hz)6:00/5:433,300 mAh
Samsung Galaxy S21 (60Hz/120Hz)9:53/6:314,000 mAh
Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus (60Hz/120Hz)9:53/9:414,800 mAh
Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra (60Hz/120Hz)11:25/10:075,000 mAh
iPhone 12 Pro Max10:533,687 mAh
iPhone 12 Pro9:062,815 mAh
OnePlus 9 Pro (60Hz/120Hz)10:38/10:404,500 mAh

On the Tom's Guide battery test, which involves surfing the web continuously over 5G at 150 nits of screen brightness, the Galaxy Z Fold 3 lasted only 7 hours and 52 minutes with the display set to 60Hz mode. We saw an even worse 6:35 with the adaptive display mode on, which scale up to 120Hz.

The Galaxy Z Fold 2 endured for 10 hours and 10 minutes last year in 60Hz mode and 9:05 in adaptive mode. That's a pretty steep drop-off, but the smaller battery might not be the only culprit. We tested the Z Fold 3 on Verizon's network, and the Z Fold 2 on T-Mobile, and the carrier can definitely impact battery life.

Regardless, the Galaxy Z Fold 3's battery life trails most other flagship phones by a long shot. For example, the Galaxy S21 Ultra's 5,000 mAh battery lasted a very impressive 11 hours and 25 minutes in 60Hz mode and 10:07 in adaptive mode. Meanwhile, the iPhone 12 Pro Max lasted 10:53.

The regular Galaxy S21, which has a 4,000 mAh battery, turned in a battery life of 9:53 in 60Hz mode. That runtime dipped to 6:31 in 120Hz mode. 

To be fair, the Galaxy Z Fold 3 has a huge 7.6-inch display, compared to 6.8 inches for the Galaxy S21 Ultra and 6.7 inches for the iPhone 12 Pro. So this foldable simply has a larger canvas for its battery to power. 

The Galaxy Z Fold 3 also has a 6.2-inch cover display, and while I don't think anyone would use it for that long of a stretch, we ran our battery test on it just to see how long it would last. In 60Hz mode, the Z Fold 3's front panel lasted 8 hours and 47 minutes, and it endured for 7:57 in adaptive mode. 

The bottom line is that the Galaxy Z Fold 3's battery life is a disappointment, but overall, we still recommend this foldable phone for everything that it enables you to do. I would just make sure you bring the (optional) charger with you if you're going to be away from home for most of the day. 

Mark Spoonauer

Mark Spoonauer is the global editor in chief of Tom's Guide and has covered technology for over 20 years. In addition to overseeing the direction of Tom's Guide, Mark specializes in covering all things mobile, having reviewed dozens of smartphones and other gadgets. He has spoken at key industry events and appears regularly on TV to discuss the latest trends, including Cheddar, Fox Business and other outlets. Mark was previously editor in chief of Laptop Mag, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc. Follow him on Twitter at @mspoonauer.

  • Puffnstuff
    I tethered mine to windows yesterday and it drew down the battery to 23% by early evening so it does appear to be power hungry depending on the use case. Nevertheless I still love it and am so glad that I preordered it to get those fabulous discounts.