This Galaxy Z Flip 3 flaw ruins the phone for me

galaxy z flip 3
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

I've had the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 for a few weeks now and as the phone has settled in, I've found myself underwhelmed. I guessed that the novelty of a foldable would wear off and the phone's shortcomings would show their true colors in time. I was right.

The Galaxy Z Flip 3's battery life is just too limiting for me to want to use this phone for longer than it takes for the "oh cool, it folds in half, neato" vibe to wear off. The small 3,300 mAh power pack simply doesn't meet my demands.

Whether I'm watching YouTube videos at night, playing Genshin Impact or Game Pass titles after work, or opening the phone frequently to check on work-related tasks, I barely see 5 hours of screen-on time. And I've heard of even worse numbers from fellow reviewers. 

When rumors started swirling that the Flip 3 would have the same size battery as its predecessor, I grew concerned. The original Galaxy Z Flip was no battery life champ, and it lacked some of the upgrades that the Flip 3 got. I'm talking specifically about the much larger cover display and the 120Hz refresh rate on the inner screens. Both of these, especially the latter, are bigger battery hogs than anything the first Flip had.

Add in 5G to the mix and the Flip 3 was never going to be better than the first clamshell foldable. The power efficiency gains from the Snapdragon 855 in the first Flip to the Snapdragon 888 in the Flip 3 would not be enough to counter the new power draws, either.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

While no one should discount Samsung's engineering accomplishment here, it remains sad nonetheless that the phone is hampered by its lackluster battery life. To get a serviceable runtime, you need to disable the 120Hz refresh rate, locking the displays to 60Hz and losing out on a key selling point of the Flip 3.

My experience is by no means universal, meaning that you're not guaranteed to see the same disappointing numbers that I and some other reviewers have seen with our Galaxy Z Flip 3 units. That said, you should understand that this phone might struggle to get through a day of moderate use. What that means depends on you, but if you do phone (voice or video) calls, heavy camera usage, hefty gaming sessions, or have a lot of apps running, you'll need a charger (sold separately) or one of the best portable chargers or power banks.

If it was my money on the line, I would pass on the Galaxy Z Flip 3. I need a phone to last longer than this one does. If battery life is a concern for you, then a traditional device from our best phone battery life list is worth considering. Even outside of that round-up, you will still find the best phones period last longer than the Flip 3 — some of those include the excellent Galaxy S21 Ultra and OnePlus 9 Pro.

I'd take a thicker Galaxy Z Flip 4 if it meant a larger battery. Whether Samsung listens is anyone's guess, so we'll just have to hope.

Jordan Palmer
Phones Editor

Jordan is the Phones Editor for Tom's Guide, covering all things phone-related. He's written about phones for over six years and plans to continue for a long while to come. He loves nothing more than relaxing in his home with a book, game, or his latest personal writing project. Jordan likes finding new things to dive into, from books and games to new mechanical keyboard switches and fun keycap sets. Outside of work, you can find him poring over open-source software and his studies.

  • DanDiele
    I've had the Note 10+ previously, and recently got the flip 3. After using it for a week at work, with daily Google maps navigation to 3-4 destinations I've gotten similar or slightly better battery than the note 10+ however myself, like a lot of other people I think have gotten so used to plugging in, that it doesn't seem to affect usage for folks. It's rare, for me at least, to not have access to charge. I use a USB c to 3.5mm adapter for music in an older vehicle, so I don't charge until around 3pm for a bit, and that gives me enough for the remainder of my evening, charging on my drive home.

    What is a larger disappointment to me, is the lack of ultra fast charging. Although 15w works for me, faster would be nice, and then add an option to limit charge current next to that nifty option to limit soc % , for those concerned about longevity.

    I'm glad I chose the device, the folding part is definitely novelty, but I do like the compact size folded, and how I can keep the screen clean and clear. Also the outer screen is, pretty neat. It's limited in use, but still cool.