The Galaxy Z Flip 3 and Galaxy Z Fold 3 seem off to a hot start, with Samsung citing more pre-order demand for the new phones than all of the company's 2021's foldable sales. That's an impressive figure and shows that a lot of people want in on what could very well be the next big thing.
But with any new technology, or indeed any new form factor, there are bound to be growing pains. While Samsung seems to have addressed the durability concerns on both the Flip 3 and Fold 3, there yet remains another issue: battery life.
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With a 3,300 mAh power pack, the Galaxy Z Flip 3 was never going to wow anyone with its longevity. When you consider the technology involved with the Flip 3, however, Samsung's ingenuity really shows. While the total capacity might come out to 3,300 mAh (or thereabouts), the Flip 3's battery is split between the two halves of the phone.
We've actually seen this approach in traditional smartphones before. The Asus ROG Phone 5 with its mammoth 6,000 mAh battery has two cells to allow for the fast 65W charging. But with the compact nature of the Galaxy Z Flip 3, Samsung was up against a wall in this regard.
Even so, with a larger cover display and a 120Hz refresh rate on the inner displays, the Galaxy Z Flip 3 demands a lot out of its 3,300 mAh battery. And in our testing, the phone does not fare well, even against the original Galaxy Z Flip (which also had a 3,300 mAh battery).
Here's how the Galaxy Z Flip 3 held up in the Tom's Guide battery test versus other phones.
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip battery test results
|Row 0 - Cell 0||Battery life (Hrs:Mins)||Battery capacity|
|Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 (60Hz/120Hz)||6:00/5:43||3,300 mAh|
|Samsung Galaxy Z Flip||8:16||3,300 mAh|
|Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 (60Hz/120Hz)||7:52/6:35||4,400 mAh|
|Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2||10:10||4,500 mAh|
|Samsung Galaxy S21 (60Hz/120Hz)||9:53/6:31||4,000 mAh|
|Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus (60Hz/120Hz)||9:53/9:41||4,800 mAh|
|Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra (60Hz/120Hz)||11:25/10:07||5,000 mAh|
|iPhone 12 Pro Max||10:53||3,687 mAh|
|iPhone 12 Pro||9:06||2,815 mAh|
|iPhone 12||8:25||2,815 mAh|
|iPhone 12 mini||7:28||2,277 mAh|
|OnePlus 9 Pro (60Hz/120Hz)||10:38/10:40||4,500 mAh|
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 battery test: How it works
Here's how the Tom's Guide battery test works. The phone surfs the web continuously at 150 nits of screen brightness, launching a new site every 30 seconds until the battery drains. This is done over a cellular connection, typically 5G on devices that support it.
While it's not the only factor, we've included the size of the battery for each phone listed above. In the case of the iPhone 12 models, the capacity is based on teardowns and certifications since Apple doesn't officially list total battery capacities.
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 battery life
As you can see in the table above, the Galaxy Z Flip 3 doesn't last for too long in the Tom's Guide battery life test. Its best time is a flat 6 hours with the display locked at 60Hz, but goes down to 5 hours and 43 minutes in the adaptive mode (where the display refresh rate scales up and down depending on the content on the screen).
While it's impossible to say how long the Galaxy Z Flip 3 would last in your hands, we can say from both our test results and our everyday usage that the Flip 3 is not even close to the 10- to 11-hour mark we like to see from phones. Basic tasks like light web browsing, messaging and social media scrolling don't tax the phone all that much, but spin up a game or watch a video and you can see the battery percentage drop.
The Galaxy Z Flip 3 doesn't have super fast charging to compensate for this, maxing out at 15W wired and 10W wireless. Topping off quickly like you could with the OnePlus 9 Pro is out of the question.
The Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus, which features a 6.7-inch display like the Z Flip 3 but a much larger 4,800 mAh battery, lasted 9 hours and 53 minutes on our test in 60Hz mode and 9:41 in adaptive mode. The other Android phones in the list above have capacities much larger than 3,300 mAh, but we included them for your reference.
Of course, there's Apple's iPhone 12 line to consider. The iPhone 12 Pro, which starts at the same $999 price as the Galaxy Z Flip 3, lasted for just over 9 hours. Granted, iOS and Android are very different in terms of battery life, but even when you compare the 12 Pro to the Galaxy Z Flip 3's 60Hz result, you still see a vast difference.
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 battery life: Bottom line
Of course, our web surfing test is just one way to measure battery life. And we know that no one is going to surf the web for 10 or 11 hours straight. But this test does give us a way to compare endurance across multiple phones, even if it is a taxing test.
Regardless, the Galaxy Z Flip 3 disappointed us with its lackluster battery life. Even setting aside the novel form factor, the Flip 3 has several caveats. It's all around a good (and fun) phone, but if you're going to be away from home for a while you may want to carry around its charger and/or external battery pack just in case.