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Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3's best feature is a big letdown so far

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 flex mode: camera
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Samsung's new Galaxy Z Flip 3 and Galaxy Z Fold 3 are now available. And as we calm down from the announcement and the lead-up to the official launch, I spent some time seeing if I could find more of the Flex mode-supported apps that Samsung said it'd had worked with developers on.

Suffice to say, I was ultimately disappointed. One of our criticisms with the original Galaxy Z Flip was the blatant lack of Flex mode apps. This feature highlights one of the foldable's key strengths (other than its incredible pocketability). 

I did some research and from what I could find, there aren't a lot of apps that support Flex mode. In fact, I don't know if there are any new ones this year because Samsung hasn't provided us with an official, exhaustive list. From all appearances, Samsung has spent most of its time working with developers on the Galaxy Z Fold 3's all-screen experience. That fits, since the Flip 3 seems like more of an afterthought compared to the Fold 3 — indeed, it seems to me that the Flip 3 fits the "look, we made an affordable foldable" role and little else.

The Galaxy Z Fold 3 showcases all of Samsung's display technology prowess. It's a beast of a phone. The Galaxy Z Flip 3 is also a good handset, but it faces far more shortcomings than the Fold 3, notably in Z Flip 3's battery life. I had hoped that the device would make up for its faults with excellent software. 

It seems to me that the Galaxy Z Flip 3 fits the "look, we made an affordable foldable" role and little else.

But in the last couple of weeks that I've had with the Galaxy Z Flip 3, I can't honestly say that there's a lot that the software experience has to offer versus the phone's predecessor. Samsung really dropped the ball here, at least so far.

I should note, you can technically force a lot of apps into Flex mode by enabling the Flex mode panel under Labs in the Advanced features section in Settings. This will break an app up between the two displays when you fold the phone over. However, it's not even close to the same experience as you'll find in apps that support Flex mode natively. For example, in Google Meet, you'll get the meeting window on the top display with the bottom display showing just a toolbar.

It's possible that the apps that Samsung had planned on weren't ready for the Galaxy Z Flip 3's launch — or perhaps they weren't ready for the lead-up to launch. Either way, the Galaxy Z Flip 3 I have sitting on my desk doesn't support more than a handful of apps officially for Flex mode. To say that I'm disappointed is an understatement, but Samsung can fix this in the next few months as more people (and hopefully developers) adopt their new foldables.

Jordan Palmer

Jordan is the Phones Editor for Tom's Guide, covering all things phone-related. He loves nothing more than relaxing in his home with a book, game, or his latest personal writing project. It's hard to nail down one thing that Jordan is passionate about, since his attention span for a single given topic or activity doesn't last long. Jordan tends to lurk on social media, but you can best reach him on Twitter.