The $300 Galaxy Flip: The cheapest way to get a taste of Samsung's foldable future (and past)

This article may contain personal views and opinion from the author.
The $300 Galaxy Flip: The cheapest way to get a taste of Samsung's foldable future (and past)
Despite the fact that a record 14.2 million units of foldable smartphones were shipped in 2022 (with Samsung shipping over 11 million), and that a brand new IDC report estimates total foldable phone shipments worldwide to reach 48 million units by 2027, foldable phones are by no means becoming mainstream anytime soon. In fact, many share the opinion that foldable phones might never become the norm.

And yet, if you’re somewhat adventurous when it comes to phones, you probably couldn’t give a flying shoot about the foldable phone market; how many foldables Samsung sold, or how many the company will sell in 2027. You just want to give the foldable form-factor a try!

But here’s the thing… I’m not paying $1,000-1,800 for a phone just because it folds in half. In fact, I’m not paying over $1,000 for… any phone (that’s a different topic). However, what if trying out your first foldable phone didn’t cost more than buying a budget Android device - even in times of a global financial crisis and higher phone prices?

Well, what’s waiting on the other side isn't simply a clamshell Samsung foldable phone with great reputation, but also one of the best (used) phone deals around - of course, if you really want to try something different.

Amazing deals make the once expensive Galaxy Z Flip 3 the cheapest and best way to try your first Samsung foldable

Although there might not be a brand new Galaxy foldable phone, the Galaxy Z Flip 3 can now be found for about $300 on Swappa (or eBay), which, if you think about it, makes this device a completely different value proposition. To me, that’s pretty much like looking at a “new” phone. But should you pull the trigger on such a deal, or are folding phones still a risky buy?

However, while this list of cons would make a $1,000 phone rather difficult to recommend, if I was to (re)review the Galaxy Z Flip 3 at a price of $300 (that’s 70% less), some of those “weaknesses” wouldn’t even deserve a mention. So, yes - such a ludicrous price reduction does kinda make a phone look like a new offering altogether.

Foldable phones aren't expensive anymore but there are many other reasons to choose one over a "normal phone"

Speaking of the Galaxy Z Flip 3, it only makes sense to quickly talk about why you might want to give the foldable clamshell thing a go. Without going into the nitty-gritty (here’s our Galaxy Z Flip 3 review for more), I’ll try to point out the practical differences you might notice if you were to get a modern flip phone over a slab:

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  • It’s truly innovative and different - sure, slab phones are making decent progress in cameras and charging, but nothing comes close to a completely different form factor; folding phones are about as innovative as it gets nowadays

  • It can potentially change the way you use your phone - the fact that it takes an extra step to flick the phone open might make you use it less, which could be a real game-changer for people who can’t put their phone down

  • It’s tiny - when folded, of course, the Galaxy Z Flip 3 fits in any pocket; taking a phone that’s even smaller than my iPhone 13 mini to the gym, or on a walk with you is when you start to appreciate the real benefits of carrying a compact device; oh, and you can down when the phone is in your pockets - it’s a miracle

  • You can take selfie photos and videos with the main rear cameras, which is ideal for vlogging or… “influencer…ing”; the image quality coming from the rear cameras of the Galaxy Z Flip 3 will beat any selfie camera you can think of

The $300 Galaxy Z Flip 3 isn't the best phone if you want the longest battery life or if you're looking forward to the Galaxy Z Flip 5

Of course, the fact that a used/refurbished Galaxy Z Flip 3 costs about $300 doesn’t mean everyone should hurry up and order a bunch of them for the whole family…

  • Don’t buy a Galaxy Z Flip 3 if you use your phone a lot - the reason is the so-so battery life, which can certainly get you through a full day of use but only if you aren’t a power user (in all fairness, the same applies to the Galaxy S22, so the foldable form-factor isn’t really to blame here)

  • Don’t buy a Galaxy Z Flip 3 if you want the best camera system - although the Flip 3 has a very capable set of cameras, Samsung’s cream of the crop shooters are found in the “S” series of flagships - especially the Galaxy S23 Ultra

  • Don’t buy the Galaxy Z Flip 3 if you do a lot of gaming - the Snapdragon 888 is powerful enough to handle pretty much any game, but the Flip 3 is prone to overheating; again, the average battery life wouldn’t help gamers either

  • If you plan on switching to a clamshell foldable and stick with it for the next 3-5 years, it might be worth waiting for the new Galaxy Z Flip 5, which won’t only last longer but also bring the price of the Galaxy Z Flip 4 down

Buying used/refurbished phones on Swappa or eBay - do it right!

  • Do not pay outside the platform
  • Negotiate - the price is rarely final (about a year ago, I bought my iPhone 13 mini for $450 with 10 months remaining warranty)
  • You can always return a phone if it’s not in the advertised condition
  • Don’t rush - new deals pop up all the time
  • Always look for remaining warranty for your own peace of mind - some phones are virtually brand new

Yes, Samsung! People are “on the fence” about foldables, but the iPhone isn’t the reason for that; let’s make a cheaper Galaxy Fold?

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We’ve asked this question before, but that’s another great occasion to bring it up… Should Samsung make a mid-range folding phone? The answer is… of course! A clamshell foldable at a price of $500 instead of $1,000 would make taking the “risk” of buying into the new form-factor easier to justify for users who are “on the fence” - as Samsung likes to say.

Take Tecno Phantom V and the soon-to-be-announced Pixel Fold (expected to undercut the Galaxy Z Fold in price). If a relatively small phone-maker like Tecno can make a Galaxy Z Fold 4 competitor for the equivalent of $1,100, then surely there’s a way to cut costs and make a Galaxy Z Flip that’s at least 30% less expensive?

Another great reason to target the mid-range price segment is that Android users simply aren’t willing to pay thousands of dollars for an Android phone. Have you seen the top 10 best-selling phones in the world list for 2022? Only two Samsung phones made it into top 10, and both of them cost less than $200.

But hey, if you're comfortable with shopping on Swappa or eBay, the possibility of getting an unlocked Galaxy Z Flip 3 for $250-300 is here now, and if you’re really itching to get your hands on what Samsung calls “the future”, this is just one way to do it…

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