Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 vs Z Fold 2

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Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 vs Z Fold 2
Some say third time's the charm, and we couldn't agree more when it comes to the maturing of Samsung's foldable phone market. Who would've thought just two years ago that we will now be comparing Samsung foldable phones like it's nothing, and these will enter the usual carrier sales cycle of price drops when new successor features are introduced?

Well, we wouldn't call the Galaxy Z Fold 3 a proper third edition, as the OG Fold had a bunch of teething issues that Samsung remedied but it still felt like a proof of concept, so we'd actually start the clock from the Z Fold 2. A name is a name, though, so let's see how Samsung developed its foldable phone concept from the Z Fold 2 to the Z Fold 3 to warrant the cheaper price.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3

256GB, w/trade-in
$749 99
$1799 99

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3

512GB, w/ trade-in
$849 99
$1899 99

Also read:

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 vs Z Fold 2 design and displays

  • Z Fold 3 colors: Phantom Green, Black, Silver vs Black and Bronze (Fold 2)

The display dimensions of the Galaxy Z Fold 3 are what the Z Fold 2 offers, both on the outside, and the all-important inner foldable screen panel, just that this time around the cover screen also comes with 120Hz refresh rate. Samsung says that the new display is 80% more durable than the Z Fold 2's, as it uses tougher materials. The bezel-shaving induced allowed for a shorter and lighter Z Fold 3, too.

Moreover, besides the 120Hz main display refresh rate that the Z Fold 2 supports, too, the Z Fold 3 adds a Samsung S Pen digitizer layer, allowing you to doodle and annotate at your heart's will for the first time on a foldable phone. 

That huge canvas is all yours now, and it is much more suitable for a stylus than the Note line ever was. Unfortunately, there is no stylus silo, and the S Pen Fold edition is actually a case with the stylus tucked in the hinge area, adding bulk and expense for S Pen aficionados

The OG Flip pioneered the use of Ultra Thin Glass (UTG) cover for the bendable display while the OG Fold was still stuck at a polyimide (read: plastic) cover that first users peeled off thinking that it's a screen protector.

The Z Fold 3 is utilizing ultrathin glass, too, while Samsung is using a brand new supplier for it, the tried and trusted Corning. While Corning was developing its UTG covers for foldable phones last year, Samsung used the Germans from Schott as suppliers for the Z Fold 2, with finishing work done at home by DoInsys.

The exclusive three year contract with Schott, however, means high component prices, so Samsung Electronics, the phone subdivision, has been looking for an alternative ever since, and we bet it's glad that Corning managed to pull off its own ultrathin cover glass tech in time. 

The final touches on Corning's disk sheets, however, like thinning, chemical treatment, and cutting, are done by another Korean company but still, a bit of healthy competition is finally entering the foldable phone components supply chain.

New Galaxy Z Fold 3 vs Z Fold 3 screen features

  • First foldable display with an under panel camera.
  • The first foldable display with UTG to have S Pen input.
  • The first foldable display that replaces the circular polarizer with a color filter to reduce thickness, increase brightness and lower power.
  • The display film stack on the Z Fold 3 is much thicker now because of the S Pen digitizer
  • There is a rugged protection layer under the UTG cover like the one added to the Z Flip 5G.
  • Another, carbon-reinforced polymer layer, is added under the panel for improved durability.

As you can see, there is plenty that sets the Z Fold 3 apart from the Z Fold 2 in the design and display department, even though their screen diagonals and overall sizes may seem close. The under-display selfie camera adds to the different look and feel, and, on top of that, the Z Fold 3 is lighter and more durable. 

Oh, it's also waterproof now, too, a first in a foldable phone, and has a brighter screen, more pleasant to the touch screen than the one on the Z Fold 2 thanks to the new display layers.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 vs Z Fold 2 camera

  • Galaxy Z Fold 2/3 rear cameras: 12MP main + 12MP ultrawide + 12MP 2x telephoto
  • Galaxy Z Fold 3 selfie cameras: 4MP main display (under-screen), 10MP cover screen (punch hole)

As mentioned above, the big news in the Z Fold 3 vs Z Fold 2 camera department is, needless to say, the introduction of an under-display selfie snapper. Samsung has reportedly been working on under panel cameras for years and we finally get to see it in action this year.

What we'll be getting in the rear camera department, though, is the same triple set of 12MP cameras - main, ultrawide, and telephoto - just like the current Galaxy Z Fold 2. On account of the under-screen camera promise, we are more interested in the selfie camera department, and those won't disappoint. The cover screen has a punch hole for the tried-and-true 10MP sensor of Samsung, while the under-display unit sports 4MP resolution, and we test it out!

There are phones on the market with under-display camera already but their implementation leaves a lot to be desired and if Samsung has included one in the Z Fold 3, we bet it felt the technology is finally ready for prime time. Besides, including a slightly inferior selfie camera under the screen to achieve a look uninterrupted by notches or punch holes is a design hit for Samsung.

As for the rear cameras photo quality, there is no Galaxy S21 Ultra-style periscope zooming, there is simply be no place to put the gear, so don't keep your hopes high for the Z Fold 3 camera samples. With the same kit, Samsung can't do much better than the arguably middling camera on the Z Fold 2, even though it does slightly better this time around in terms of sharpness and low-light samples.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 vs Z Fold 2 specs and performance

Powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 chipset, with 12GB RAM and 256GB or 512 GB storage capacity, the Galaxy Z Fold 3 can certainly do one better than the Z Fold 2 with its Snapdragon 865.

Here is the Galaxy Z Fold 3 specs list for the camera, processor, and display:

  • 10MP front, 4MP UDC selfie cameras
  • 12MP main with f/1.8 aperture
  • 12MP Ultrawide with f/2.2
  • 12MP OIS 2x zoom camera
  • Snapdragon 888
  • 7.6" 120Hz 2208x1768 AMOLED
  • 6.2" 120Hz AMOLED
  • 12GB RAM and 256/512 GB storage 
  • 4400 mAh battery
  • 271g weight
  • IPX8 (water-resistance, but no dust protection)

Running on the "lahaina" platform, which is Qualcomm's internal model name for its top-shelf Snapdragon 888 chipset, the Galaxy Z Fold 3 manages to outrace the "kona" platform (aka Snapdragon 865) in the Z Fold 2 with a decent margin.

AnTuTu is a multi-layered,comprehensive mobile benchmark app that assesses various aspects of a device,including CPU,GPU,RAM,I/O,and UX performance.A higher score means an overall faster device.
Higher is better
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2
Huawei Mate X2
Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra

While both phones are rather powerful for anything that the Play Store can throw at them, the newer processor allows for much faster computational photography plus it will be needed to calculate all those S Pen inputs, digitizer doodling, and the multitasking that will ensue on the Z Fold 3's display.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 vs Z Fold 2 battery and charging speeds

While Samsung is keeping the 4,380mAh battery and 25W fast charging support from the Z Fold 2 to the Z Fold 3, the battery packs are one way it managed to cut costs and introduce lower pricing. 

How did Samsung manage to cut the Galaxy Z Fold 3 retail price, given that it adds extra hardware like an S Pen digitizer and UPC camera? Well, one way is by replacing expensive suppliers in the chain with alternatives that are no less experienced but can produce the component for less.

Battery makers ATL and BYD, two of the Chinese giants in the field, have entered the Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Z Flip 3 supply chain, replacing the more expensive packs. Well, expensive is a relative word, given that the report claims a typical phone battery costs $6-$8 but when you mass produce, every bit counts.

Another new Samsung device, the Galaxy Buds 2, is benefiting even more from Amperex as battery suppliers, as apparently Samsung was being charged for the small cells almost as much - $4-$5 - as for the bigger battery packs that go in to phones. 

As for the battery endurance, Samsung cut the main Z Fold 3 display consumption compared to the Z Fold 2 one, yet it introduced a 120Hz refresh rate on the external display that you'll use more often, so don't expect anything but average battery life on the Fold 3, just like its predecessor.

hoursHigher is better
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3
9h 34 min
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2
7h 5 min
Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra
16h 7 min

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 vs Z Fold 2 price

  • $1799.99 vs $1999.99

Long story short, in 2021 Samsung is optimizing the production costs of its foldable phones the smart way by adding features that don't cost an arm and a leg but add to the evolution of this budding niche, hence the rather significant specs and features advantage of the Galaxy Z Fold 3 over the Z Fold 2.

The Galaxy Z Fold 2 had a $200 price drop from its $1999.99 starting price, complete with gifts from Samsung which would've equaled it to the Z Fold 3 price. Unfortunately, Samsung just deprecated it in favor of the Z Fold 3, pulling off a Galaxy S20, so we'll never know how low could it go. 

All in good faith, though, because the lighter, more durable, S Pen-laden, better in every aspect but the camera department Z Fold 3, would've wiped the floor with the Z Fold 2.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3

256GB, w/trade-in
$749 99
$1799 99

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3

512GB, w/ trade-in
$849 99
$1899 99

Main Z Fold 3 vs Z Fold 2 advantages

  • Brighter, more durable main display with S Pen support
  • High refresh rate external display
  • Larger usable main screen area (hidden UPC camera)
  • Faster multitasking made more intuitive by S Pen navigation
  • Better sounding stereo speakers
  • Z Fold 3 is water-resistant

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