— Mobile

Samsung’s Galaxy Z Flip 3 is the foldable to beat – TechCrunch

I took a long walk on Saturday. It’s become a routine during the pandemic, a chance to unwind after too many hours indoors while seeing parts of the city that would otherwise be lost to subway rides in average years. Saturday was more purpose-driven, heading to a newly opened Trader Joe’s before Henri unleashed itself on the Eastern Seaboard.

Taking respite from the early rain, I found a food court in Long Island City, ordered shawarma, and pulled the Galaxy Z Flip from my pocket. I unfolded the phone, popped the new Galaxy Buds in my ears, and watched a baseball game on the MLB.TV app. The Flip really made sense at that moment, open in landscape mode at a 135-degree angle to keep the 6.7-inch screen upright. When the game ended (spoiler, it didn’t end well), I snapped the phone shut, stuck it in my pocket, and went on my way.

It doesn’t always come with a piece of new technology, but sometimes you get lucky and have an experience where it just clicks. There were plenty of jokes about the long-ago death of the clamshell when the first Flip arrived. Those won’t be going away anytime soon, of course, but the phone also offered the first sense for many that maybe Samsung was heading in the right direction with its foldable ambitions.

Image Credits: Brian Heater

Setting aside the early flaws with the first Galaxy Fold (we’ve covered them ad nauseum elsewhere), the device is also unwieldy. While it’s true the foldable screen affords you the ability to carry around a screen that might otherwise be impossible, it’s a significant device when folded. The opportunities to unfold don’t readily present themselves. The Flip splits the difference nicely between screen size and portability. In terms of display size, it’s effectively a Galaxy Note that snaps in two and fits well in your pocket.

Most of the talk of Samsung mainstreaming foldable has centered on the Galaxy Z Fold — mainly from the company itself. Samsung has made a big to-do about positioning the Fold as its latest flagship — augmenting or, perhaps replacing, the Note in its lineup. The Fold 3 certainly blurs the lines with the addition of S Pen functionality. Still, the Flip is the much clearer bridge between Samsung’s existing flagships and the foldable future it envisions.

Mainstreaming foldable was always going to be a tricky proposition. They were hit with negative coverage overproduction issues and prices; $2,000 is a lot to pay for a product you essentially have to handle with kid gloves. You shouldn’t have to worry about accidentally damaging your daily driver through regular use. The Flip benefits from the mistakes of earlier fold generations, getting a more robust design and water-resistance as a result.

Perhaps even more importantly, however, is pricing. The Galaxy Z Flip is Samsung’s first foldable under $1,000. Now, granted, it’s literally one penny under that threshold — a price point that puts it in line with expensive premium phones from the likes of Samsung and Apple. But in the world of foldable, that’s a huge win. The first couple of generations could — to some degree — survive on novelty alone.

Image Credits: Brian Heater

As more of these devices make their way into the world, utility supersedes novelty. But growing popularity also means scale — and, as a result, price drops. For the first time, buying a Samsung foldable is not the financial equivalent of buying two phones. That’s a much more significant threshold than the Galaxy Fold dropping $200 over its previous generation.

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