I’ve had the Galaxy Z Fold 3 for a month, and I have to say that the first couple of weeks of using it were a bit of a slog. My heart didn’t pound from adoration, but my pulse was certainly raised due to frustration a few times. It surprised me that it required way more adjusting to than I expected, despite my long-term use of the first Galaxy Fold. But now, on the eve of needing to take my SIM out to put it in a different phone, I realize this feeling has changed and I’ve completely fallen for the new foldable.

This is how I learned to love the Z Fold 3.

An adjustment period

I’ve used the original Galaxy Fold since its release, and spent time with all of Huawei’s foldable smartphones during this time, so I consider myself pretty familiar with folding smartphones. For that reason, it never crossed my mind that I’d need a period of adjustment to get used to the Z Fold 3. However, I’d underestimated how different the Fold and Z Fold 3 actually are, and this was the first bump in my relationship with the phone that I needed to overcome.

samsung, galaxy z fold 3, galaxy fold

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

The trouble was, I mostly used the original Fold opened up. The Cover Screen is too small to be of much use outside of notifications and Google Maps, and the phone is surprisingly compact and easy to hold when open. The Z Fold 3 has a much larger Cover Screen, and when open, it’s bigger overall than the Fold, but muscle memory and my experience living with the Fold meant I naturally just opened it up every time I wanted to do something.

The phone’s size made it rather ungainly doing this for everything, and ultimately slowed my phone use down, but I soon realized it wasn’t necessary because the Cover Screen is perfectly usable for most normal tasks like reading and replying to messages, checking Twitter, or reading email. I slowly trained myself to spend more time using the Z Fold 3 closed, and opening it up only when I would actually benefit from the larger screen.

samsung, galaxy z fold 3, galaxy fold

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

This takes an adjustment in the way you’re used to interacting with a smartphone. You have to think about what you’re doing. For a quick web search, you keep the phone closed, but for some online shopping ,you open it up. It may sound obvious, but remember this is different from not only what you’d do with a non-folding smartphone, but also different from how I’d already been using a folding smartphone.

I’ve gradually slipped into opening and closing the Z Fold 3 at the appropriate times to really make full use of both screens. It started off awkwardly, but now feels quite natural. This newfound two-screen format then introduced a different problem: The keyboard.

Typing isn’t easy

Samsung enables its own keyboard by default, and it has this excellent split-screen system when the phone is open where you use both thumbs to quickly type. That’s how I lived my life on the Galaxy Fold, as I never really used the Cover Screen. But the split-screen feature is the only good thing about the Samsung keyboard. Otherwise, it’s not very accurate, the predictive system is dim-witted, and swipe typing is very poor compared to Google’s Gboard. This is all especially frustrating with the phone closed.

1 of 3

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Switching to Gboard is the easy solution, but by doing so, you immediately lose the split-screen keyboard. While Gboard cures the Z Fold 3’s swipe issues when closed, typing on it with the phone open just introduces another, all-new annoyance: Its size. It’s a giant keyboard across the entire screen, so swipe typing takes too long, and because it’s not split down the middle, you have to bash each letter out with one finger. You can’t have different keyboards on the open and closed screens either.

You don’t fully realize how much a poor typing experience slows down and potentially ruins a smartphone until you deal with a bad example. My solution came with a Gboard feature called Floating Keyboard. It undocks the keyboard from the bottom of the screen and, crucially, makes it smaller. I can position it where I want on the screen and then use one finger to swipe type, just like on a non-folding smartphone. It stays docked with the phone closed and operates normally. This has transformed the speed with which I can get things done on the Z Fold 3, and is a solid workaround until Google does the right thing and makes a split-screen version of Gboard (hello Pixel Fold?), or Samsung dramatically improves the accuracy of its own keyboard.

Living with the Z Fold 3

Figuring all this out took a couple of weeks, during which time the initially very stiff hinge loosened up quite nicely, making opening and closing the phone less of a physical effort — which feels like a metaphor for my relationship with Z Fold 3 in general. Samsung’s durability improvements have meant I’m not so precious about the Z Fold 3 as I was with the Fold, and I use it without worry in the rain, for example. The new screen protector feels a lot more glasslike than the Fold, so my finger glides across it, and while it doesn’t get quite so smudgy, it does get covered in lint and dust.

samsung, galaxy z fold 3, galaxy fold

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

The flexibility and usefulness of having a small screen for quick use and a larger one for video or games is well-documented, but not everyone talks about how the folding design works for photos and video. The Z Fold 3’s software has been designed to work with the phone half folded, where it acts as a built-in camera stand. There’s a button to use the Cover Screen as a preview on the outside of the phone, or you can switch and use the selfie camera. Samsung’s gesture recognition system for taking a photo is also very effective. I’ve also used the camera hands-free to shoot videos where I demonstrate a smartwatch feature. It’s convenient and adds another dimension to the camera you don’t get on a regular phone without using an accessory.

samsung, galaxy z fold 3, galaxy fold

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

The camera takes great photos, but I’d also like to talk about Samsung’s enjoyable Single Take mode. All you do is shoot a 15-second video, and the camera app software creates multiple different clips and stills from it. Not all are winners, but there’s always some usable shots, or you have the full clip if you prefer. It’s simple, fun, and helps out when you want to capture something shareable without too much bother. If you don’t like the results, you haven’t lost anything, and it doesn’t take any special skills or lots of practice to use. It’s a great camera feature that also works well with the Z Fold 3’s hands-free system.

1 of 5

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Then there’s the Under Screen Camera. It takes average selfies, but I’ll take that trade-off when at all other times I don’t notice it’s there. You have to really look for its existence when it’s not active, and that makes the open screen even more visually impressive and immersive. Finally, the Z Fold 3’s side-mounted fingerprint sensor is fast and accurate, a massive improvement over the much less reliable sensor (which made me so mad I ended up turning it off, even though it’s a security no-no) on the original Fold.

Love finds a way

The bumpy start had me a little worried, but the Galaxy Z Fold 3 and I are now an item. Switching to a folding smartphone already demands you think about using a mobile device differently, but it turns out that as the technology evolves, even those with early experience with foldables still need to adjust. This shows not only how new this type of smartphone still is, but also how you can still find one that works for you even if you weren’t smitten after using an older folding smartphone. Things change. Phones change.

samsung, galaxy z fold 3, galaxy fold

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

I was willing to put in the time and effort to make the Z Fold 3 work the way I wanted it to — or as close as I could get –and now it’s everything I need it to be. It has two sizes of functioning screens available at all times, a battery that consistently lasts me two days with normal use, a versatile and fun camera, and the right amount of durability so I don’t feel the need to baby it at all times.

I probably should have put my SIM in that new review device yesterday, but I decided to hold off until I’d finished writing this piece. Really, it was just an excuse to spend more time with the Galaxy Z Fold 3 until I’m absolutely forced to put it aside for a break. Yes, it’s just a break, as I am already looking forward to the next time I have a gap between review smartphones so I can put my SIM straight back into it.

Internet Explorer Channel Network


LATEST NEWS

NEWS RELATED

Apple already included workaround for MacBook Pro notch

AppleInsider is supported by its audience and may earn commission as an Amazon Associate and affiliate partner on qualifying purchases. These affiliate partnerships do not influence our editorial content. Even before some vocal users complained about the notch in the new 14-inch MacBook Pro and revised 16-inch MacBook Pro, Apple…

Read more: Apple already included workaround for MacBook Pro notch

Samsung warns supply chain upsets may hit chip demand, profit at 3-year high

Samsung Electronics Co Ltd said on Thursday it expects component shortages to affect chip demand from some customers in the final three months of the year, after reporting its highest quarterly profit in three years.The warning comes as producers of goods from televisions to cars have faced a host of…

Read more: Samsung warns supply chain upsets may hit chip demand, profit at 3-year high

Apple expands first-party app ratings to Camera, Messages, Photos, more

AppleInsider is supported by its audience and may earn commission as an Amazon Associate and affiliate partner on qualifying purchases. These affiliate partnerships do not influence our editorial content. A month after enabling user reviews for first-party apps, Apple this week expanded the feature to allow ratings for its Camera,…

Read more: Apple expands first-party app ratings to Camera, Messages, Photos, more

Samsung smartphones getting this feature for faster digital payments

Samsung has launched a new Scan QR feature that allows users to make digital payments easily. The feature enables users to make QR code payments by opening the camera or selecting the Scan QR code option from the Quick Panel. The company claims that it has customised the feature to…

Read more: Samsung smartphones getting this feature for faster digital payments

New MacBook Pro uses battery pull tabs for easy replacement

AppleInsider is supported by its audience and may earn commission as an Amazon Associate and affiliate partner on qualifying purchases. These affiliate partnerships do not influence our editorial content. Apple’s redesigned 14-inch MacBook Pro battery swaps glue for pull tabs, a change that could make parts replacement and repair a…

Read more: New MacBook Pro uses battery pull tabs for easy replacement

Spotify says it 'recently passed' Apple as top US podcast platform

AppleInsider is supported by its audience and may earn commission as an Amazon Associate and affiliate partner on qualifying purchases. These affiliate partnerships do not influence our editorial content. Spotify’s substantial investment to build out its podcast platform is paying dividends, as the streaming music giant on Wednesday said it…

Read more: Spotify says it 'recently passed' Apple as top US podcast platform

In-app events land on the iOS App Store

AppleInsider is supported by its audience and may earn commission as an Amazon Associate and affiliate partner on qualifying purchases. These affiliate partnerships do not influence our editorial content. Apple on Wednesday launched in-app events, a new App Store feature that allows developers to create and promote special events like…

Read more: In-app events land on the iOS App Store

Apple releases Safari 15.1 for macOS Big Sur and Catalina with traditional tab design

AppleInsider is supported by its audience and may earn commission as an Amazon Associate and affiliate partner on qualifying purchases. These affiliate partnerships do not influence our editorial content. Apple on Wednesday released a new version of Safari for macOS Big Sur and macOS Catalina that reverts controversial tab user…

Read more: Apple releases Safari 15.1 for macOS Big Sur and Catalina with traditional tab design

App Privacy Report, Communication Safety features debut in iOS 15.2 beta

Apple issues first tvOS 15.2 beta to developers for testing

2021 MacBook Pro Giveaway: Enter to win Apple's new 16-inch laptop plus Polishing Cloth

'Pokemon Go' developer Niantic releases 'Pikmin Bloom' AR game on iOS

Apple seeds first developer betas of iOS 15.2, iPadOS 15.2, watchOS 8.3

Amazon Omni, 4-series Fire TV models to support AirPlay 2, HomeKit

Apple Music arrives on PlayStation 5

New 16-inch MacBook Pro review: More power & more convenience for more money

OTHER NEWS