Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 vs Galaxy Z Flip 5G: How much has the clamshell foldable improved?

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 vs Galaxy Z Flip 5G: How much has the clamshell foldable improved?

The brand-new Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 is official, and if you’re down with the folding flip phone field (that’s right; I went there), you’re probably wondering how it compares to the previous-generation model. This isn’t one of those comparisons where one is better for some and the other is better for other people. Obviously, the Galaxy Flip 3 is the better product; indeed, it would be a real problem for Samsung if the newer model wasn’t better than the older one.

As you can infer from the name, this is the third-generation model, the first being the Galaxy Z Flip and the second being the Galaxy Z Flip 5G. There are really only a handful of things that have changed over the years.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 vs Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5G Specs

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5G
CPU5nm 64-bit Octa-Core Processor (2.84GHz + 2.4GHz + 1.8GHz)7nm 64-bit Octa-Core Processor (2.95GHz + 2.41GHz + 1.78GHz)
BodyFolded: 72.2×86.4×17.1mm
Unfolded: 72.2x166x6.9mm
Weight: 183g
Folded: 73.6×87.4×17.4mm
Unfolded: 73.6×167.3×7.2mm
Weight: 183g
DisplayMain screen: 6.7-inch FHD+ Dynamic AMOLED 2X Display (22:9)
Infinity Flex Display 2,640×1,080, 425ppi, 120Hz adaptive refresh rate
Cover screen: 1.9-inch Super AMOLED Display 260×512, 303ppi
Main screen: 6.7-inch FHD+ Dynamic AMOLED 2X Display (22:9)
Infinity Flex Display 2,640×1,080, 425ppi
Cover screen: 1.1-inch Super AMOLED Display 112×300, 303ppi
Camera12MP f/1.8 wide (OIS, Dual Pixel AF) + 12MP f/2.2 ultra-wide
Front: 10MP f/2.4
Memory8GB RAM, 128GB/256GB UFS 3.1 storage8GB RAM, 256GB UFS 3.1 storage
Battery3,300mAh dual battery
NetworkLTE: Enhanced 4X4 MIMO, 7CA, LAA, LTE Cat. 20
5G: Non-Standalone (NSA), Standalone (SA), Sub6 / mmWave
Water ResistanceIPX8No rating
SensorsCapacitive fingerprint sensor (side), Accelerometer, Barometer, Gyro sensor, Geomagnetic sensor, Hall sensor (analog), Proximity sensor, Light sensorFingerprint (side-mounted), accelerometer, gyro, proximity, compass, barometer
OSAndroid 11
ColorsCream, Green, Lavender, Phantom Black, Gray, White, PinkMystic Bronze, Mystic Gray, Mystic White
PriceStarts at $999.99$1,199.99

Design and Display: The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 continues to evolve

While the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 weighs the same 183g as the previous generation, it shaves 0.3mm off of the width. In fact, it’s a bit more compact, by up to 1.4mm, in other dimensions. In other words, unless you have these two phones sitting side-by-side with each other, you’re not going to see a visible difference.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 under a Galaxy Z Flip 5G

There are a bunch of new colors though, which is actually significant. A broad range of colors means it’s a more mature product; it’s a product that’s proved itself and it’s here to stay. Brand-new products that are more experimental in nature tend to only come in one or two colors, since that just makes for easier logistics in manufacturing if the device flops.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5G and Galaxy Z Flip 3 hinges

The Galaxy Z Flip 3 comes in Cream, Green, Lavender, Phantom Black, Gray, White, and Pink, more than double the colors we’ve seen in any Z Flip at launch. With the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5G, we got Mystic Bronze, Mystic Gray, and Mystic White. More options are better for everyone, especially because this phone is kind of a fashion item.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5G and Galaxy Z Flip 3 unfolded with screens on

When you unfold either device, the main display is mostly the same, being a 6.7 inch FHD+ 22:9 folding OLED display. One big difference is the Galaxy Z Flip 3 has a 120Hz refresh rate, meaning you’ll see smoother movements. The outside display is much different with this generation though.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5G and Galaxy Z Flip 3 folded with displays on

With the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3, we’re getting a 1.9 inch Super AMOLED display on the outside, compared to the 1.1 inch screen on the Galaxy Z Flip 5G. This external screen is for telling the time, seeing notifications, and stuff like that, but the bigger screen allows for more imagery to use. It’s just prettier.

One other key difference about the new Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 is it’s IPX8 rated, so it’s pretty much waterproof. This is the first time a Galaxy Z Flip device has had any water resistance rating, so it’s a big deal.

Performance: Enter the Snapdragon 888

As you can see from the spec sheet above, Samsung is usually somewhat vague about what it actually says about the processors in its phones. As we all know, that’s because it uses different chipsets depending on where you live. Here in the U.S., you get a Qualcomm Snapdragon processor. With the Galaxy Z Flip 3, that’s the flagship Snapdragon 888, the best there is on Android phones right now.

This is coming from a Snapdragon 865+ in the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5G. Both are 5G chipsets, but the Snapdragon 888 is a full generational leap over the Snapdragon 865+. It’s important to note it’s a full generational leap, because there have also been incremental improvements such as with the Snapdragon 870.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5G and Galaxy Z Flip 3 folded up with camera app open

The Snapdragon 888 has the all-new Sixth Generation Qualcomm AI Engine, which is being pushed by the new Hexagon 780 DSP. That combines with the Adreno 660 GPU, which is promised to be 35% faster and 20% more efficient, and the CPU has a powerful Cortex-X1 core.

The cameras on both devices are identical, at least as far as the sensors are concerned. The Snapdragon 888 has the new Spectra 580 ISP, which is 35% faster than its predecessor, capturing 2.7 gigapixels per second. It’s also a triple ISP, meaning you can capture images with three sensors at once, although that’s probably not particularly useful with the Galaxy Z Flip 3 since it only has two rear sensors.

Like the camera, the batteries are identical between the two devices, but keep in mind battery life is another thing that can be affected by the change in chipset.

So what does this all mean to you as the consumer? Honestly, for the vast majority of people, probably not much. If you’re spending a thousand dollars on a phone, obviously you want the best performance there is to offer. However, if you’re still using a Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5G, you’re not exactly lacking.

Conclusion: Which one should you buy?

If you’re wondering whether you should upgrade from your Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5G, that depends on how much you want the new one. For most people, the answer is probably no. But those people aren’t the ones researching this right now.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5G and Galaxy Z Flip 3, side by side in tent orientation

Like I started out by saying, the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip is obviously the better product. It has a better processor, meaning you’re more future-proofed, it comes in more colors, it has a larger external display, and the internal display has a 120Hz refresh rate.

One thing we didn’t talk about was price. The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 comes in at $999, which is actually really good for a phone with a foldable display. Even if Samsung discounts the previous generation model, it’s probably a better move to go with the new one.

    Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3
    The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 follows the trend of the flip phone style, but with a foldable display.

The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 also has some interesting cases that you can check out, and you can check out our deals roundup here.

    Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5G
    The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5G is still a great clamshell foldable in the year 2021.

About author

Rich Woods
Rich Woods

Managing Editor for XDA Computing. I've been covering tech from smartphones to PCs since 2013. If you see me at a trade show, come say hi and let me ask you weird questions about why you use the tech you use.