As a long-time tech nerd, I've always wanted to experience the crazy futuristic tech shown off in movies and TV shows for decades. Augmented reality experiences like the floating displays from Minority Report and Tony Stark's AI companion, Jarvis, from Iron Man are still quite a ways off from being fully realized. However, with smartphones like the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3, we inch ever closer to the sci-fi gadgets from the cinema.
Yes, I'm aware that not everyone is a fan of movies that show off far-out tech ideas and are not interested in those things becoming a reality. But for those who want to experience a taste of what we've seen for decades on the silver screen, we couldn't be more excited for what's here and what's coming down the line.
Of course, Samsung's Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Z Flip 3 aren't the first to experiment with alternative form-factors. There were the prior generations of folding phones from the manufacturer, but thinking of devices like the T-Mobile Sidekick, the Motorola Droid, and even the LG enV from 2006, unique, multipurpose phones have attempted to bring a taste of the future to the present.
While those devices from the past ultimately gave way to the rise of flat phones after the iPhone debuted in 2007, funky phones didn't disappear. One of the reasons that many of those products failed to catch on — and have any real longevity — is because there were always too many compromises when using one. The manufacturers who took the risk to offer something different in their products were doing something that many companies should be doing now — taking chances.
Whether it was poor software and user experience, lackluster cameras, bad build quality, or a litany of other things that plagued smartphones in the early years — even the most die-hard of tech fans couldn't stick with them. The third generation of the Galaxy Z line are the first non-traditional smartphones to offer a near perfect experience and is why they are the best foldable phones. But I say near-perfect because there are still improvements to be made from a hardware perspective and even the software.
These devices are the first smartphones that sci-fi fans would feasibly purchase — because we crave things like this, but they are also so much of a complete product that "regular people" can enjoy them. Of course, these are still very expensive compared to the more traditional smartphones, but the compromises users once had to make to even consider a phone like this are mostly gone.
Both the Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Z Flip 3 have significantly improved durability and added water resistance. Though the camera hardware remains the same as the Z Fold 2, the overall experience is better than before. Samsung not only has the means to push the sector of flexible displays forward but seems determined to do so.
Though Samsung isn't the only company working on products in this sector, it is the most active. Before LG shuttered the doors to its mobile division, there were hopes for a rollable phone from the company. Motorola revived an older, popular brand, with the Razr in 2020. But in 2021, the only phones manufacturers to release a folding phone to the public is Samsung.
One big name in the smartphone world is the company behind our favorite operating system, and that's Google. 2021 is the year that Google is really going for it in the flagship phone area with the upcoming Pixel 6 series. While we know that there are two phones on the way, both will be in the traditional smartphone form. We don't know for sure if Google will surprise everyone with a Pixel Fold at their fall event — though I hope they do.
For as much as I love my Z Fold 3, my favorite phones have been Pixel devices — but I grew bored of the hardware. With the refresh of the OS coming in Android 12 and the rumors of a folding phone from Google, the prospect has me very excited for a Pixel Fold.
But for as much as I'm enjoying the foldable phones we have right now, experiencing these products first-hand has me looking forward to what could be coming in the near future. Aside from other manufacturers getting into the game, the possibilities of other form factors may be even more intriguing.
Along with what LG has shown off in rolling displays, we also know that Samsung has plans for rollables as does TCL, and other brands like Honor and Huawei. Seeing these advances in personal technology is truly exciting and feels more real than it ever has.
There are always going to be familiar rectangular slab smartphones for people that want them. But, for the fans of something different, something that stands out, and not only in appearance, but that allows for innovative uses — foldable phones are finally satisfying tech enthusiasts. Thankfully, some companies are still willing to take risks and focus on more than just the phone camera and push the envelope as to what is possible — and I greatly appreciate that.
Galaxy Z Fold 3
The Galaxy Z Fold 3 is the first mainstream-ready foldable.
While the price is still quite high, great offers from Samsung and the carriers make this excitingly unique phone easier than ever to get. Great software, a unique experience, S Pen capability, and reliable cameras all mean you'll continue to be happy long after buying the phone, too.
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