Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 vs Galaxy Z Flip 3: Camera shootout

In our reviews, we’ve already established that neither the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 nor the Galaxy Z Flip 3 is the world’s best camera phone. With primarily 12MP shooters, Samsung’s foldables take average shots but don’t necessarily compare to the top camera phones in the market, such as the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra and its 108MP sensor. But how do the Z Fold 3 and Z Flip 3 cameras fare when pitted directly against one another?

With samples in tow, we decided to compare these two phones head-to-head in a Galaxy Z Fold 3 vs Galaxy Z Flip 3 camera shootout to see if there’s a clear winner.

Our verdict: Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 reviewSamsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 review

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 vs Galaxy Z Flip 3: Camera specs

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold vs Z Flip camera closeup

Credit: Eric Zeman / Android Authority

The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Z Flip 3 have nearly identical camera hardware. In fact, only the most minor differences set the new foldables apart at all.

The Z Fold 3 has a 12MP primary camera at f/1.8 with OIS, Dual Pixel autofocus, and 1.8μm pixels. The Z Flip 3 has a 12MP primary camera at f/1.8 with OIS, Dual Pixel autofocus, and 1.4μm pixels. There’s just the slightest difference in pixel size separating them. Both phones feature the same 12MP ultra-wide camera at f/2.2 and 1.12μm pixels. The Z Fold 3 adds a 12MP telephoto camera at f/2.4 with OIS, 2x optical zoom, and 1.0μm pixels. The Z Flip 3 does not have a telephoto lens. Both phones have Gorilla Glass DX covering the lenses on these main shooters.

Related: The best foldable phones you can get

Like the main cameras, the selfie cameras are almost the same. The Z Fold 3 has a 10MP selfie camera at f/2.2 with 1.22μm pixels and the Z Flip 3 has a 10MP selfie camera at f/2.4 with 1.22μm pixels. Only the aperture separates them. The Z Fold 3 adds a 4MP under-display camera at f/1.8 that hides beneath the pixels of the main inner display.

The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Z Flip 3 have nearly identical camera hardware.

It’s not just the camera hardware that’s virtually mirrored between the two phones. Each is powered by the same Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 processor, which features the same ISP for processing photography data. And let’s not forget Samsung’s software. The camera app is shared by the two phones too.

In other words, we expect the results of this Z Fold 3 vs Z Flip 3 shootout to be pretty close. Does one stand out over the other? Let’s find out.

  Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3
Rear Cameras Main: 12MP, f/1.8 with OIS, Dual Pixel AF, 1.8μm
Ultra-wide-angle: 12MP, f/2.2, 1.12μm pixels
Tele: 12MP, f/2.4, OIS, 2x optical zoom, 1.0μm
Main: 12MP, f/1.8 with OIS, Dual Pixel AF, 1.4μm
Ultra-wide-angle: 12MP, f/2.2, 1.12μm pixels
Rear Video 4K @ 60fps 4K @ 60fps
Front Cameras Selfie camera: 10MP, f/2.2, 1.22μm
Under-display camera: 4MP, f/1.8
Selfie camera: 10MP, f/2.4, 1.22μm
Front Video 4K @ 60fps 4K @ 60fps

The samples

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3


Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3

In this basic daylight shot, we have plenty of blue sky, green shrubbery, and whitish building elements. The shot from the Z Fold 3 has slightly nicer blues and is sharper with less noise, particularly in the large tree in the background. If you look closely, the Z Fold 3 produces the better image here.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3


Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3

In this second daytime image, we have more green and grays thanks to the church. The greens of the shot from the Z Fold 3 are plainly pushed more than those from the Z Flip 3. Both images demonstrate solid exposure and balance — and noise. There’s plenty of distracting noise in the leaves of the trees. Overall, the Z Fold 3’s shot is a little richer and more pleasing to the eye.

See also: How to use manual mode on your smartphone camera

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3


Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3

Samsung is known across the industry for boosting colors.

In these color samples, you can see bright, pushed colors from both phones. Samsung is known across the industry for boosting colors and it’s obvious here. I’m seeing identical color, exposure, and white balance, though the sample from the Z Flip 3 is a bit sharper. The colors are not quite accurate to the way they are in real life, but they look so good it’s easy to forgive Samsung for the tweaking. It’s too close to call an overall winner.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3


Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3

In this dusky shot taken of a waterfall from under a bridge, we’ve got a lot going on. The HDR is working overtime to pull out the details in those bricks on the left side of the image. I like that the greens are richer in the shots from the Z Fold 3, but the Z Flip 3 does a slightly better job balancing out the sky and the land together. The Z Fold 3 blew out the sky just a little bit when compared to the Z Flip 3. Here, I don’t think there’s an obvious winner.

More reading: The best triple camera phones available

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3


Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3

Reading the text lets us really examine the detail available in this pair of images. The text is equally legible in both samples, despite the slight difference in magnification between the two. Even so, the smaller text taken by the Z Fold 3 is just a wee bit sharper and cleaner due to some noise introduced by the Z Flip 3. The carving itself looks just as good in both photos, and the exposure and color is on par between them. There’s no obvious winner here.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3


Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3

Here, we’re looking at photos taken from each phone’s ultra-wide-angle cameras. Of all the shots in this collection, these two are the most similar. Each has the same strengths and weaknesses. For example, the colors and dynamic range are solid, while the small building in both photos loses detail due to slight overexposure. Given that the Z Fold 3 and Z Flip 3 share the exact same ultra-wide-angle camera, it’s no surprise that the photos are nearly identical.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3


Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3

Here we have a look at how the Z Fold 3 and Z Flip 3 capture portraits. Beyond the obvious difference in magnification, both phones do an admirable job here. Washington’s head is captured in sharp detail, with good edge detection and pleasant background blur. Exposure looks a little bit better from the Z Flip 3, as the Z Fold 3 overexposed Washington’s face just a little bit, which caused a small loss of detail. Most importantly, the portraits aren’t overly noisy and don’t look forced.

See also: The best Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 cases you can get

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 - selfieSamsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 – selfie
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 – selfie


Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 - selfie

Here are some selfie samples from the Z Fold 3 and Z Flip 3. Each of these is a 10MP shot, the Z Fold 3 with the outer cover camera and the Z Flip 3 with the inner punch hole camera. They are fine selfies, but not the best I’ve seen. There’s a lot of noise from both images, particularly in the background. That said, exposure, color, and sharpness are all on par between the two. It’s nearly impossible to tell them apart.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 - nightSamsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 – night
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 – night


Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 - night

There’s a clear winner between these two low-light shots. I like the way both photos show shadows from the floodlights on the buildings. The Z Fold 3 snagged a cleaner photo all around that’s sharper, more nuanced, and less washed out by the ambient light sources. The Z Fold 3 also managed to produce better colors despite the lack of light.

Related: The best Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 cases you can get

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 - nightSamsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 – night
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 – night


Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 - night

Neither of these night images is particularly compelling, but again there’s a clear winner. Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold 3 was able to pull far more detail out of the dark background using the night mode tool. The image from the Z Flip 3 shows hardly any detail in the trees at all, and its muted colors can’t compare to those produced by the Z Fold 3. Samsung’s pricier foldable notches the win here.

In this series, we have a full view of the phones’ zooming capabilities. Remember, both phones have an ultra-wide-angle camera and a main camera, while the Z Fold 3 adds a 2x optical camera to help with zooming. The results are surprisingly similar between the two phones considering how they’re making use of different lens configurations to get the same results. Despite the Z Fold 3’s extra glass, it doesn’t gain nearly the advantage it should over the Z Flip 3. The Z Flip 3 shows a hair less detail than the Z Fold 3 at 4x and 10x thanks to overprocessing. Given how noisy the 10x shots are, however, it doesn’t matter all that much.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 vs Z Flip 3 camera shootout: The verdict

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold vs Z Flip camera closeup showing the rear camera module on both phones.

Credit: Eric Zeman / Android Authority

Given the near-identical hardware shared between these two phones, I expected the results of this Z Fold 3 vs Z Flip 3 to be even closer than they are. The majority of the images above are close to dead even, with only minutia separating them. If there’s one trend I spotted, it was consistently better color in shots taken with the Z Fold 3. The color wasn’t dramatically better, but it was generally more pleasant to look at when compared to the shots from the Z Flip 3. Other than that and low light performance, however, little differentiates the photos.

I’m going to give the win to the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 in this head-to-head comparison, though it’s not necessarily by a meaningful margin. The cameras are so close — and they should be, given the similarities in the hardware — that it’s hard to declare one is truly better than the other. Whether you’re spending $999 on the Z Flip 3 or $1,799 on the Z Fold 3, you’re going to get comparable images from the cameras.

What I think is most important to point out here is that neither the Z Fold 3 nor the Z Flip 3 sets the bar in terms of mobile photography. If you demand the utmost in camera quality from your phone, you’re better off with the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra ($1,049), or iPhone 12 Pro ($999) — or even the Sony Xperia 1 III ($1,299).


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