Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 vs Vivo X Fold: The Best Foldable Hardware or Superior Foldable Software?

Every new foldable phone that gets released should and will be compared against Samsung’s latest foldables. Samsung is the pioneer and originator of the product category, and for most of the world, Samsung’s foldables are still the only foldables they have access to. The latest challenger is the Vivo X Fold, which brings much of the same foldable hardware breakthroughs first introduced by Huawei’s Mate X2, plus it gets Vivo’s out-of-nowhere impressive camera system and Google Mobile Services support. How does Vivo’s foldable foray measure up against Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold 3?

    Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3

    As the most accessible large screen foldable phone, Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold 3 has a built-in advantage many of its competitors do not — but despite this, Samsung mostly earns its status as the default option, as the Galaxy Z Fold 3 is still the most polished all-around foldable in the world.

    Vivo X Fold

    The latest challenger to Samsung’s throne brings a near-flagship camera system, in-display fingerprint scanner(s), and a large, crease-free screen.

galaxy z fold 3 and vivo x fold

Vivo X Fold (left) and Galaxy Z Fold 3 (right)

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Vivo X Fold: Specifications

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 Vivo X Fold
CPU Snapdragon 888 Snapdragon 8 Gen 1
Dimensions and weight
  • Folded: 158.2 x 67.1 x 16.0mm
  • Unfolded: 158.2 x 128.1 x 6.4mm
  • Weight: 271g
  • Folded: 162.01mm x 74.5 x 14.6 mm
  • Unfolded: 162.01mm x 144.87mm x 7.4mm
  • Weight: 311g
Display Inner display:

  • 7.6-inch QXGA+ Dynamic -AMOLED 2X Display
  • 22.5:18 aspect ratio
  • 2208 x 1768
  • 120Hz

Cover display:

  • 6.2-inch HD+ Dynamic AMOLED 2X Display
  • 24.5:9 aspect ratio
  • 2268 x 832
  • 120Hz 
Inner display:

  • 8.03-inch AMOLED Samsung E5
  • LTPO
  • 2K (2200 x 1800)
  • 120Hz adaptive refresh rate
  • HDR10+
  • SCHOTT UTG

Cover display:

  • 6.53-inch AMOLED Samsung E5
  • FHD+
  • 120Hz refresh rate
  • HDR10+
Camera
  • 12MP Ultra-wide, f/2.2 ultra-wide, FoV 123-degree
  • 12MP Wide, f/1.8, Dual Pixel AF, OIS
  • 12MP Tele, 2x optical zoom, 10x digital zoom
  • 10MP front-facing selfie camera
  • 4MP front-facing under-screen selfie camera
  • 50MP Wide, f/1.75
  • 48MP ultra-wide
  • 12MP portrait camera
  • 8MP persicope camera with 5x optical zoom
Memory 12GB RAM, 256GB/512GB UFS 3.1 storage 12GB RAM, 256GB/512GB UFS 3.1 storage
Battery 4,400mAh dual battery 4,600mAh
Network LTE: Enhanced 4X4 MIMO, 7CA, LAA, LTE Cat. 20
5G
Water Resistance IPX8 None
Sensors Capacitive fingerprint sensor (side), Accelerometer, Barometer, Gyro sensor, Geomagnetic sensor, Hall sensor (analog), Proximity sensor, Light sensor, Wacom layer for stylus input Ultrasonic in-display fingerprint scanner (two, one on each screen), Accelerometer, Barometer, Gyro sensor, Geomagnetic sensor, Hall sensor (analog), Proximity sensor, Light sensor
OS Android 12
Colors Phantom Black, Phantom Green, Phantom Silver Blue, grey (vegan leather)
Price Starts at $1,799 Starts at 8,999 yuan (around $1,360)

About this comparison: This comparison was written after testing a Galaxy Z Fold 3 provided by Samsung Hong Kong for the past eight months, and a self-purchased Vivo X Fold I’ve been using for the past week. Neither company had any input in this article.


Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 vs Vivo X Fold: Design and Hardware

The Vivo X Fold follows the same inner fold design philosophy first established by the original Galaxy Fold (before Samsung decided to add a random Z in the branding), and fundamentally both the Vivo X Fold and the Galaxy Z Fold 3 work the same way: both are mini-tablets that fold like a book to become a phone-like form factor. The brands differ in screen sizes and aspect ratios. Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold 3 uses a 7.6-inch screen with an 11.2:9 aspect ratio, meaning the screen is an upright rectangle — taller than it is wide. Vivo’s main screen is a larger 8-inch panel that, while still slightly taller than it is wide, comes closer to a square shape. Samsung’s larger screen is technically uninterrupted, as Samsung adopted under-screen camera technology that sees the selfie camera placed underneath the screen. Vivo’s X Fold uses a traditional hole-punch, so you can see the hole at all times

Vivo X Fold and Galaxy Z Fold 3
Vivo X Fold (left) and Galaxy Z Fold 3 (right)

When folded, the Galaxy Z Fold 3 is unusually narrow from left to right, taking on a form factor similar to a TV remote or a candy bar. The Vivo X Fold, meanwhile, has a shape closely resembling a normal slab smartphone in folded form. Because the Vivo X Fold has a larger form factor and a more advanced camera system, it is quite a bit heavier at 311g to 271g. I must say I have gotten used to X Fold’s weight after several days, but the first 24 hours or so were a bit of a shocker, as my wrist felt the extra weight when holding the phone. Samsung’s foldable uses a traditional Gorilla Glass 5 back, while Vivo’s X Fold comes in a vegan leather finish. I will talk about the camera system in a dedicated camera system further down the article.

Galaxy Z Fold 3 (left) and Vivo X Fold (right)
Galaxy Z Fold 3 (left) and Vivo X Fold (right)

Personally, I prefer Vivo’s aspect ratios, because I find Samsung’s narrower outside screen a bit cramped to type on. However, I have heard peers say they prefer Samsung’s approach because the Galaxy Z Fold 3 is a much easier “one-hand phone” when folded. I can see that point too, so it comes down to preferences.

Galaxy Z Fold 3, folded
Vivo X Fold, folded

The phones do trade objective clear-cut wins. The Galaxy Z Fold 3 has an official IP water resistance rating, and the screen supports Samsung’s S-Pen stylus. On the other hand, Vivo’s display has a significantly less noticeable crease (both by sight and touch) and the hinge folds completely flat instead of leaving a gap.

Vivo (left) and Samsung's foldables.
Vivo X Fold (left) and Galaxy Z Fold 3 (right)

Vivo’s in-display fingerprint scanner is a flex more than anything, as I don’t see much real-world benefits over a side-mounted scanner

The Vivo X Fold also houses an in-display fingerprint scanner — the first foldable to do so — while the Galaxy Z Fold 3 uses a side-mounted fingerprint scanner that’s embedded into the power button. To be honest, this is a flex more than anything, as I don’t feel the actual real-world benefits of having an in-display scanner compared to having a capacitive side-mounted scanner. What does annoy me more and more, is the crease in Samsung’s display. It’s not noticeable if I look at the display straight on, but I can always feel it, particularly when I’m using the S-Pen.

Using the S-Pen Pro on the Galaxy Z Fold 3
Vivo X Fold (left) along with the Galaxy Z Fold 3.

Since the Galaxy Z Fold 3 came out in H2 2021, it is using an older chip — the Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 — compared to the Vivo X Fold’s newer Snapdragon 8 Gen 1. But other than benchmark numbers, it’s very hard to tell the difference between the two SoCs in real-world usage.

fold 3

Vivo's hinge (blue) and Samsung's hinge (black)
Vivo X Fold and Galaxy Z Fold 3


Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 vs Vivo X Fold: Cameras

As someone who likes to take a lot of street photography, my biggest complaint about the Galaxy Z Fold 3 has been its camera system: the triple 12MP system used by Samsung is dated hardware that doesn’t come close to matching the optics Samsung uses in its slab flagships. Every hallmark feature of the last two Galaxy Ultra cameras — a large image sensor for the wide lens and a Periscope zoom lens that can grab 10x optical shots — are missing from Samsung’s foldable phones. In fact, going by hardware, the Galaxy Z Fold 3’s camera system is just about on par with the two-year-old standard (non-Ultra) version of the Galaxy S20.

Vivo’s X Fold, meanwhile, brings a camera system that is almost on par with its flagship X70 Pro Plus

Vivo’s X Fold, meanwhile, brings a camera system that is almost on par with its flagship X70 Pro Plus, consisting of a quad lens system with two zoom lenses, including a 5x Periscope zoom lens.

Vivo X Fold and Galaxy Z Fold 3 camera systems

Main camera

In good lighting conditions, and if you are just taking photos to be uploaded to social media, the Galaxy Z Fold 3’s main camera actually keeps up well against Vivo’s main camera.

Galaxy Z Fold 3, main camera
Vivo X Fold, main camera
Galaxy Z Fold 3, main camera
Vivo X Fold, main camera

But if you move to challenging conditions like low light or against harsh backlight, then Vivo’s superior camera hardware and excellent HDR come into play.

Galaxy Z Fold 3, main camera
Vivo X Fold, main camera
Galaxy Z Fold 3, main camera
Vivo X Fold, main camera

Ultra-wide

The quality gap widens here. The Galaxy Z Fold 3’s ultra-wide is just not flagship quality in 2022 — it has a tiny sensor, producing images that are noticeably soft on details at the edges, with slight barrel distortion to boot. Vivo’s ultra-wide also handles HDR much better.

Galaxy Z Fold 3, ultra-wide
Vivo X Fold, ultra-wide
Galaxy Z Fold 3, ultra-wide
Vivo X Fold, ultra-wide

If you look at the pavement in the above set of photos, you can see Samsung’s image has lost most of the texture of the cement floor. The building at the left edge of the frame is also a smudgy mess.




If you zoom into the photos, you can see Samsung’s ultra-wide images are very soft on details.

100% crops of two samples

100% crops, Galaxy Z Fold 3 (left) and X Fold (right).

Zoom

This is only a contest at the 2x zoom range, as both phones have a dedicated 2x telephoto lens; anything beyond, 5x or 10x (which is the Galaxy Z Fold 3’s maximum zoom distance), it’s a clear win for Vivo due to the X Fold having a Periscope zoom camera.



Both phones do some post-shot editing: Samsung applies a lot of digital sharpening, while Vivo punches up the contrast, so reds are deeper.


Galaxy Z Fold 3, 5x
Vivo X Fold, 5x

Samsung’s 5x shot above has lost all texture of the grass, and you can actually read the carved words on the pedestal in Vivo’s 5x shot.



Reference image (1x)
Galaxy Z Fold 3, 10x
Vivo X Fold, 10x

Selfie cameras

Both phones have two selfie cameras — one on each screen. Samsung takes an unusual approach with the inside selfie camera (on the main screen) by putting it underneath the display. Under-screen technology is still in its infancy right now, and Samsung’s offering is clearly gen-one. The under-screen selfie camera in the Galaxy Z Fold 3 is a measly 4MP shooter, and the part of the screen that covers the camera actually doesn’t look seamless. This means the Galaxy Z Fold 3’s inner selfie camera produces very soft, blurry images.

camera samples
camera samples
camera samples

To be honest, this is not an issue for me at all. One, because I personally don’t care for selfies, and two, there’s a more conventional selfie camera on the outside screen. Samsung’s idea seems to be prioritizing main screen immersion over selfie camera — and I agree with this.

Moving to the outside main selfie cameras, both cameras pump out equal quality images. My skin tone is more accurate in Vivo’s selfies, for what it’s worth.

Galaxy Z Fold 3, selfie camera (outside screen)
Vivo X Fold, selfie camera (outside screen)
Galaxy Z Fold 3, selfie camera (outside screen)
Vivo X Fold, selfie camera (outside screen)

Videos

Video performance is, in my opinion, a virtual tie. Both phones’ main and ultra-wide cameras can shoot 4K/30fps videos with excellent exposure and electronic image stabilization. During the day, walk-and-talk footage is smooth; at night, EIS takes a hit obviously, but both are still pretty good and close enough to flagship Android video stabilization standards. I notice Samsung applies a noticeable noise cancellation to audio, which works in my favor in Hong Kong as the city is full of unhealthy levels of street noise. Still, my voice can sound a bit faint in Samsung’s footage. Ultra-wide footage at night has soft details for both phones, but Vivo’s X Fold fares a bit better.

Vivo’s X Fold can also shoot 8K video footage with the main camera, but I don’t care about shooting in 8K in 2022, and to be honest, neither should most of you.

I think despite the fact the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3’s main camera and 2x zoom held up surprisingly well against Vivo’s cameras, the overall better camera system is obviously the Vivo X Fold. The difference in quality between the ultra-wide camera and any zoom photos beyond 5x is jarring.


Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 vs Vivo X Fold: Software

Both phones run Android 12 with each brand’s Android skin on top — One UI for the Galaxy Z Fold 3, OriginOS for the X Fold. Most readers should be familiar with One UI. In case you don’t, OneUI is a relatively clean and minimal Android skin that doesn’t get in the way of Google’s plain version of Android much. In terms of navigating through the UI, the only thing Samsung does that really deviates from stock Android is that One UI’s app tray cycles horizontally instead of vertically, and the occasional reminders to use Bixby or Samsung Pay (both of which can be disabled so they stay out of the way forever, unlike Apple, whose iOS nudges you to sign up for Apple Pay every week or so).

Vivo’s OriginOS, on the other hand, is a major departure from Android. It’s a bombastic UI, filled with heavy animations, giant widgets of varying sizes (that look a bit similar to iOS’ widgets), and a bunch of things that deviate from the Android most western users are used to. For example, by default there is no app tray; a swipe up instead brings a tray that houses OriginOS’ giant, interactive widgets, which Vivo calls Nano-kits. Also by default, the notification panel is separated from the control toggles. The good news is that you can cancel both of these changes if you like and revert back to a more Android-like setup.

There are gestures galore, like swiping from one side of the screen to quickly launch an app; swiping from the bottom corner of the screen to quickly launch AliPay or WeChat Pay’s QR code scanner (in China, you pay for almost everything with either of those apps); using three-finger swipes to grab screenshots or launch split-screen mode.

Samsung’s One UI is just much more well optimized for a foldable phone right now than Vivo’s OriginOS

While I personally enjoy colorful, animation-heavy UI like OriginOS (and to a lesser extent, MIUI) and find OneUI’s animations a bit generic and boring, there’s no question Samsung’s Android skin is superior for me, and I think most western users. My biggest gripe with Vivo’s OriginOS is that it doesn’t handle multitasking well. For example, while OriginOS can launch some apps in a small floating window,  it seems only Vivo’s first-party apps or some popular Chinese apps can do this. Chrome, Slack, Twitter, YouTube, and WhatsApp all cannot be shrunken in floating form. For the record, these same apps can be shrunken into floating windows in Samsung’s OneUI.


So on the Vivo X Fold, the only multi-tasking I can do with apps like Slack, YouTube, Chrome, etc, is to split-screen. Even this is compromised: the Vivo X Fold will only split apps vertically (a line down the middle). For video apps like YouTube, splitting vertically doesn’t make sense, as splitting horizontally is better for videos. Samsung’s Z Fold 3 gives me the option to choose between vertical or horizontal split-screen; Vivo’s X Fold does not.


Some readers may think I’m being unfair, expecting a China-only phone to have full support for apps not widely used in China, like WhatsApp, YouTube, or Chrome. But OPPO’s Find N, which was also released just for China, has no such problems launching those same apps in floating window mode. ColorOS also lets me choose which method to split-screen, just like OneUI. The problem here is not region, but Vivo, whose software has always been heavy-handed to the point it breaks basic Android functionality. This was the case with FunTouch (Vivo’s global Android skin) for years up until 2020 or so, when FunTouch finally got polished enough for me not to hate it.

There are a myriad of other little things, like more apps supporting Samsung’s Flex Mode than Vivo’s version, or Vivo’s OriginOS breaking push notifications for many apps unless you dive deep into settings to whitelist the app. At this current stage, Samsung’s One UI is just much more optimized for a phone, especially a foldable one, than Vivo’s OriginOS.


Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 vs Vivo X Fold: Performance and Battery Life

Despite the difference in SoC, I saw no real performance difference between the two devices in terms of speed or mobile gaming — I am, however, not a hardcore mobile gamer. In folded form, I much prefer using the Vivo X Fold over the Galaxy Z Fold 3, as the wider screen just makes for a more natural experience. But in unfolded form, the Galaxy Z Fold 3’s upright rectangle shape is easier to hold with one hand, and displays apps better.

And despite the X Fold having a larger screen, most videos will show roughly the same size on both phones — the X Fold just has larger letterboxing. I do think the X Fold has louder, fuller speakers, however.

Using the vivo X fold with a keyboard.

Battery life is about equal for both devices too, meaning neither phone are endurance beasts but can last me a full 12- or 13-hour day out — albeit just barely. On lighter usage days like a weekday when I’m mostly seated staring at a laptop, the phones will make it to the end of the day with more than 30-40% left to spare.


Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 vs Vivo X Fold: Conclusion

Since the Vivo X Fold is only on sale in China and thus requires importing for most readers, the Galaxy Z Fold 3 is clearly the safer choice for those on the market for a new foldable. But Vivo’s lower starting retail price means that, even with the usual markups that come with importing a phone, the Vivo X Fold is still a bit cheaper than the Galaxy Z Fold 3, so importing isn’t entirely unrealistic, especially for enthusiasts.

And while I like the Vivo X Fold’s hardware better than Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold 3 — I like the wider outside screen, superior camera system, and crease-less main screen — Samsung’s software is just way ahead right now. OriginOS’ multi-tasking issues in particular really frustrate me. What good is having a large 8-inch screen if I can’t even multitask properly?

vivo X Fold and Galaxy Z Fold 3

Still, much credit should be given to Vivo for creating a foldable that pulls off several hardware feats that Samsung has been unable to unwilling (more likely the latter) to do: give us a near-flagship camera system including a Periscope zoom lens, a crease-free display, and a price point that is barely more expensive than a premium slab flagship. Now if only Vivo would get its software right — and sell this thing outside of China.

    Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3

    As the most accessible large screen foldable phone, Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold 3 has a built-in advantage many of its competitors do not — but despite this, Samsung mostly earns its status as the default option, as the Galaxy Z Fold 3 is still the most polished all-around foldable in the world.

    Vivo X Fold

    The latest challenger to Samsung’s throne brings a near-flagship camera system, in-display fingerprint scanner(s), and a large, crease-free screen.

The post Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 vs Vivo X Fold: The Best Foldable Hardware or Superior Foldable Software? appeared first on XDA.

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