Review – S Pen Fold Edition for Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 + Flip Case with S Pen Holder
When Samsung announced the first Galaxy Fold in 2018, we joked that it would be an amazing device if it was compatible with Samsung’s S Pen and even mentioned that the S Pen could be tucked away inside it. device like the Nintendo DS. Maybe for the Fold, the S Pen can be tucked away inside the hinge area – that will be great.
Fast forward to today, and we have it here. The Galaxy Z Fold3 with S Pen support. It’s a dream come true for many people like me who can’t live without a pen these days because having a pen is so much more convenient for drawing. Some things are best conveyed through illustrations and diagrams than just words.
I bought this accessory. This is the official Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 flip case with S Pen Fold edition. Since this accessory is a two-in-one, we’re going to split this review into two parts – starting with unboxing.
Tearing off the packaging we get a few items in total:
- The flap case
- The S Pen Fold edition
- A few extra tips and a tool to change the tips
S Pen Fold Edition
As we mentioned at the start, this is a dream come true. This foldable device makes sense because it is this larger screen that makes drawing much better on a larger screen.
And the design of the S Pen also plays an important role in terms of the drawing experience. The S Pen Fold edition is more similar to the S Pen of the Galaxy Tab compared to the S Pen series of the Galaxy Note. It’s for the best as the thicker body looks more like a real pen than a twig for writing on the screen.
I can also hold it with a harder grip because this S Pen Fold edition is also sturdier.
It also has a single button on the side here – which is the same as every other S Pen in the past. But, it’s a passive S Pen so there is no Bluetooth LE connectivity to wave it like a magic wand to the Galaxy Note9, Note10 and Note20 series of smartphones.
That said, all the features of previous generations of Samsung devices can be found in the Galaxy Z Fold3 as well. Air Command – my favorite utility when it comes to stylus shortcuts – is also present, and writing on it feels a bit surreal.
You see, Samsung released a video detailing how they developed the S Pen Fold Edition, starting with the screen digitizer, all the way to the S Pen’s rubber contact area, as well as the inclusion of an internal spring to automatically retract when writing on the screen.
These are all technical details that … while it really drove the engineer in me crazy, it’s also impressive that these changes to the S Pen weren’t felt by typical consumers while writing.
I mean, let’s do a quick comparison here. I have the Galaxy Tab S7 FE with me here. It comes with an S Pen stylus and we write on a hard piece of the glass screen just like any other Samsung device in the past. It feels good to write on it – and we all know what.
Then for the Galaxy Z Fold3, because the inner screen isn’t a piece of hard glass – since it has to bend after all – but it feels… exactly the same. In some ways, I think the Galaxy Z Fold3’s PET screen protector allows the S Pen to glide across the screen with less friction than glass.
That internal spring that Samsung mentioned? I really don’t feel the S Pen retracting. Maybe the spring has absorbed just enough force to make sure it doesn’t put too much pressure on the screen and hamper the writing experience. Either way, the S Pen writing experience is the same.
But the S Pen’s digitizer. As it is a foldable screen, the digitizer was eventually split into two parts but controlled by the same brain. The gap in the middle is filled with the help of software – and to be honest, if I didn’t know this technical side of the Galaxy Z Fold3, I wouldn’t even have a clue that this is how the Galaxy Z Fold3 is. S Pen functionality is implemented.
I admit that writing on the Galaxy Z Fold3 fold is a bit odd and takes some getting used to. Sometimes if I write on the crease too quickly I get some take off distance because of that crease and it broke my line. It certainly takes some getting used to.
Like what we mentioned when we talked about game emulation on the Galaxy Z Fold3, using the S Pen feels like a Nintendo DS Pro or something like that. I enjoyed playing Cooking Mama on it and this game requires intense tapping and rubbing with the S Pen.
That said, the S Pen Fold Edition looks like any other S Pen while writing. Its internals, however, are different. The Galaxy Z Fold3 and this S Pen Fold edition are made for each other and live in their own bubble. No other device or existing S Pen is compatible.
While I can understand why this is the case, it still feels like a slippery slope towards “one new S Pen variant per device” territory. Hope this is not the case. Also, as a quick mention, the cover screen is not compatible with the S Pen. That’s okay, but I instinctively used the S Pen stylus on the cover screen when I had the stylus in my hand just to find that it didn’t work.
If you are looking to buy the S Pen on its own, then you can! The price is RM199.
This cover for Galaxy Z Fold3…
It’s a funny story. When the Galaxy Z Fold3 launched in August, I saw this flip case and knew I wouldn’t like this case because of that front flap. One of the images shown was the protruding front flap when the device is unfolded.
I want to say, Reddit seems okay because they resulted in more… extreme solutions by cutting the front flap. But that will leave the S Pen part hanging.
Oh – speaking of which, opening the flap will wake up the device. But, because the front flap is so hung up, the screen can keep waking up when in the pocket, wasting precious battery life.
There is a new software update for the Galaxy Z Fold3 which gives us the option to disable this feature.
This case is also an abomination to left handed phone users like myself. The cover display is going to be difficult to achieve thanks to the extra thickness. Reaching the power button is also a problem as there is a lip sticking out and obstructing my finger.
But, I have a love-hate relationship with him now. When unfolded, the protruding flap is… a bit good with me since I can grip the S Pen holder for some grip. And the S Pen holder also provided me with a place to grab and hold the device when it’s unfolded.
Hold the flap that protrudes …
… And grabbing the S Pen holder.
Still, I find myself loving this case eventually. If I want to check something very quickly, just touch the case and unlock the phone, then I can continue to use the device.
I bought this knowing that I probably won’t be using the flip case, but I still need something to hold the S Pen while other third-party case makers come up with their own designs of the S Pen. cases.
By the way, the entire S Pen holder is slid into the flip case via a track on the hinge area. You can basically ditch the flip case and stick that S Pen holder into another case. Or just carry it in your bag or pocket.
However, this flip case cannot be purchased à la carte as it is only available through Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 5G Flip Cover with Stylus Pack.
Or buy? (Affiliate links)
- S Pen Fold Edition
- Samsung Galaxy Z Fold3 5G Flip Case with Stylus
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