Skip navigation
Blog
Blog

The return of the flip phone

A man holds a flip phone in the city.

The world’s largest phone manufacturer, Samsung, recently confirmed that they will be unveiling their third foldable phone in the not-too-distant future and, in doing so, cemented the return of the flip phone. 

Until 2019, it had seemed that the foldable clamshell design had gone the way of the Walkman, the Tamagotchi and frosted tips, and was fated to fall into the mists of nostalgia.

The return of the flip phone brings back memories of the Walkman, pictured here.

Samsung, however, had different ideas and with the release of the Samsung Galaxy Fold, the flip phone was resurrected. Now, with the announcement of their third foldable phone, it’s clear that Samsung is committing to the crease.

But why? Who is buying them? What can we expect to see in the future? All these questions and more will be answered as we look at the return of the flip phone! 

Why are they back?

From the mid-1990s until the mid-2000s, flip phones were all the rage. And rightly so. For those who were too young to experience it, there was nothing more satisfying than flipping your phone open when you got a call, or snapping it shut when that call got heated. 

But why now? Why, over a decade after they fell out of fashion, are flip phones seeing a return to prominence?

Before we get into our answer, we just want to make it clear that we know that flip phones never really went away. We’ve even been stocking great flip phones like NUU Mobile F4L for some time now. But we’re talking about the new wave of high-end, smart flip phones, produced by the major manufacturers. Why are they back?

Well, there’s a couple of explanations. First, there’s the idea that people are just getting pretty bored with how smartphones are designed and want something different.

Let’s be honest, whether you’re an Apple fanboy or you’re Android for life, it’s got to be said that the vast majority of popular smartphones all look pretty similar. 

It’s a rectangle, with a slick screen, glossy back, and cameras on the front and back. There, I just described 90% of smartphones made since 2010.

And that’s boring! (It’s also an exaggeration, but you get the point.)

So, it’s not surprising that people, and companies themselves, are looking to experiment with something a little different.

Plus, it’s tried and tested! Companies know that we like a phone that flips. The 2004 Motorola Razr V3 sold 130 million units, making it one of the best-selling phones of all time. So it’s not too surprising that Motorola was eager to get back into the flip game with their 2020 model.

There’s also the practicality. People like big screens but they don’t tend to like big phones. The solution? A smaller device that flips, or folds, out into a larger screen. For some, the flip phone represents the best of both worlds.

Who are they for?

The simple answer is not everyone.

First and foremost, there’s the price. The new Motorola RAZR costs $1,499, the Samsung Galaxy Z is $1,380 and the Galaxy Fold will set you back around $1,980.

A folding flip phone of the present.

That’s a lot of money. Especially given that these days you can get a great phone for less than $200.

There’s also the fact that these foldable devices don’t come with all the flagship features that we’d expect from such a costly device. For one, the cameras don’t tend to be of the highest quality. And the batteries don’t appear to last as long. There are even questions about the durability of foldable phones, which, when you’re spending over $1,000, is not something you want to be worrying about.

So, at the moment, it feels like the new wave of flipping and folding phones are for people with money in the bank, who are nostalgic and looking to make a statement. 

Why else would you spend over $1,000 on a device when you can get a phone with better specs, for less?

What does the future hold for the fold?

One thing is for sure, as Samsung’s latest announcement proves, the flip phone is here to stay. At least for a while. 

Innovations like a folding screen take time to perfect, it’s to be expected. And, if manufacturers are committing to the folding screen, improvements in the technology behind flip phones aren’t the only thing that we should be expecting.

We’re sure that over time we’ll see more flip phones hitting the mass market, at much more reasonable prices.

It’s important to remember that this new take on the flip phone only came into fruition in 2019 and that foldable screens are still a cutting edge technology. It’s not surprising that they come with such a hefty price tag at the moment.

That’s why our predictions for the future are pretty simple. Flip phones will be cheaper and flip phones will be better. Groundbreaking right?

The way we see it, on the specs side, the only way is up. The technology already exists, it’s just a case of working out how to get bigger batteries, better cameras and the like into the body of the flip phone. 

And on the price side, the only way is down. At least we hope so. We don’t really want to spend $1,000 just to slam the phone shut on someone when we’re feeling particularly sassy.

But if prices don’t drop, we just might have to.

What do you think?

What do you think? Will Apple get involved with the folding phone hype? Will they take off for the masses, or remain a conversation piece of a select few? We’d love to hear your thoughts! 

What’s in store?

What’s in store?

In the Ting shop you’ll find everything from good ol’ flip phones to the latest iPhone and Android phones.

Browse the Shop