A number of reports have suggested that we may soon see the comeback of the flip phone – adding retro aesthetic with modern convenience to the mobile arena.
There are a number of reasons that someone might make the choice to go with a flip phone rather than a traditional smartphone. For some, such as young children or the elderly, a flip phone offers convenient access to a mobile phone without any of the complicated features that a smartphone offers. For others, “dumbing down” their phone is an effort to avoid staying glued to their devices, day in and day out. Whether they’re looking for a simple phone in order to better understand the features or a cheap handset that allows them to curb a social media addiction, the flip phone is making a comeback in a major way in 2018 – much to the surprise of many.
The ability to use a basic phone without all the bells and whistles has even permeated celebrity society, with both Kim Kardashian-West and Daniel Day-Lewis spotted wielding a flip phone. Kardashian-West’s decision to use this retro technology – while likely not her exclusive device – is especially surprising given her and her family’s connection to building a following on social media. With such a large following, however, it’s easy to see how the need to disconnect and decompress may warrant using a lower-tech device rather than a high-end smartphone like the Galaxy S9 or the iPhone 11. Still, given the fact that Kim is the star of a mobile game and has spent time helping advertise the LuMee selfie case, it’s an interesting departure from what we’d expect.
An advocacy group named Wait until 8th, which proposes that parents wait until 8th grade before buying their children a smartphone, has amassed a huge amount of signatures from parents in all 50 states. A recent ad run by the organization suggests “Need to get in touch with your child? Buy a flip phone.”
As mentioned above, one of the main reasons that the flip phone is making a comeback is in children and the elderly – and providing a way to keep in contact with their parents is an excellent reason for these phones to continue to be developed. When staying in touch is a priority and the majority of smartphone features can be lived without, these devices serve a valuable niche in the market – providing these significant demographics in the mobile phone user base the ability to stay connected without the expense or temptation of a smartphone.
It’s important to note, however, that not every flip phone is retro throwback to the time before technology brought us the smartphone. In fact, the Samsung W2018, available only in China, is a flip phone running on the Android operating system that is priced at the equivalent of 2500 USD. With a Snapdragon 835 chipset, a pair of 2.4-inch OLED displays, and 6GB of RAM, it’s clearly a force to be reckoned with that make it one of the top flip phones on the market. This is obviously the exception to the rule rather than the norm as far as flip phones go, but it’s clear that there are markets all around the world that are clamoring for attractive flip phones that maintain the old school aesthetic while packing in some more modern conveniences.
As we’ve seen with the success of Samsung’s phone in China, the flip phone has a significant following outside of the West – with countries like India and China housing a significant population that enjoys the convenience and simplicity of flip phones. Moving forward, it will be interesting to see whether these phone manufacturers capitalize on the demand for flip phones or if they throw all their eggs in one basket with the continued production of smartphones due to the wider appeal.
If there’s one phone we’re hoping makes a comeback, it’s the Motorola RAZR. As one of the coolest flip phones around when it was first released, it would be interesting to see how such a device would fare in the current market. If there’s one thing that’s certain about 2018, it’s that flip phones are quickly carving out a niche for themselves in the mobile arena. Whether this is a fad or the return of the flip phone to prominence remains to be seen.