Smart flip phone era has dawned upon us and the biggest names in the tech industry are joining the party. Here's everything you need to know about it.
From admiring celebrities in 90's movies to wall street businessmen slamming shut their flip phones when a deal went sour, flip phones were everywhere and at the peak of the popularity amongst phone users in the '90s and mid-2000. Why were flip phones so popular? Besides an expensive fidgeting toy and the satisfying hinge mechanism, the flip phone helped mobile handsets to cut down on bulk and allowed phones to transcend into new, small, sleek and premium handsets.
The Motorola Razr launched in 2004 was at the peak design of flip phones. The handset taunts a metallic body vs other plastic competition and a second window screen was added behind the main display of the device so you can view your notifications at a glance. But as all technologies get outdated, the flip phone saw its demise and decline in popularity.
It was due to the fact that bigger screen was needed, which let Apple unveiling its first iPhone in 2007. And the race for the smartest and fastest glass bricks began leaving behind the flip phones for a topic for nostalgia. Until recently, Samsung and Motorola brought back the "flip" phone with the same idea but loaded with the latest technologies and innovations in flexible display technology.
Smart Flip Phone are the Future - Here's Why
While Apple was busy increasing the inches and bumping up the resolution on its iPhone's, other phone manufacturers were investing in new screen display technologies. Samsung first unveiled a flexible display at the 2013 CES. Samsung later did tease a mysterious folding phone in 2018, but a Chinese company, Royole released the first foldable smartphone, the Royole Flexpai at the 2019 CES. Here's why flip and folding phones are coming back and here to stay. The one thing Samsung, Motorola and other players in new flip phones are making sure that their flip and folding phones are not just any flagship phones glued with a secondary display. Having a seamless experience with a flagship phone with a folding form factor is essential. It is done with the help of new hinge mechanisms and flexible plastic displays in harmony with software tweaks.
The people have spoken
Now, most of the flagship phones in the market are spect out with the same specifications and little to no differentiating features. To differentiate, high-profit margins and give new user experiences to people, companies are rolling out smart flip phone and folding phones.
The technology is here
Foldable screens and new hinge mechanisms are relatively new technologies for smartphones, so there will be an early adopters fee as well. For example, the Samsung Galaxy Fold with a book-style folding display has a price tag of 2000 dollars.
Large screen - compact size
Having a foldable display means you can have a 7.1-inch folding tablet right in a compact form factor. Imagine having a mini-tablet with you always for entertainment on your commute to work. Having a large display which folds in half unlocks so much more screen real estate than conventional phones for productivity and gaming.
Best Smart Flip Phone to buy right now
Although flip phones are at an early stage for mass adoption due to the new technology and the price tag they hold, if you are a tech enthusiast, folding phones are very useable in day to day life and even make your life more colourful.
Motorola Moto Razr
The Motorola Moto Razr turned a lot of heads at first when the Razr was unveiled on November 13, 2019, at a Los Angeles event. The new Razr shares a lot of design elements from the first Moto Razr, and when folded, it is as ergonomic and thin as the original Moto Razr. But it flopped due to mid-range specs and an asking price for more than a 1000 dollars. It is by no means a mediocre device, but mid-range specs with a flagship smart flip phone price tag are not palatable.
- It has a front plastic display and metal body design.
- The foldable display comes with a resolution of 876 x 2,142 pixels and a pixel density of 373ppi and a notch display.
- The secondary screen is a 2.7 inch OLED glass screen with a resolution of 800x600 pixels. The secondary display can be used for notification alerts and a viewfinder to click selfies using the rear camera.
- The Razr has a mid-range Snapdragon 710 chipset along with 6GB of RAM and 128GB non-expandable memory.
- The Moto Razr has a single rear camera of 16 Megapixels and a front-facing 5 Mega Pixel notch camera.
- A physical fingerprint scanner placed right on the front of the device.
- The Moto Razr holds a 2,510mAh battery with 15W USB-C charging.
- No IP rating and headphone jack for the Moto Razr. Only supports eSIM.
The Samsung Galaxy Z flip is the second take from Samsung on a foldable phone with a variety of mesmerizing colours. It is a very attractive looking phone. The Z Flip uses the same hinge mechanism as the Fold, but the device opens in a flip orientation and added structural strength as well as bristles at the end of the hinges so that dust does not get inside the device.
- The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip has a vertical flip folding screen.
- The device is constructed from a front plastic display and glass back with a metal body.
- The primary flip screen is a 6.7 inch AMOLED dynamic infinity O plastic display with a resolution of 1080 x 2636 pixels along with HDR10+ certification for the best media consumption experience.
- The secondary cover display is a tiny 1.1-inch glass display which can also be used as notification alerts and a viewfinder for taking selfies with the rear cameras.
- The Z Flip has top of the line specs with Snapdragon 855+ chipset paired with 8GB of RAM and 258GB UFS 3.0 non-expandable storage.
- The Z flip has a dual rear camera setup, 12-megapixel wide-angle camera with F1.8 aperture and Optical Image Stabilization. The other camera module is a 12-megapixel ultra-wide camera with a 12mm lens.
- The centre punch hole camera module is a 10-megapixel wide lens camera.
- It packs a non-removable 3300 mah battery with 15 wats fast charging with USB-C charging and with wireless charging.
- Dual nano sim and eSIM support
- Side-mounted fingerprint scanner.
- No IP certification rating.
While the Moto Razr and the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip folding phones are compact when folded, and can even fit into women's jean pockets which to say are near to none existent as compared to men pockets, there are other folding phones which are not very practical to carry around a large rectangular phone with you if you want to carry them in your pockets.
Royole Flexpai (Avoid this)
The Royole Flexpai was the first foldable display phone beating Samsung to the race. But, the device was half baked, and the user experience was not very pleasant. The plastic built quality and a massive gap between the screen when the device was folded did not provide any structural strength to the device.
- The Royole Flexpai has a thin plastic display of 7.8 inches, 1440 x 1920 pixels.
- Dual rear camera setup with 20 MP + 16 MP which can be used as selfie cameras.
- Royole Flexpai gas a Snapdragon 855, Octa-Core, 2.84 GHz Processor paired with 6GB of RAM and 128GB expandable memory.
- Dual sim support.
- The Royole Flexpai has a 3790 mAh, Li-Po Battery with USB-C charging.
Although the Royole Flexpai was the first folding phone, it was not very userfriendly, and the display was not as responsive to use, and the built quality was also too plasticky. The Samsung Galaxy Fold ticks all the marks on a premium futuristic folding phone. But in terms of pocketing, it can be done, but it will be a hassle to carry around a large rectangular device in your pocket.
- The Samsung Galaxy Fold has a book-style folding hinge mechanism that folds open to a 7.3-inch 1536x2152 pixel primary AMOLED display.
- There is a 4.3-inch secondary display for when you need to look through notifications and pick up calls. The small screen can also be used as a stand-alone regular screen to use your device.
- It has a Snapdragon 855 process paired with 12GB of RAM and 512GB non-expandable internal memory.
- The triple camera set up have a 16-megapixel (f/F2.2, 1.0-micron) + 12-megapixel (f/F1.5/F2.4, 1.4-micron) + 12-megapixel (f/F2.4, 1.0-micron).
- The dual front cameras have a 10mp and an 8mp camera which are housed in the right-side notch.
- The Fold has a 4380mah battery which charges through a USB-C fast charging and wireless charging too. It has dual sim card support, and you can buy an international unlocked Fold from Amazon.
- Samsung Galaxy Fold runs on the latest version of Android with the ONE UI with software tweaks and features which work flawlessly with the futuristic Fold hardware.
Huawei Mate X
Due to the trade war and spying allegations between China and America, Google has refused to provide its services to Huawei devices, and it hurts The Huawei Mate X the most as it is one of the best impractical folding phones out there. The Huawei Mate X is expected to release on 28th of May.
- The Huawei Mate X has a foldable OLED 8-inch screen display with a resolution of 2200 x 2480 pixels with 414 pixels per inch density. And has a sturdy design and hinge mechanism.
- When the device is folded, the cover screen is a 6.6-inch display with a resolution of 1148 x 2480 pixels with an aspect ratio of (19.5:9).
- The Huawei Mate X uses the HiSilcone Kirin 980 chipset paired with 8GB of RAM and 512GB internal memory, and it can be expanded using Huawei's proprietary micro sd cards.
- There is a quad-camera setup with a 40mp main camera, 8mp telephoto camera, 16mp ultra-wide camera and 3D telephoto time of flight camera. There are no front-facing cameras as you can use the main cameras for selfies.
- Side-mounted fingerprint scanner.
- The Huawei Mate X has a 4500mah lipo with 55w fast charging using Huawei SuperCharge technology over USB-C.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why do flip phones have plastic screens?
Flip phones use a plastic screen because they are easy to bend without having any shards all over the place. In simple words, glass breaks when bent, and although Samsung has branded the Galaxy Z Flip to tout the very first foldable glass display, it simply does not offer the rigidity and strength that we have come to experience from modern smartphones that house Corning Gorilla Glass.
Should I buy a new flip phone?
If you are a tech early adopter or a savvy and have the fortune to spend on new tech toys, go for it. These flip phones currently are not meant for everyone because of the hefty price tag, and they are marketed as a luxury product. Hence, if you're looking for a daily driver that can last the abuse of daily wear and tear, getting a smart flip phone might not be the best use of your money right now. We would recommend waiting a year or more to make the most out this up and coming technological advancement in the mobile world.
How does a smart flip phone work?
There are two main components in a modern flip and foldable phone.
- Flexible plastic screen.
- Folding hinge
The flexible plastic screen and the hinge mechanism work together to fold and open back the device. The flexible plastic screen allows the hinge to close, if the screen were made up of glass, the device would not be able to fold, and it would be just a tablet that can make calls. The software also needs to be customized and tweaked according to the flip orientation. The continuum feature in the Samsung Galaxy Fold, with ONE UI software which allows flowless transition of apps from the 4.3-inch screen to the large 7.1-inch screen when the Fold is flipped open to the glorious screen.
As these new flip and folding phones seem so hardware advanced, the software still needs to do some catching up. Currently, on these flip and folding phones, you can take advantage of the folding tablet size screens for multitasking, content consumption and gaming.
With all-new technologies, there are some flaws to a plastic screen; they are not as durable as a glass screen, if you are someone who likes to keep long nails, you'll scratch the soft screen pretty much every time you use the device. Aside from the flaws, a large foldable screen provides a large viewing experience and is great for travellers who need larger screens for google maps