What Is a Smart Flip Phone & When Did They Come Out?
For many people, smartphones and flip phones are on opposite ends of the mobile phone spectrum. Flip phones represent the early cell phones of the 2000s, while smartphones are the devices that currently dominate the market.
That is why the concept of a smart flip phone may be confusing. Despite the flip phone’s seemingly out-dated technology, there is still a lot of utility in having a phone that can fold in half for easy transport.
In recent years, new technology that allows a screen to fold in half without a clear seam has made the concept of a smart flip phone possible. Today, you can get cutting-edge Android smart flip phones with all the bells and whistles: Bluetooth capabilities, 4G LTE and 5G connectivity, great battery life, and massive internal memory storage.
What Is the History of Smart Flip Phones?
The First Practical Phone (1876)
The primary form of long-distance communication in the 1800s was the telegram, a device that could transmit messages in the form of beeping noises that manned receivers translated into morse code. In 1876, the first telephone that could transmit a person’s voice in real time was invented by Alexander Graham Bell in London.
Over the next few decades, other inventors improved the design until telephones were common household items. After the invention of the transistor in 1947, phones could be shrunk down to the size of hand-held devices, which paved the way for the home phones that would persist until the creation of the mobile phone decades later.
Mobile Phone (1983)
Technically non-wired phones in the 70s and ’80s were known as car phones because they were too large to have any legitimate portability. In 1983, the Motorola DynaTAC 8000x was created, acting as the first mobile phone a person could carry around.
While the technology was popular in the business world, the devices were too cumbersome for common public use. With large buttons and clunky keypads, these were not the ultra-compact, selfie-taking devices we know today. Even a decade later, people would still be using pagers instead of lugging around these mobile phones, which weren’t popular among kids.
The Flip Phone (1996)
The first clamshell flip phone, the Motorola StarTAC, was released in 1996. It was a new benchmark for small, portable phones, and the design would be popular until the smartphone era over a decade later.
For a long time, every company had flip phones on hand. They were significantly smaller than the cell phones at the time, which could not fold and barely fit in your jeans pockets. Back then, SIM cards were the size of a credit card, and the phone could hold 100 contacts for you. These phones usually didn’t have apps or WiFi connectivity; however, they did usher the use of mobile phones into the mainstream. The innovation level was huge, bringing the communications industry a step forward into the future.
The Smartphone Era (2007)
While the first touchscreen phone was technically made over a decade earlier, the smartphone became mainstream in 2007 with the first Apple iPhone. This was an enormous technological jump, transitioning from keyboard phones to fully touchscreen devices and eventually all the pixels and specs we’ve come to know and love.
Not only did they have full touchscreen capabilities, but they were also much more technologically advanced than before. Phones were turning into personal computers that could fit in your pocket, a new concept in the communications world. While the technology was primitive by today’s standards, we now have smartphones that rival our laptops in computing power. Making phone calls and sending texts is now a relatively small part of our phone’s utility.
What Are Some Modern Smart Flip Phones?
- Motorola Razr 5G
- Nokia 2720
- Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3
Motorola Razr 5G
Motorola dominated the market with the first mobile phone and years later, the first flip phone. Nowadays, they are a much more modest company, putting out products that are on the cheaper end of the smartphone spectrum. The Razr 5G does not follow this trend, with a retail price of $1,399 and a very complex design.
Foldable phones are very difficult to build efficiently and are still expensive relative to other phones. The Razr 5G is reminiscent of the designs of older Motorola flip phones. While many other smart flip phones look like modern phones that can fold in half, the sleek design of the Razr is built around nostalgia and utility.
At first glance, the Nokia 2720 does not look like a smart flip phone. It retains an old-school keyboard, and it has a small screen that only takes up the top half of the device. However, it is indeed a smartphone, and its smaller screen functions to keep its price incredibly low as far as smart flip phones go.
You can pick one of these up for just $79, given that the power of these phones is closer to what we were used to a decade ago than what we have now. The Nokia 2720 is more of a gimmick phone than a legitimate option for many people who can get much more powerful devices for just a little more cash.
Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3
In contrast to Nokia’s attempt, the Z Flip 3 looks just like a normal smartphone until you flip it in half on its horizontal axis. The Z Flip 3 is a powerful smartphone that does indeed rival its competition, flip or not. It was released alongside the Z Fold 3, a device that can fold along a vertical axis instead of the horizontal one.
The Z Flip 3 acts in contrast to its sibling by being only half the size, allowing for the device to stay under a thousand dollars. It has many of the same utilities as other Galaxy smartphones and is powered by the same Qualcomm Snapdragon chipset, as well as a quad-core processor. Additionally, the device offers compatibility with voice assistant technology, such as Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa. However, the portability outshines any other smartphone in the industry for the power provided.
Smart flip phones are making a big splash in the smartphone market, but it remains to be seen if they will become more than a gimmick as time goes on. While phones like the Nokia 2720 exist mostly for nostalgia (and perhaps durability), phones like the Razr and the Flip 3 are genuinely innovative devices that could shape the future of smartphones. Some of the best flip phones that didn’t quite make our list include:
- The Alcatel GO FLIP 4 and Alcatel Smartflip, which run on the KaiOS operating system
- The Kyocera DuraXV Extreme
- The Samsung Galaxy Z Fold
Navi can help you pick the smartphone and plan depending on your needs. If a smart flip phone is what you are looking for, turn to Navi to analyze the industry and find the phone for you. Most major carriers, such as AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile, have smart flip phones on offer. We aim to ensure you only pay for what you need, so create your profile today and figure out what matters most to you in your smartphone purchase.
Telephone - History, Definition, Invention, Uses, & Facts | Britannica
The History and Evolution of Cell Phones | Art Institutes
Legendary Motorola StarTAC: Revisiting the world's first flip phone | CNET
The history of smartphones: timeline | The Guardian
Feature phones Nokia 2720 V Flip | Nokia