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Flip Phone vs. Smartphone: Which Type Is Better?

a flip phone next to a smart phone

We are firmly set in the smartphone generation, with 85% of the United States population owning one. While flip phones dominated the 2000s and modernized portable cell phones, they now comprise a much smaller portion of the mobile phone market. That said, there’s a new generation of classic flip phones rising in popularity, as well as an emerging category of smart flip phones. In this article, we will explain the difference between classic flip phones, smartphones, and smart flip phones (also referred to as foldable or flippable smartphones) to help you decide which type is better for you.

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What Is a Flip Phone?

In simplest terms, a flip phone is a mobile phone that flips along a horizontal axis. This protects the screen and the keyboard and makes the device more portable.

The Advantages of Flip Phones

Basic flip phones tend to be smaller and easy to carry around. Compared to smartphones, basic flip phones are cheaper and harder to hack, given their limited internet connectivity. They still have basic call and text capabilities, so anyone who is not interested in smart features will find that a classic flip phone offers all the standard functionality they need in a cell phone. Flip phones can also be a great solution for parents looking to keep their children connected while minimizing screen time.

What Is a Smartphone?

Smartphones are mobile phones with touchscreens and advanced computing features. They can connect to 4G and 5G networks and cost significantly more than your average flip phone. Most phones in the United States today are smartphones, and there are a wide variety of brands available.

The Advantages of Smartphones

Smartphones let you browse the internet and connect with anyone you need to at any time. Of course, they also let you talk and text. You can use your smartphone to play games, record audio, and watch movies or TV shows, not to mention scroll social media, surf the web, and shop online. Another advantage of smartphones is their hotspot connectivity. For many people, smartphones have become a major part of daily life, and it’s hard to imagine not having one.

What Is a Smart Flip Phone / Foldable Smartphone? 

Smart flip phones, a.k.a. folding smartphones or foldables, are the latest breakthrough in mobile technology. These devices are blurring the lines between flip phones and smartphones, hence the name smart flip phones. Packed with smart functionality and featuring flexible displays that can be folded either vertically or horizontally, smart flip phones offer a compact size when folded and a larger screen when unfolded. The key to bringing foldable smartphones to market has been the use of flexible OLED or AMOLED screens that can bend without damage. 

The Advantages of Folding Smartphones

Whether you call them smart flip phones, foldable smartphones, or flippable smartphones, the advantages are one and the same. These devices offer users the best of all worlds—combining the convenient size of a flip phone when folded, the bells and whistles of a smartphone when it comes to functionality and the immersive experience of a nearly tablet-sized screen when unfolded. Users can enjoy an expansive viewing area or multitask on their larger display when desired. 

With their larger screens, foldable smartphones enable more efficient multitasking capabilities, allowing users to run multiple apps simultaneously without compromising performance. Despite having expanded screens, these devices remain portable and easy to carry around when folded up neatly. Manufacturers also introduce unique software features specifically tailored for foldables, ensuring seamless transitions between different device states while enhancing user experience.

How Do Flip Phones and Smartphones Compare?

Flip Phone vs Smartphone: The Look

The aesthetic of the flip phone is inspired by three decades-old technology. The original designs were built to transform oversized ’80s cell phones into foldable devices you could use anywhere. While the technology has advanced, the look of basic flip phones has remained relatively consistent. For some, this throwback vibe adds to the appeal. 

Unlike flip phones of the past, today’s designs come in a wide variety of shapes and sizes. Because the design does not revolve around a large central screen, there is more flexibility for different colors and materials.

However, because in recent years, flip phones have not been in as high demand as smartphones, basic flip phones tend to be made out of less expensive materials to help keep costs down.

Smartphones, on the other hand, are much more similar in shape from one to the next. Regardless of your preferred brand, smartphones feature a rectangular design, with the screen taking up most of the real estate. Because the demand for smartphones is so high, manufacturers can charge more for them, and therefore, these devices tend to be made with premium materials that elevate their look.The appearance of smartphones is also much more customizable thanks to the countless cases compatible with all the primary brands.

With demand for smart flip phones on the rise and the materials needed to ensure foldable smartphones don’t break, the design and look of these devices is sleeker and more comparable to smartphones than traditional flip phones.  

Flip Phone vs Smartphone: The Cost

When it comes to price, basic flip phones are significantly cheaper. Smart features make up a big chunk of the price for smartphones. As of the writing of this article, a basic flip phone from a popular brand like the Nokia 2720 V Flip can be purchased online for a little over $100.

On the other hand, smartphones have a lot more variety when it comes to price. The lowest-priced smartphones can start under $200 , while premium smartphones cost upwards of a thousand dollars, making them a much bigger investment than your standard-variety flip phones. It’s worth noting that smartphone prices vary based on region, availability, and specific deals or promotions. Be sure to keep these factors in mind when purchasing a smartphone. 

Not surprisingly, the cost of a smart flip phone is higher than your basic flip phone. The reason is two-fold: Reason one is the flexible OLED or AMOLED screens that can bend without damage, and reason two is the smart features. That said, there’s yet to be a smart flip phone that has exceeded the price of the most expensive smartphones on the market. 

Flip Phone vs Smartphone: Features

Standard flip phones come with basic call and text capabilities. Most of them also only have limited internet access, meaning they aren’t a good solution for those who want to use  apps and connect to the web on their phone. They have small screens compared to smartphones and include physical keyboards with buttons you can press.

Smartphones are basically small pocket computers, so they have a lot more features. You can stream video, connect to video calls, play 3D games, and utilize a wide variety of phone apps. Your smartphone can be a computer, a compass, a calculator, and an HD camera all in one. Ditto for smart flip phones.

Flip Phone vs Smartphone: Security

The advanced nature of smartphones comes with a big drawback: increased vulnerability to security breaches. Smartphones constantly connect to different networks, requiring users to have significantly more advanced security protocols if they want to keep their data safe. There have been many recent instances of cloud data being hacked and internet info being stolen.

Flip phones are not perfect for security, but in this case, their limited connectivity can be considered an advantage. Of course, phone scams are common, and you must be careful about whom you give your information to. However, these scams are no more likely to occur on flip phones than on smartphones.

How Do Flip Phones and Flippable Smartphones Compare?

Now that we’ve gone over traditional flip phones, smartphones, and smart flip phones, let’s take a closer look at the pros and cons of regular flip phones compared to smart flip phones/foldable smartphones.  

Traditional Flip Phone Pros and Cons

Pros: 

  • Battery Life: Flip phone battery life can last days—and sometimes weeks—without requiring additional charging. So, if you want a dependable device you don’t have to charge frequently, a basic flip phone might be for you. 
  • Durability: It makes sense that a traditional flip phone is much more durable than a smartphone or a foldable one. Smaller screens and fewer components mean they can be handled with less care than smartphones. 
  • Price: Most flip phones can be bought for under $100. If you don’t need the extra features and only plan to use your device to make phone calls and send text messages, then a flip phone is a cost-effective choice.

Cons:

  • Limited Features: Traditional flip phones don't offer the range of apps, camera quality, or internet browsing capabilities that modern smartphones and smart flip phones do.
  • Limited Connectivity: Most flip phones don't support modern connectivity options like Wi-Fi, 4G, or 5G, making data transfer and internet browsing slow or non-existent.

Flippable Smartphone Pros and Cons

Pros:

  • Innovative Design: Flippable smartphones combine the best of both worlds – the compactness of flip phones with the advanced features of modern smartphones.
  • Advanced Features: These devices come with high-resolution cameras, many apps, and fast internet browsing capabilities.
  • Versatility: The ability to fold the phone provides a unique, retro user experience, allowing for a larger screen when needed and a compact design when not in use.

Cons:

  • Price: Flippable smartphones are pricier due to their advanced technology and design.
  • Battery Life: While they have more advanced features, these features can drain the battery faster than traditional flip phones.

Flippable Smartphones and Traditional Flip Phones: Our Top Picks

As you consider whether a traditional flip phone or smart flip phone is right for you, you may want to check out our Best Flip and Fold Phones article, featuring top brands like Samsung, LG, Google, Alcatel, and more. 

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The Bottom Line

Flip phones and smartphones both have their advantages, though they are likely to appeal to different people. While the dependability and utility of a traditional flip phone is hard to beat, the modern smartphone is packed with advanced tech many can’t live without. For those who are intrigued by flip phone size and convenience but want smartphone sleekness and functionality, the smart flip phone could be a good pick. Simply put, If you are in the market for a bare-bones, low-cost phone, you might just be better off with a flip phone. But if you want modern technology and internet connectivity with app access, a smartphone or smart flip phone is the way to go.

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