Phone Deal Finder
Plan Finder

What Is a Smart Flip Phone & When Did They Come Out?

a smart flip phone

Normally, flip phones vs smartphones are pitted against each other. 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 Despite the flip phone’s seemingly outdated technology, there is still a lot of utility in having a phone that can fold in half for easy transport.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 smartphone 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. (Apple fans, no luck yet, but Apple is reportedly hard at work on their own smart flip phone!)

If you’re curious about finding the best phone deals on the market, our free, unbiased Phone Deal Finder below searches thousands of deals on top devices for you in seconds.

Find the Best Phone Deals

What Are Some Modern Smart Flip Phones?

Let’s take a brief look at some of the leading contenders in smart flip phones today:

  • Motorola Razr: Old but gold, this is a modern reincarnation of the classic Razr. This device combines nostalgic design with contemporary features. It boasts a foldable touchscreen, advanced camera capabilities, and a sleek, portable form factor.
  • Motorola Razr Plus: Building on the success of the Razr, the Razr Plus offers enhanced features such as a larger screen, improved battery life, and upgraded camera specs, making it a more powerful version of its predecessor.
  • Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5: Known for its innovative design, the Galaxy Z Flip 5 features a compact, foldable display, cutting-edge camera technology, and the strong performance expected from Samsung’s Galaxy line.

What Are Smart Flip Phones?

Smart flip phones mix that iconic early 2000s charm and today’s more capable tech specs. If you go to any phone story today, you’ll come across phones that have the look of the classic flip phone — compact, with a satisfying snap shut — but also including the capabilities of modern smartphones. 

  • Impressive Megapixel Camera: Unlike their predecessors, which could snap a grainy selfie at best, smart flip phones come with high-quality cameras, often with impressive megapixel counts. This means clearer, crisper photos, that are the same quality you’d expect from photos taken by standard touchscreen phones.
  • Touchscreen Interface: Who remembers painstakingly typing texts to friends on the Motorola Razr? Gone are the days of navigating with a tiny keypad. Smart flip phones come equipped with touchscreen capabilities, same as other smartphones today.
  • Sleek Design: One of the most appealing aspects of smart flip phones is their design. They retain the sleek, compact form that made flip phones so iconic while incorporating modern aesthetics and functionality.
  • Advanced Handset Features: Beyond just making calls, these handsets include features like internet connectivity, app compatibility, and much more, making them versatile gadgets for everyday use.

It’s a combination of nostalgia and technology that brings smart flip phones front and center. If you’re pining for a throwback style but don’t want to give up today’s invaluable tech, a smart flip phone might be the device for you.

What Makes a Flip Phone “Smart?”

The term “smart” in smart flip phones refers to much more than just their ability to connect to the internet. It’s about transforming the traditional flip phone into a multi-functional device. 

Here are some notable features that make flip phones “smart:”

  • Connectivity: Offering both Wi-Fi and cellular data, smart flip phones keep you connected wherever you go. Whether browsing the web, streaming content, or using social media, these phones handle it easily.
  • App Compatibility: Like any modern smartphone, smart flip phones can run a variety of apps, turning them into powerful tools for both work and play.
  • Enhanced User Experience: The integration of a touchscreen with a traditional keypad offers the best of both worlds. This combination allows for ease of use while providing a tactile experience that many users miss in standard touchscreen phones.
  • Performance: With processors and RAM comparable to standard smartphones, smart flip phones are capable of handling everyday tasks smoothly, making them more than just a novelty item.

Their compact size, combined with the functionality of modern gadgets, makes them a great choice for those looking for something different without compromising on capability.

When Did Smart Flip Phones Come Out?

The ascent of smartphones in the mid-2010s led to a decline in traditional flip phone popularity. Manufacturers gradually phased them out, favoring the more versatile smartphones. 

The resurgence of flip phones in recent years, led by models like Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold5 and Z Fold5, has reignited interest in this form factor. These modern "smart flip phones" blend the nostalgic appeal of their predecessors with cutting-edge features, including 5G connectivity and touchscreen capabilities, marking a new era in the flip phone saga.

What Were the First Smart Flip Phones?

The smartphone era, as we know it, truly took off in 2007 with the launch of the first Apple iPhone. While it wasn’t technically the first touchscreen smartphone, it was a monumental event that marked the transition from keyboard-centric phones to touchscreen devices, setting a new standard in mobile technology.

Apple’s introduction of the iPhone turned the phone into a multi-functional device, far more than just for calls and texts. However, while Apple was revolutionizing the smartphone world, the journey of flip phones into being considered “smart” was just beginning.

Blackberry Style 9760: The Pioneer of Smart Flip Phones

In 2010, amidst the smartphone boom, Blackberry introduced the Style 9760, which one could make a valid argument was the first smart flip phone. This device blended the classic flip phone design with advanced features, including a full QWERTY keyboard and an external screen for notifications.

It was a bold move, to be sure, combining the flip phone's familiarity with a smartphone's efficiency and productivity. This fusion was a clear signal that flip phones could evolve and adapt to the new digital age.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip: The Modern Smart Flip Phone

Post-2010, flip phones experienced fluctuating levels of popularity. In Western markets, the rise of smartphones led to a decline in flip phone usage. However, these devices remained popular in Asian markets, notably South Korea and Japan, indicating a sustained interest in the flip phone design.

The real game-changer came in 2020 with Samsung’s release of the Galaxy Z Flip. This device was a modern reinterpretation of the classic flip phone, equipped with cutting-edge features like a 6.7-inch Dynamic AMOLED display and 5G connectivity.

The Galaxy Flip4, launched in 2022, pushed the boundaries further, showcasing how far the smart flip phone concept has come since the days of the Blackberry Style 9760.

Understanding the evolution of smart flip phones gives you a unique perspective on mobile technology. It shows how the industry adapts, blending nostalgia with innovation to meet diverse consumer needs. And if the rumors are to be believed, Apple is currently hard at work on its own smart flip iphone, so you might have even more options to consider.

This means more choices for you, the shopper, and the opportunity to find a device that truly resonates with your style and needs.

Bottom Line

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’s Phone Deal Finder to find the best phone for you. Most major carriers, such as AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile, have smart flip phones on offer.

Find phone deals based on your
trade-in and carrier
Find a Phone Deal

Phone Deals