Owning a flip phone in the mid-2000s would automatically make you the coolest lad in the block. It was the in thing at the time. It is because of this that over 543 million flip phones were shipped all over the world in 2015 out of the total 1.44 billion smartphones shipped in the same year. Crazy, right?
If you were lucky to have owned a flip phone back in then, then you know what am talking about. But if you were not at the “phone age” then I will fill you in on the experience we had back then with flip phones.
Did you know that the billionaire investor Warren Buffet has been using a smart phone for the longest time? He even stated in one interview that he is not willing to let go of his smartphone any time soon. I was in the same boat with Warren at that time, I never thought of owning any other type of phone apart from the flip phones. My first flip phone was a Nokia 2650, it was white, with a very smooth body and a sleek flip joint. I really loved it. We will go into details of the specific flip phones later in the article. For now, let us take a look at the evolution and the history behind the flip phones, and why they slowly disappeared in the advent of the touch screen smartphones.
Why I think flip phones to better than ordinary non-flip.
- They are smaller in size – The fact that the phone flips, reduces its potential physical size by half. Therefore, it basically means that flip phones are way smaller than your average iPhone or Samsung galaxy phone. It is because of this that many people (especially ladies) preferred flip phones to other phones. They could easily fit in their palms and handbags.
- Easy to operate – Unlike the long smartphones of today, that you must operate with two hands, flip phones were designed to be easy to operate. You could easily reach all the keys with you finger, when the phone was held on one hand. Nowadays, to reach the top right or left of your phone, you have to use your other hand or you risk dropping your phone down.
- More durable and sturdy – Flip phones were designed to be more durable, sturdy and can absorb a ton of shock compared to the latest smartphone. Unlike the non-flip phones that absorb the impact directly, the flip phone would close up in order to make it more robust and thus the flap itself works like a shock absorber. I have dropped by flip phone hundreds of times but the screen remained intact, unlike the iPhone!
- I could use it as a card/money clip – Ok, this is not for everyone, but once in a while, I could put my business card or money in between the flap and place the phone in my pocket. This is a feature that the manufacturer did not intend the phone to do, but all the same it was doing this perfectly well for me. Keeping my money and cards safe, and most importantly, I could not forget where I placed my cards or money again.
- It had an inbuilt holster – I could easily latch the phone on my belt loop when working on something. It was easy to reach it there than going to the pocket for it.
- It was just stylist to flip it – flipping the phone when receiving a call was just cool and stylish. I once fell in love with the Motorola flip after watching Mahone from prison break picking his calls in a stylish manner that just made me wish to own a Motorola Razr at the time. Hanging up by closing the flap was just amazing.
- Better Typing experience – I found typing on a flip phone easier and better than on a touch screen smartphone. I could type faster compared to the tightly squeezed QWERTY keyboard.
Flip phones relinquished their dominance in the market when the first true smartphones became commercially available around the mid-2000s. But for a long time, during the late 90s and early 2000s, the flip phones were the most popular kind of phones. They were cooler, hipper and a step above the candy bar phones that were also widely adopted during the time.
It ws also kinda neat how you had to flip the phone open to accept the phone calls. The motion itself was also satisfying all the way around when closing the phone to hang it up. Nowadays many people think of flip phones as antiquated, but others regard may of them as classic phones.
In this section, we’re going to go down memory lane to remember some of those classic flip phones from yesterday. The ones that everyone happened to own. I believe if you had a phone back in the 90s and early 2000s, you were probably using a phone from this list:
1. Motorola RAZR – This phone was first introduced in 2004 and spawed a slew variance in the years after release. Its design was a timeless work of art that still defies the imagination. As its name implies the form was notable for the spelt razor-like profile was flaunting.
Photo Courtesy: Today.com
Something that was unseen before 2004. Adding to its prestige, it also sported what was at the time deemed a futuristic looking electroluminescent keypad. Unlike the backlit dial pads of its contemporaries that raises electroluminescent keypad was completely flat and produced a hypnotic glow on the dark even though it carried hefty cost initially, the Razr’s price was eventually lowered a year after its release, allowing it to reach a wider range of consumers. Combining its striking design and subsequent lower cost, it was the phone that everyone was itching to buy and caller her own.
Impressively enough, the original RAZR v3 model mustered up sales totaling over 130 million units which made it the best-selling phone at the time.
2. Motorola V300 – If you didn’t have the money to spend on a Motorola RAZR back in 2004, then you were probably settling for another alternative at the time, the Motorola V300 or its many variants.
This flip phone wasn’t nearly as polished as the RAZR, but when you are on the other end of the price spectrum it was simply the phone that many people decided buying for the savings. Covered In some rubbery bluish material, the V300 was still a looker for flip phones at the time. It pretty much covered the basics offering the VGA camera, and external blue backlit display and polyphonic ringtones.
The Motorola V300 may not have spurred sales similar to the Motorola’s other offerings, it was still a phone that many people were using because of its inexpensive cost.
3. LG VX 6000 – If you were a Verizon subscriber back in the early to mid-2000s, when camera phones were still in the infancy, you were probably rocking the LG VX-6000.
Part of its popularity was due to the fact that it was indeed LG’s first camera phone for big red taking snapshots with the VGA camera was undeniably a new concept for anyone at the time, but it was still neat to have a gadget that could make phone calls and snap photos. There was also a mirror for selfies. Beyond the camera, the LG VX6000 was also memorable for the OEL external display that it was rocking that is an organic electroluminescent display. It was not like some of the wash that external LCDs that other phones were utilizing at the time, it was actually clearer and offered the most relevant information like signal strength, battery indicator, caller ID and more. Better yet, there was this neat looking toin like animation with color dots. You could argue that the VX 6000 was the phone that helped LG become a relevant name in the phone space back in 2004. And this was before the NBC series on Verizon.
4. SANYO SCP-5300 – It is amazing how flip phone were. This was one of the first phones to feature built-in cameras providing users with another useful tool.
For those in America, the SANYO SCP 5300 for sprint was credited for being the first commercial phone to pack a camera which probably saved people from carrying another gadget around for the purpose of taking photos. Since it was now an option with the SCP 5300. Sure, the phone itself was rather chunky in size for a flip phone, but to it s credit, people didn’t mind because it had the ability to snap photos. This phone offered customers something precious so early adopters were certainly relishing the fact that the SANYO SCP 5300 added something new into the mix that was not seen before.
Some people were even willing to migrate to sprint because of this phone which goes to show the appeal of being the first on the block to offer a totally new feature.
5. SAMSUNG SGH-X426 – Samsung’s current dominance in the market wasn’t achieved overnight. It took them a long time to reach where they are at now.
But during the mid-2000s, Samsung was just a small fish in the pond, overshadowed with the likes of Motorola, Nokia, Apple, and Sony Ericsson. If you’re an AT&T wireless or Cingular customer back then, then you might have been acquainted with the Samsung SGH-X426. It was one of those entry level flip phones that the carriers offered boasting only the bare necessities. Back then, you might have disregarded it more than you would admit seeing that there were far more alluring options to choose from. But the low cost of the phone and polished silver accents did make it attractive to a certain degree. It was all too surprising to find many first-time cell phone owners using the phone due to those features. You could make a case of the X26 helped Samsung to be recognized as a phone manufacturer in the US.
6. ERICSSON T28 – Phones were not attempting to look stylish with their designs back in the 90s. Back then, they were as straightforward as they come with their home key sizes and monotone colors.
However, the Ericsson T28 from 1999 went towards a different direction with its compact design. This flip phone was actually the lightest and slimmest phone during its days. But strangely enough, it wasn’t necessarily the phone that everyone owned. Instead, it was position as a premium offering which was reflected in its price over other models at the time.
Despite lacking the broader mainstream appeal like some of the other phones, Ericson T28 struck a chord among the business professionals. It was a phone that appealed to many business people for several reasons. Not only did it feature a nifty spring-loaded mechanism for opening the flap to reveal the dial pad, but it was the first to feature a replaceable stubby antenna and the first to use a lithium polymer battery.
7. MOTOROLA V60 – Just before the arrival of color screen cell phones, the Motorola V60 from 2002 took this world by storm and appealed to a broad range of consumers.
We could argue that the V60 inspired the design and development of the subsequent Motorola RAZR. Seeing that the V60 sported a metal housing resulting in a more premium feel while also packing excellent software features that gave it outstanding versatility over comparable phones.
Added to its arsenal was the fact that it was also a true global phone offering support for GSM, and CDMA with more emphasis on design of its phones. And for a flip phone, this was a stunner in just about every capacity, which made it a prized possession for most people. Flip phones by this time were beginning to become the dominant form factor, so it was especially satisfying to see Motorola delivering the goods and setting the bar high with the V60.
8. Motorola Microtac – Way back in 1989, things were a lot different in the space. There wasn’t huge variety of cell phones for consumers to choose from, and the Motorola Microtac stood out amongst the few that were around. It was because it introduced consumers to this brand-new flip form factor. Prior to its arrival, mobile phones were bulky, hence the term brick phones.
The Microtac also made headlines upon its release because it ws the smallest and lightest mobile phone at the time. All these qualities definitely made an impression to people who could actually afford to buy a cell phone and the service that they required. Thanks to its popularity, Motorola released subsequent variants of the Microtac realizing the appeal of the flip form factor. The DPC 550 version of the Motorola Microtac was released around the mid-90s.
9. Motorola Startac – This is one of the true classic phones on this list. It was released in 1996 and instantly moved cellphone designed forward with its slim and compact size.
It may not have been as svelte or stylish looking as the RAZR, but for a phone that was released in the mid 90s, the StarTAC was the phone to own for its looks. In fact it was the smallest and lightest handset at the time it was releasted. The allure in owning such a bang made it covert amongst mobile owners. In addition to making phone calls, the StarTAC is also notable for being able to send text messages. And the beauty about this Startac is also seen in how it made owning a cellphone obtainable by the average person. No longer was the cellphone reserved for the rich and elite. A lot of credit was given to Startac for broadening the cellphone ownership to a higher degree and for this reason, it was one of the phones that everyone seemed to own during that time period.
10. Nokia 2650 – fast forward to the mid-2000s, when Nokia was slowly gaining dominance in the cellphone market, they released a number of crazy cell phone designs.
Photo Courtesy: nokiamuseum.info
From their N-Series phones, to their crazy slide form factor phones. Nokia was struggling to appeal to the larger mobile phone users by modifying the shapes of their phones and remodeling the existing phones to make them hippier and sleek. It is around this time that Nokia released the Nokia 2650, this is a flip phone that I actually owned immediately it was introduced.
I would say, during this time, mobile phones were fun and Nokia ws crazy with its designed at the time. The Nokia 2650 had a sleek full-rubber front face with an easy to type keypad. The keypad ws an easy grip because the rubber just made it easy to type. At this time, most phones were getting the polyphonic ringtones, and the 2650 was one of the few that came loaded with hundreds of polyphonic ringtone.
Equipped with the 2 G network and default browser, the phone was ahead of its time with a stellar browsing experience. I could download even more ringtones and add to the phone. The Symbian S60 was the operating system of choice at the time for all Nokia phones. It was fast and good for making calls and sending text message. It didn’t have a camera, but had a nice colored display, which was a step from the many monochrome screens that had flooded the market at the time.
The Nokia 2650 was small, light and ergonomically designed to have nice look and feel on the hand when using it. It did not support videos, but could play some animated GIFs. It came with Bluetooth and infrared abilities for sending and receiving files from friends. Without Wi-Fi and other advanced connectivity features and Apps, this phone was great for average mobile use.
11. Nokia 2720 – It there is a company that takes nostalgia seriously it is Nokia. This is seen from the revival of their retro-phone models. It started with the Nokia 3310. While Nokia brings back the look and feel of the past, it packs the revived phones with features of the future. The Nokia 3310 was re-incarnated with a colored screen, Wi-Fi, and many more features that were not available on the original Nokia 3310. Nokia’s ability to go back in time and re-living the experience of the early to mid-2000s is a unique selling point for their gadgets. Those who were attached to the original phones will definitely buy the new revamped version without hesitation. I have been a victim of that, I just bought a Nokia 3310 to have the feeling of handling a slimmed-out version of the original Nokia 3310.
On the list of revived phones was the Nokia 2720. For those who were too young to remember, this is what the original Nokia 2720 looked like ten years ago in 2009.
And here is how the revived Nokia 2720 looks like Now (2019 Updated version). The updated version comes in black and grey.
Unfortunately, it is all plastic with a glossy finish on its top side that makes it feels unnecessarily cheap. The glossy bit is a smudge magnet. Like the original, there are two display on this phone; the 1.2 inch display up front that lets you answer calls without opening the flap and when you flip it open, a 2.8-inch color display inside.
It has large keys making it easy to text or type. Button import placements are like this USB Micro USB port on the bottom, volume rocker on the right and on the left a headphone jack and a dedicated google assistant button giving it a more modern twist. The pre-installed apps also give the Nokia 2720 a modern-day phone look more commonly seen on smartphones.
The Nokia 2720 comes with WhatsApp, Google maps, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. There is also an update version of the classic game snake. Of course, like any retro Nokia phone, battery life needs to be good. It comes with two nano SIM card slots and a micro-SD card slot. There is one camera on the Nokia 2720 located close to the backside of the hinge, so your finger might come on the way.
While Nokia wishes to appeal to the retro appeal of this phone, feature phones like this one are also to cater to users who might not necessarily need a smartphone, but needs some smartphones features like WhatsApp. It’s a perfect weekend or holiday phone that you can use when you want to disconnect but still need to communicate with those that you love.
Latest Flip Phones: Yes, Flip Phones are still here with us! They do exist
In this section, we will take a look at the best flip phones currently in the market. It may shock you that flip phones are still in the market. And yes, people are still buying them and using them as their everyday phone.
Also, the latest development in the smartphone industry, has introduced foldable smartphones, which is basically a flip phone incarnate. It uses the same concept that flip phones are based on. They are meant to pack stellar features and wide screen in a smaller gadget. This can only be done by having the flipping capability.
Some of the best and latest flip phones available right now include:
1. Samsung Galaxy Z Flip – This is one of the few Samsung foldable phones that is available for purchase. It is equipped with a 6.6-inch screen with AMOLED display and a hinge that allows you to flip the phone open and close it when you’re finished. The device runs one of the latest versions of android. So, its compatible with most of the Apps. It has a feature that helps users to split various app interfaces to interact with content in a whole new way. For example, when using the YouTube App, top of the screen shows the video, while the bottom section displays the comments and related videos.
Photo Coutesy: Samsung.com
You can even browse other websites on the lower portion while the upper potion is on YouTube. You can actually use it as a tiny laptop. The screen is fragile, but its durable and sturdier. It is available in purple, black and gold colors.
2. SONIM XP3 FLIP PHONE – This flip phone is close to the classic pones of the 2000s in make and design. It is a rugged flip phone worth considering if you wish to relive the memories of the 2000s. Am personally considering getting one to quench my nostalgia for flip phones.
The SONIM XP3 is as tough s it is convenient. It is among the few flip phones that doubles as a smartphone and a two-way radio. This phone, comes with a three-year warranty, supports LTE speeds and a has a loud in-built 100 db speaker. Although it packs 8 GB of storage, it comes equipped with a memory slot for extra space for storing your photos and music.
3. Greatcall Lively Flip
The lively flips is only compatible with the Greatcall network is the ideal phone for those who have nostalgia of the Motorola flip phones of the early to mid-2000s. In addition to sporting a big keypad for easy dialing, its menu has bold large bright text that is easy to read. It has large earpiece for those with hearing issues. It also has an emergency button, camera, flashlight and enough internal memory for over 1000 contacts.
4. AT&T Z222 Prepaid Flip Phones – if you are looking for an affordable and reliable prepaid flip phone, you should consider this option form ZTE. It offers built in Bluetooth for pairing with your wireless earphones. Unfortunately, it is incompatible with other networks like Verizon. It features a speaker phone- and built-in camera.
5. Kyocera DuraAXE LTE
If you want a flip phone that will take you back in time, then look no further than this model form Kyocera. It is available on ATT and the DuraXV extreme on Verizone. This is an improvement to all the flip phones of the past. It is dust proof, shock proof, and waterproof. Its front facing speakers give loud and clear sound. It is equipped with micro-SD card slot for expanding the memory for storage of all your favorite songs. It has integrated camera capable of shooting 5MP still photos. You will get 9 days of talk time and 16 days of standby time with this tough flip phone with 16 GB of internal storage. There is a also a variant of the same that has no camera.
6. Easyfone Prime A1 3G
Unlocked senior flip phone. This one is affordable and idea for kids and adults alike. It has an SOS button to help you easily and immediately contact upto 5 people. It has an ATT trackfone metro PCS circuit and t-mobile but not Verizon. But since AT &T will phase out its 3G network in 2022, this phone should be bought with this in mind. The 2.4 display of this phone is bright and easy to read. The dial pad features a large illuminated button. The internal memory only offers space for contacts and a few photos. Fortunately, it comes with a memory card slot for expanding your storage. This phone supports Bluetooth so you can use it with a headset, wireless headset or your vehicle’s soun d system. It is available in red and black and comes with a cradle charger.
7. SCHOK CLASSIC
This modern-day is packed with a larger, sharper, and brighter 3.2 inch display. It looks better than most of the flip phones. It comes with an 8 MP camera with a flash and is powered with a speedy and reliable quad-core processor. Its 1689 MAH battery will give you a full day battery before you need to recharge the flip phone with the included USB-C kit. This device is waterproof and has a micro-SD slot to expand its 8 GB of internal storage.
8. LG B470 – If you are looking for a no-frills bare bones flip phone, then the LG B470 is what you need. It works with AT&T but not Verizon. It has a 1.3MP camera and built-in Bluetooth and it can play mp3. It s outer display is black and white which helps its already impressive weak-ling battery life. Plus, it allows you to easily read text without requiring you to open the phone. (Photo: Lg.com)
9. ZTE CYMBAL Z-320 – This option for ZTE support a sleek and compact design that can easily sit in your pocket. This modern flip phone is one of the few models that supports 4G LTE networks. The 3-inch screen is ideal for reading text and looking at photos. Though the 2MP camera isn’t the greatest, there is no need to worry about the storage space. The ZTE Cymbal has 4GB of internal storage and a micro-SD card slot. The device has a Bluetooth and an FM radio. It comes in handy for listening to music or taking calls using wireless headphones. Photo: Amazon.com
10. TRACPHONE ALCATEL MYFLIP – is a 4G prepaid flip phone. This is one of the best modern flip phones you can buy now. It has a 2.8-inch display, a quadcore processor and built-in GPS. Its outer display lets you get a glimpse at your incoming calls and messages. Additionally, the battery gives an impressive 60 days of standby time. The 2MP camera can capture video in HD. The pheon has 4G LTE, you can share videos with friends without slow speeds of past generation 2G or 3G network.
Which is your favorite flip phone? Comment below.
Which phone would you wish to be retro-revived.