Is there a Western market for Android flip phones?
Unless you live in an Adele video, most Western consumers would be forgiven for considering flip phones a dead form factor. However it remains popular further afield.
It might be a fashion thing. Perhaps there’s an affinity for typing graphic languages on physical keys that suits this design. The lower retail cost versus smartphones is also no doubt attractive in emerging markets too. Whatever the reason, flip-phones have never truly gone away.
The Samsung Galaxy Folder 2 hit the news last week after being announced in Seoul. Many Western-oriented outlets looked at it with a sort of puzzled interest. Headlines were a touch snarky, boiling down to “Flip Phones – Remember Them LOL?” Yet in Samsung’s native Korea, along with other areas, this is simply an up to date version of a popular design.
The launch in Korea follows initial sales in China, so Samsung have committed to launching in more than one market. I doubt though that the phone will ever see an official release outside of Asian regions.
Personally I’d quite like to play with the Folder 2. This is far from a ‘dumb’ or feature phone, although evokes the same sensibilities. I think both the design and ideal it represents have a place.
Nostalgia meets modern function
I think the Folder 2 and similar phones would appeal to those caught up in a recent desire for simpler technology. They also do this without completely sacrificing modern conveniences.
Phones like the new Nokia 3310 caused a disproportionate amount of media hype for a feature phone. Nostalgia seemed to outdo common sense. I wonder just how many potential 3310 customers are actually aware of that particular handset’s limitations (2G only, no Whatsapp or even email etc.)
There is a reason technology moves steadily forward. Smartphones and the converged communication technology they integrate have changed our world. Yet for many, the ‘superphone’ is an unnecessary extravagance. Even highly-affordable smartphones such as the Moto C are not desired by those who simply don’t want a full touch device.
The Android flip phone could be the best possible bridge here. This marries a familiar and convenient form factor (it’s very difficult to break the screen!), with enough modernisation to be useful. It also addresses a whole host of accessibility issues for those who find all-touch devices difficult to use.
So would you be interested in an Android flip phone? Because oddly I think I would…