Are folding phones back? Old technology piques the interest of Generation Z.
What goes around comes around.
Popularized in the late 1990s and early 2000s, collapsible “flip phones” were all the rage for their compact design, a fraction of the size of chunky “brick” phones a few years earlier, and offered a satisfying latch when you hung a call.
But flip phones weren’t ideal for texting, since you had to press a key up to three times to get to the letter you want, not to mention super-small screens. And if you were lucky enough to have a flip camera phone, the photos were grainy or pixelated.
Feature-rich smartphones, such as the iPhone in 2007 and Android devices from 2008, quickly stole market share from flip phones and other cell phones (including “candy bar” shaped devices).
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Fast forward to 2023, and despite its limitations, this retro tech seems to fascinate Gen Z.
Why are we going back to foldable phones?
Thanks to many high-profile TikTok personalities talking about flip phones, the #bringbackflipphones hashtag has over 25 million views on the social media platform, along with other related and trending hashtags such as #y2kaesthetic.
The craze could initially be linked to Sammy Palazzolo (@skzzolno), who says flip phones aren’t just retro kitsch, but the 18-year-old college freshman thinks our reliance on smartphones could have a negative effect on young usersand trading them for a simpler flip phone when out with friends leads to a better, less stressful night.
While sales data isn’t yet available, Google tells USA TODAY that it’s looking for “Cover Phone” increased by more than 140 percent in the last five years.
Even young artists, like Camila Cabello, of Cuban origin and 25 years old, posted this to his 13 million followers on Twitter: “I’m the team flip phone revolution. Maybe I can write the theme song guys 💪💪💪💪”
“It started with Samsung’s foldable phone and it’s been a huge success in South Korea,” says Tim Bajarin, a veteran technology analyst and president of Creative Strategies, a San Jose, California-based market research firm, in an interview with USA TODAY. “Then it started appearing in TikTok videos, which caught the attention of Gen Z, a demographic unfamiliar with 1990s flip phones, and they started looking for those models.”
Bajarin says that foldable phones seem like “a fad for this generation right now,” however, social media interest in foldable phones could eventually have an impact on new smartphone designs, “if it shows demand.” real of them”.
Gen Z TikTokers have also posted about other retro tech, including film cameras (and instant-print cameras), turntables, cassette players, and arcade machines.
How much does a foldable phone cost?
There are a couple of options for buying a foldable phone.
Resist buying an old flip phone, say, on eBay, as this old technology may not work now that most major carriers shut down 3G service last year.
Like Sammy K, you can spend anywhere from $20 to $50 on a new flip phone, and some of the higher-end models feature “modern” conveniences like Bluetooth connectivity and a better camera with flash.
Or you can go for a modern twist on the classic flip phone design, which will cost as much as a smartphone.
Starting at $889, the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip4 has an innovative OLED display that folds in half.
When closed, this 5G-enabled flip phone is small enough to fit in your jeans or tote bag, and with a 1.9-inch cover screen for viewing notifications and messages on the outside, and built-in Samsung Pay for shopping. retail waving device via contactless terminal.
When you want more space, however, perhaps to watch a TikTok video, play a game, read an e-book or browse the web, the Z Flip4 flips open to reveal a 6.7-inch Full HD+ Dynamic AMOLED display, with a Smooth 120Hz refresh rate.
Or fold it halfway for hands-free video calls, propped up in an “L” shape, to sit on a table or desk.
The waterproof Android phone also features twin 12-megapixel cameras (plus a 10-megapixel selfie cam), fast wireless charging, and multiple colors.
Follow Marc on Twitter for his “Tech Tip of the Day” posts: @marc_saltzman. Email him or subscribe to his Tech It Out podcast. Points of view and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of USA TODAY.