Join the flip side: Return of the flip phone?

With the rise and fall of Millennial trends, flip phones are making a slow and steady yet epic comeback with a modern-day twist that is here to stay. 

It’s officially three months into the new year and we’ve seen trends of 2023 fade away while others stay. A massive trend that was happening last year was bringing back things that were relevant in the early 2000s–the Millennials’ era like Business Insider took note of. One of the things that was trending in 2023 but now it is practically dead is low waist jeans. But one trend of the Millennial era that has been multiplying its relevance throughout the world since the start of this decade is none other than the flip phone. 

In 2020, Samsung released their first smart flip phone, the Samsung Galaxy Flip 4G and 5G, a smart phone that still has the same functions it had in the past but now folds closed like the old flip phones. Since then, Samsung has been releasing newer versions of their Galaxy Flip, the most recent being the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5.  

I was impressed that Samsung continued the Galaxy Flip series because I’ve barely seen people using it. So far, I’ve met one fellow Galaxy Flip user ever since I got my Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 in 2021. I only see iPhone users, and very few Samsung users that are still using the older models since many are scared to use the flip. This has caused Samsung to lose 9 to 16 percent of its global market, according to tech-market research group Canalys in the Wall Street Journal.  

Although Samsung has lost a percentage of their global market thanks to the flip phone, it has slowly gained it back thanks to how popular the style is outside of the U.S. According to Android Headlines, Samsung’s Galaxy Flip series is extremely popular in South Korea, along with other Asian countries like Singapore and China, according to the data they collected last year. Their data shows that the Samsung Z Flip 4 had 27 percent of sales in 2023 in Asia. Huawei’s sales were still close to Samsung since they released a similar smart flip phone that made up 15 percent of 2023’s sales. Even then the fact that major Asian tech companies are making more flip phones to sell in the Asian market just shows that people are interested in this phone style. As a cosplayer I’m very informed on the latest trends Asian influencers are in, and the Samsung Galaxy Flip series and other smart flip phones are a common sight on their social medias.   

Not only is the flip phone making an epic comeback in Asia, but it is slowly becoming a trendy phone style in Europe, selling well in that market according to Android Headlines and the Wall Street Journal.  

It is thanks to the overseas success that a well-known American tech giant has jumped on the trend to try their luck: Motorola. Motorola has returned to revive their iconic Razr phone series by releasing the Motorola Razr 2023 smart flip phone. The reason this is such a big deal is not just because Motorola is hopping Samsung’s bandwagon of creating smart flip phones, but the fact that the Razar series was the most popular phone model for Millennials when it came out in 2004. Throughout the 2000s the Razar series was treated like the iPhone due to its futuristic look for the time. It lost its popularity thanks to Apple creating the iPhone and other smart phones entering the game.  

The fact that Europe and Asia are being conquered by the flip phone and another company is trying to sell it here in the U.S market proves my belief that the flip phone will be trending soon due to the many options that are and possibly will be available.  

However, although there are many companies making their own smart flip phone models, many in the American market will probably still ignore it, right? In my opinion I believe in that just a bit, but knowing how many Gen Zs and Gen Alphas love to follow trends by devoting their life completely to them, as seen through social media, I believe we will see flip phones become the top phone used in the American market soon. Probably 2025 or later, give or take. I believe in this for these three reasons.  

Promo images to Samsung’s Galaxy Z Flip 5 posted on Samsung Mobile USA official account on Instagram. Post by Samsung Mobile USA Instagram.

First, in the recent years, Asian pop culture has been the center of attention thanks to anime, K-pop, K-drama, and Chinese street fashion thanks to social media. Many famous people in Asia like K-pop BTS member Suga and the band Stray Kids have been seen promoting the phones all over the media, such as at the Samsung Unpacked 2023 event on July 26, encouraging fans to buy them. As we all know and probably have done at some point, when one of our favorite influencers is seen using a product that is available to the public, we get the urge to buy it to support them and feel like them for a moment.  

The second reason, since we’re on the topic of trends and influencers, is the popular aesthetics of Kidcore and Nostalgia Core has people embracing things from their childhood. Many followers of these cores are Gen Z, which means their aesthetic is connecting them to the 90s, 2000s, and the early 2010s. There is no doubt that Millenial aesthetics may start influencing followers to turn to the smart flip phone, since it calls back to the original flip phone while keeping the advanced functions of modern-day smart phones–killing two birds with one stone in style and function.  

The third and final reason in why I think the flip phone style will become popular may cause many of you to hunt me down, but it must be said: Apple is bound to bend to the style like other major phone companies have. I have two explanations for this.  

1) I believe Apple will soon notice this rising worldwide trend and jump on the bandwagon. We all know Apple likes to be relevant, and seeing that they are slowly losing relevance in the international market will make them change their production design to stay on top. It seems that my first reason may be coming true thanks to my second explanation.  

2) Apple is already copying Samsung since they changed their chargers. They announced in 2023 that they are changing their chargers from Lightning to USB-C ports that are commonly used in Samsung products. This had a lot of reactions from the public but was mainly celebrated by the Samsung user community since we were lowkey bullied about our chargers. But now, Apple users will be on the same boat as us. So it wouldn’t be shocking if they did the same thing with phone style.  

According to the Wall Street Journal, Apple has explored this idea in the past but didn’t execute it. I imagine they didn’t want to risk losing millions by making a potentially sensitive phone that breaks easily like the iPhone 6. I predict they will soon revisit that idea due to seeing how successful the design has been for others to stay in the game. And when they do, many iPhone users will begin to carry smart flip phones as well, since it is a popular phone company on this side of the world. And when that day happens, flip phone users, especially Samsung users like me, will have the last laugh once again.  

Once Apple joins the trend, the flip phone will stay just like other technological risks have stayed, such as phone watches and AI assistance like Siri–things that made people nervous to use but soon found them to be useful in everyday life. In the case of the flip phone, it will be the fact that it can shrink and fit in any pocket without restricting mobility.  

Well, these are all my reasons on why I think the flip phone is bound to return, forcing people to fold to it thanks to the phone market embracing this technological advancement. But that is just my take on all the current evidence. The real question now is, would you use a flip phone again? Or would it feel like you’re getting back with a toxic ex? What do you think about this unfolding trend?

Featured photo: A promo image of Samsung’s latest flip phone, the Galaxy Z Flip 5. Photo by Samsung.