Flip smartphones making a comeback, but out of reach of common people
However, with the grand arrival of Android, big screens and touch screens became the most sought-after features. In this race, the flip phone soon lost its market and popularity.
NEW DELHI: Long before Android phones came into the market, flip phones were all the craze among consumers. The small and sleek phone, which used to bend from the middle, was considered a premium product. And, having such a phone made one stand out in the crowd.
However, with the grand arrival of Android, big screens and touch screens became the most sought-after features. In this race, the flip phone soon lost its market and popularity. However, it is now staging a major comeback with many big brands including Samsung, Motorola, Oppo, and OnePlus coming up with new models.
Even though they have fewer buyers and a less market share, flip mobile phones are back on the shelves of shops. According to Techarch research, foldable (including flip) smartphones will contribute over 1.8% of the total smartphone revenues for 2023. This will be achieved by selling over 6.35 lakh foldable smartphones during the year. This translates to less than 0.5% of the total sales by volume estimated for the period.
What is a flip phone?
Flip phones are just like small cell phones that can fit well in one’s hand or pocket, but once they are unfolded, they transform into our everyday-use big-screen phones.
However, these phones are more compact and portable compared to other big-screen smartphones. Using or carrying flip phones is very convenient and hassle-free as they can easily slip into our pockets. Another added benefit of a flip phone is that they are less prone to scratches and thus their display is less likely to be damaged, unlike our rectangular touch-screen phones. Companies even claim that these phones have better battery life than your normal (regular) smartphones.
“There are two benefits of having a flip phone: one is it looks premium. The other factor is convenience. I think if flip phones go well for another three years, we might see some good traction,” said Faisal Kawoosa, founder and chief analyst at Techarc.
Is it within reach of average consumers?
The only downside of flip phones is the cost factor, which makes them out of reach for the common consumer. In fact, at the moment, all smartphone makers, that are offering flip devices have high prices, above Rs 50,000.
For instance, the latest offering from Samsung, the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 (8GB + 256GB), costs Rs 99,999. Similarly, the Motorazr 40 Ultra costs Rs 89,999 in the market, while the Oppo Find N2 Flip also costs Rs 89,999. Samsung’s Flip 5 has just been released at an event in South Korea.
Analysts believe that flip phones will remain in the luxury segment for a while, mainly because companies have spent a good fortune on perfecting the hinge technology and need to recover these costs. “It is not just targeting this segment, but the hardware that goes into it also costs a lot. There are at least three displays if you look at it from that perspective, so the price is thrice that of one of the most costly components of a smartphone,” says Kawoosa.
In the past few years, several big players such as Samsung, Motorola, and Oppo have entered the market with their new flip devices. Samsung, known for its innovative products, recently launched the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5. Motorola also introduced the Motorazr 40 Ultra, while Oppo launched the Find N2 Flip, and OnePlus is planning to launch the OnePlus V Flip.
“Undoubtedly, Samsung leads this space and has an early mover advantage. Other than this, I see Motorola having a good chance to do well owing to its legacy of being recognised as an innovative brand. I am expecting OnePlus to do well as it is also a brand positioned well among its target audience,” says Kawoosa.
Prabhu Ram, head—of the industry intelligence group at CyberMedia Research, is of the opinion that Samsung’s strong brand presence and purposeful product upgrades will allow the company to continue benefiting from the growth in the foldable market, despite increasing competition.