Hey Samsung, the 90s called and they want their flip phone back…
To celebrate the launch of Samsung’s latest model, the Galaxy Z Flip4, we thought we’d take a walk down memory lane to look at where the flip phone started and how it went on to be so flipping popular, both in the 90s and now again in the 21st century.
1996 – The Motorola StarTAC: the world’s first
It all started on January 3rd 1996 when Motorola released the very first flip phone. The StarTAC dubbed “the first wearable phone” came in at approximately 3.7 inches tall and had a plastic casing. The phone was formed using a clamshell hinge, a 1989 design that has been used for flip phones ever since.
Bursting onto our screens in a dramatic advert showing spies breaking into a Foreign Embassy, Motorola used the cinematic scenario and comedy to show the convenience of its size, wearability and discreet vibrate alerts feature. The phone became an instant success.
Hold the phone! Here’s how much it cost…
The Motorola StarTAC cost a whopping £1,400 in 1996, the equivalent of £2,489.33 in today’s money, making it the most expensive phone of its time (and more expensive than even the latest iPhone models today). That’s at a time when your typical portable handset from Nokia would cost around £100 or less with a two-year contract. Mind blown!
2000 – The Samsung SCH-V200: Oh snap! A camera you say?
It was 22 years ago. The very start of the millennium and the flip phone continues to evolve with the release of Samsung’s SCH-V200 model in June 2000. Launched in South Korea, the model featured a built-in camera and could take up to 20 photos at a time which you could view on the phone’s 1.5-inch TFT LCD.
Additional features included tri-band world roaming, MMS picture messaging, GPRS high-speed data, and 40-chord polyphonic ringtones. How futuristic!
2000 – The Samsung SPH-100 (UpRoar): Thank you for the music
The start of the millennium also saw the launch of the first mobile phone model with MP3 capabilities. Launched on 29th August 2000, the phone was named one of the All-TIME 100 greatest and most influential gadgets from 1923 to 2010 by Peter Ha in Time Magazine.
The phone had 32MB of built-in memory which allowed for… wait for it… seven to ten music tracks! (We really were spoilt the following year, when the first iPod came out, giving us room for 1,000 tracks) but it was revolutionary for the time and a world first for mobile music. Hoo-rah!
2003 – The Nokia 7200: the flip phone for the material girl
On 28th October 2003, Nokia got really inventive. Taking a ‘fashion-inspired’ approach with the 7200, Nokia launched the first model to incorporate textured materials into the phone’s exterior design. The design enabled the owner to ‘dress-up’ their mobile with different ornamental textile covers in various colours.
Nokia believed it was tapping into “a growing number of mobile-savvy, style-conscious consumers wanting more than just modern technology, but a mobile that reflects the latest fashion trends and appeals to their highly individualized sense of style.” Not sure this one gets a thumbs up from us but it gets a 10/10 for creativity…
2004 – The Motorola Razr: the flip phone icon
Renowned for its classy ultra-thin design, the Motorola Razr quickly became one of the most desirable handsets of the early noughties. Over the Razr’s four-year run, the V3 model sold more than 130 million units, becoming the best-selling clamshell phone in the world to date.
With a list of celebrities spotted using the handset, including Hollywood IT girl Paris Hilton, it’s no wonder the handset continued to increase in popularity, with a third- generation of the Razr being released earlier this month. We’re here for the Razr nostalgia!
2006 – The Nokia N93: swivel action
As we cross over into the later noughties, Nokia pushed the technological boundaries and gave us the N93; the first flip phone with a unique swivel design giving the screen a 160° viewing angle. The phone was described as a “compact and stylish digital camcorder and multimedia computer in one” making it every aspiring film-makers’ dream.
2010 – Blackberry Style 9760: Let’s get QWERTY
When we think of Blackberry, we don’t immediately think of flip phones, so many won’t remember this model (unless they had one of course.)
Launched in 2010, Blackberry gave us the Style 9760, its first flip phone with a full QWERTY keyboard. Featuring an external screen displaying the time and notifications at a glance and the usual business applications that Blackberry is known for. The fusion signalled a step-up for the consumers looking to up their productivity while remaining stylish.
2010’s – The death of the flip phone?
Although flip phones were continuously available on the market in the 2010s, with brands such as LG, Samsung and Motorola leading the charge and remaining popular in South Korea and Japan to this day, their popularity in the West saw a decline with the rise of traditional smartphones. But, fear not. There may be a chance for Gen Z to experience the satisfaction of slamming a phone shut after a call…
2020 – The Galaxy Z Flip: the future of the flip phone
On February 11th 2020 Samsung unveiled their new generation of flip phone. Unlike the Samsung Galaxy Fold series which opens outwardly, this device folds horizontally which means that it is indeed a modern flip phone by definition.
The Samsung Galaxy Flip4 is the latest model of the series being released to the market on 26th August 2022. Using hybrid glass coating branded as “Infinity Flex Display” the impressive handset gives us 6.7” of pure Dynamic AMOLED screen. That 1996 Motorola StarTAC with its 1.3” screen would be shook am I right?
There’s more; the sleek 4G handset comes in three different colours; Mirror Purple, Mirror Black, and Mirror Gold while the 5G version comes in Mystic Bronze and Mystic Grey.
You can buy the handset outright from £999.00 to £1,199.00 depending on storage size or from £27.75 per month on a contract plan.
Flip phones have come such a long way since 1996 and we have no idea what’s in store for future generations but one thing is for sure, we’re flipping excited to find out!