What happened to all the foldable phones?

I have to admit, I’m pretty surprised that there aren’t more foldable phones at this point. Samsung has theirs, and that’s about it unless you go to one of those rarely-seen brands. A few years ago, everyone was betting on the foldable phone as the next big thing. What happened?

I would buy one

I’ve written before that my favorite dumbphones were flip phones. Flip phones are awesome and it’s not just because they remind people of Star Trek communicators. The fact is, a flip phone makes you feel like a boss. It’s not just the flipping it open part that really makes you feel important. Really the big draw to a flip phone is flipping it shut. It’s a perfect way to get off the phone with someone especially if you don’t like them.

In the smartphone era, you’d think that a flip phone would be a perfect compromise. Small enough to pocket, yet it has a big screen for when you need it. Samsung’s version has a second screen on the outside, just like classic flip phones, where you can see texts and other notifications. It should be a slam dunk.

The facts get in the way

The problem with a flip phone in 2022 is that it’s inferior in practically every way to a flip phone in 2005. Oh, of course it’s going to have great cameras and run a modern operating system. It will have apps and all the things you need today. But as a phone… it’s a fail. And I don’t just mean one of today’s flip phones. I mean all of them.

For me the biggest problem is that you can’t flip it shut with great abandon. As I said that was the big draw of the flip phone. Today’s flip phones are too delicate for that. Their folding screens will break if you go at them with the kind of vigor it takes to make that satisfying “smack” when closing.

The other problem is that flip phones don’t make a lot of sense for today’s uses. You still have to flip them open to answer texts, take pictures, that sort of thing. So it ends up being more work than just having a regular phone in your pocket. I’m sure that manufacturers could fix that by having another touch screen on the outside, but these phones already cost over $1,500. That’s just adding more cost.

And finally, let’s not forget that today’s flip phones are really chunky. They’re double the thickness of your average phone, because of course they are. They’re a regular phone folded in half. Phones like the original Motorola RAZR were super-thin, and today’s folding phones seem like a step back.

Is there hope for the foldable phone?

Yes, I would say there is. But it would take something that isn’t invented yet: a cheap, durable foldable screen. Any discussion of folding phones has to start there. Because if you can’t slam it shut there’s no fun in it. Making the screen inexpensive would clear the way for other features like a second screen on the outside, too.

Above all, any foldable has to be cool in order to succeed. And today’s foldables just aren’t. There’s no getting around that. It’s just another great idea with poor execution. And that’s not likely to change.

Certainly there has to be some sort of evolution of phone design. The black glass front and gigantic battery of today’s phones isn’t really any different from phones a generation ago. People want something new, but so far nothing really good has come along.

In the meantime, if you are ready for a new phone and you want the best deal, you can get it today. Call Signal Connect at 888-233-7563. We can get you a foldable phone if you want one, but we can also give you great customer service that’s going to make you smile. Today’s folding phones won’t do that, but we will.

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.