Flip and foldable phones – should you buy one?
Over the holidays, you may have noticed more people carrying phones that can flip up or fold out to open. Has the rise of flip and foldable phones left you wondering if you should buy one? Take a look at our pros and cons.
Flip phones might induce feelings of nostalgia in those who had a mobile a couple of decades ago. You can still buy those types of phones with the screen above the fold and numbers below, but the new flip phones have a flexible screen that takes up the whole space. The screen amazingly bends when you fold it in half to close it.
Foldable phones open like a book, so the fold line is vertical. They’re like a small tablet that closes to the size of a normal phone.
There are a few brands that have brought out flip and foldable phones, but Samsung is the brand most people would associate with them – they’re up to their fourth Flip phone and fifth Fold phone. Apple hasn’t released a model yet.
What we like about them
Flip phones fold down to be a small square that fits easily in your pocket. When we chatted about them at an appliance store, the salesperson said they’re popular with tradespeople because they stay in their pocket easier than a standard phone.
Fold phones can be a bit chunky because they’re two screens on top of each other, but they’re like having a little tablet in your pocket without actually lugging one around.
If the idea of unfolding your phone every time you want to check it sounds a bit annoying, you’ll probably find you can do most easy tasks on the secondary screen. The secondary screen lets you do simple things such as check notifications or see the weather and time without unfolding it.
You can prop them up
Taking video calls and photos with a timer is easier with flip and foldable phones because you can easily stand them on a table.
We usually use a phone’s front camera to take a selfie so we can assess how we look on the screen as we press the capture button. Rear cameras take better-quality photos, though. With a flip or foldable phone, you can use the secondary screen to check yourself out as you use the rear cameras.
They’re becoming more durable
We weren’t impressed with the durability of flip and foldable phones a few years ago, but the scores have improved over time.
Nick Gelling is our technology writer at Consumer NZ and says his favourite feature on a foldable phone is being able to have more than one app open on a foldable screen. “It means you can easily look at two things at once,” Nick says.
What we don’t like about them
Shorter battery life
Short battery life relates to flip and foldable phones. The scores we give them for battery life are among the lowest. “Because the phones bend in half and batteries can’t bend, the space available for the battery is smaller. However, brands are figuring out how to extract more battery life as time goes on,” Nick says.
The feel of the fold
While it’s impressive how low profile the fold on these phones is, you may still find it a bit annoying to feel it as your finger slides across it.
Foldable phones can be heavy
The double screen means they can be heavy, but they are getting lighter. Samsung’s latest Fold5 is 12g lighter than its earlier Fold4, and you can feel the difference.
The latest Samsung Galaxy Fold5 starts at an eye-watering $2,849. If you’re considering getting a foldable phone to double up as a tablet, buying a separate phone and older tablet might be more cost effective.
Would our tech writer buy one?
Nick says: “I’d be more likely to buy a flip phone than a full-size foldable, because as cool as it’d be, I don’t personally need a tablet in my pocket. Price is a slight sticking point, but flip phones are no more expensive than an iPhone or Galaxy S, so if I was looking at that end of the market, I’d really consider it.”