Last month on The Verge, Allison Johnson reviewed Samsung’s latest flip phone, the Galaxy Z Flip 5.
Since the reintroduction of the flip phone category a few years ago by companies like Motorola and Samsung (Samsung’s first Galaxy Z debuted in 2020), I have yet to see a compelling use case for this form factor. No one has shown the problem flip phones solve.
Johnson brings up the old victim-of-notifications scenario (my emphasis):
The flip form factor is particularly good for someone who wants to get more of the basic chores done on their phone without getting sucked into mindlessly checking app notifications and scrolling through news feeds unintentionally. The bigger, improved cover screen on the Flip 5 makes it possible to respond to a text quickly, glance at walking directions, or check the weather without coming face-to-face with absolutely everything on your phone. It’s a powerful tool in the fight for your attention, and the Z Flip 5 is hands-down the best option in its class.
Ah yes, those tyrannical notifications. There’s no way to get rid of those foul beasts! Except there is. For at least five years (I actually I don’t know how long, that’s how long it’s been) I’ve had notifications disabled for all of the apps on my iPhone save for a few people in Messages (My wife and my dad) — oh, and alerts for my work calendar. That’s it. I don’t get an alert from any other fucking app on my phone. I don’t care who liked or commented on my photos in Instagram, I don’t need breaking news alerts, and I don’t need any of the streaming services I subscribe to alert me to new content. I’ll find something good to watch on my own or a friend will give me a heads up on something good.
I understand the novelty factor in flip phones. A touchscreen that folds? I love the the idea. A crease in that screen? A horrible reality. I also understand the nostalgia factor. I was around for the Motorola Razr in 2004 and before that, the Motorola STARTAC in 1995. I too, like the idea of a flip phone with screens on every side in 2023, but the reality of such a phone has no clear advantage over a non-flipping smartphone.
Stay vigilant. Don’t get fooled by novelty disguised as utility.