Could smartphones work with a flip design?

Anna Scantlin
Contributing Editor from  Kansas City, MO
| October 20, 2012


It’s a thought that crossed my mind just last night when I was out. I was always very aware which way my screen was facing and where it was placed to make sure that my screen didn’t get cracked somehow. It seems like regardless where you put your smartphone, it’s going to have a good risk of getting some sort of damage to the screen since they're just so vulnerable.

The argument for that statement is that you’ve got oodles and oodles of cases to choose from for pretty much any smartphone out there. Some of those cases are just for vanity, and some of them are for protection. But even with the most defensive cases, such as the popular brand Otterbox, your phone is still susceptible to screen cracks should it land on a sharp corner or fall from a high enough drop. Most smartphones just have an open, vulnerable screen. But what if it was designed differently?

BlackBerry kind of tinkered with the idea of a flip-designed smartphone by creating the BlackBerry Style. The phone itself had a lot of problems, but I thought the idea was pretty cool. However, the screen on the inside wasn’t a touch screen, and I thought that would have been a nice touch if it had been. By having the flip design the inner screen was protected, and it also wasn’t made out of glass so it was harder to “crack”. Scratches were pretty prominent on the outside, though.

If Androids or iPhones came out with a flip design, I’m not sure how well it would go over. Most people who use these devices have gotten used to working without physical keyboards, and I imagine many would argue that the extra bulk of a physical keyboard alone would prevent them from purchasing a flip smartphone. I suppose they could take that design and do something similar to the Kyocera Echo and use dual screens, but having glass slap against glass when closing the device probably wouldn’t pan out very well in the end, now, would it?

I did see a Samsung Android named the Aquos Hybrid 007SH that was designed to look like older flip phones, with physical dial pad and menu buttons, and the top half of the phone was a touchscreen.  Although I think it’s an intriguing idea, I know I certainly would not want to go back to T9 unless I absolutely had to. Also, the device looks very long and I’m not sure how comfortable it would be the move your fingers from the bottom half of the device to the top.

All in all I’m not sure you can half the best of both worlds with a flip phone smartphone. I like my touch screens and I like my flip phones, but after thinking about it the two should probably be kept separate. I suppose if somebody innovative enough could come up with a clever design for such an idea, it could actually work. From what I’ve seen so far, however, it just doesn’t have a good outlook for its future.

So readers, what do you think? Would smartphones stand a chance if they had a flip phone design? Could you imagine your Android or iPhone looking similar to phones we had six or seven years ago? Let me know your thoughts!

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