Fold vs. Flip: which way should the phone (un)fold?

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It’s (un)folding time! Let’s unfold the topic of which way a phone should expand. Is a book style foldable (think of the Galaxy Z Fold 6, or the OnePlus Open) preferable over a phone that goes “flip” (the Galaxy Z Flip 6, or the Motorola Razr Plus (2024))?

Why even talk about it? Well, let’s admit it: we’re headed towards a foldable future.

For years now, rectangular slab phones have been in a state of plateau: REAL upgrades come every few years. More often than not, smartphones these days recycle the same design over and over again, or are packed with the (almost) same cameras from their predecessors, for example. That’s not very progressive, I’m afraid.

That’s why the foldable revolution is upon us.

I see it going in two directions: those who crave large phones and gargantuan screens will go for the book style folding handsets. On the other hand, those who pursue a minimalistic way of life, will rock a flip style foldable.

Consumers who have not yet decided what’s best for them face a critical decision. Should they opt for a fold-style or a flip-style smartphone? Each offers unique advantages and appeals to different user needs.

So, without further ado, let’s unravel the key differences between fold and flip smartphones – also, let’s see what they absolutely suck at!

Book style foldables: productivity powerhouse

And a better Instagram experience!

Fold-style smartphones, such as the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 and OnePlus Open, unfold to reveal a large, tablet-like display. And you know what that means, right?

Multitasking!

The book-style is perfect for those who use their phones for editing documents, browsing multiple apps simultaneously, or enjoying immersive gaming: that’s because the larger inner screen provides a superior experience.

Multitasking is getting more and more natural by the day, and larger displays are ideal for professional tasks and creative work.

The “Phablet” pamphlet

It’s true that having a smartphone in your pocket means that you’ve got a bunch of things at the tips of your fingers: a camera for photos and clips, a music player, a radio, a GPS navigation system, a flashlight, an alarm clock, a calculator, a calendar, a notebook, an e-books’ reader, a TV-like experience, and so much more.

The book style foldable, however, doubles also as a… tablet! One of the main selling points of fold-style phones is that they offer the benefits of a phablet without the bulk. When folded, these devices can fit comfortably in a pocket, making them highly portable despite their larger size when unfolded. This dual functionality means you can enjoy the best of both worlds!

Great for Instagram!

One of the things I absolutely detest about the current non-folding smartphones is having to look at pictures on them. It’s not the display that’s the problem (on the contrary, even mid-rangers are a breeze to look at), it’s the display size. It’s simply too small to appreciate a photo adequately.
I’m a fan of looking at printed photos – yes, physically printed. Beyond the “it’s more natural” argument, the picture is also bigger. If you happen to visit a local exhibition, you’ll see that the pictures hanged on the walls are not the size of a chocolate bar.

That’s why foldables look super promising: finally, we’ll be able to see pictures better! Get ready to doomscroll Instagram!

Okay, here come the drawbacks!

Book style foldables tend to be on the bulkier and heavier side. That’s to change, though, as the Honor Magic V2 is here and it’s both thinner and lighter than the Galaxy Z Fold 5 at 9.9mm, 231g respectively. There’s another foldable from Honor on the way: apparently, it’s going to be even thinner!

However, we’re still years away from the moment when we could potentially get a truly light foldable. You need to rock an iPhone 13 mini for a change and understand how liberating using a 141 gr phone feels like!
Book style foldables are expensive. Yes, some are more expensive than others, but, overall, buying a foldable is an act of war from your wallet’s point of view. Money doesn’t grow on trees!

The hardware is not 100% perfect: some foldables bring irritating hinge problems to the table, others suck at photography, for example. Some foldables have mediocre outer screens – unacceptable for a premium device with a premium price tag.

For example, Galaxy Fold users have been complaining for years because of the handset’s narrow display. This thing is no fun when trying to type on. I don’t know about you, but for me, typing is something I often do on a phone.

And don’t even get me started on the durability and water/dust resistance fronts. Big screens result in big broken screens, once that thing Sir Isaac Newton outlined. However, even if you’re sort of a Spider-Man and you never drop your things on the ground, there’s the protection issue.

Let’s take the OnePlus Open: this bad boy comes with the staggering rating of… IPX4! Yes, that’s no dust protection whatsoever and only a splash resistance, which means that it can withstand splashes from all directions, but dunking it in water could be fatal. 

Yeah, I mean no. I expect premium-priced gadgets to be protected. Thank you.

Okay, let’s see how the other side is doing!

The flip phone: flippin’ good!

The Galaxy Z Flip 5 and the Motorola Razr Plus (2024) – and all the other clamshells – simply can’t go unnoticed. There’s something about flipping a phone that makes us instantly go “Wow!” – it’s like an instinct that kicks in. The psychology aficionados out there should explain what’s going on. In the meantime, let’s unpack the clamshell form factor!

Minimalism all the way!

Flip-style smartphones offer a compact form factor that can help users manage their pocket space more effectively. When folded, these devices are highly portable and are perfect for those who value small, unobtrusive objects.

Also: detox with a smaller screen! That’s perfect for all who spend their waking hours in front of a desktop monitor (or a laptop) and need to unwind.

Cooler than cool!

There’s no other way around it: flip phones are flippin’ cool!

The flip-style design represents a modern twist on the classic flip phone, combining nostalgia with contemporary technology. When unfolded, these devices offer a standard smartphone-sized display, providing a familiar and user-friendly experience. This makes them an excellent choice for those who prefer smaller phones but still want modern features.

A fair share of shortcomings to choose from

Flip-style phones generally have less powerful hardware compared to fold-style devices, resulting in a lower price point.

This makes them an attractive option for budget-conscious consumers who want a foldable phone without breaking the bank. Uhm… yeah, right – they may come cheaper than book style foldables, but clamshells are not cheap by any stretch of the imagination.

Yes, on a long enough timeline, clamshell will get cheap-ish (sort of), but that’s the way to the “Cut some corners” path. It is what it is! Just when premium flip phones will be getting all nice and polished out, delivering a true flagship experience, the rest of them will continue to be plagued by mediocre camera performance, unimpressive software support periods, and defective hinges.

Clamshells also suck big time when it comes to dust and water resistance. The Galaxy Z Flip 5, for example, offers the “mind-blowing” rating of IPX8, which means you’ll live stressed out, asking yourself “Did I dust my apartment properly?” not because of your mom’s unexpected visit, but because of your gadget’s weak immune system.

Sad, but true: foldables (including clamshell ones) cannot defend themselves against dust. Let’s see what 2024 and beyond will bring along in terms of IP ratings!

Which way, foldable aficionado?

Both fold-style and flip-style foldable smartphones offer distinct advantages that cater to different user preferences and lifestyles.When the revolution comes, what are you going to pick: a “phablet” foldable or a clamshell? Which side is your side?


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