With today’s range of smartphones and phablets, the humble flip phone is but a distant memory for many of us. However, in some parts world these old style flip phones are in big demand.
New data released by market research organisation MM Research Institute Ltd has revealed that in Japan, sales of flip phones have increased for the first time in seven years last year, whilst sales of smartphones are on the decline.
In 2014, 10.58 million flip phones were shipped in Japan, which represents a rise of some 5.7 percent, whilst shipments of smartphones fell by 5.3 per cent to just over 27 million devices during the same period, down for a second consecutive year.
According to Japan’s telecommunications ministry, the price of smartphones are amongst some of the most expensive in the developed world and as a result, consumers have opted for the more affordable flip phones, which offer basic voice calling, Internet features and simplistic cameras.
Such is the demand for flip phones in Japan that manufacturers including NEC Corp and Panasonic have stopped making smartphones having been forced out of the market by the likes of Apple and Samsung and have instead decided to focus on producing flip phones.
Other familiar Japanese brands such as Sharp and Fujitsu also continue to manufacture and release new models of flip phones, whilst Samsung also released a flip phone in 2014.
In South Korea, there is also demand for flip phones. Earlier this year, LG released the Ice Cream Smart flip phone, a traditional style flip phone with a number of new features which you’d typically find on a smartphone.
Generally speaking, this semi revival of the flip phone has been limited to countries such as Japan and Korea as these have tended to be some of the only places where flip phones are on sale. However, it would be interesting to see if they could genuinely make a comeback should they ever be made available elsewhere.
Granted, a flip phone might not be best device for those who like taking selfies, but for everyone else, these low-tech phones may have more going for them than many people realise.
They’re lightweight, durable, have a long lasting battery, can easily fit into your pocket and the fact that they normally only offer basic Internet access and can not be loaded with a myriad of apps and other distractions, may not necessarily be a bad thing.
Perhaps if more of us went back to using a flip phone, people might actually speak to one another when eating out in restaurants or socialising with friends and you’ve never got to worry about your flip phone being hacked or infected with malware.
Whilst far from being obsolete, don’t expect to see flip phones coming back into the mainstream any time soon. Worldwide shipments of Android smartphones topped 1 billion in 2014, where as 1 in 2 smartphones sold in the United States is an iPhone, with figures like this it is hard to ever imagine anything other than a smartphone being the device of choice for mobile users around the globe.
If they were readily available, would you consider going back to using a flip phone?
Could you ever imagine replacing your existing smartphone with a phone similar to the one above?
Let us what you think of flip phones in the comments section below.
Jonathan is our Google Nexus and Android enthusiast. He is also fanatical about football which makes it all the more strange that he should support Stockport County. In addition to writing about tech, Jonathan has a passion for fitness and nutrition and has previously written for one the UK’s leading watch and horology websites.