Samsung Revives the Flip Phone with Android Galaxy Folder

The flip phone form factor, for all of its utilitarian functionality, just won’t give up. Samsung, the world’s leader in manufacturing smartphones and phones, may revive the form factor once again with an Android model encased in a vertical clamshell design where the screen, presumably touch-enabled, will be positioned on one half and a numeric number-pad or keypad to occupy the other half.

Korean language publication Digital Daily reported that the model may bear the name of Galaxy Folder. Galaxy would mean that the device would ship with the popular Google-made mobile operating system, rather than the Tizen OS from Intel’s and Samsung’s collaboration. Though the Google translation for the website wasn’t easy to decipher, it does appear that the site is saying the device could launch as early as August with LTE support.

Image via GSM Arena

Image via GSM Arena

Other specs include a rather low-end WVGA display, a dual-core Snapdragon processor, and Android 4.2 Jelly Bean. Right now, the model is said to be targeted to Samsung’s home market in South Korea, but the model could come to other markets. In the U.S., this model could easily be targeted at an older demographic who may not feel comfortable with a touchscreen-only smartphone or even at the prepaid market who may not care for all the bells and whistles of a flagship.

Inspiring Upgrades

The form factor may help ease feature phone owners to upgrading to a smartphone as it is a very familiar design. Samsung had been working on software to help transition feature phone owners to smartphones on some of its popular products, like the Galaxy Note 2 and the Galaxy S4.

One of those software features is called “Easy Mode.” Under Easy Mode, consumers essentially will see a stripped down version of the Android OS for quick access to features more commonly found on feature phones, like the phone application, text messaging, photos, calendar, and emails. More advanced features are hidden away from the user to avoid clutter and confusion.

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It looks like if Digital Daily‘s report is accurate, Samsung is extending its efforts on getting feature phone users to upgrade to a Samsung Galaxy experience.

Notable Flip Phones of the Past

Perhaps popularized in geek culture by the TV series Star Trek, the Communicator may have inspired the popularity of the flip phone form factors. Popular designs in the past mostly come from Motorola, which is now owned by Google. Those designs include the StarTac, the Motorola V60, and more recently in the early 2000s the Motorola RAZR.

Though a feature phone, and one without color, the StarTac was impossibly slim for its time and is seen is the  precursor to the MOTO RAZR.

Though a feature phone, and one without color, the StarTac was impossibly slim for its time and is seen is the precursor to the MOTO RAZR.

The Smarter Flips

In terms of smartphones, there have been a few flip phone designs that are beloved by geeks. The Handspring Treo 180 had a flip cover and was an extremely popular design that later gave way to a more compact candybar Treo 600 design. Handspring was later acquired by Palm.

Handspring Treo 180, later acquired by Palm.

Handspring Treo 180, later acquired by Palm.

The Windows Mobile-powered HTC Star Trek is another model.

Begging Scotty to beam it up, the HTC Star Trek conceals a square external screen in a circular design, making it look futuristic for its time.

Begging Scotty to beam it up, the HTC Star Trek conceals a square external screen in a circular design, making it look futuristic for its time.

Another one is the BlackBerry Pearl Flip.

The BlackBerry Pearl Flip has a navigational trackball, called the "Pearl," to help users scroll through messages.
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The BlackBerry Pearl Flip has a navigational trackball, called the “Pearl,” to help users scroll through messages.

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