Flip phones were once the definition of cool, but with the advent of touchscreen technology, they soon became passé. While they continued to find niche popularity in certain Asian markets, in the UK at least, they have all be disappeared.
LG Wine Smart Specs:
- 1.1GHz Quad-Core
- 3.2in display (480 x 320)
- 1GB RAM
- 3MP rear camera
- 1,700mAh battery
- Android 5.1.1
- Release date: August
- Price: Unknown
South Korean manufacturer LG believes that is all set to change as it launches the LG Wine Smart in the UK this month, promising to combine "the familiarity of a folder phone with an easy-to-use touchscreen and the connectivity and power of a smartphone".
LG's aim seems to bring the power of the smartphone to a form factor that it believes many still have an affection for. The Wine Smart is a rebranded version of the LG Gentle which the company launched in South Korea last month and features a 3.2in touchscreen and runs the latest version of Android.
LG's official press release doesn't mention the UK specifically but a statement published by Android Central does say that the LG Wine Smart will be coming to the UK. IBTimes UK has contacted the company for clarification.
It has a relatively weak-looking spec sheet with a 1.1GHz processor paired with just 1GB of RAM and 4GB of internal storage and a 1,700mAh battery - but for those craving the combination of physical number-pad, tiny touchscreen, and that feeling you get when you flip open a phone, none of that is likely to matter.
IBTimes UK has asked LG for a specific UK release date and price but we are waiting to hear back from the company. The phone is on sale in Korea for the equivalent of £110 and so we would expect the UK version to cost something similar.
So why is LG brining back the flip phone? According to Chris Yie at LG, it is for the fans: "Our goal with LG Wine Smart was to create a smartphone that fans of flip phones could embrace. Consumers shouldn't have to miss out on the smartphone revolution because they prefer a particular phone design over another. With LG Wine Smart, they won't have to."
While we in the UK may have all but forgotten about the once-cool phone design, Japan is the centre of flip phone fanatics. In 2014 sales of flip phone rose for the first time in seven years, indicating that in certain markets there is still a strong attachment to the devices. Over 10.5 million of them were sold in Japan alone in 2014 according to data from MM Research Institute - while at the same time smartphone shipments fell 5.3%.
While we are highly unlikely to see Apple launch an iPhone Flip any time soon, there appears to be a market for these devices and LG is hoping to cash in.