Flip phones are back—but are they worth it?

AP Photo/Jeff Chiu

If you are in the market for a new smartphone, you have another option these days: new folding phones.

Remember those flip phones from the 90s and early 2000s?

Samsung is now out with foldable and “flip”-style phones that combine nostalgia with some impressive new technology.

But these devices aren’t without a few kinks, with some users reporting issues in online forums across the country.

Elizabeth Noble is among them.

She has always been a big Samsung fan and loves the foldabilty of her Samsung Galaxy Z Flip4.

But, just a month after she got one last fall, she says, “I went to open the phone, and it got to here (halfway open). And then it wouldn’t go any farther.”

Her cell provider sent her a free replacement. “But on December 11, my phone broke again,” she said.

So she got a third phone, again under warranty.

But a few weeks later, she says the hinge started sticking again. “It gets stuck, right there,” she said.

The phone would only open halfway.

Noble was afraid that if she pushed it, she would break the phone.

Samsung calls this “exceedingly rare”

So we contacted Samsung, where a spokesperson said, “experiences like Ms. Noble’s are exceedingly rare,” and that the phone is tested to be opened 200,000 times.

Samsung said in a statement, “The Galaxy Z Flip4 is engineered to be our most durable foldable ever, with a scratch-defying Corning Gorilla Glass Victus+ screen covering a hinge caged in lightweight Armor Aluminum, the strongest in the mobile industry.”

The statement went on to say, “Galaxy Z series devices undergo rigorous folding tests to outlast 200,000 folds-or around five years of use if folded and unfolded 100 times a day. These folding tests reflect actual user patterns in real-world scenarios. Experiences like Ms. Noble’s are exceedingly rare and we remain available to address any additional concerns she may have. We encourage any customer with a question about their device to contact us directly at 1-800-Samsung for immediate assistance.”

Reviewer called the devices great, with a few downsides

So what do the reviewers say? Scott Brown with Android Authority has spent quality time with several of Samsung’s new foldable devices.

He said they are great phones for selfies, both for photos and video, as they stand up on their own.

“You can put it on a table or a bench,” he said, which is great for YouTubers and TikTok users.

But he says they have found a few downsides.

“It creates this tiny little gap near the hinge where dust and particles can get in there,” he said.

Another Samsung foldable device, the Galaxy Fold, was criticized early on for its crease — but Brown says it’s becoming less noticeable.

“Most people who are just really impressed by the technology overall, though, probably won’t care,” he said.

At the end of the day, Brown gives Samsung credit for overcoming monumental engineering challenges to create folding smartphones.

Elizabeth Noble is now on her fourth phone — all replaced under warranty.

She loves it but suggests buyers handle it more carefully than standard flat smartphones, so you don’t waste your money.

About the Author
John Matarese

John's goal is to help as many TV viewers as possible save money, avoid bad deals, know a rip-off when one comes their way, and be educated consumers. His informative weekly consumer segment "Don't Waste Your Money" now airs on 45 TV stations from San Diego to Tampa to Houston and Cincinnati. More.