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Flip Phones vs. Smartphones: Mind the Generational Gap

Updated: November 22,2022

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A mobile phone is one of those things that we never thought we’d need and now we can’t imagine our lives without them. They’re how we call, text, and send photos to each other, watch shows and videos, shop, create content, and listen to music. Modern phones are full-fledged computers that can fit in your pocket.

While it’s undeniably incredible how powerful this tech is, it can all get a bit too overwhelming. Some people are even choosing the older option in the flip phones vs. smartphones debate. But why would you go back to the older generation of phones, and is it worth it? Read on to find out.

Flip Phones Are Back

There was a time when a mobile phone that can transform in any way was the hottest trend: There you were, rocking a small phone that fits in your pocket, along with your car keys and some spare change, ready to answer calls with the flick of your wrist. No swiping to unlock, no facial recognition or apps, just a simple touchpad, and bleepy ringtones.

That was way before social media took over our lives, and the constant need to curate our lives for Instagram through ever-improving phone cameras appeared. Old flip phones had very basic camera and internet capabilities, maybe a GPS, some games, and a video player - but only if they were really advanced. Not to be confused with modern smartphones that can flip, stretch, and whatnot, the original flip phones were what one could now call “dumb phones.”

Despite their age, these old phones are making something of a comeback. Numerous celebrities can be seen rocking these phones instead of the latest iPhones. For them, a dumb phone actually became a necessity to maintain their privacy; other people prefer to go back to the simpler times when we used phones to, you know, call people.

The Advantages of Flip Phones vs. Smartphones

All these people aren’t using retro phones because they want to be hip or trendy. Well, maybe some of them are, but for the majority, the choice is down to safety and even health. There are many unproven theories that smartphones are significantly worse for your health, and we don’t mean just because of “doom scrolling” through social media or destroying your eyesight by staring at a big, bright screen.

Let’s start with security. In recent years, there has been an ongoing joke that we’re all basically carrying trackers in our pockets. It doesn’t matter if you’re using Facebook, Googling, or just playing mobile games; there’s a high chance that all those apps are tracking your behavior and profiling you. Smart mobile phones have become a conduit for ad agencies to harvest data and double down with highly personalized ads that seem to read your mind. It’s all a bit too 1984 for many, hence why they’re moving to mobile phones with fewer tracking windows.

Another critical security issue is how all those apps are prone to leaks and hacking attacks. Not a month goes by without some apocalyptic news about a massive data breach where millions of user accounts get compromised. On top of that, Wi-Fi spoofing is a thing, along with USB charging stations siphoning information. That’s why, for a growing number of people, the “smartphones vs. flip phones” debate has long been over in favor of older tech.

Then, there’s the aforementioned health issue. Phone radiation has been a hot topic ever since we first got cell phones, and some people believe that, the more advanced our networks get, the more dangerous they are to our health. However, while the subject is ripe ground for conspiracy theories, the results of the relevant studies conducted (and being conducted as we speak) on the topic found no conclusive evidence that 4G and 5G radiation from new phones has harmful effects on human health. However, this idea still serves to fuel the return to simpler phones for some people.

Finally, it’s about the price. A phone with fewer capabilities is significantly cheaper than even the most inexpensive smartphones for seniors. They usually cost peanuts, so you won’t worry much about breaking them and having to get another.

Owning a Smartphone vs. a Flip Phone

Every coin has two sides, so let’s look at the reasons you might prefer owning a smartphone instead. After all, there’s a lot to like about them.

To reiterate what we’ve said in the intro - a smartphone is a pocket computer. It does everything your PC or laptop can do and, sometimes, even a bit more. With recent improvements to touchscreen technology, these phones are not just one big screen, but can flex and bend. Some even look like classic phones, with people coining the term “smart flip phone.”

Obviously, a significant advantage is the phone hardware. A multi-core processor is the heart and brain of every smartphone, paired with a lot of memory and storage. If you like taking pictures or recording videos, your smartphone can easily snap beautiful shots thanks to a multi-camera setup, with some phones recording footage at up to 8K resolution. No need to buy a professional camera when you’ve already got one in your pocket.

Smartphones also have big screens. Not only are those great for watching movies, but they’re easier on the eyes when reading any kind of text, especially paired with dark mode. That’s why even seniors won’t choose a flip phone vs. a smartphone nowadays. No reason to strain your eyes even further.

There are other great reasons why smartphones have become the dominant type of device today. If you love browsing the internet, you can do so on the go, and most websites are optimized for smartphone screens now. Voice calls and messaging are infinitely better on a smartphone, and so is any kind of multimedia. There are even phones specifically designed for listening to music, audiophile phones that produce hi-fi sound quality.

Flip Phones vs. Smartphones: The Bottom Line

The final breakdown looks something like this - get yourself a flip phone if you want just the basic features of owning a mobile phone, a meager price, long battery life, and improved security over your private information.

On the other hand, if you want to retain access to the whole of the internet wherever you are, snap quality photos, play advanced games, and stay connected, a smartphone is a better choice. As usual, it all comes down to personal preference - and budget.


Why is having a flip phone better?

For flip phone owners, it’s all about going back to simpler times and using less intrusive tech in their lives. That’s why they switched back from smartphones.

Are flip smartphones good?

The latest trend in the smartphone world, these phones are state-of-the-art devices with bendable screens and top-of-the-line hardware. Not only are they good, they are often the best possible phones a manufacturer puts out. Of course, these flagships don’t come cheap, and you’ll end up paying a four-digit amount for them.

Do flip phones have less radiation than smartphones?

Not necessarily, and since all phones are subject to international safety guidelines for radiation, the devices produced today don’t irradiate their users significantly more than old models do.

Can flip phones be hacked?

Nothing is truly unhackable, not even old phones. While, yes, in the flip phones vs. smartphones debate, the former has a security edge, there have been numerous reports of flip phones’ GPS and text messaging systems getting compromised by bad actors. In other words, if it’s got access to any sort of network, a device is not immune to hacking.

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With a degree in humanities and a knack for the history of tech, Jovan was always interested in how technology shapes both us as human beings and our social landscapes. When he isn't binging on news and trying to predict the latest tech fads, you may find him trapped within the covers of a generic 80s cyberpunk thriller.

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