Is iPhone still cool? Maybe Apple should flip the script

Posted:
in iPhone edited October 14
Apple's iPhone is certainly a very popular device, but is it still "cool" to use? Maybe Apple should take some inspiration from Samsung's Flip range.




If the iPhone 13 Pro or Pro Max weren't quite interesting enough for you this year, you may have ignored the premium lineup completely and opted for the iPhone 13 mini instead.

After all, even in a market saturated with big smartphones, switching to such a small device still represents a compelling upgrade for anyone whose interest in the iPhone is waning, simply because there's not a quantum leap in features this time around.

The iPhone has always been rock solid in sales, and probably will be for quite some time with its relatively timeless design. But that isn't exciting, is it?



Why doesn't it flip or fold?

The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 has been well received by the tech press. Indeed, the author of this article has lusted after one since it was launched earlier this year.

That's odd, because that same author chuckled at the re-emergence of flip phones.

The Samsung Galaxy Flip3 5G
The Samsung Galaxy Flip3 5G


What if Samsung is onto something? Clearly, they're continually iterating the Z Flip and Galaxy Fold devices for a reason - and this is why a foldable iPhone like the rumored "iPhone Fold" might not be a bad idea.

Rumors have suggested an iPhone with a foldable OLED display is in the works, retaining most of the utility of the existing design but with added flexibility. Many patents have pointed to its development, but Apple has yet to really hint that something in that vein is on the way.

There's no reason for Apple to ditch what it's currently doing, either. Why would it? In 2020, 50% of Apple's revenue came from iPhone sales - around $274 billion, to be exact, making it a product that it can't really afford to dramatically alter or otherwise see a dramatic cut in revenue.

So, something's clearly working, but it could do better. Here's why Apple needs to unbutton its shirt a little, grab a glass of the bar's best, and add a more interesting iPhone to the line-up.

Samsung is looking increasingly interesting

This bothers Apple; Samsung is, after all, one of its fiercest competitors. The rivalry has lasted years, but the two companies work in completely different ways.

Apple wants you to have an iPhone, which it frames as a premium mobile device. Samsung instead opts to cover almost the entire market, introducing value-oriented devices alongside its flagship products.

The key here is that Samsung could easily have a really bad year for one of its flagships, and have it not completely wreck its revenue for the year. Indeed, this actually happened with the Galaxy Note range a few years ago, with the major battery issues practically writing off an entire generation for line.

Samsung's Fold smartphone line may have had their teething issues, but you can't say they're boring.
Samsung's Fold smartphone line may have had their teething issues, but you can't say they're boring.


Sure, there have been some really odd attempts to set the Galaxy line apart, such as its embrace of periscope lenses for absurdly high zoom levels, but they're at least having a crack at it.

This is why it's so fun to keep an eye on what heads out of Samsung's smartphone labs, and into the hands of its legion of fans.

It's because Samsung is in a better position to take risks. Apple simply isn't.

Arguably, Samsung's latest range of phones make for more attention-grabbing headlines that a new iPhone. Indeed, the iPhone 13 has received rave reviews, but it's focused almost solely on battery life and camera capabilities.

We need the cool factor

Flip phones are cool. Sometimes, that's just enough to make the smartphone entertaining for potential buyers.

Flipping tech open and closed is a ton of fun, and any AirPods Pro owner who has spent time bored with the charging case will attest to that. The makeshift fidget toy may not be a spinner, but it's satisfactory to use.

The flipping lid of the AirPods charging case is kinda entertaining.
The flipping lid of the AirPods charging case is kinda entertaining.


Samsung is no doubt acutely aware that flip phones are and have always been cool - even if we go right back to the early days of the Motorola Razr. Even when we were all pretending to be using early Star Trek communicators and it was more of a novelty, it was still cool to us.

"Cool" is something Apple has always done brilliantly. But can we honestly say that now extends beyond its brand image and brilliant marketing campaigns? Is the iPhone really cool anymore?

There's a ton of utility

Flip phones are genuinely useful. The idea of shrinking a device down when you need to pop it into your pocket is compelling.

Even more so when you consider going from a larger-screened device, similar to an iPad mini, to something with a more pocketable dimension.

But add to that the fact that the halved' phone then features an additional glanceable display for simple notifications, and that becomes really interesting. More importantly, it's a safe bet that Apple would do something very innovative with a flip phone; something Samsung has yet to dream up.

Apple always does this. A flippable iPhone would sport one or two features that would be genuinely game-changing.

That is, if Apple ever were to release such a device.

Read on AppleInsider
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 52
    If Jobs were still here the iPhone would have pioneered the foldable phone. Apple is too complacent these days.
    williamlondonelijahglkruppwatto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 52
    IMO, there is nothing compelling about a flip phone. What problem is being solved?  The Fold is a hideous and over priced device. The form and function makes very little sense. 

    I can see an argument for a foldable iPad/tablet. A bigger form factor that can be made compact when on the go.  iPad OS being optimized to take advantage of this type of device would likely be better given Android wont even try to optimize for a foldable unit. 

    Moving parts and joints = warranty nightmare.

    Apple will no doubt enter the foldable space at some point but time will tell what differentiates an Apple foldable from the competition. Again, Foldable for the sake of foldable makes no sense. 
    olsopinionviclauyycjas99fred1roundaboutnowlkruppStrangeDayssdw2001AMayfield
  • Reply 3 of 52
    Well technically a quantum leap is the smallest step possible.
    rundhvidrezwitsfreeassociate2viclauyycmattinozfotoformaturaharaFileMakerFeller
  • Reply 4 of 52
    iPhones would be extremely cool if Apple could find a way to allow creativity back into the app ecosystem. The iPhone was exciting in the first few years because every day there would be new amazing apps that did things no one had expected a smart device to do. There were apps that could listen to music and tell you what song it was. Another app looked at signs in different languages and turned them into English. There were highly addictive new games to play. Now all of that creative explosion is pretty much dead. The reason is that as soon as some new and exciting app becomes popular, like iDos for example, Apple kills it. Never mind that it had been in the App Store for years and got popular because it could run an extremely early version of Windows, it had violated the rules that Apple made up out of thin air and so had to die. Who is going to risk wasting years of their lives to produce an exciting new app in an ecosystem like that? No one that's who.

    If Apple could carve out a space on the iPhone for risky apps to do risky things without access to the rest of the phone's data or iCloud, excitement could return to iOS. Oculus does this with the Quest. It has a separate app store for apps that are not quite ready to appear on the main app store or do things that Facebook is not yet comfortable with. The user takes the risk but the apps are there and some of them are wonderful. This will not happen on the iPhone because Apple's rules have very little to do with user safety. They are almost all about preserving Apple's control over the iPhone. The need for control is a kind of addiction for Apple's executives. Like other addictions, they are very harmful for both the addict and anyone around them. In this case, it is systematically killing the iPhone platform. Yes the new iPhones have nice new hardware features but when was the last time you bought an iPhone to get access to some amazing new app?
    edited October 14 elijahglkrupp
  • Reply 5 of 52
    clarker99 said:
    IMO, there is nothing compelling about a flip phone. What problem is being solved?  The Fold is a hideous and over priced device. The form and function makes very little sense. 

    I totally agree. Unless it can fold out to a West World type iPad thing it would be just a gimmick. 

    watto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 52
    iPhones would be extremely cool if Apple could find a way to allow creativity back into the app ecosystem. The iPhone was exciting in the first few years because every day there would be new amazing apps that did things no one had expected a smart device to do. There were apps that could listen to music and tell you what song it was. Another app looked at signs in different languages and turned them into English. There were highly addictive new games to play. Now all of that creative explosion is pretty much dead. The reason is that as soon as some new and exciting app becomes popular, like iDos for example, Apple kills it. Never mind that it had been in the App Store for years and got popular because it could run an extremely early version of Windows, it had violated the rules that Apple made up out of thin air and so had to die. Who is going to risk wasting years of their lives to produce an exciting new app in an ecosystem like that? No one that's who.

    If Apple could carve out a space on the iPhone for risky apps to do risky things without access to the rest of the phone's data or iCloud, excitement could return to iOS. Oculus does this with the Quest. It has a separate app store for apps that are not quite ready to appear on the main app store or do things that Facebook is not yet comfortable with. The user takes the risk but the apps are there and some of them are wonderful. This will not happen on the iPhone because Apple's rules have very little to do with user safety. They are almost all about preserving Apple's control over the iPhone. The need for control is a kind of addiction for Apple's executives. Like other addictions, they are very harmful for both the addict and anyone around them. In this case, it is systematically killing the iPhone platform. Yes the new iPhones have nice new hardware features but when was the last time you bought an iPhone to get access to some amazing new app?
    tl;dr Nonsense
    rezwitsjas99dewmewonkothesaneroundaboutnowStrangeDaysdanoxwatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 52
    No, Apple shouldn't do anything that Samsung does. Or any media scribblers wish they would. But, nice clickbait.  >:)
    freeassociate2viclauyycjas99wonkothesanelkrupprob53watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 52
    JapheyJaphey Posts: 983member
    “More importantly, it's a safe bet that Apple would do something very innovative with a flip phone; something Samsung has yet to dream up.
    Apple always does this. A flippable iPhone would sport one or two features that would be genuinely game-changing.”



    Like what? Give us examples, or musings, or a wishlist. Something to make us share in your excitement. Because, judging from the responses so far, that excitement is nonexistent. 
    edited October 14 freeassociate2fastasleeplkruppStrangeDaysFileMakerFellerwatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 52
    Foldable phone with the current state of the art technology makes no sense. 
    Worse display quality, smaller footprint but significantly thicker, shorter battery life, etc. 
    Why?
    If Samsung is advertising it it’s not a reason to go and copy them. 
    Maybe 5 years from now technology will catch up enough when you will be able to make a decent foldable phone, but not now. 
    It’s rather stupid now. 
    jas99roundaboutnowdanoxwatto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 52
    thedbathedba Posts: 667member
    Once upon a time Samsung and a few other players released a smart watch. Apple in those days was nowhere to be seen with their offering and pundits the world over, were standing on their soap boxes and screaming, "Apple better release a smart watch soon or else!!!!!". 
    Well a few years later Apple did release the Apple Watch and by the time the Series 3 was out, Apple was in the lead and widening it. The rest is history.

    Fast forward now to foldable phones. What does a foldable do that a regular smartphone can't? Why spend hundreds of dollars more on it? To pretend to have a tablet by not having one? If Apple one day does release a foldable, it will be because they know their customers and they will have something unique to offer them. Not because pundits are asking for it. 
    viclauyyclkruppFileMakerFellerwatto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 52
    rcfarcfa Posts: 1,124member
    No, we do NOT need the cool factor, what we need is PRIVACY, things that JUST WORK and then get out of the way, we need glass that DOES NOT SCRATCH, we need maybe a sticky ecosystem, but sticky because it works best, not because it locks people in.

    THAT is why the iPhone is gaining. There are plenty who switched around between the “hot phone” of the moment, just to stick with the iPhone in the end: it works, it’s not a gadget to attract some attention and then gets old.

    Flipphones mean mechanics that wear and break, exactly the thing Apple wanted to avoid when it started to build and glue the battery into the phone.

    Much more useful would be an e-ink display on the back of iDevices: personalized appearance, reading, (subway)maps, QR codes (tickets, vaccination certificates) on the phone in an always-on (even without battery charge left) state.  THAT is useful, not a flip phone.
    edited October 14 jas99tundraboyrob53FileMakerFellerwatto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 52
    rezwitsrezwits Posts: 759member
    IDK

    I admit I am an Apple "Fan Boy" sure if you want to call me that, I am also a Bengals fan.   ¯\(°_o)/¯

    BUT

    I really want a flip iPhone!  I feel if the "iPhone 15" era doesn't have a FLIP model... wow, that'll be very detrimental, very.
    I honestly think "iPhone 14" but 15, that'd be the beginning of a downward trend.

    I mean I also want a "Foldable" iPad version, but I am in the "expensive" MacBook Pro clan so... 
  • Reply 13 of 52
    thedbathedba Posts: 667member
    iPhones would be extremely cool if Apple could find a way to allow creativity back into the app ecosystem. The iPhone was exciting in the first few years because every day there would be new amazing apps that did things no one had expected a smart device to do. There were apps that could listen to music and tell you what song it was. Another app looked at signs in different languages and turned them into English. There were highly addictive new games to play. Now all of that creative explosion is pretty much dead. The reason is that as soon as some new and exciting app becomes popular, like iDos for example, Apple kills it. Never mind that it had been in the App Store for years and got popular because it could run an extremely early version of Windows, it had violated the rules that Apple made up out of thin air and so had to die. Who is going to risk wasting years of their lives to produce an exciting new app in an ecosystem like that? No one that's who.

    If Apple could carve out a space on the iPhone for risky apps to do risky things without access to the rest of the phone's data or iCloud, excitement could return to iOS. Oculus does this with the Quest. It has a separate app store for apps that are not quite ready to appear on the main app store or do things that Facebook is not yet comfortable with. The user takes the risk but the apps are there and some of them are wonderful. This will not happen on the iPhone because Apple's rules have very little to do with user safety. They are almost all about preserving Apple's control over the iPhone. The need for control is a kind of addiction for Apple's executives. Like other addictions, they are very harmful for both the addict and anyone around them. In this case, it is systematically killing the iPhone platform. Yes the new iPhones have nice new hardware features but when was the last time you bought an iPhone to get access to some amazing new app?
    Everything you describe above is a symptom of a maturing market. Of course in the beginning there was explosive growth. Now we still have growth but it's incremental. 
    Say you've never been to a gym before and you decide to sign up and get healthier. In the beginning you will probably see miraculous results with your body but as time goes by those returns will taper off. 

    What you're describing in your 2nd paragraph is "beta testing". Why would the iPhone allow this? You can do this with your own apps and if you have an app developer's license but beta testing other apps? Why? Where's the demand for this? 
    StrangeDayswatto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 52
    First, recent data about increasing popularity among teenagers who want the iPhone suggest there’s nothing wrong with it it’s cool factor. Next, I believe Apple is betting that the real new cool factor will be how it implements its AR glasses for use with the phone. I think they rightly foresee that the phone as something one actually spends time looking at will rapidly recede into the past. At least for the cool people.
    jas99FileMakerFellerwatto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 52
    elijahgelijahg Posts: 2,495member
    thedba said
    What you're describing in your 2nd paragraph is "beta testing". Why would the iPhone allow this? You can do this with your own apps and if you have an app developer's license but beta testing other apps? Why? Where's the demand for this? 
    No it’s not. Beta versions of software don’t have less restrictions than final ones. Plus you can beta test “other” apps now, on iPhone, it’s called TestFlight, and it’s popular. 
  • Reply 16 of 52
    I love the idea of a small phone for my pocket that unfolds into a bigger phone. 
  • Reply 17 of 52
    MplsPMplsP Posts: 3,432member
    iPhones would be extremely cool if Apple could find a way to allow creativity back into the app ecosystem. The iPhone was exciting in the first few years because every day there would be new amazing apps that did things no one had expected a smart device to do. There were apps that could listen to music and tell you what song it was. Another app looked at signs in different languages and turned them into English. There were highly addictive new games to play. Now all of that creative explosion is pretty much dead. The reason is that as soon as some new and exciting app becomes popular, like iDos for example, Apple kills it. Never mind that it had been in the App Store for years and got popular because it could run an extremely early version of Windows, it had violated the rules that Apple made up out of thin air and so had to die. Who is going to risk wasting years of their lives to produce an exciting new app in an ecosystem like that? No one that's who.

    If Apple could carve out a space on the iPhone for risky apps to do risky things without access to the rest of the phone's data or iCloud, excitement could return to iOS. Oculus does this with the Quest. It has a separate app store for apps that are not quite ready to appear on the main app store or do things that Facebook is not yet comfortable with. The user takes the risk but the apps are there and some of them are wonderful. This will not happen on the iPhone because Apple's rules have very little to do with user safety. They are almost all about preserving Apple's control over the iPhone. The need for control is a kind of addiction for Apple's executives. Like other addictions, they are very harmful for both the addict and anyone around them. In this case, it is systematically killing the iPhone platform. Yes the new iPhones have nice new hardware features but when was the last time you bought an iPhone to get access to some amazing new app?
    tl;dr Nonsense
    If you didn’t read it, how do you know it’s nonsense?
    beowulfschmidt
  • Reply 18 of 52
    rcfa said:
    Much more useful would be an e-ink display on the back of iDevices: personalized appearance, reading, (subway)maps, QR codes (tickets, vaccination certificates) on the phone in an always-on (even without battery charge left) state.  THAT is useful, not a flip phone.
    Gotta say, I really like the e-ink display suggestion - using it for displaying subway passes, event tickets, airline boarding passes etc. rather than having to wake up and unlock the phone like you do now would be killer.

    Other potentially useful ideas-
    - Use the iPhone's face id to unlock your Mac.
    - Monitor ambient noise levels and warn the user if there's a danger of hearing damage.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 52
    If Jobs were still here the iPhone would have pioneered the foldable phone. Apple is too complacent these days.
    "Focus is about saying 'no'" - Steve Jobs
    sully54FileMakerFellerwatto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 52
    fastasleepfastasleep Posts: 5,837member
    iPhones would be extremely cool if Apple could find a way to allow creativity back into the app ecosystem. The iPhone was exciting in the first few years because every day there would be new amazing apps that did things no one had expected a smart device to do. There were apps that could listen to music and tell you what song it was. Another app looked at signs in different languages and turned them into English. There were highly addictive new games to play. Now all of that creative explosion is pretty much dead. The reason is that as soon as some new and exciting app becomes popular, like iDos for example, Apple kills it. Never mind that it had been in the App Store for years and got popular because it could run an extremely early version of Windows, it had violated the rules that Apple made up out of thin air and so had to die. Who is going to risk wasting years of their lives to produce an exciting new app in an ecosystem like that? No one that's who.

    If Apple could carve out a space on the iPhone for risky apps to do risky things without access to the rest of the phone's data or iCloud, excitement could return to iOS. Oculus does this with the Quest. It has a separate app store for apps that are not quite ready to appear on the main app store or do things that Facebook is not yet comfortable with. The user takes the risk but the apps are there and some of them are wonderful. This will not happen on the iPhone because Apple's rules have very little to do with user safety. They are almost all about preserving Apple's control over the iPhone. The need for control is a kind of addiction for Apple's executives. Like other addictions, they are very harmful for both the addict and anyone around them. In this case, it is systematically killing the iPhone platform. Yes the new iPhones have nice new hardware features but when was the last time you bought an iPhone to get access to some amazing new app?
    Unadulterated horseshit as usual. Apparently you haven’t used any LIDAR scanning apps, AR apps, ML app etc. I couldn’t point my camera at plants and get an instant identification, or 3D scan and texture an entire room and send it to my desktop 3D modeling software, or get real-time AR text translation replacement on my old iPhones. 
    roundaboutnowStrangeDaysrob53dewmesully54FileMakerFellerwatto_cobra
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