Interest in flip phones is exploding among Gen Z and younger Millennials

If younger shoppers are any indication, flip phones may soon become mainstream.
Written by Artie Beaty, Contributing Writer
The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 next to an old flip phone.
June Wan/ZDNET

If there's any doubt as to whether flip phones are cool again, a new study shows that interest in retro-looking tech is soaring among young people.

This data comes courtesy of Decluttr, an online service where users can sell their old tech to be refurbished for sale again.

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For years, a regular rectangle touchscreen has been the standard for mobile phones, but new data shows that online searches for flip phones are up 15,369% over the past year among Gen Z and younger Millennials. Considering that a number of new flip phones hit the market this year, that number makes sense. 

But it's not just flip phones in general that are catching the eyes of the younger generations. Google searches for "Motorola Razr flip" are up 241% in the last 12 months, primarily because of the company's new version of the flip phone. Searches for "Oppo flip phone," another modern mobile phone version, have increased 511% during the same time.

Samsung even jumped on the trend, releasing the Galaxy Z Flip 5 Retro model based on its classic retro designs.

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So what's behind this retro tech trend?

Liam Howley, Decluttr's chief marketing officer, attributes it to the fact that people may be getting a little nostalgic for a time when tech was more simple.

"2023 has been the year that many young people have reflected on their digital lives," Howley said, "Remembering the simpler times of tech in the noughties and the trends of that era are also coming back around."

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Nostalgia is powerful, he added, saying that many current consumers simply want a different look and feel than what's popular right now. That desire, Howley feels, will only lead to more innovation and improvement in the world of flips and foldables.

And we are seeing that already, as the number of foldable phones sold in 2023 increased nearly 44% over the year before. That same report predicts that over 54 million devices will be sold by 2027, a 382% increase from 2022's 14.2 million.

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