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Is it hip to be flip? The flip phone, an icon of the late '90s and early 2000s, appears to be making a comeback among celebrities, hipsters and millennials. Here's a look at the piece of throwback mobile tech during its heyday.Is it hip to be flip? The flip phone, an icon of the late ’90s and early 2000s, appears to be making a comeback among celebrities, hipsters and millennials. Here’s a look at the piece of throwback mobile tech during its heyday.
NASCAR driver Rusty Wallace talks on a cellular phone during practice for the Daytona 500 in February 1996.NASCAR driver Rusty Wallace talks on a cellular phone during practice for the Daytona 500 in February 1996.
The Motorola MicroTAC Classic was released in 1991 and modeled after the MicroTAC 9800x, which came out in 1989. It was a precursor of the flip phones that would come later.The Motorola MicroTAC Classic was released in 1991 and modeled after the MicroTAC 9800x, which came out in 1989. It was a precursor of the flip phones that would come later.
In this 1995 image, a shepherd chats on a flip phone while looking after his flock.In this 1995 image, a shepherd chats on a flip phone while looking after his flock.
Japanese manufacturer Motorola was perhaps the leader in the mobile space during the flip phones renaissance, particularly with its line of Razr phones, which still get some love to this day.Japanese manufacturer Motorola was perhaps the leader in the mobile space during the flip phones renaissance, particularly with its line of Razr phones, which still get some love to this day.
Actress Hilary Swank uses a flip phone in 2000.Actress Hilary Swank uses a flip phone in 2000.
Aside from flip phones, few things say "early 2000s" like the XFL. In this 2001 image, football legend Dick Butkus, the short-lived league's Director of Football Competition, growls (we're guessing) into his flip phone.Aside from flip phones, few things say “early 2000s” like the XFL. In this 2001 image, football legend Dick Butkus, the short-lived league’s Director of Football Competition, growls (we’re guessing) into his flip phone.
OK, never mind. "Friends" says "early 2000s" better than just about anything. Here's star Matthew Perry in 2002 flipping. OK, never mind. “Friends” says “early 2000s” better than just about anything. Here’s star Matthew Perry in 2002 flipping.
Japanese mobile operator DoCoMo introduced a new mobile phone named Freedom of Mobile Multimedia Access (FOMA) in October, 2001.Japanese mobile operator DoCoMo introduced a new mobile phone named Freedom of Mobile Multimedia Access (FOMA) in October, 2001.
"The Tonight Show" host Jay Leno shows, in 2005, that photos don't require a touch screen. Here, he takes a snap of actor Tom Hanks.“The Tonight Show” host Jay Leno shows, in 2005, that photos don’t require a touch screen. Here, he takes a snap of actor Tom Hanks.
Jerry Jones, owner of the Dallas Cowboys, was spotted recently with an old school flip phone. Cork Gaines, a writer for Business Insider, posted this screen grab on Twitter. Jerry Jones, owner of the Dallas Cowboys, was spotted recently with an old school flip phone. Cork Gaines, a writer for Business Insider, posted this screen grab on Twitter.

  • Among the young and hip, flip phones are making a comeback
  • Motorola popularized flip phones in 1996 with the StarTAC
  • Vogue editor, NFL quarterback among those seen with flip phones
  • Some say it’s about simplifying their lives

(CNN) — Hipsters, rejoice. Next time you ride your fixed-gear bicycle to the the thrift store, where you find a vintage, grease-stained mechanic’s shirt that matches your Rollie Fingers mustache and Grizzly Adams beard, there’s an edgy, if technologically sub-optimal, way to tell your friends about it.

Use a flip phone.

In an age of the iPhone 6 Plus and massive Android phablets, flip phones are inexplicably making a comeback.

No less an arbiter of cool than Vogue magazine editor Anna Wintour has apparently dumped her iPhone in favor of a flipper. Indianapolis Colts quarterback Andrew Luck, actress Kate Beckinsale and even Rihanna are just a few of the celebrities spotted proudly brandishing the famous piece of paleo-technology.

And, believe it or not, “dumb phones” aren’t exactly the elusive unicorn that some of us think they are.

As of January, 56% of American adults owned smartphones, compared to a total of 90% who had a cellphone of some kind, according to the Pew Research Internet Project. Among millennials age 18-29, an overwhelming 83% of those who owned cellphones had a smartphone, but that leaves the other 17% who keep their mobile life more basic.

The hinged, snap-shut “flipper” form factor was originally introduced to the public in 1982 by laptop manufacturer GriD with its Compass computer.

Motorola, perhaps the king of flip phones with its Razr line, introduced the clamshell style in 1996 with its StarTAC phone (which, appropriately enough, was re-released for nostalgic techies in 2010).

Is this really all about going for retro, hipster street cred? There is, at times, a mystifying aspect of “cool” that centers around eschewing modern convenience for vintage … well … inconvenience.

Writing on typewriters? Check. Racing high-wheel bicycles from the 1880s? Yes. Playing baseball with the rules and equipment of the 1860s? Absolutely.

But there are obviously some more practical reasons some people, including millennials, go flip.

For some, it’s about simplifying and uncluttering in a 24/7 plugged-in society.

“It just seemed like it would be better for my addled brain than a smartphone,” 26-year-old Angelica Baker, a tutor and writer, told TIME. “Personally I’m too scattered and unfocused to handle email and Facebook on my phone.”

Baker swapped out her Droid for her mom’s retired flip phone, a pink Motorola Razr.

No one has to worry about the iCloud being hacked when they use a flip phone. There’s little to no eye and neck strain. No fear of Flappy Bird addiction.

And, let’s be honest … there’s something satisfying about a switchblade-like phone flip after an annoying phone conversation that even the most emphatic tap of a touchscreen will never approach.

Maybe the hipsters are onto something after all. Though we’ll still pass on the bushy beards.




CNN.com – Technology

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