Is iPhone still cool? Maybe Apple should flip the script
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.
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.
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.
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.