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Best flip phones & best fold phones in 2021

Best flip phones & best fold phones
(Image credit: Getty)

Looking for the best flip phone, because you love the traditional clamshell design? Or are you after the best fold phone – the new breed of state-of-the-art foldable smartphones which open to reveal enormous screens? Whatever your budget or needs, this guide will help you find the best flip phone or fold phone for you – and help you find it at the best price.

Flip phones can be smart or traditional, but folding like a clamshell helps make them more pocketable, and perhaps more practical – and give an alternative to the big screen handsets with no buttons that dominate the flagship camera phone models.

The arrival of the smartphone temporarily killed the flip phone market, which was disappointing for anyone who loved to snap the handset shut to finish a call. Not only was it immensely satisfying but very practical; closing the phone to hide the screen and buttons did a lot to help with longevity. Now, though, technology has moved on, meaning you can have a flip phone without compromising on screen size. 

At the same time old flip handsets have shown they have many uses even now. Traditional flip phones offer a less feature-cluttered experience for those who find smartphones overwhelming, be that seniors or those on a digital detox very seriously. Even the best flip phones are also far less expensive, making them well suited for kids or as backup devices.

Secondly, more excitingly for tech heads, foldable screens have reached the point it’s possible to build a folding or flipping smartphone, offering further improvements in screen real estate without stretching pockets beyond breaking point. Predictably the best fold phones are more of an assault on the budget - though you can save substantially if you buy an older first- or second-generation model.

Best fold phones in 2021

(Image credit: Samsung )

The best fold phone with the biggest screen of any phone

Specifications
Release date: September 2020
Screen size: 7.6-inch 2208x1768 pixels (main) + 4.6-inch 720x1680 (case)
Rear cameras: 12MP f/1.5/2.3/2.4 (triple), 16MP mm
Front (selfie) cameras: 10MP f/2.2
Cover (selfie) camera: 10MP f/2.2
OIS: Yes
Battery life: 18 hrs (screen on)
Weight: 282 g
Dimensions: 62.8 x 160.9 x 17.1 mm (folded) 1174.9 x 160.9 x 7.6 mm (open)
Storage: 256GB
Reasons to buy
+Real ‘wow’ factor+Fantastic screen+Run up to 3 apps side-by-side
Reasons to avoid
-Ludicrously expensive-Durability open to doubt

This refreshed version of the previous Z fold retains the 7.6-inch screen which, as we’ve noted before, feels a whole lot bigger than the 6.7-inches of a large phone. Samsung’s addition to Android 11 smartly allows the arrangement of up to three apps at once, using the fold to rest them on as you would multiple monitors on a desktop.

Despite the many uses that a stylus-compatible mini-tablet sized screen can offer, there is a smaller display in the cover which can be used for basic operations, so you don’t need to open the phone all the time, and both user screens have selfie cameras. Main photography is good too, with a triple camera array supporting HDR and most (but not all) modes supporting gyro electronic image stabilization. 

With 12GB and a Snapdraggon 888 processor, the system should handle its 120Hz AMOLED 2X screen with aplomb, and IPX8 rating means it’s even a little water resistant. 

Best fold phone - Samsung Galaxy Z Fold2

(Image credit: Samsung)

2. Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 2

The older version of the Fold is now tantalizingly priced

Specifications
Release date: September 2020
Screen size: 7.6-inch 2208x1768 pixels (main) + 4.6-inch 720x1680 (case)
Rear cameras: 12MP f/1.5/2.3/2.4 (triple), 16MP mm
Front (selfie) cameras: 10MP f/2.2
Cover (selfie) camera: 10MP f/2.2
OIS: Yes
Battery life: 18 hrs (screen on)
Weight: 282 g
Dimensions: 62.8 x 160.9 x 17.1 mm (folded) 1174.9 x 160.9 x 7.6 mm (open)
Storage: 256GB
Reasons to buy
+Real ‘wow’ factor+Fantastic screen+Run up to 3 apps side-by-side
Reasons to avoid
-Last year's model-Durability open to doubt

The 2020 version of the fold is now substantially reduced in price, now that the 3rd generation version is now on sale. It offers a similar user experience, with many of the same features - and as such this could be those who want to live the luxury lifestyle without paying the luxury ticket price.

(Image credit: Samsung)

3. Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3 5G

A fully-featured smartphone that folds to a square

Specifications
Release date: August 2021
Screen size: 6.7-inch and 1080 x 2636 pixels (main) + 1.1-inch 112 x 300 pixel (outer)
Rear cameras: 12MP 27mm f/1.8 + 12MP 12mm f/2.2
Front camera: 10MP f/ 2.4
OIS: Yes
Battery life: 14 hrs (screen on)
Weight: 183 g
Dimensions: 86.4 x 72.2 x 17.1 mm(closed) 166 x 72.2 x 6.9mm (open)
Storage: 128GB / 256GB
Reasons to buy
+Pocket-friendly size+Wow-factor finish 
Reasons to avoid
-Very expensive-Screen fold visible-Average battery life

The Galaxy Z Flip 3 is deliberately named to create the intersection between Samsung’s hugely successful phone line and the exciting idea of standing out with a the flip technology, It’s not as expensive as the Z Fold and, when its open, it looks even more like an iPhone than most smartphones, but the handset does come with a good amount of oomph – including a reasonably powerful Snapdragon 865+ – and a much more pocketable size than Samsung’s other foldable device. Photographers might feel slightly disappointed to be restricted to a wide and an ultra-wide camera arrangement when a similarly priced iPhone 13 Pro would (or indeed many other devices) would get a triple-camera arrangement. Samsung’s problem, presumably, is that space for a 3,300mAh battery and a folding mechanism isn’t unlimited and the Flip 3 does have a decent battery and comes in a choice of colors.

(Image credit: Samsung)

4. Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5G

A fully-featured smartphone that folds to a square

Specifications
Release date: Feb 2020
Screen size: 6.7-inch and 1080 x 2636 pixels (main) + 1.1-inch 112 x 300 pixel (outer)
Rear cameras: 12MP 27mm f/1.8 + 12MP 12mm f/2.2
Front camera: 10MP f/ 2.4
OIS: Yes
Battery life: 14 hrs (screen on)
Weight: 183 g
Dimensions: 87.4 x 73.7 x 18.3 mm (closed) 167.9 x 73.6 x 7.2mm (open)
Storage: 256GB
Reasons to buy
+Pocket-friendly size+Wow factor+Much cheaper than current model
Reasons to avoid
-Last year's model-Screen fold visible-Average battery life

The older 2020 version of the Galaxy Filp probably won't be around for much longer - but whilst it is it offer a temptingly less expensive to this tech than forking out for the latest third-generation version of the phone.

(Image credit: Samsung)

5. Samsung Galaxy Fold 5G

First generation fold phone model that looks like a budget buy

Specifications
Release date: September 2019
Screen size: 7.3-inch 2152x1536 pixels (main) + 4.6-inch 720x1680 (case)
Rear cameras: 12MP f/1.5/2.4 (dual), 16MP mm
Front (selfie) cameras: 10MP f/2.2 + 8MP f/1.9
Cover (selfie) camera: 10MP f/2.2
OIS: Yes
Battery life: 10 hrs (screen on)
Weight: 276 g
Dimensions: 62.8 x 160.9 x 17.1 mm (folded) 1174.9 x 160.9 x 7.6 mm (open)
Storage: 512GB
Reasons to buy
+Real ‘wow’ factor+Fantastic screen+Run up to 3 apps side-by-side
Reasons to avoid
-Ludicrously expensive-Magnets might affect credit cards-Durability open to doubt

This is the original 2019 version of the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold - and now that the Mark 23 model is on sale, you can now get this a vastly reduced price, making it a tempting proposition if you want a foldable phone, but don'’t want to pay top dollar for the privilege. (Somewhere inbetween is the Fold 2, of course). It’s worth remembering that, even at the time, the chipset was not seen as the latest, so the device might be great for the kind of people who used to love being productive on Psion Organisers, but two years on is probably not best suited to the gaming market where it’s driving more pixels with fewer horsepower.

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Microsoft Surface Duo

(Image credit: Microsoft )
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Microsoft Surface Duo

(Image credit: Microsoft )

6. Microsoft Surface Duo

The best portable productivity tool

Specifications
Release date: September 2020
Screen size: 1800 x 2700 px
Rear cameras: None
Front camera: 11MP
Battery life: 9h
Weight: 250g
Dimensions: 145 x 93 x 9.9mm
Storage: 128GB or 256GB
Reasons to buy
+Side-by-side work like dual monitors+High quality hinge+Thinner than the Galaxy Fold2
Reasons to avoid
-Big screen bezels-Camera low quality

With two screens separated by a small hinge, the Surface Duo is impressively thin – sub 5mm when open – and shiny, with gorilla glass on both the screen size and outside of the case. Since the hinge can stop in any position, the device can be used like a book, a tiny laptop (Psion PDA style), a tablet or a single-screen phone. There are even extra options like ‘peak mode’ (rather than an extra external screen).

Microsoft are now using Android 10 rather than their own OS (they don’t even force Bing on you), meaning you have access to a good range of apps. The Snapdragon 855 and 6GB of RAM are enough though the big bezels mean the screen is ‘only’ 8.1 inches, and a single 11MP camera won’t please photographers – but instagramers are definitely not the intended market (like a MacBook Air the camera keeps things thin and is fine for video calls). For productivity tool users the real gains are in software space. Microsoft have updated their suite of apps to work on both screens effectively, but multitaskers really power ahead by using ‘app groups’ to choose pairs of apps to run one on each screen, side by side.

Best flip phones in 2021

(Image credit: Nokia)

7. Nokia 2720 Flip

Best flip phone for Nokia nostalgia

Specifications
Release date: September 2019
Screen size: 2.8-inches, 240x320 pixels (inside) + 1.3-inch 240x240 pixel (outside)
Rear cameras: 2MP
Front camera: No
OIS: No
Battery life: 3 days
Weight: 118 g
Dimensions: 192.7 x 54.5 x 11.6 mm
Storage: 4GB
Reasons to buy
+Simple and cheap+Main display safe+Multi-day battery
Reasons to avoid
-Poor camera-Texting isn’t fun-No Instagram

It’s perfectly possible to have grown up and not even remember phones with 700 hours standby and removable batteries, so the younger generation might find this phone, which probably needs charging twice a month, something of a revelation. Admittedly this ‘feature phone’ sucks the juice rather more rapidly if you actually use it, and you can use KaiOS to do some reasonably ‘smart’ things, like play video, browse the web, and use WhatsApp. 

Indeed Facebook, Google Assistant and Google Maps are amongst the available apps, although GPS isn’t included on this particular phone so location is derived from cell towers. On the plus side you can enjoy the FM radio – one up on the iPhone!

Sadly the single camera, at 2MP is really the same sort of quality you’d expect when flip phones were new. It isn’t even capable of recording video, though you will see motion blur in a lot of the stills.

(Image credit: Motorola )

8. Motorola Razr 2020

The legendary flip phone is back in a serious way

Specifications
Release date: September 2020
Screen size: 6.2-inch 2142 x 876 pixels + 2.7-inch 800 x 600 pixels outside
Rear camera: 48MP
Front camera: 20MP
Battery life: 11 hrs talk / 25 days standby
Weight: 192 g
Dimensions: 94 x 72 x 14 mm
Storage: 256GB
Reasons to buy
+Eye-catching+Closely matches Razr look+External display is touch screen
Reasons to avoid
-May need top-up charge-Hinge durability open to doubt

This is Motorola’s second attempt at reviving the once-dominant Razr brand with modern folding screens, but – like Samsung – they had some issues first time out. Motorola haven’t replaced the screen technology though – it’s still plastic OLED – but the battery life is better, the cameras are better (the main has a quad-pixel low-light option) and the secondary external display much bigger.

It does seem slightly magical that a 6.2-inch screen can halve in size so easily; it’ll certainly impress, not to mention having practical value. Ultimately, though, it is a phone you buy for nostalgia value; it encapsulates the look and feel of perhaps the noughties’ most iconic phone (prior to June 2007, anyway) without making too many sacrifices from a high-end Android 10 handset.

(Image credit: Alcatel)

9. Alcatel Go Flip V

4G budget flip phone with video recording

Specifications
Release date: Jan 2018
Screen size: 2.8-inch 320 x 240 pixel (main) + 1.44-inch (front)
Rear cameras: 2MP
Front camera: No
OIS: No
Battery life: 24 hrs (use)
Weight: 118 g
Dimensions: 52.8 x 104.9 x 18.5 mm
Storage: 8GB
Reasons to buy
+WhatsApp & Facebook+GPS+Wi-Fi Hotspot
Reasons to avoid
-Only 2MP camera-Average battery

The 2MP camera resolution is a bit of a poor show, though it is able to capture 720P video which puts it some other budget flip phones. The 8GB is also bigger than some, and can be extended further by means of MicroSD card.

In terms of communications, Wi-Fi and 4G are on offer, so this isn’t as painfully slow as some of the bargain basement flip phones, and it’s even capable of creating a Wi-Fi hotspot should you prefer to use a laptop over the phone’s built-in web browser.

Running KaiOS with a Qualcomm Snapdragon 210 like many other feature phones does offer the possibility of apps, but doesn’t feel super-quick. Then again, with up to 12 days standby time, this phone has other advantages. A word of warning though: make sure you’re buying the right phone for your network.

(Image credit: Kyocera )

10. Kyocera DuraXE

Best rugged flip phone

Specifications
Release date: Feb 2016
Screen size: 2.6-inch 240 x 360 pixels
Rear camera: 5MP AF
OIS: No
Battery life: 384 hours (standby)
Weight: 170 g
Dimensions: 106.9 x 56.4 x 25.1 mm
Storage: 8GB
Reasons to buy
+Durable+Android smartphone+Dual Front Speakers
Reasons to avoid
-Relatively pricey

While this phone is distinctly flip in nature, it does have a few traits in common with smarter devices, running Android (although admittedly the historic version 5.1). Despite its relative age, it’s also 4G LTE and Wi-Fi equipped and the rugged build does give it a USP.

If you’re a smartphone users going somewhere you wouldn’t risk your delicate big-screen slab-style smartphone, this might be a good backup device, with an even safer screen than that on smart devices like the Caterpillar Cat S40.

At 5MP the camera could be worse, and can record 720P video. You can add to the memory via MicroSD.

(Image credit: Samsung)

11. Samsung Galaxy Folder 2

The best old-school flip phone camera

Specifications
Release date: July 2017
Screen size: 3.8-inch 480 x 800 pixels
Rear camera: 8MP f/1.9 AF
Front camera: 5MP f/1.9
OIS: no
Battery life: 12 hrs talk
Weight: 165 g
Dimensions: 122 x 60.2 x 16.1 mm
Storage: 16GB
Reasons to buy
+8-megapixel camera+Robust+Dual SIM
Reasons to avoid
-Old Android operating system

Video-capable, and running an admittedly old version of Android (6.0, “Marshmallow,” since you ask), this is a more powerful device than many of the flip phones on offer, with a bigger and better screen to boot. Despite that, there are no worries about a delicate flexible screen technology so, if you don’t mind the t9 text-entry system but are going to be taking the phone through some difficult conditions, this might be the choice for you.

The handset is also equipped with all the communications basics – wi-fi, Bluetooth, GPS and a MicroUSB connector, and the main camera can capture video at 1080P30, while you can use the other for VoLTE. The camera is also more modern than many flip phones, with face detection and touch-to-focus ontop of the 3264x2448 image resolution. That said, you might have to pay for it – in some places only a very pricey gold edition can be found.

(Image credit: Nokia)

12. Nokia 8110 4G

It’s the banana phone from The Matrix. Which kinda flips…

Specifications
Release date: February 2018
Screen size: 2.4-inch 240 x 320 pixels
Rear camera: 2MP
Front camera: None
OIS: No
Battery life: 11 hrs talk / 25 days standby
Weight: 117 g
Dimensions: 133.5 x 49.3 x 14.9 mm
Storage: 4GB
Reasons to buy
+It really is the old Banana shape+Attention-grabbing (especially in Yellow)+Retro design+Available in black or yellow
Reasons to avoid
-Slow processor-Quality dubious

Okay, so this is a bit of a stretch as a flip phone but, in common with other handsets in the category, there is a physical part of the phone which closes to protect the keyboard. Unlike the snappy jaw-like flippers, the screen remains exposed on the 4G 8110, so there is no need for any dual-screen nonsense to see the caller ID. Best of both? 

It nearly was – it even has a version of Snake on board – but it’s let down by a feeble 2MP rear camera which can only boast an LED flash as any kind of useful feature, and no selfie camera at all. It can shoot video, not that you’ll be especially pleased with the results. Build quality isn’t ideal either; the plastic is easily scuffed. On the plus side, it does look cool when the button backlight pops on as you slide the cover down – so it might worth be having just while The Matrix Resurrections is playing in theaters.

(Image credit: Ushining)

13. Ushining F280

Best flip phone for emergency calls

Specifications
Release date: February 2018
Screen size: 1.8-inch 240 x 320 pixels
Rear camera: VGA
Front camera: None
OIS: No
Battery life: 11 hrs talk / 25 days standby
Weight: 117 g
Dimensions: 94.5 x 47.5 x 17.4 mm
Storage: 4GB
Reasons to buy
+Great backup phone+Compact+Available in black or red
Reasons to avoid
-Small screen-Limited functions

With gently curved edges and a small overall size, this is a very traditional flip phone which might make an excellent companion on a trip you wouldn’t want to take your main device. Not only that, but the bright red case means it should be easy to find should you end up needing it (and if you prefer, there is a black version too).

Features-wise, there isn’t anything to get excited about, though the headphones to allow you to use the FM Radio are bundled with the handset, which is nice (and might make all your iPhone friends with neither socket nor heaphones jealous). Other than that, calendar, calculator, and alarm are about it – digital detox max!

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Adam Juniper

With over 20 years of expertise as a tech journalist, Adam brings a wealth of knowledge across a vast number of product categories, including timelapse cameras, home security cameras, NVR cameras, photography books, webcams, 3D printers and 3D scanners, borescopes, radar detectors… and, above all, drones. 


Adam is our resident expert on all aspects of camera drones and drone photography, from buying guides on the best choices for aerial photographers of all ability levels to the latest rules and regulations on piloting drones. 


He is the author of a number of books including The Complete Guide to Drones, The Smart Smart Home Handbook, 101 Tips for DSLR Video and The Drone Pilot's Handbook