Dear Samsung, please send your foldable phones back to the '90s

A half-open Samsung Galaxy Fold with a screen that's broken in the middle
(Image credit: Future / TechRadar)

One of the best written, shot, acted and produced ads on TV (and your YouTube preroll rotation) is a devilishly clever and funny take on teen horror films, except the frightening presence here is not a masked killer or a flesh-eating cabin-fever virus. No, it's that most terrifying spectre of all; a foldable smartphone: the Samsung Galaxy Flip 5.

I really like this ad, and I wholeheartedly agree with the spell-stricken teen about 30 seconds in, as she stares in helpless catatonia at the abominable Flip 5 being waved around by its owner/victim: Leave. Now. Run away and never look back.

An off-white Samsung Galaxy Flip 5 standing up like a tent

What is this, a tent for ants? (Image credit: Samsung)

Look, I get it. We're living through an intense period of nostalgia for the Greatest Decade, the 1990s. And as someone who lived their formative years in that decade, I agree. We should be emulating way more things from that golden era than we are. (Heck, even the logos from the 1990s were the best.)

But instead of pursuing the wonders of that peak era of our civilisation, such as using practical effects in cinema with CGI only when needed, listening to more trip-hop music, adopting an unconditional intolerance for fascism and using technology to actually help us connect with one another instead of tearing social cohesion apart, we're instead being subjected to yet another overpriced piece of consumer tech that learns all the wrong lessons from an overhyped piece of nostalgia. 

Emerging in the mid-'90s, the foldable phone, I'm sorry to say, has never looked cool. They looked novel, yes (at least at first), and their form factor had at least some functional benefits over more cumbersome mainstream alternatives of its era, sure. But today, in the era of brilliant 6-plus-inch AMOLED screens, new phones coming out monthly to jostle for the hallowed glory of being the best camera phone in existence, tablets with the processing power of full-size computers from just a few years ago, and plentiful ultra-thin and ultra-light phone options for those who want something compact and neat, a foldable phone makes no sense.

A shot of the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 4 phone in a user's hand with the homescreen on display

The Flip 4 in its optimal layout, one that emulates a normal phone. (Image credit: Future)

I feel like we still haven't had a foldyphone release without serious issues with screens creasing or breaking, and the ergonomics of every foldable I've seen are terrible as well. If your argument is that you want a bigger screen, you should just get yourself a Galaxy Note or an iPad mini. In fact, we have a whole entire guide on the best tablets you can get right now, and even the worst ones on there are more useful than the best bendy phone, in my opinion. Oh, but those big screens won't fold into your pocket, you say. Read the first line of this paragraph again, I reply.

So why is the flipping flip phone everywhere? Why do we have to waste the considerable talent of everyone involved in the fantastic ad I mentioned above on gimmicky consumer BS? 

The foldable phones of today are the equivalent to SUVs. Needlessly big without actually offering any more storage space or performance on the inside, wastefully made because they use more material than they need, more expensive than they have any right to be, they cause constant issues for users, they're not as fun to use as their sleeker counterparts, and most of them look awful. The only difference is the glass bits are bigger.

And I must state for moral and legal reasons that the following is merely my opinion and not Creative Bloq's official editorial stance, but just like with SUVs, if you took every foldable phone on the planet, stuffed it in a rocket and shot it directly at the sun, the greatest cultural, scientific and historical loss from doing that would be the dinosaurs making up the fossil fuel that powers the rocket.

A Gif from The matrix, where Keanu Reeves holds a mobile phone, looks at it and slides out the lid by clicking a button on its side.

24 years later, I still can't emphasise enough how much I want that phone. Not wanted. Want. (Image credit: Warner Bros)

I'm in disagreement with many at the Creative Bloq office, but for me, these £1,500 foldable phones encapsulate the worst aspects of late-stage capitalism desperately trying to cash in on '90s nostalgia. But without any real benefits for its acolytes, any sense of the function that its origin/inspiration offered or any real invention, it will never amount to anything more than a doomed cargo cult. 

Now, slide-out phones are where it's at. Get on that nostalgia train already, international conglomerates.

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Erlingur Einarsson
Tech Reviews Editor

Erlingur is the Tech Reviews Editor on Creative Bloq. Having worked on magazines devoted to Photoshop, films, history, and science for over 15 years, as well as working on Digital Camera World and Top Ten Reviews in more recent times, Erlingur has developed a passion for finding tech that helps people do their job, whatever it may be. He loves putting things to the test and seeing if they're all hyped up to be, to make sure people are getting what they're promised. Still can't get his wifi-only printer to connect to his computer.