In North America, the United Kingdom and Europe, the concept of the Android flip ‘phone has never taken off. These regions have certainly seen flip ‘phones (and still do of course) but smartphones have almost completely reverted to the “candybar” style, that is, a single rectangular shaped piece of metal, glass, plastic or ceramic (depending on the device). There are advantages to a flip ‘phone and the main one is that the potentially fragile screen is safely stowed inside the device when it is closed. However, in the Asia regions, the flip ‘phone concept lives on in smartphones and to this end, LG have just announced a new Android flip smartphone design, the LG Gentle.
LG’s new flip ‘phone is an unusual Android smartphone for a few reasons, and only one is the flip ‘phone design. The device runs Android 5.1 Lollipop under LG’s custom user interface and has a T9 keypad complete with a special LG “Q” key, that pops up the frequently used applications. The main screen is 3.2-inch across the diagonal, a touchscreen and has a resolution of just 320 by 480 pixels; in the context of most candybar style Android smartphones, even the entry level models, this is a small, low resolution display. The device is powered by a 1.1 GHz, quad core, 32-bit Qualcomm Snapdragon 210 System-on-Chip, which is backed up by 1 GB of RAM. The Snapdragon 210 is based on the ARM Cortex-A7 processor, which is an older design optimized for power efficiency rather than performance and is sold by Qualcomm has an entry level, LTE-equipped System-on-Chip complete with Adreno 304 graphics and Category 4 LTE. There’s 4 GB of internal storage complete with a MicroSD card slot, a 5MP rear camera and a VGA (or 0.3MP) front facing camera for selfies or video calling. The device also includes Bluetooth 4 and high speed WiFi. The Gentle is powered by a 1,700 mAh battery, which given the power-optimized internals and small screen, ought to give the device respectable battery life.
Although the Android side of the device is not especially interesting – this is an entry level device – LG have given the Gentle a similar leather-type back and it’s an attractive flip ‘phone, too. The device is launching later this week as an exclusive for LG U+ for 200,000 South Korean Won, a little over $170. It isn’t clear what other markets the LG Gentle may be released into, but it would seem unlikely that it will reach the North American, United Kingdom, or European operators. And perhaps this is a shame, for whilst the device is unlikely to appeal to existing Android fans, there is a market for people looking for a more conventional handset that may also run applications where closing the clamshell is all it takes to finish the call.