iPhone Flip: what we know about Apple’s first foldable phone | Digital Trends

iPhone Flip: what we know about Apple’s first foldable phone | Digital Trends

Joe Maring / Digital Trends

In the past few years, Samsung has become one of the leading manufacturers of foldable devices, including the Galaxy Z Fold 5 and Galaxy Z Flip 5. Though it’s not the only brand making foldable devices, it offers the most mainstream and available options, especially in the U.S. That leads to the question of whether Apple will follow suit with a foldable iPhone — or even an iPad.

There have been long-standing rumors that Apple could be working on such a device, including a foldable iPhone, which we’ll call “iPhone Flip” for now. Apple’s a secretive company, so there may very well be at least some research and development taking place on such a device. But, of course, this continues to just be all speculation for now. From the latest news, rumors, and reports, here’s everything we know so far about Apple’s folding iPhone.

iPhone Flip: design and display

Concept render of foldable iPhone.
Tech Aesthetics / YouTube

Very little is known about the design Apple may ultimately use for its first foldable iPhone. Samsung has covered the two most obvious styles with the Galaxy Z Fold 5 and Z Flip 5 — but that doesn’t mean Apple has to follow suit. Apple has filed dozens of patents hinting at designs for a foldable iPhone, but these contain so many possibilities that it’s anybody’s guess right now as to what direction the company will go in. They can’t all be right. 

According to a February 2024 report from The Information, Apple has been researching and building prototype folding iPhones for at least five years or more. This corroborates previous reports that Apple has been developing and testing foldable OLED screens and hinges since at least 2017.

This latest report cites some individuals who have “direct knowledge” of the project, and it seems that two iPhone prototypes are currently in development and will allegedly fold widthwise in a clamshell form factor. Again, these are in very early stages of development, so don’t expect to see them in 2024 or even 2025 — the earliest possible launch time frame would be at least 2026.

The latest report also indicates that Apple has approached at least one supplier in Asia for the components required for these two foldable iPhone models, which would come in different sizes. But if the components do not meet Apple’s high standards, the foldable iPhone in development could also be canceled.

A mockup with a foldable clamshell iPhone.
Technology Aesthetics/YouTube

A foldable iPhone has always been a wild card for Apple, as its interest in such a product has fluctuated several times over the years. CEO Tim Cook supposedly asked designers and engineers about creating a foldable iPhone as early as 2018. Though he responded positively to a foldable iPhone demo with a 7-inch display, there are still concerns about the technical difficulties and durability issues.

Originally, the vision that Apple had for a foldable iPhone involved a display residing on the outside when the foldable is shut, but Apple engineers have expressed durability concerns with that particular design. Apple’s industrial design team also wanted to keep the thickness about the same as the current iPhones, even when closed, which would be impossible given what is currently offered for battery and display technology.

At some point around 2020, Apple paused work on a foldable iPhone and pivoted to a foldable iPad instead, which would be about the size of an iPad mini with an 8-inch display. The reasoning for this was that it could be thicker than a foldable iPhone, and users wouldn’t have to carry this in their pocket, so it didn’t need to be as durable.

Apple’s engineers are also trying to eliminate the possibility of a crease that forms in the middle of the display, which is a big problem for pretty much every foldable on the market right now. Apple also wants to make it so that the hinge can allow for a display that opens up completely flat, which wouldn’t interfere with the Apple Pencil working.

Using a foldable iPhone.
Tech Aesthetics / YouTube

In 2016, LG began mass-producing foldable displays, indicating it planned to supply them to several companies, including Apple. That notion gained more steam in late 2017 when sources claimed Apple and LG had actively partnered to develop specific foldable display technology for a future iPhone — a partnership that’s still ongoing.

By 2020, Apple and Samsung Display had reportedly signed a deal in which the display maker would supply a “large number” of foldable display samples over a year to be used for testing foldable iPhone prototypes. At the same time, Apple had also reportedly begun testing hinges, looking for both a display and a hinge that could withstand up to 100,000 folds. 

To put this in perspective, most laptop hinges are rated for somewhere between 30,000 and 50,000 folds. However, the Galaxy Z Fold 4 can survive at least 200,000 folds. We haven’t heard whether Apple has since raised its standard to match that of Samsung.

Folding iPhone concept from iOS Beta News
iOS Beta News

Apple also appears to be testing a few significantly different designs. Early in 2020, leaker Jon Prosser claimed to have seen a prototype device that used a two-screen design similar to Microsoft’s Surface Neo and Surface Duo rather than a single foldable display. 

However, by the following year, Prosser said his sources had informed him that after completing the first round of hinge testing, Apple would be putting all its efforts into a clamshell foldable iPhone with a design similar to the Galaxy Z Flip. Prosser also claimed this iPhone would come in more “joyful” colors to target “more mainstream customers.” 

Meanwhile, industry analyst Ming-Chi Kuo claimed that Apple’s first foldable would be considerably larger and might not even be an iPhone, per se. Instead, Kuo predicted an entirely new class of devices with a 7.5 to 8-inch display that would blur the line between the iPhone and the iPad. Unlike Prosser, Kuo doesn’t claim to have seen any examples of this device. 

Foldable iPhone prototype.
Patently Apple

It’s worth noting that although Prosser has often been correct about Apple’s product release dates, he has a much less reliable track record when it comes to Apple products since he relies primarily on sources who claim to have inside information on what’s going on inside Apple. Kuo’s predictions usually come from the other direction, as he looks at trends within Apple’s supply chain and the type of components in demand.

Of course, like Samsung, Apple may have two devices in the pipeline: A clamshell foldable “iPhone Flip” that’s designed for fun, along with a more serious business-class “iPhone Fold” or “iPad Fold.”

A new patent has been granted for Apple, which would allow for touch-sensitive control areas, including solid-state buttons, on the surface of the current iPhone design, as well as a folding one in the future. With this patent, Apple could add touch sensitivity to every side and edge of the iPhone, foldable or not. The name of this new patent is “Electronic Devices With Display And Touch Sensor Structures,” which shows that it would be convenient to tap, swipe, or just touch an iPhone to control it.

A picture of a folding iPhone patent

“It can be challenging to gather touch input from a user and to display images for a user efficiently,” says Apple. “For example, when a user supplies touch input to a touch screen display, the user’s hand may block images that are being displayed on the display. Buttons and other input devices may be used to gather input from a user, but this type of input device may not be as convenient and versatile as a touch sensor. Displays are sometimes not visible from certain directions and may be smaller than desired.”

The patent also makes a distinction between the edges that can be found on the current iPhone design and the curved edges on a potential folding device, which are referred to as “sidewalls.”

A picture of a folding iPhone patent

“The front wall and portions of sidewalls may be formed from a glass layer or other transparent member,” continues the patent. “A touch sensor layer and display layer may extend under the front and sidewall portions of the glass layer… [a] touch sensor layer may also extend under the opposing rear wall.”

It’s important to note that even though Apple has been granted these new patents that show a foldable device, it doesn’t guarantee that anything will come of it. Still, this looks like a promising development for a potential foldable iPhone.

iPhone Flip: cameras and other specs

Foldable iPhone panel tech.
Tech Aesthetics / YouTube

An early 2021 report from Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman may throw a dash of cold water on leakers who claim they’ve already seen folding iPhone prototypes. According to Gurman, Apple’s development of a foldable iPhone hasn’t moved beyond the display, and the company “doesn’t yet have full handset prototypes in its labs.” 

In about two years since that report, we’ve heard little more than the occasional confirmation that Apple is still in the early stages of experimenting with multiple designs.

There’s been no information available on what we’ll see regarding cameras, processors, and other features. That’s not surprising at this stage, as it’s likely Apple hasn’t even made these decisions yet. Of course, there’s tons of speculation, but that should all be taken with skepticism.

iPhone Flip: software

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 multitasking Recents menu grid view with Good Lock.
Tushar Mehta / Digital Trends

While most of the leaks and reports have focused on the hardware and design of a folding iPhone, Apple is also likely hard at work on the software side of things. Neither iOS nor iPadOS, as they exist today, will easily translate to a foldable design.

Given Apple’s meticulous attention to user experiences, the company is likely already tossing around ideas for a foldable version of its mobile operating system. Depending on what direction the iPhone Flip goes, we might see an entirely new derivative of iOS appearing on it. 

iPhone Flip: release date

Apple CEO, Tim Cook, stands on stage at the September 2021 Fall Apple Event.
Apple / Apple

Although Apple is actively testing designs for one or more foldable iPhones, multiple sources have indicated that the company isn’t entirely sold on the idea yet. At best, a foldable iPhone is years away; at worst, we may never see one at all.

In his early 2021 report, Gurman made it clear that Apple hadn’t “solidified plans to actually launch a foldable iPhone.” In early 2022, MacRumors shared a message from leaker “Dylandkt” that SAID Apple still had concerns over the viability of foldable display technology and whether there was even a sufficient market for foldable smartphones. 

In a Tweet thread that has since been deleted along with Dylandkt’s Twitter account, the leaker said that even though Apple is still working on different ideas, some within the company feel that the display technology hasn’t reached maturity. 

The Apple logo on the iPhone 14 Pro Max.
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

Not surprisingly, sources claim that Apple is “playing the long game,” waiting to see how the technology progresses. It also wants to make sure there’s a long-term market for foldable smartphones and that this isn’t merely a passing fad that will diminish in a few years. 

Still, in 2022, Kuo predicted that Apple would release its first foldable iPhone by 2023, targeted at mainstream consumers and forecasting that shipments could reach up to 20 million units in the first year. Kuo also expects Apple to use the most advanced display technology possible to give it “a long-term competitive advantage” and make it “the biggest winner in the new foldable device trend.” 

However, in 2023, display analyst Ross Young, who has a pretty solid track record when it comes to anything concerning screen technology, shared that he’d been told by sources in the supply chain that a foldable iPhone won’t be appearing before 2025, and that’s a very preliminary estimate. “The company does not appear to be in a hurry to enter the foldable smartphone market, and it may even take longer than that,” Young noted in his February 2022 foldable/rollable display shipment and technology report. Kuo corroborated this timeline a few months later. 

I expected Apple to launch a foldable iPhone as soon as 2024 in my reports last year, but now it's clear this prediction needs to be revised. I predict Apple may launch its first foldable product in 2025 at the earliest, which may be a foldable iPad or a hybrid of iPad & iPhone. https://t.co/HGIDPFvdar

— 郭明錤 (Ming-Chi Kuo) (@mingchikuo) April 1, 2022

It’s important to remember that 2025 is just one estimate in a long history of rumors and predictions. A few years ago, analysts and leakers predicted a foldable iPhone would arrive by 2021, which eventually became 2022, and then 2023. Now it’s 2025 or even 2026, but there’s no indication that this prediction will be any more reliable than the others. 

So far, people haven’t begun abandoning the iPhone in droves to move to foldable devices. Apple still sells hundreds of millions of new iPhones annually — often without even trying. Until that slows down or competing devices like the Galaxy Z Flip 5 or OnePlus Open become overwhelmingly popular, Apple doesn’t have much reason to make an iPhone Flip a priority. If you’re an iPhone user who really wants a foldable smartphone in the near future, sadly, it looks like you’ll have to switch teams.

Editors’ Recommendations

Apple’s mythical folding iPhone might soon become a reality | Digital Trends

Apple’s mythical folding iPhone might soon become a reality | Digital Trends

Tech Aesthetics / YouTube

It looks like Apple is finally shifting its foldable iPhone project into the next gear. “Apple is building prototypes of at least two iPhones that fold widthwise like a clamshell,” according to a report by The Information that cites an unnamed internal source.

But before you get your hopes up, do keep in mind that a clamshell-style foldable iPhone won’t arrive until 2025 based on the earliest estimates. Meanwhile, three other insiders confided to the publication that there’s a bit of a snag when it comes to the price tag and allure for potential buyers.

Apparently, a foldable iPhone would come with a heftier cost, and, in a plot twist, Apple is still scratching its head as it tries to figure out what magical features could possibly convince consumers to open their wallets for this expensive novelty.

iPhone 折叠全球首发!「科技美学」iPhoneV first iPhone foldable iPhone fold iPhone flip iPhone folding@KJMX

Maybe a foldable iPhone with two distinct halves on the screen will finally convince Apple to allow split-screen multitasking. But this is a project still in development, which means it could meet the same fate as the never-released AirPower charging mat. The insider source also hinted that Apple might just scrap the whole endeavor if it fails to live up to its sky-high quality standards.

The report suggests that Apple’s industrial design squad aimed for the stars, envisioning a device so slim that it makes the current iPhone look almost chunky by comparison. They dreamt of a gadget that, even when folded, wouldn’t feel like carrying a brick. They reportedly toyed with the idea of outward-facing screens for easy peeks without the hassle of opening the device.

Yet, the mundane reality of pesky components like batteries and screens has somewhat clipped the wings of these grand designs. On the positive side, Apple has reportedly approached at least one supply chain partner to source components for the foldable iPhone project.

Folding iPhone concept from iOS Beta News.
iOS Beta News

Apple is apparently on a quest to conquer the infamous folding-screen crease, aspiring to a seamless display that doesn’t pucker up after a bit of bending. Apple is after that perfect, flat surface where users can scribble away with an Apple Pencil without navigating a mini valley in the middle of the screen.

Achieving that crease-free foldable screen nirvana won’t be an easy task. It took Samsung a few product generations before it could find a balance between durability and flexibility for the inner foldable panel thanks to its ultrathin glass (UTG) tech. Instead of plastic, this solution sides with a very thin layer of flexible glass and can now be found inside devices such as the Galaxy Z Flip 5.

In 2021, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo claimed that the foldable iPhone could have a roughly 8-inch screen, but that doesn’t seem to be particularly palm-friendly for a clamshell-style foldable. Kuo also had predicted that a foldable could arrive by 2023, but that didn’t happen, of course.

Using a foldable iPhone.
Tech Aesthetics / YouTube

Display supply-chain analysis firm DSCC also predicted that a foldable iPhone could arrive in 2023 or 2024, but those claims also appear to be hollow at this stage. Interestingly, stylus support could be a part of the package. However, if your imagination is content with rumors and you want to see a foldable iPhone really badly, the folks over at Tech Aesthetics created a rather tantalizing foldable iPhone concept with a flexible OLED panel.

But do keep in mind that these are insider reports discussing an in-development project, which means the goalposts can be shifted to a much more relaxed road map or the project could even be canceled in its entirety in the months to come. It’s an exciting step closer to the folding iPhone future, but we aren’t fully there quite yet.

Editors’ Recommendations

Apple Is Reportedly Building Two Clamshell Foldable iPhones

Apple Is Reportedly Building Two Clamshell Foldable iPhones

Remember those patents Apple filed last year that hinted at a foldable iPhone? Apparently, CEO Tim Cook’s company hasn’t given up on trying to make a true foldable. A new report claims two foldable iPhone prototypes are in the works, suggesting Apple is trying to catch up with the burgeoning foldable market. However, we may not see it for at least another two years, and it will likely come out after we see a foldable iPad.

We still don’t have many, or really any, specifics on how a foldable phone might fit into Apple’s current device ecosystem. Still, a new report from The Information cites an unnamed source with direct knowledge of Apple’s efforts that the Cupertino, California company has two prototypes currently going through tests. They are clamshell-type devices like the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5, which folds lengthwise, allowing it to stand up like a bipod or at a 90-degree angle. At the same time, the company has been working on a foldable iPad that eliminates the worst aspects of foldables, namely the fragility and the annoying crease.

Apple’s team is apparently very concerned about the fragility of these kinds of phones and who can blame them. Otherwise, the design team wants a foldable iPhone with external displays akin to the latest Galaxy Z Flip or Motorola Razr+. Still, it would also need to be extremely thin so as not to take up too much pocket space when collapsed. Considering how hard it is to minimize the size of battery and display components, it’s a rather tough conundrum.

According to the report, Apple has gone back and forth on whether it’s worth committing to a folding iPhone. Cook had reportedly approached Apple engineers as early as 2018 about the possibility of foldables. That was back when foldable screens were only born on early prototypes or expensive concept devices, and it was two years before Samsung unveiled its first Galaxy Z Flip.

The Information made it clear these phone prototypes aren’t on the docket for this year or even 2025, though the company has reportedly made inquiries to different manufacturers about parts. The company paused work on a foldable iPhone in 2020 but kicked it back into gear more recently. There’s also always the chance Apple will nix work on the prototypes if it can’t find a real “Apple” way of doing a foldable phone. The company is still trying to discover more “compelling features” that would put an Apple foldable on the map.

The foldable iPads are more likely to rear their heads in the next few years than the iPhone. The early versions of the foldable iPad reportedly had an 8-inch screen, and Apple is apparently very focused on eliminating the crease. Apple apparently wants the table to be able to lie completely flat as well. If they’re looking for inspiration, they might turn to the OnePlus Open, a foldable phone with the most minimal crease of any foldable we’ve seen.

We’ve been seeing reports from known Apple analysts and the regular rumor mill that we might see a foldable iPad this year, though there have been just as many naysayers like Bloomber’s Mark Gurman who claim otherwise. The Information’s anonymous source claimed that we would likely see Apple’s squashable tablet before any phone version, as Apple can test its fans’ appetite for foldables before betting big on a major release like the iPhone.

Maybe Apple will be a little less risk-averse going forward, especially since its $3,500 Apple Vision Pro headset has been released to both praise and a fair bit of consternation. We still have to wait and see how well that device sells, but if things go better than expected, the company could have reason to think Apple fans might actually want something—you know—new for a change.

Why Motorola could be the smartphone company to beat in 2024 | Digital Trends

Why Motorola could be the smartphone company to beat in 2024 | Digital Trends

Joe Maring / Digital Trends

2023 is just about one for the history books, and it was a big one for smartphones. Apple went all-in on titanium iPhones, Google had an incredible year for Pixel devices, and Android phones had a shockingly good year across the board.

As we wind down 2023 and start looking ahead to 2024, there’s one company, in particular, that I want to highlight. Plenty of folks are already getting excited about the Samsung Galaxy S24 and the iPhone 16, but if you ask me, Samsung and Apple aren’t the companies you should be paying close attention to in the new year. Instead, your eyes should be set and centered on Motorola.

Motorola has nailed flagship smartphones

The lock screen on the Motorola Edge Plus (2023).
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

Motorola got so much right this past year — and it all started with the Motorola Edge Plus (2023).  I reviewed the Edge Plus this past May, and all these months later, it remains one of my favorite phones of the year.

There’s not one single thing that made the Edge Plus stand out, but rather a culmination of Motorola getting so much right.

The 6.7-inch OLED display is vibrant, colorful, and a pure joy to look at. The Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 processor is still a performance champ, even a year after its release. The battery easily lasts for two days on a single charge, and the 68-watt wired charging means you can go from zero to 100% in about an hour. Hell, even the cameras — something Motorola has long struggled with — are solid. They’re not Google Pixel 8 Pro or Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra quality, but the Edge Plus’s camera system is still a wholeheartedly enjoyable one.

2023 gave us a lot of standout flagships, but the Motorola Edge Plus still stands out as one of the best ones. It’s one of the most complete smartphone packages you can buy today, not to mention the excellent $800 MSRP (which is often discounted as low as $600). I’ve waited years and years for a proper return to form for a flagship Motorola phone, and that’s precisely what we got with the Edge Plus in 2023.

Its mid-tier options are getting better, too

The back of the Motorola Edge (2023).
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

And it wasn’t just top-of-the-line flagships where Motorola succeeded this year. The company also impressed with its more budget-minded offerings — specifically with the Motorola Edge (2023).

I reviewed the Edge (2023) right around the time I was testing the Google Pixel 8, and it was remarkable just how easy it was to go back and forth between the two phones. As a $600 smartphone (which can now be bought for as little as $350), the Motorola Edge exceeded a lot of my expectations this year.

The Edge isn’t quite as well-rounded as its Edge Plus sibling, but as a decidedly mid-tier handset, it’s a very good package. I really like Motorola’s decision to use leather on the back and around the camera housing, which is grippier than glass and more premium-feeling than plastic. You also still get a very good OLED display with a 144Hz refresh rate, the MediaTek Dimensity 7030 processor is surprisingly capable, and you don’t have to sacrifice battery life or fast charging speeds.

There are some drawbacks, obviously. Motorola promises just one major software update from Android 13 to Android 14, and the cameras aren’t anything to write home about. But the overall package is a strong one, and I think it’s one of Motorola’s better mid-range offerings in a while.

The flip-phone foldable champ

The Motorola Razr Plus, half folded with its cover screen on.
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

Even while doing so well with “regular” smartphones in 2023, Motorola still found time to crank out multiple folding phones — and two of the most important ones of the year, at that.

The first foldable release from Motorola in 2023, the Motorola Razr Plus, was everything I’d been waiting for in a flip-phone type of foldable. Fun, unique design? Check. A large cover screen that runs fully-fledged Android apps? Check. Water and dust resistance? Fast performance? Great software? Check, check, and check.

Motorola has been dabbling with folding phones since late 2019, and the Razr Plus felt like what the company has been working toward for so many years. It’s one of the most enjoyable phones I’ve used in 2023, and even with more technically impressive competitors like the Galaxy Z Flip 5 now out, the Razr Plus still holds a special place in my heart.

A person opening the Motorola Razr 40.
Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

Finally, it’d be a disservice not to talk about the regular Motorola Razr (2023).

On paper, the Razr (2023) doesn’t seem like anything special. Compared to the Razr Plus, it has a lower-specced main display, a slower processor, worse cameras, and a much smaller cover display. It’s an inferior phone in almost every regard, so why mention it at all?

The price.

The Motorola Razr (2023) has a retail price of $700, and depending on when you buy it, you can pick it up for as little as $500. In late 2023, you can spend just $500 for a brand new folding phone. That was completely unheard of just a year ago, but Motorola made that a very true reality this year — and it’s still a bit hard to believe.

High prices have long been one of the main deterrents for foldables. Samsung’s Galaxy Z Flip and Z Fold families are great, but with prices ranging anywhere from $1,000 to $1,800, they’re far from affordable. The Razr (2023) is the first folding phone that feels like it’s actually obtainable for a large group of people, and even without the best specs in the world, that’s nothing short of amazing.

What will Moto do in 2024?

White Motorola logo against a wooden background.
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

Was 2023 a perfect year for Motorola? Not quite. The company still has room to improve its software update policy. Motorola’s Moto G line has also become unnecessarily confusing, and resulted in some less-than-stellar releases from Motorola this year.

But even with those quirks left to iron out, I can’t help but look back at 2023 as one of the strongest for Motorola in years. And because of that, I’m excited thinking about where Moto goes in 2024.

With the Edge Plus nearly perfected this year, imagine how good a successor next year could be. Motorola proved the standard Edge can be a very competent mid-ranger, and it has clear — but manageable — ways to improve it in the new year. And with the Razr and Razr Plus making such strong showings in 2023, the prospect of 2024 successors to them is beyond exciting.

Leaks and rumors about Motorola’s 2024 product roadmap have remained quiet so far, but if the company follows a similar pattern to what we saw this year, it’s safe to say we’ll be in for another spectacular year. And I can’t wait.

Editors’ Recommendations

2023 Was a Great Year for Foldables, If You Could Afford One

2023 Was a Great Year for Foldables, If You Could Afford One

Last year, I mused over whether foldable smartphones would ever be affordable. I wanted to see them take off after falling in love with the Galaxy Z Fold 4. This year, I got my answer. It’s a resounding “No,” especially with the foldable market as it is right now. Even with the recently launched Motorola Razr, a flip phone for under $800, the best foldables worth bringing home remain within that $1,800 pricepoint that Samsung set as the standard. It doesn’t seem like there’s any hope of a “budget” foldable—whatever that would look like—until more options are available.

At the very least, we’re on track for another era of new foldable, and this phone category is so much more exciting than it was a mere year ago. Every foldable launched in 2023 differed in its offerings—for example, the OnePlus Open and Google Pixel Fold offer varying aspect ratios. I still prefer the Galaxy Z Fold 5 because of Samsung’s cameras and software smarts, but as more Android apps become coded to work with the new form factor, the experience is improving across the platform. It’s a fun time not to be an iPhone user.

Flip phones and the hands that flip them

The Oppo Find N2 Flip.
Photo: Florence Ion / Gizmodo

This year’s most prominent theme was that Samsung is no longer the only choice in foldables. Not only did we see book-like devices spawn among the top players in Android phones, but flip phones also propagated around the globe. It started early on with the Oppo Find N2 Flip in February, which we called in to preview what device manufacturers prioritize in other markets. Oppo doesn’t sell phones directly in the U.S., so we don’t usually cover them. But since it shares a parent company with OnePlus, Oppo devices are a fair indicator of trending features. The Find N2 Flip has a MediaTek Dimensity 9000+, up to 44w charging, and, most importantly, a 3.26-inch cover screen. That part of the device received the most accolades across the smartphone sphere.

Motorola followed with the Razr+ flip phone in the spring—the “plus” for the added front screen. The Razr+ boasts a Snapdragon 8+ Gen 1 chip, dual camera sensors, and a 3.6-inch pOLED exterior display. Motorola kept the phone within the $1,000 price range that Samsung had set as the benchmark with its Z Flip series. Reviewers liked the phone, and it received better scores than its predecessor.

A photo of the Z Flip 5

Foldables like the Z Flip 5 let you run two apps on either side of the screen.
Photo: Kyle Barr / Gizmodo

Those larger cover screens on Oppo and Motorola’s respective devices resonated loudly. By the end of the summer, Samsung upgraded the Galaxy Z Flip 5 to a 3.4-inch screen from 1.9 inches in the previous generation. Finally, you could access more oft-used apps outside the main screen without prying open the phone.

Rumors about the Galaxy Z Flip 6 are scarce for now, but there is talk about what’s next from Oppo and the kind of precedent we’ll see set by the Find N Flip 4. (Oppo already launched the Find N3 Flip overseas.) Overall, the hope is that as these companies iterate on flip phones, you won’t have to make as many compromises—as you do with the one affordable flip phone launched this year.

The only affordable flip phone has a bad camera

We didn’t review this year’s Motorola Razr, but the professional reviewer consensus is that it’s a solid phone with one giant compromise. The primary camera on the $500 Razr is dismal—The Verge and Mr. Mobile think so. It also lacks water resistance for total immersion, which is generally fine but brings to mind the concessions you must make to cut costs.

The Razr also uses a Snapdragon chipset that’s over a year old. I could see a flip phone like this resonate on low-cost carriers for those who want to hop on the trend, but I wouldn’t suggest you choose this $500 phone over another one at an even lower cost—like the Pixel 7a—that’s more capable, durable, and proven to have a long lifespan.

Three folding phones are better than one

A photo of the Galaxy Z Fold 5

The Galaxy Z Fold 5.
Photo: Florence Ion / Gizmodo

The year 2023 also saw more options in the book-like folding phone category. Google and OnePlus launched their respective takes, the Pixel Fold and the OnePlus Open. Both are impressive first attempts from both manufacturers, and you can see that each carries the flag of what each brand is about. For instance, the Pixel Fold showcases Google’s signature camera algorithms, while the OnePlus Open bundles in a whopping 16GB of memory—it’s known for going high RAM with its flagships.

My favorite book-like foldable this year was the Galaxy Z Fold 5. However, I’m also fully embedded in the Samsung ecosystem enough that switching to another Android maker would throw me off my game. My colleague, Kyle Barr, prefers the OnePlus Open and dubbed it the phone that “changed [his] mind” about foldables.

Android is the Baskin Robbins of the mobile world; there are dozens of flavors to choose from, but they don’t all share the same ingredients. OnePlus and Samsung’s foldables work because the software is explicitly tweaked to resonate with longtime users. Meanwhile, the Pixel Fold, a foldable made in Google’s image, focuses more on delivering the same camera algorithms marketed in the regular Pixel phone.

It’s hard to tell just by pictures, but the OnePlus Open’s screen has virtually no crease when holding it in front of you.

It’s hard to tell just by pictures, but the OnePlus Open’s screen has virtually no crease when holding it in front of you.
Photo: Kyle Barr / Gizmodo

There is one bummer about the Z Fold 5 that I’m hoping gets addressed in the next generation. Samsung needs a better solution for the S Pen than a $100 case. The case is excellent for protecting the Fold from the elements, but the S Pen has a habit of falling out if it twists around too much in its holster. My kingdom for a Samsung Z Fold with the S Pen embedded inside the hinge!

Book-like foldables also struggle with balancing the scope of the front screen relative to the inside. While I still use the Galaxy Z Fold 5 daily for reading and scrolling TikTok, its narrow cover screen makes it hard to navigate with nails. I prefer the width of the Google Pixel Fold or even the OnePlus Open, though the issue with those is that the inside screen is too short and elongated for my liking. It’s a Goldilocks situation. You’ll have to find what’s “just right.”

2024’s Foldables

The upside of flip phones and foldables is that they’re all propagating on the Android platform. If you’re a foldable user, plenty of choices will come through as this trend continues, as long as you’re willing to fork over the cash and play the trade-up game every year when there’s an upgrade.

If you skipped out on them this year, start pinching your pennies for Samsung’s next-gen foldables in 2024. A wild rumor remains unverified—that a Galaxy Z Ultra will encompass all the Ultra can do with telescopic lenses. I’m simply holding out for the Z Fold to have a wider cover display.

There’s also a glimmer of hope that foldables will go beyond the middle hinge and roll instead. It’s more likely that 2024 will introduce the possibility, with actual devices still a few years out. Stick with us; we’ll cover the more believable rumors as they sprout in the new year.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5, Z Flip 5 prices slashed for the holidays | Digital Trends

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5, Z Flip 5 prices slashed for the holidays | Digital Trends

If you’ve had an eye on either of Samsung’s current flagship foldable smartphones — the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 and the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 — this holiday season is the perfect time to buy them because of the discounts from the phone deals that Best Buy is offering. The 256GB Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 is down to $850 from $1,000 for savings of $150, while the 256GB Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 is down to $1,500 from $1,800 for savings of $300. They’re still pretty expensive mobile devices, but if you were planning to purchase them anyway, why not get them for cheaper than usual? You’ll have to hurry though, as we’re not sure how long stocks will last.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 (256GB) — $850, was $1,000

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 (256GB) — $1,500, was $1,800

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 (256GB) — $850, was $1,000

Tushar Mehta / Digital Trends

The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 is an extremely well-built folding smartphone with a 3.4-inch Super AMOLED cover screen with a 60Hz refresh rate, and a 6.7-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X inner screen with a 120Hz refresh rate. The cover screen is the star here, because it’s much more useful compared to its predecessors as you can use it to open Quick Settings, access Samsung Pay, view all your notifications, and cycle through your widgets. Meanwhile, the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5’s 12MP main camera, 12MP ultrawide camera, and 10MP selfie camera will meet the needs of photography enthusiasts, and its Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy processor and 8GB of RAM promise smooth performance when watching streaming shows and playing video games.

Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5 (256GB) — $1,500, was $1,800

Using the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5's new drag-and-drop feature.
Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

If you’re going to invest in Samsung phone deals, you might as well do so on the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 5, which is our top choice among all of the best folding phones. The 6.2-inch cover screen and 7.6-inch inner screen are bright and colorful as they feature Samsung’s Dynamic AMOLED 2X technology and 120Hz refresh rates, and the smartphone features a hinge design that folds completely flat– finally! It’s also powered by the Qualcomm Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy processor, but with 12GB of RAM for even better multitasking. In terms of cameras, the device is equipped with a 50MP main camera, a 12MP wide-angle camera, a 10MP telephoto camera with 3x optical zoom, and a 10MP selfie camera on the cover screen.

Editors’ Recommendations

The best small phones in 2023: the 6 best ones you can buy | Digital Trends

The best small phones in 2023: the 6 best ones you can buy | Digital Trends

These days, it seems that smartphones are just getting bigger and bigger each year, with all manufacturers trying to one-up each other in terms of who has the biggest screen. But not everyone wants an enormous phone, because some of us value having something compact enough that can easily fit into pockets and want a phone that can be used with one hand only. Believe it or not, there are options out there if you want something small.

While many people want to “go big or go home,” there are still some of us out here who prefer something smaller. Of course, we aren’t talking about going back to the original iPhone size, but just having a small and compact phone that doesn’t have a gigantic footprint is nice, you know? And remember what it’s like to use a phone with one hand easily? Those were the days!

Thankfully, there are still a few phones that offer great experiences in smaller bodies. Without further ado, here are the best small phones you can buy in 2023!

Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

iPhone 15

The best small iPhone


  • Big camera upgrade
  • USB-C
  • Matte glass feels incredible
  • Dynamic Island
  • Curved edges are more comfortable
  • Reverse wired charging


  • 60Hz refresh rate display
  • Most color options are too light
  • Can get warm when running intensive apps

Why you should buy this: If you want the latest and greatest from Apple in the most compact form factor, you can’t go wrong with the iPhone 15.

Who it’s for: Those who want an iPhone that’s small, lightweight, and powerful.

Why we picked the iPhone 15:

Apple made some big improvements to the standard base model iPhone 15 this year, making it one of the best small iPhones you can buy right now — especially if you want the latest and greatest.

Though the iPhone 15 body looks similar to its predecessor, Apple did make a few changes this year. First, the back is made with a new color-infused glass, which has a matte finish that is superior over the glossy backs from before. Fingerprints don’t show up as much and it is nicer to hold. It also has more rounded curves on the edges, so it’s not as sharp as the iPhone 14 and much more comfortable to grip.

The iPhone 15 now also has the Dynamic Island, which was previously introduced on the iPhone 14 Pro series, eliminating the notch. And the 6.1-inch display looks great with color and text, offering bright and vibrant color and sharp and crisp text. It reaches 1,000 nits of regular brightness and 2,000 nits for peak outdoor brightness. However, it still only has a 60Hz refresh rate, but for the most part, scrolling and animations aren’t too bad on it.

Apple made some big improvements to the iPhone 15 camera. The main camera is now 48MP and photos will default to 24MP resolution (for more detail) and Smart HDR 5 improves the overall color tone. The ultrawide and selfie camera are still 12MP, which is a little disappointing, but the photos that you get still look quite good. The iPhone 15 also has support for the new Auto Portrait feature, so you can turn any photo into a portrait after the fact (as long as it focused on a person or pet).

You have the A16 Bionic chip in the iPhone 15 and 6GB RAM. It may not be as powerful as the Pro models, but it still runs iOS 17 smoothly and without any issues. For most people, it should still exceed expectations. Battery life will last at least a full day before you need to put it on the charger. Speaking of, it also uses USB-C now instead of Lightning, though Apple didn’t increase the charging speeds.

The iPhone 15 is small, powerful, and very lightweight thanks to the aluminum frame. If you want a small iPhone, this is the one to get.

iPhone 15

iPhone 15

The best small iPhone

iphone se 2022 review starlight back in hand

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends / Digital Trends

Apple iPhone SE (2022)

The best small iPhone runner-up


  • Compact and light
  • Very powerful
  • Touch ID works really well
  • Wireless charging
  • IP67 water resistance


  • Poor battery life
  • 60Hz screen
  • 64GB won’t be enough

Why you should buy this: If you want an affordable, small iPhone and don’t mind some compromises, the iPhone SE is a great value.

Who’s it for: Those who want a small iPhone that is affordable and even still has a Home button.

Why we picked the iPhone SE (2022):

If you want a small iPhone that is the most affordable and don’t mind making some compromises, then the iPhone SE can be a good fit.

With the iPhone SE, you’re getting the iPhone 8 body with the insides of the iPhone 13 series, so it’s an interesting little mashup of sorts. This means you still have a Home button and a dated appearance, but the more modern internals with the the A15 Bionic chip.

The 4.7-inch display is tiny compared to the larger screens on the flagship iPhones these days. But it does have a modest 326ppi, which isn’t too shabby. Colors are nice and bright and text is easy to read. However, it only has a 60Hz refresh rate, which is getting dated at this point in time.

The single lens 12MP camera is an odd one when you look at it now compared to the competition, even more new iPhones. Still, Apple makes this basic camera quite impressive, as you can actually use it to take portrait mode photos of people, which is not too bad. But you won’t have night mode, the selfie camera is only 7MP, and you can only record up to 1080p.

Battery life isn’t that that impressive though, as you’ll definitely need to charge up after a full day. And keep in mind that the iPhone SE only has up to 64GB of storage, which really isn’t much. But if you just want a basic iPhone for simple things, then this should be okay.

Apple iPhone SE (2022)

Apple iPhone SE (2022)

The best small iPhone runner-up

google pixel 8 review taking photo 2

Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

Google Pixel 8

The best small Android phone


  • Great main camera
  • Amazing AI photo editing tools
  • Two-day battery life
  • Slick, fast Android 14
  • Tensor G3 is cool and efficient
  • Seven years software support


  • Wide-angle camera disappoints
  • Average charge speed

Why you should buy this: A small and compact Android phone with some powerful AI features that deliver great results for smartphone photography.

Who’s it for: Anyone who wants a small phone and prefers Android over iOS.

Why we picked the Google Pixel 8:

This year, Google actually reduced the size of the Pixel 8 by 0.1-inches in the screen. While this may seem like a negligible change, it helps make the Pixel 8 feel much more compact than previous iterations. And when you combine the 6.2-inch display size with the matte aluminum frame and polished glass, it becomes a very lightweight phone that’s simple to use.

Speaking of the display, the Pixel 8 has a new OLED “Actua Display” panel that has 2400 x 1080 pixel resolution, 2,000 nit peak brightness, and has a variable refresh rate between 60Hz and 120Hz.

The Pixel 8 is powered by Google’s own Tensor G3 chip and 8GB RAM, which seems to have improved over previous iterations that would get hot when under stress. While the G3 chip can get warm, it never gets hot, at least to the point where it’s uncomfortable to hold the phone. The Pixel 8 comes with Android 14 installed and Google promises seven years’ worth of software updates.

One of the reasons to use a Pixel is for the excellent camera system, and you get that on the Pixel 8 as well. You have a 50MP main camera, 12MP ultrawide, and 10.5MP selfie camera. There is no telephoto lens on the Pixel 8 — you need the Pixel 8 Pro for that. Regardless, photos that you take on the Pixel 8 will look great, with vibrant colors that still look natural. Plus, with all of the AI photo editing tools that you have at your disposal such as Best Take and Magic Editor, you can get some great results that are worthy enough to share on social media or with family and friends.

You also get pretty good battery life with the Pixel 8, as it will last more than a day with the 4,575mAh battery capacity. Plugging in for 30 minutes gets about 50% charge, and you also have 18W Qi-charging and reverse wireless capabilities.

Google Pixel 8

Google Pixel 8

The best small Android phone

asus zenfone 10 review rear in hand

Andy Boxall/Digital Trends

Asus Zenfone 10

The best small Android phone runner-up


  • Compact size is welcome
  • Great performance
  • Clean, simple software


  • Slow charging speed
  • Gimbal doesn’t reach its potential

Why you should buy this: This phone is tiny but it’s packed to the brim with power and performance.

Who’s it for: Anyone who wants a smartphone that you can easily use one-handed.

Why we picked the Asus Zenfone 10:

The Asus Zenfone 10 is one of the smallest Android phones you can buy right now. It is less than 70mm wide and 150mm tall, making this phone perfect for one-handed use.

Asus gave the Zenfone 10 a simple yet unique appearance. The rear features two large camera modules and the Asus logo in the corner feels very futuristic. You also get a tactile material for the rear, which provides more grip and is fingerprint-resistant. It even has a headphone jack, though the chassis itself is quite thick at 9.4mm. Still, this is a very compact phone compared to other options.

The Asus Zenfone 10 has a compact 5.92-inch AMOLED display with a maximum refresh rate of 144Hz for certain games and 120Hz for typical use. You have Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip inside, along with 16GB RAM, so this is quite a powerhouse in a tiny package. The display can also reach 1,100 nits peak brightness, so while it’s not as bright as other phones, it is still plenty usable in sunlight.

The cameras on the Asus Zenfone 10 are decent, though it won’t be better than a Pixel or iPhone. The 4,300mAh battery cell will get you through a full day at least, and it takes about 30 minutes to get a 50% charge plugged in. This is also the first time that Asus has added 15W wireless charging to a Zenfone.

If you value one-handed use above all else, including camera performance, then the Asus Zenfone 10 is perfect for your needs.

ASUS Zenfone 10 5G (International Version) 256GB + 8GB RAM, 50MP Camera, Android Smartphone - GSM Unlocked (Starry Blue)

Asus Zenfone 10

The best small Android phone runner-up

samsung galaxy z flip 5 review 14

Joe Maring / Digital Trends

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5

The best small folding phone


  • No more gap when folded shut
  • Extremely well-built
  • Hinge feels outstanding
  • Much more useful cover screen
  • Fantastic performance
  • Good and dependable cameras
  • 5 years of updates


  • The crease is still there
  • Mediocre battery life
  • Cover screen requires lots of tweaking

Why you should buy this: It packs in power and performance in a super compact flip format.

Who’s it for: Those who want the smallest and most compact form possible for their smartphone.

Why we picked the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5:

For several years now, Samsung has been the reigning champ when it comes to foldable phones, and that still holds true with the Galaxy Z Flip 5.

Since the Galaxy Z Flip 5 is a folding flip phone, it is the absolute smallest form factor that you can get if you want a small phone. Samsung also made improvements with the Z Flip 5 with the new Flex Hinge, which allows it to fold completely flat with no unsightly gaps, and this also makes the phone even thinner when closed compared to its predecessor.

Other improvements include the larger cover display, which is a 3.4-inch Super AMOLED panel with 720 x 748 pixel resolution and 60Hz refresh rate. You can also run any apps on the cover display, though there’s a bit of setup to do before it’s running properly. The cover display has several different widget panels that are useful, too.

The inner display is also very lovely. It’s identical to last year’s 6.7-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X display with 2640 x 1080 resolution, and has a refresh rate up to 120Hz. The brightness level also now reaches 1,750 nits, making it very usable in bright sunlight. The crease is pretty prominent, though it does not affect day-to-day use.

The cameras on the Galaxy Z Flip 5 are the same as last year but with some noticeable improvements. Thanks to the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 chip, the Z Flip 5 has an upgraded image signal processor that gives better color translation in photos and video. And when combined with the 8GB RAM, the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 can handle pretty much anything you throw at it.

Just don’t expect incredible battery life since this is a small flip phone. The 3,700mAh battery cell in the Galaxy Z Flip 5 should get you through the day, but it will definitely need a charge at night. It has 25W wired charging speed, 15W wireless charging, and also has 4.5W reverse wireless charging.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5

The best small folding phone

samsung galaxy s23 still worth it 10 months later held in hand against green floral background

Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

Samsung Galaxy S23

The best small Samsung phone


  • Sleek and compact design
  • Comfortable for one-handed use
  • Very fast performance
  • Reliable cameras take great photos
  • Long-lasting battery life
  • Five years of guaranteed updates


  • Base storage is still 128GB
  • Fast charging up to only 25W
  • Limited zoom quality past 10x

Why you should buy this: The smallest of the S23 family still packs in power, performance, and reliability.

Who’s it for: Those who prefer Samsung and still want a traditional slab phone.

Why we picked the Samsung Galaxy S23:

Though the Galaxy S23 is the smallest of the S23 lineup (including the S23 Plus and S23 Ultra), it’s still a great Android phone, especially for those who prefer the smaller form factor.

The Samsung Galaxy S23 is a perfect size for those who like small phones. It has a 6.1-inch screen and only weighs 5.93 ounces. It’s also easy to use one-handed due to being so lightweight, so if that’s what you are looking for, then the Galaxy S23 is a great choice.

On the Galaxy S23, you get a 6.1-inch Dynamic AMOLED 2X display that looks bright and vibrant. It has 2340 x 1080 resolution with an impressive 425ppi, so everything looks crystal clear and sharp. The brightness can reach 1,750 nits, so it’s also plenty usable in sunlight.

The cameras on the Galaxy S23 are also impressive, as it comes with a triple lens camera system despite being the base model. With a 50MP main, 12MP ultrawide, and 10MP telephoto, you can get great shots no matter what situation you’re in.

You also have the Snapdragon 8 Gen 2 for Galaxy in the S23 with 8GB RAM. That means the S23 is plenty fast when you need it, and the chip also helps with power efficiency. The S23 can go over a day on a single charge with the 3,900mAh cell, and it has 25W charging speeds, 15W wireless charging, and 4.5W reverse wireless.

Samsung Galaxy S23

Samsung Galaxy S23

The best small Samsung phone

Frequently Asked Questions

Why should you consider getting a smaller smartphone?

Smartphones started growing larger when user preferences turned to all content all the time, especially in the form of reading, watching video, and playing games. These activities benefit from increased screen real estate. The problem is that larger phones are heavier, harder to carry and use with one hand, and more expensive. Large phones are inconvenient for people with small hands or with those who do not have 100% use of both hands. If you prefer to stash your phone in a shirt or pants pocket, want to or must use your phone with one hand, do not mind watching videos on a slightly smaller screen, and appreciate a more compact, lightweight unit, a small phone may be the optimal choice for you.

How do I choose the best small smartphone for me?

The immediate impact of a small smartphone is the size of the screen, but secondary attributes like smaller batteries, less powerful processors, inferior cameras, and less storage space will likely factor into how small you want to go. Notice we said nothing about the price. While large phones are more expensive, choosing a small phone may not save you significant money, and the price may even be on par with some of the larger models. That’s because a high-quality small smartphone cleverly packs high-end features into a small package, and you are still paying for that high quality. Thus our favorite iPhone mini or SE or the Google Pixel are great choices for a small size phone that do not skimp on features or materials.

Who should not consider getting a smaller smartphone?

Smartphone sizes are a matter of personal style and necessity. If you appreciate having a phablet that fits into your backpack or purse for cinematic video, conference calls, report reading, art creation, gaming, or any other work or entertainment-related activities that are better suited to a spacious canvas, then stick with a larger smartphone. If you are a traveler who is not toting around a full laptop array of tech gear, a large phone will serve many purposes exceptionally well. You’ll benefit not only from a large bright screen, but likely a larger, long-lasting battery, and even extra RAM built in.

Editors’ Recommendations

Using this Motorola folding phone was an emotional rollercoaster | Digital Trends

Using this Motorola folding phone was an emotional rollercoaster | Digital Trends

Joe Maring / Digital Trends

In psychology, there is something called “affective ambivalence,” where two opposite emotions are experienced almost at the same time. It perfectly sums up the rollercoaster of feelings I’ve had for the Motorola Razr Plus since returning to it.

One moment I absolutely love it, but then it deeply frustrates me due to something silly or something Motorola should have fixed by now. But then I check how much it costs, and I go right back to being astonished by it.

Yes, my time with the Motorola Razr Plus has been emotional. Here’s why.

Emotional rollercoaster painted red

The back of the Viva Magenta Razr Plus.
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

The Motorola Razr Plus has an uncanny ability to tug at my heartstrings. The Pantone Viva Magenta color is beautiful for a start, and apparently, red is a good example of a color that fires up our synapses and provokes an emotional response. “The emotional connotation of red switches between negative and positive,” it states in a study from Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, echoing how I’ve felt about the Razr Plus in general.

This small, red phone is utterly gorgeous, and I love the way the polished red metal surrounds the matte textured panel on the rear of the closed phone, which helps give it a tactility missing from smooth phones like the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5. Motorola changed its foldable phone design for the better this year, and it made exactly the right choice by going for such a bold color to highlight its work.

But when I pick the Razr Plus up and go to open it, my heart sinks. The exterior is slicker than a freshly polished wooden floor, but the hinge has more in common with cracking open an aging oak door than it does with the rest of this red beauty. It creaks as you prize it apart, and although it doesn’t offer any resistance, you can feel the components inside moving. I don’t think it’s going to break, but it robs the Razr Plus of finesse — something the Z Flip 5 doesn’t lack at all.

Moo saves the day, for a while

Moo on Motorola Razr Plus
Prakhar Khanna / Digital Trends

I snap the Razr Plus shut, my emotion having suddenly switched from attraction to aversion, but then I see Moo on the cover screen, and everything changes again. I don’t care that Moo is an animated, cutesy version of the Motorola “wings” logo and, therefore, corporate marketing fluff masquerading as a fun character. For me, it’s up there with the fantastic Snoopy watch faces on the Apple Watch with its uncanny ability to give a soulless electronic device real emotional appeal.

During the week, Moo’s schedule of working, eating, and sleeping mirrors mine, and during the weekend, Moo sings at karaoke, shops, and works out. No, I didn’t do any of those things this last weekend, so it made me laugh that the character on my phone screen was more socially outgoing and motivated than I had the opportunity to be.

Moo on the Motorola Razr Plus's cover screen.
Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

With Moo warming my heart, I replied to some messages, but using the Razr Plus then reminded me that it still has Android 13 installed. I’d recently used the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra and the Galaxy Z Flip 5 again, and both received an update to Android 14. Oppo has also updated the Find N2 Flip with Android 14, leaving Motorola well behind with no firm information on when the update will arrive.

The Razr family is supposed to get three years of software updates, but timing is equally important, and communication on when Android 14 will arrive is minimal. Digital Trends asked Motorola’s press team about the schedule, but it has not provided any information on the situation yet. It sent my mood crashing down, and not even Moo’s antics could instantly turn that around.

At this price, it’s a bargain

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 next to the Motorola Razr Plus.
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

As my mood related to the Razr Plus flip-flopped, I wondered if anyone should buy it instead of the Galaxy Z Flip 5. It’s brilliant, but it doesn’t have the same fun nature or the same emotional baggage as the Razr Plus. So I checked the price, and through Motorola’s online store, at the moment, it’s $700 unlocked — significantly less than its normal $1,000 price and matching the standard retail price of the mid-range Razr (2023).

Will it stay at this price forever? No, probably not, but Motorola seems highly motivated to sell these fun little phones, so another deal is almost certainly around the corner if you miss this one. But if you catch it for $700, the frustrations I’ve mentioned here are much easier to forgive, and saving this amount of money to get a very cool compact folding phone would make me quickly forget the creaky hinge.

A video playing on the Motorola Razr Plus.
Motorola Razr Plus Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

I settled back into loving the Motorola Razr Plus again, and my SIM is still in it as I write this. But as I glanced over to check out that shiny red body once more, the annoying empty black cover screen looked back at me as well. I tapped the screen to check for any missed notifications and sighed at Motorola’s decision not to add an always-on ambient display to any of its phones, let alone the Razr Plus.

I do recommend the Motorola Razr Plus, especially if you can get it at such a big discount, but here’s a warning for potential buyers: this feisty red phone won’t hesitate to play with your emotions, for better and for worse.

Editors’ Recommendations

Something amazing happened to folding phones in 2023 | Digital Trends

Something amazing happened to folding phones in 2023 | Digital Trends

Prakhar Khanna / Digital Trends

Samsung has been in charge of leading the foldable segment for too long. For years, Samsung dominated the foldable landscape with little to no competition. But that changed in 2023.

While the company put in the work to improve the Galaxy Z Flip 5 with a bigger cover display, the Galaxy Z Fold 5 seemed to remain an afterthought. Fortunately, other smartphone manufacturers started rolling out more foldable phones globally this year, and now, Samsung’s aren’t the go-to choice anymore. There’s finally healthy competition and choice for folding phones, and I’m so here for it.

Finally, some real competition

OnePlus Open and Google Pixel Fold camera modules.
Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

Samsung started facing the heat from Google in June with the rollout of the Google Pixel Fold. It introduced a new form factor with a wide cover display and a horizontal aspect ratio on the inside. In my opinion, it isn’t an ideal form factor, especially with the weight and not having a vertical display on the inside. But it brought actual competition for the foldable phone market in the U.S. — a critically important task.

Honor showcased the slimmest and lightest foldable with the Honor Magic V2 in September, and it was a turning point for me. It lies in the middle of the Galaxy Z Fold 5 and Pixel Fold in terms of form factor. It solved the major design issues that were a norm for book-style foldables.

The Honor Magic V2 is closer to a slab phone in more than one way. It is thin enough to feel like a regular slab phone and weighs less than my then-primary phone, the iPhone 14 Pro Max. In fact, Honor made a whole new slim 5,000mAh battery for its foldable. Plus, It has a crease less than the other two Folds and packs a 20:9 cover screen, which is close to what you’d find on the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra or the iPhone 15 Pro Max.

While the Honor Magic V2’s global availability hasn’t been announced, it is slated to launch sometime in Q1 2024. It showcased what a book-style foldable can be and became a benchmark for design – at least for me. And it remains one even after the launch of the OnePlus Open (more on that below).

The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5 next to the Motorola Razr Plus, both showing their cover screens.
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

Additionally, we saw the return of Motorola Razr with the Motorola Razr (2023) and Motorola Razr Plus. The latter was arguably better than the Galaxy Z Flip 5, with a bigger cover screen and better battery life. Globally, Oppo had already rolled out the Find N2 Flip, which introduced a new vertical cover screen on the outside.

Samsung made a good comeback with the Galaxy Z Flip 5 in Q3, which brought a solid hinge and new cover screen but with the same dual camera setup and gutter-like crease in the middle. The Oppo Find N3 Flip solved both concerns with a triple rear camera setup that included a dedicated telephoto lens on a flip phone for the first time. Plus, the crease situation was much better than Samsung’s phones.

One phone beat Samsung at its own game

OnePlus Open from the back, in hand and less than half folded.
Prakhar Khanna / Digital Trends

If the Honor Magic V2 had been released outside of China, it’d be my go-to recommendation for a book-style foldable. But OnePlus did what Honor couldn’t with its first big foldable, the OnePlus Open. It not only challenged Samsung but beat it in almost every way — despite undercutting it on the price.

Similar to the Honor Magic V2, the OnePlus Open features a 20:9 aspect ratio, which I consider ideal for this type of foldable. As a result of the slab-like cover screen, apps don’t misbehave, which is an issue on the Galaxy Z Fold 5 and Pixel Fold – whether with black borders or the app not being comfortable and displaying zoomed-in text on an irregular aspect ratio. But the OnePlus Open did two other things that no other folding phone has done yet.

First, It offered a camera setup that’s better and more versatile than any big foldable phone. At launch, it had some issues with tuning for the new Sony sensor, but it has only gotten better with updates. Plus, the 6x zoom feels straight out of a more traditional flagship phone.

Two games running simultaneously on OnePlus Open held in hands.
Botworld (top) and Whiteout Survival running on OnePlus Open simultaneously. Tushar Mehta / Digital Trends

Second, the crease is almost negligible. You can still feel it, but it’s notably less than the Samsung, Google, Honor, or Tecno foldables. You can’t see it 99% of the time, and for that 1% you can, you have to view it at a specific angle. It’s a non-issue.

The OnePlus Open also took multitasking to the next level with its Open Canvas feature. For the first time, you can now have three apps simultaneously on your screen, with each interaction just a tap away. When you use it, you realize how much you can accomplish on the big inner display. I can plan for my next story or my next trip with Chrome, YouTube, and Google Keep all open simultaneously.

The OnePlus Open is easily my favorite phone of the year that’s available globally.

2023 did something else for foldables

Tecno Phantom V Fold and Tecno Phantom V Flip.
Prakhar Khanna / Digital Trends

It’s no secret that folding phones come at an expensive price tag, and oftentimes, it’s the price that keeps consumers from jumping on the foldable bandwagon. But Tecno democratized the market by launching a book-style foldable and a flip phone at unbelievable prices.

The Tecno Phantom V Fold was launched at 79,999 Indian Rupees (INR), which translates to $960, less than most regular flagship phones. YouTuber Michael Fisher famously called it the “a fold at the price of a flip” – something Tecno used at its launch event.

The Tecno Phantom V Fold's open screen.
Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

The Phantom V Fold isn’t a bad foldable by any means. It offers a more useable cover screen and a lesser crease on the inner screen than the Galaxy Z Fold 5. There were obviously instances where Tecno had to cut corners. For example, the hinge is either at 90 degrees or 180 degrees flat, and the cameras aren’t something to boast about, but they’re workable.

As if that wasn’t enough, Tecno also launched a flip phone at 49,999 INR ($600), which brings it to a mid-range phone category, similar to the Motorola Razr launch price in the US. It is selling for 54,999 INR ($660) and still remains the cheapest flip phone on the market, slightly cheaper than the $700 Motorola Razr.

You might not get the fastest performance or the best cameras on these two flip phones, but they are democratizing foldables, which have long remained a novel pursuit. In 2023, folding phones aren’t something you have to splurge on, and that’s a big win for the form factor.

Folding phones are here to stay

Honor Magic V2 and OnePlus Open in hand.
Prakhar Khanna / Digital Trends

In short, 2023 was an outstanding year for folding phones.

Samsung faced more competition than ever, which exposed its lazy approach with the Fold 5. Google entered the segment. Honor showed you can make foldables as slim and light as a slab phone. OnePlus led the form factor with great cameras, a near-creaseless display, and next-level multitasking. Oppo introduced a dedicated telephoto camera on a flip phone for the first time. Motorola and Tecno brought foldables to the masses.

That’s more activity in the global foldable market than we’ve seen in the last four years combined — since the launch of the first Galaxy Fold in 2019. I’m still amazed by having a 7.6-inch tablet-like display right inside my pocket that enables me to do so much more than a regular, non-folding phone.

I hope 2024 continues to be amazing for foldables and that Samsung pushes itself to make the Galaxy Z Fold 6 more than an iterative upgrade. This is the best year we’ve had yet for folding phones, and I can’t wait to see where the niche is another year from now.

Editors’ Recommendations

I reviewed 20 phones in 2023. These are my 5 favorites | Digital Trends

I reviewed 20 phones in 2023. These are my 5 favorites | Digital Trends

This has been a fantastic year for smartphones due to the sheer variety of great devices at all prices. In other words, if you wanted a brilliant new phone this year, it didn’t have to be a $1,000-plus flagship.

I’ve used and reviewed a great many phones over the past 12 months, but the following five have left the biggest impression to become what I consider the very best you can get.

iPhone 15 Plus

Apple iPhone 15 Plus Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

While the iPhone 15 Plus may not be the most technically impressive new iPhone released this year, it is the one that surprised me, as I’d felt that the iPhone 14 Plus was too big, too heavy, and too uncomfortable to be a true cheaper alternative to the iPhone 14 Pro Max. The iPhone 15 Plus solved all the comfort issues, which in turn made it more manageable. The camera has really impressed me, too.

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It means the iPhone 15 Plus really can be considered by people who want the iPhone 15 Pro Max’s big screen, but not the accompanying big price tag. It’s still an expensive phone, but there is a substantial savings over the 15 Pro Max, and because it’s a far better phone than last year’s model, it can actually be recommended. Calling it one of the “best” phones I’ve reviewed this year may be a tiny bit of a stretch, but it’s certainly the most improved over what came before.

I’ve also been using the superb iPhone 15 Pro Max since it was released, and the differences between using it and the iPhone 15 Plus for normal, everyday tasks are minimal. It’s only when you get creative with the camera, start playing a lot of intensive games, or compare the two screens closely (one is 60Hz and the other 120Hz) that it’s obvious where the extra money goes. Otherwise, the iPhone 15 Plus is a worthy big-screen alternative to the iPhone 15 Pro Max.

Google Pixel 7a

The Google Pixel 7a in a person's hand.
Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

Most end-of-year lists will feature the Google Pixel 8 or Google Pixel 8 Pro, and they are right to do so, as both are excellent new smartphones. But it’s easy to forget that Google’s cheapest Pixel phone, the Google Pixel 7a, was also released in 2023, and it is the best value Pixel to buy if you don’t want to spend much money. It has all the usual Pixel goodness — great camera and clean Android — for less than $500. While it lacks all the AI features found in the Pixel 8, it’s questionable as to how much they will add to the experience for everyone.

When I’d finished using the Pixel 7a the first time around, I didn’t feel the need to swap my SIM card out and into a more expensive flagship phone. Considering the list included the Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra, this is high praise. It’s an incredibly competent phone that shares the same cool design of the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro, and the camera performs almost as well too. It has last year’s Google Tensor processor inside, so it’s not the most battery efficient, but it still always lasted a packed full day for me.

As tech fans, we’re constantly looking at the next big thing and lusting after the very latest releases, but overlooking the Pixel 7a because it doesn’t share the Pixel 8’s name and processor would be unfortunate. It’s a brilliant, capable, and long-lasting smartphone for anyone not wanting to spend more than $500 on a new phone.

Motorola Razr (2023)

The Motorola Razr 40's cover screen, with the Moo character.
Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

The third phone on my list is yet another midrange device, proving you don’t absolutely need to buy an expensive flagship to bag one of 2023’s best. The Motorola Razr (2023), or Razr 40, as it’s known in the U.K., is the cheaper of the two new Razrs released this year, with the other being the excellent Razr Plus. But the regular Razr is the one that breaks new, important ground.

Why? It brings the compact folding phone down to a sensible price, especially when it was available for just $600. Even at the full $700, it’s still a solid buy — and Motorola seems happy to still offer deals on it, too. It’s far better built than the Razr (2022), the hinge feels more reliable and expensive, and the technology inside is more than enough to satisfy most people for daily use. You’ll want more power if you play a lot of games, but it’s a minor gripe when looking at the Razr (2023) as a complete package.

I liked the Razr (2023) because the hardware never felt like a compromise, and it introduces the joy of a folding phone to those who don’t want to spend $1,000 to get one. Folding phones are fun, exciting, and useful, and the more people who can discover this, the better. The Razr (2023)’s compact design means it’s never a burden, yet you’re not missing out on a lovely big screen when you want it. Plus, the phone is given character by Moo, the creature that lives on the cover screen, something you don’t often find on any smartphone, let alone a modestly priced foldable.

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra

Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra in Sky Blue, seen from the back.
Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

I had to get to a flagship phone eventually, and the Galaxy S23 Ultra is every bit a flagship. Since the death of the Note series, the S-Series Ultra has taken on the task of providing just about everything that can be squeezed into a modern phone. Several of these features are unique to the S23 Ultra, too, including the 10x optical zoom camera and the Bluetooth-connected S Pen stylus stored inside the phone’s body.

The 10x optical zoom is a big benefit, as no other phone offers a similar feature at all. It adds so much creative ability to the already superb camera, and there’s almost no situation or environment where it doesn’t take a brilliant photograph. I chose it as the phone I took on a short trip over any other for this very reason, and I never once regretted it. Then there’s how good the video recording is. It also introduced me to using Adobe Lightroom on a smartphone to make photos look even better.

The camera’s brilliance is repeated everywhere else, from the outright performance to the software. I’m using the Galaxy S23 Ultra again as I write this, and it has received an update to One UI 6 and Android 14, bringing it right up to date. Big, bold, and brilliant, the Galaxy S23 Ultra is the phone to buy if you don’t want to change it for years.

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5

A person holding the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5, showing the cover screen.
Andy Boxall / Digital Trends

When I decided to upgrade my Galaxy Z Fold 4, I didn’t choose the Galaxy Fold 5 — I bought the Galaxy Z Flip 5 instead. While the Galaxy Z Fold 5 is very good, it really doesn’t offer much new over the Z Fold 4, while the Z Flip 5 is a very different phone from the Galaxy Z Flip 4. I appreciate the compact design too, as it fits in with my current lifestyle better. I didn’t write our initial review of the Z Flip 5, but I’ve been using it long term and updated our review on it recently.

The big cover screen is highly customizable, and although it can run any Android app you like, I find it works best when you use a core selection. The Z Flip 5 is a phone you can properly use open and closed, and for a much wider variety of tasks than before. Its new versatility brings it closer to the Z Fold 5, leaving you mostly with the decision as to whether you value a big screen or a compact phone more when choosing between them.

Samsung’s hardware is also still the best in the business. I love the Motorola Razr (2023), but you can tell it’s cheaper than the Z Flip 5 just from the hinge. The Z Flip 5’s hinge is smooth, yet tight, with no wobble or flex in the wrong places. It gives you confidence in the phone, as does Samsung’s use of durable materials. The Z Flip 5 is the phone that changed my mind about compact folding phones, and it’s easily one of the year’s best new devices.

The ones that got away

A blue Google Pixel 8 Pro, laying face-down next to a small pumpkin and squash.
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

There have been a couple of phones I haven’t been able to use so far this year, and although I don’t expect either to usurp any of the devices above based on what I’ve learned from colleagues, they do deserve special mention. It’s the Google Pixel 8 Pro and OnePlus Open that have eluded me at the time of writing.

The OnePlus Open falls into the same category as the Google Pixel Fold and the Galaxy Z Fold 5 in that big-screen folding phones haven’t been as enticing in 2023 compared to compact folding phones. I’ve enjoyed using the Z Flip 5 and Razr (2023) a lot, and both are considerable improvements over their predecessors. The Z Fold 5 and Pixel Fold are brilliant, but don’t offer much that’s new. I have a feeling the OnePlus Open may be exactly the same.

OnePlus Open in Emerald Dusk showing Flexion Hinge standing up.
Christine Romero-Chan / Digital Trends

I know I’ll love the Pixel 8 Pro’s camera and would be interested to try out the additional AI features that are exclusive to the model, especially as I really liked the standard Pixel 8. It’s sure to be an excellent phone, but the Pixel 7a caught my attention because of how good it is for the price, and the Pixel 8 Pro is the same price as most other top smartphones today. It better be good when I get to use it.

When I use these two phones, perhaps I’ll change my mind about this list. But for now, these are my favorite smartphones from the many I’ve used and reviewed in 2023.

Editors’ Recommendations