Shout-out to the Galaxy Z Flip 3's grandfather from 26 years ago

This article may contain personal views and opinion from the author.
Shout-out to the Galaxy Z Flip 3's grandfather from 26 years ago
Here we are in 2022, a year by which many movies from the 60s, like 2001: A Space Odyssey, expected us to be a multi-planetary species and have robot friends with sophisticated artificial intelligence to rely on.

And although we're not as technologically advanced as we previously expected to be by now, we are definitely making solid progress compared to even just 30 years ago.

The internet became widely accessible, giving everyone with a computer access to much of humanity's vast knowledge, and not too long after, smartphones like the one in your pocket made it possible to carry the world wide web with us at all times.

Your friends, family, and an infinite amount of information at the tip of your fingers, always accessible. We can't underestimate just how amazing phones are.

And as most things, phones themselves went through a fascinating evolution. Now we have both the common rectangles that we see in most people's hands, as well as cutting-edge folding phones like the…

Galaxy Z Flip 3: The modern flip phone

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3

Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 3

The Good

  • Lower price makes it more accessible
  • Larger Cover Screen is a huge convenience
  • 120Hz is a big upgrade, makes for much smoother use
  • Phone feels very fast and nimble
  • Reassuringly well put together, nothing screaks or squeals

The Bad

  • It's hard to unfold it with just one hand
  • Gets hot easily even with basic tasks
  • Battery life is average at best
  • No telephoto zoom cameras
  • The crease is still there

Samsung's Galaxy Z Flip 3 is the latest model in the Korean company's fashionable Flip series of phones that fold vertically, just like old school clamshells did back in the day before smartphones.

Except – the Z Flip 3 is all-screen, and its display is one of the components that fold!

Well, a folding screen may not sound as amazing nowadays, several years after foldable smartphones became a popular concept worldwide…

But in order to appreciate something, it's good to see where it came from. And that's just what we're doing here – we'll check out what the world's first flip phone was like.

A phone that was released a good 26 years ago, made by… Can you guess who? Perhaps Samsung again? Or maybe a brand that's no longer around, like Siemens? Nope…

Motorola StarTAC: The first flip phone

Considered by many to be the first "true" flip phone ever released, "true" meaning small, portable and standalone, the StarTAC came out in 1996 and cost $1000, which is coincidentally also the base price of its modern equivalent – the Galaxy Z Flip 3.

But we all know what we can get these days for that price, the question is – what exactly did a thousand bucks get you back in '96?

The clamshell Motorola StarTAC phone featured a plastic build, a traditional set of physical buttons for the time, and a tiny, monochrome LED display that could show two rows of text, enough to display two or three words at best.

Its keypad and display were both on the bottom half of the phone, while the top half contained just the earpiece, and yes, you could slam it shut to end a call with style. The phone also had an extendable antenna, which too was common for cell phones at the time.

But what wasn't common was the option to power this phone with a lithium-ion battery (Li-ion). It's inside all of our phones today, but in the mid-90s most rechargeable portable devices still used nickel-metal hydride batteries (NiMH), which charged slower and had the "bonus" of being prone to overcharging.

We don't think about overcharging our phones today, but back then charging one for longer than a recommended period was an actual danger for the battery itself, degrading its lifespan quicker.

Anyway, enough about batteries. What about the Motorola StarTAC's's features? The first StarTAC could receive texts, but not send them… It could, of course, make and receive phone calls though, and even had a silent vibration option! And that's about it.

Technological progress is beautiful

There we have the granddaddy of the Galaxy Z Flip 3. While a modern smartphone like the Z Flip 3 can do so much nowadays, that making and taking calls is barely a thing anyone considers anymore, if you wanted, and could afford a $1000 clamshell flip phone 26 years ago – making and taking calls was pretty much all you were getting.

The word "phones" barely fits the definition of what those modern devices in our pockets are. But it all started with the simple act of making phone calls, so the name "phone" still sticks. We just slapped "smart" in front of it and called it a day.

In any case, the fact that we took this moment to appreciate the evolution of mobile tech in the span of 26 years together is a beautiful thing. And you're curious as to where mobile tech might be in another 26 years, also check out: AR is the future of smartphones.

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