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LG's latest Android smartphone is...a flip phone!

The LG Wine Smart is an Android smartphone disguised as an old-school flip phone.

tech Updated: Aug 06, 2015 12:49 IST
LG Wine Smart
LG-Wine-Smart-hybrid-smartphone-Photo-AFP

It wasn't that long ago that the flip-phone, or clamshell handset as it was known in the US, was the epitome of modernity. If you didn't have a Motorola Razr, you were no one. But then the smartphone revolution happened and the flip phone was consigned to the technological history books alongside Betamax, cassette tapes and the Mini Disc Walkman.

And while LG isn't attempting to resurrect the form factor with its new handset, the LG Wine, it is trying to offer consumers more choice and the chance to make a more individualistic technological statement.

The company calls it a hybrid smartphone as it runs Android Lollipop and therefore the latest apps, and has a 3.2-inch touch screen as well as old-school numerical buttons. It offers wi-fi, Bluetooth, 4G/LTE connectivity and memory expansion via MicroSD card and also boasts front and rear cameras. However, both are very basic. The front-facing camera is simply webcam quality while the rear-facing unit is 3-megapixels.

It won't win any photography awards but the flip phone does offer some benefits over its smarter brethren -- it has a proper keypad for fewer typos and faster messaging and because its buttons are covered by the screen when not in use, pocket calls are practically impossible.

Then there's the fact that the flip phone still has a cachet of cool in Asia, particularly in Japan where sales are actually climbing at the expense of smartphones. According to data published in February by the MM Research Institute, flip-phone shipments jumped nearly 6% to 10.85 million units in Japan over 2014 while smartphone shipments fell by 5.3%.

And while Asian smartphone firms from Samsung to Sharp and LG continue to build the devices specifically for their home markets, what makes the LG Wine stand out is that it's going on sale globally, following positive response form South Korean owners where the handset is already on sale and called the LG Gentle.

"Our goal with LG Wine Smart was to create a smartphone that fans of flip phones could embrace," said Chris Yie, vice president and head of marketing communications for LG Mobile Communications Company. "Consumers shouldn't have to miss out on the smartphone revolution because they prefer a particular phone design over another. With LG Wine Smart, they won't have to."