Blackberry's Kickstart clamshell is coming later this year


Outside of the dramatic gravitas of flipping one open with a burning fire of steely command in my eyes, I'm not a big fan of clamshells. Sadly, RIM's new clamshell Blackberry, the Kickstart, isn't doing anything to change my mind.

There are scant details right now, except it uses a SureType keyboard, has a trackball for navigation and has a design aesthetic inspired by the bubble-gum dispensing clamshells you buy for your four year old daughter at the dollar store. It's hard to tell from the picture but it looks cheap. No price

Let me ask you a question, clamshell enthusiasts. Why do you like flip phones? My M.O. for phones is essentially for them to be as small and light when pocketed as possible: all other considerations are secondary. Do you appreciate clamshells because it allows for bigger keys?

Blackberry launching clamshell model this year [Boy Genius Report]

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  1. I prefer flip phones simply because it does allow them to be larger. I’m not fond of overly tiny phones. I suppose that, these days, it is more of an aesthetics issue that a practical one, but there you have it.

  2. Flip phones put the speaker at the ear and the microphone at the mouth, as God and Ma Bell intended. That really does result in better sound quality than trying to pick up sound from behind the jaw or asking users to hold the phone with their fingertips so their palm will reflect sound back to it.

    May not matter to the phone owner; does matter to whoever’s on the other end of the conversation. Or so it seems to me. But I’m an occasional sound tech; I’ve been trained to a hatred of lavalier microphones for the same reasons.

    Of course if you’re one of those whose phone use is entirely via bluetooth headset, the location of the phone’s own transducers may be irrelevant. And for some the phone’s size does matter more. Flip phones may also be a bit more prone to some kinds of damage, though I’m not convinced they’re much worse in that regard than any of the other moving-parts designs.

    I’m using a one-piece-brick phone myself right now, far from the smallest available, because It Was Cheap. I don’t feel a great need for smaller, per se, though I do occasionally dither over switching to a combined phone/organizer rather than carrying two devices.

    … OK, and I’ll admit it: I grew up with Original Star Trek. The flip phone amuses me. It would amuse me even more if it emitted the communicator’s characteristic power-up whistle as it was flipped open.

    (“Beam me up, Mr. Scott; there’s no intelligent life on this planet.”)

  3. I like flip phones because I like having the controls hidden, so I don’t accidentally answer calls in my pocket if I forget to lock it, or have to hit soft unlocking keys when I want to place a call. They also protect the screen better, and tend to have better acoustics. They also often have better ergonomics – I have more than a touch of carpal tunnel / weak hand muscles, and it somehow helps to have a phone that, when open, is not as dense as a candybar/slab phone and is well balanced around the hinge.

    That being said, I do want an iPhone, Treo, or Blackberry in the next couple of years, and so far, no good flip phone options there — I might want to give this Blackberry a look.

  4. for me the big problem with flip phones is the increased thickness. as i keep it in my front trouser pocket.

  5. Until my current phone, which is a slider model, I have always used flip phones. The reason being that it allowed the phone to be smaller when in the pocket and larger when I wanted to use it. I love my current phone (a LG VX8550), but it still feels a little small to me when holding it against my head to talk. I don’t use headsets unless I’m driving (I have issues with those and looking like I’m talking to myself).

    Flip phone also have the added benefit of hiding the controls from use. I don’t have to unlock the keys when I want to use it, I just open it up. If I had a candy bar style phone, I’d have to lock the keys because they’d call someone while in my pocket.

    My ideal phone, however, will be iPhone-like, but with real buttons (slider fashion would work here). The Nokia N810 is the closest I have seen to what I’d want, though it’s not a phone except VOIP, which doesn’t help when I’m not near a Wi-Fi connection.

  6. For me the big advantage is the increased thickness, as I keep it in my front trouser pocket.

  7. When I had a candybar or pda phone, I was really bad about forgetting the keylock and trouserphoning people all the time.

    A flip avoids that nicely.

  8. i hate that my nokia flip is so large. in general i’m after a small phone as well, however, it is very satisfying to end a call on a flip phone — akin to the days of yore and slamming the phone down on the cradle. it makes you feel in control of your personal communications.

    BTW: I saw an old episode of Boston Legal the other night and got a kick out of when Shatner opens his phone it makes the Star Trek communicator sound. – a shout out to all the geeks inline with @technogeek (#2) comments.

  9. As @ALAN said, this is an easy one: “Is that a flip phone in your pocket or are you just happy to see me?”

  10. Personally, my favorite part of flip phones is slamming them shut to end a call in a huff. I miss that with my new slider. Clicking it firmly shut just…doesn’t have the same impact.

    (also, so far as thickness is concerned, the new slider is all of .16 of an inch thinner than the flip phone it replaced, so perhaps you’re just looking at the wrong flip phones.)

  11. Screen protection, key locking/unlocking without bizarre combinations of button presses, and how it opens up to a nice shape to talk into.

    Unfortunately, the manufacturers went away from clamshells. I really liked my Motorola one from a few years ago (well, I did until I started trying to deal with its appalling software…)

  12. I like flip phones because it makes the phone’s most fundamental function — beginning and ending calls — a simple, un-fussy, familiar, and unique action. Nothing says “on/off” like “open/closed.” I hate having to fussily press a tiny button (physical or on-screen) to answer the phone, or to hang up. A flip phone is fun and satisfying, like any good user interface.

    That said, only one of the three cellphones I owned have been flip phones. Call me crazy, but I wish my iPhone were a flip phone.

  13. I like my clamshell for the size of its keys. I could find nothing in a slider that had keys that I could use and not worry about hitting an adjacent key. I have not seen another that I really like as yet (iPhone drama aside) but if I were to get a slider I would personally like one of Samsung’s “Matrix” style phones, looked like it had a decent size during use and closed into half the size afterward.

  14. I have to agree with all the other guys and gals here who’ve extolled the virtues of the hidden controls and protected screens on a flip phone, but my favourite bit has to be the tactile aesthetics. Which is really just a couple fancy words for saying that it feels very satisfying to begin and end calls by flipping the phone open/closed, as others have said.

    Think of it like the cell phone equivalent of those big handle-switches that Dr. Frankenstein would flip on his machinery to begin channeling the power of nature toward his Creature.

    I think I might have just said that flip phones cater to mad scientists, but I can think of worse demographics to be associated with.

  15. for me the big bonus with flip phones is the increased thickness, as I keep it in my underwear. Or a front pocket.

  16. I love flip-phones because they stop you from accidentally calling people, and protect the screen.

    I have a thin Samsung flipper, just under a cm thick, so I don’t have the size problem there – I can happily wear it in tight trousers without noticeable techno-bulge…

  17. Why a clamshell? I never really got over my longing for a Star Trek communicator.

  18. Smaller. Tactile feedback (the joy of opening / closing). Protecting the screen.

    I had a Moto v8808, a good 7 years old until just recently. I was hoping to use it until GSM networks were obsolete but (ironically) the flip broke. Never seen such a flimsy flip on a phone, the same model broke after two weeks ownership after being in my pants for too long.

  19. I have giant monster fingers. They require enormous buttons, which now can only be found of the RAZR and similar flip phones. Also, I like that, as previous commenters have described, they open to be as big as a, y’know, real phone.

    But as soon as I get around to making a Ma-Bell handset, I’ll use whatever phone they give me.

  20. I like my PEBL flip phone mechanically (the UI is apalling. It lives in one of the front pockets of my motorcycle jacket, where there is plenty of room. If I could only get it to make the Star Trek sound. Sigh. I did manage to make and upload a Violent Femmes ringtone 🙂

  21. I would be willing to try a flip BlackBerry, solely in the hope that it would last for more than 2 months without requiring replacement. I dunno if anyone else has this problem with their 8830 (I carry it in my front pocket, keys down, screen in), but after a couple of months, the “o”, “p”, and “end” buttons get progressively harder to use and then stop working.

    The SureType keyboard might be a deal breaker, though – does anyone have experience with trying to use one of those with SSH?

    (OK, you’re right, I only wish that I used SSH from my blackberry all the time…)

  22. One problem I have with candybar phones with joysticks (or trackballs, or any other protrusive directional device) is that the joystick inevitably breaks or loses responsiveness after just a few months of being in my pocket. It’s gotten to the point where I refuse to buy a candybar phone unless it has a good, old-fashioned d-pad with a button in the middle.

  23. I’ve tried several phones from touch pad to black berry to POS and none of them are as satisfying to use as a flip.
    Mostly because of all the above reasons. Personally I don’t like having to carry a phone on my belt to protect it from accidentally pushing the buttons while in my pocket. I’m in all sorts of not nice places where I just get the thing caught on protruding objects.
    With keys, pens, random bits of kibble in my pocket, the solution always goes back to the flip phones.

    Ok, yes I love doing the star trek thing too!

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