With the prominence of large smartphones with huge displays and boxy designs, who would have thought that iconic flip phones from the early 2000s would make a comeback? However, this time, these devices now have powerful specs and all the bells and whistles of modern smartphones. One of the reasons for its popularity? South Korean TV shows.

Whether it’s in the busy streets of Seoul or simple life in the countryside, flip phones have become prevalent in almost every Korean drama (K-drama). Usually used by the female lead and other female casts, this compact smartphone is a pivotal accessory to the characters in the show. Its sleek and compact design perfectly complements the overall aesthetic of a modern Korean drama.

The influence of South Korean shows

Unless you’re living under a rock, South Korean media has become one of the biggest influences in today’s global society. From high-charting music to award-winning movies and series, it is undeniable that Korean culture has made its way into our daily lives. 

In the Philippines, you will always see Korean dramas topping the most viewed TV shows and movies on Netflix. Aside from their popularity, K-dramas also play a significant role in many cultural trends in fashion, film, and music locally and abroad. With Kpop groups’ songs often played in radio stations and samgyupsal restaurants everywhere, there’s no doubt Filipinos have been hit by the Korean fever.


The success of K-dramas can be traced to a lot of factors such as their unique storytelling, stunning cinematography, interesting characters, and their unconventional 16 to 20-episode formats. This type of format made Kdrama consumption perfect for binge-watching, which Netflix promoted heavily in the past few years. Not only that, Korean dramas have successfully promoted Korean culture and products in a very effective manner by subtly incorporating these into the show’s storyline. 

Foldable and flip phones are no exception. If you’ve seen a K-drama recently, you’ll notice how they heavily promote these smartphones. You’ll often see the female lead texting or answering calls, with a dedicated shot of the flip phone itself. This is not surprising since Samsung, one of the world’s largest smartphone manufacturers, is a South Korean brand and known for usually advertising in these kind of shows. 

Renewed interest in flip phones

When I asked multiple people why they bought flip phones, they simply responded that they saw them on Kdramas. A friend of mine even told me that she felt the urge to own one after seeing K-drama leads sporting the phone in a very stylish manner. Not to mention the nostalgic charm of closing and opening the phone when receiving a call. 


Moreover, the design of a flip phone is not in any way arbitrary. It also complements perfectly with the current mini bag trend in fashion. Since smaller bags are trendy these days, it’s a challenge to use large phones. That’s why it’s quite practical to use a flip phone instead. It’s like hitting two birds with one stone. 

Flip phones also scream ‘uniqueness’ which makes them popular among the younger generation. With people using identical phones, having a flip phone will definitely make you standout.

Want one? Here are your options

Flip phones are indeed the next big thing in smartphones. With the help of effective marketing by Korean dramas, manufacturers saw the interest and demand for this type of device. 

South Korean tech giant, Samsung, pioneered and popularized flip phones with its release of the Galaxy Z Flip back in 2020. Now in its fifth iteration, the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip5 continues to be one of the most sought-after foldable devices in the market. Other companies have also followed suit not long after. Brands like OPPO, Huawei, and TECNO, to name a few, have their respective flip smartphones as well.

Recently, OPPO launched the new OPPO Find N3 Flip which offers a less noticeable crease, more useful cover screen, and upgraded Hasselblad-powered triple camera system. This release banks on the success of its predecessor, the Find N2 Flip. On the other hand, TECNO also released the PHANTOM V Flip 5G which aims to cater to the masses with its aggressive and ‘affordable’ pricing.


The flip phone’s popularity, driven mainly by Korean dramas, shows the strength of media influence. K-dramas has proven itself to be on top of the game when it comes to setting trends and influencing people and society.

What’s interesting is that the flip design is not something new. But due to improvements in technology, a seemingly outdated design has successfully made its comeback. Even though trends usually come and go in many industries, they usually do not apply in tech where innovation is at the forefront. Don’t get me wrong, the flip phone in itself is an innovative feat, but the design is an old recycled concept that worked pretty well almost 20 years ago. 

With effective use of different media, old concepts can become trendy again. One thing is for sure, if K-dramas continue to provide engaging and relatable stories, viewers will continue to patronize them. And with its impressive product placement strategies, we never know what other devices and gadgets will become popular again in the future.

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