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I saw the future of folding phones at CES 2024

Samsung's "In&Out" folding phone concept at CES 2024.
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

CES 2024 has barely begun, and I’ve already had an exciting glimpse at the future of folding smartphones.

Samsung is at CES showcasing all sorts of display innovations — including a ridiculous 3D gaming monitor. But what I’m more interested in is Samsung’s newest folding phone concept device. It’s called the In&Out Flip, and it very well could be what future folding phones look like.

I Saw the Future of Folding Phones at CES 2024

At first glance, the In&Out Flip looks a lot like a Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 5. It has a 6.7-inch Full HD+ display that can fold inside of itself to become a small, pocketable square. You’ll notice that there isn’t a cover screen on the outside of the In&Out Flip. Instead, it’s just a slab of glass. How does a flip-phone foldable without a cover screen make for exciting future to look forward to?

The In&Out Flip’s big trick is that it doesn’t only fold in on itself — it also folds outward. That means you don’t need a dedicated cover screen. If you want to keep tabs on your notifications, apps, and more without opening the full 6.7-inch screen, you can just fold the phone outward and have the main display transform into its own cover screen shape.

Is this the most practical design for a folding phone? There are plenty of reasons to think not. The main issue is that the foldable screen is fully exposed if it’s folded outward, leaving it susceptible to all sorts of damage. From a purely practical standpoint, it doesn’t make the best sense.

But let’s not think practically for a second because I think this new type of folding phone design is fantastic.

Samsung's "In&Out" folding phone concept at CES 2024.
Joe Maring / Digital Trends

Foldable phones are still exciting, but the industry’s quickly settled on two general types of foldables: ones that look like a Galaxy Z Fold and ones that look like a Galaxy Z Flip. Samsung’s In&Out Flip is a big reimagining of what’s possible with the hinge on a folding phone. Samsung says it’s eyeing the design for use in smartphones and tablets, and while there’s no confirmation if or when we’ll ever see this in a product you can buy, I really hope that we do.

But the In&Out Flip isn’t the only smartphone foldable concept that I got to see. The other, very oddly named one is the “Flip Liple.” No, that’s not a typo. In Samsung’s own words, “The ‘Liple’ is a new design concept that combines the words ‘light’ and ‘simple.’ It aims to lower the price of the product and provide an easy user experience, similar to the existing Flip.”

The Flip Liple also has a 6.7-inch screen that folds the same way a current Galaxy Z Flip does. However, part of the screen folds over the top frame, allowing you to look at the top of the phone to see the time, notifications, the weather, and other information. It’s not quite as exciting as the In&Out Flip, but it’s still another way Samsung is thinking about how it can change how foldables work.

Will the In&Out Flip or the Flip Liple ever come to market in a phone you can buy? Maybe. Maybe not. Even if we don’t see phones like these launch in the immediate future, I still find it encouraging to see how Samsung is playing with flip phone design. Especially coming off a year where the Galaxy Z Flip 5 and Galaxy Z Fold 5 were such iterative updates, it’s reassuring to know that there’s still a lot of creativity happening with Samsung’s folding phones.

The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip 6 and Z Fold 6 almost certainly won’t incorporate this technology. But there’s a chance the Flip 7, Flip 8, or Flip 9 could. I think that’s an exciting thing to look forward to. I’m glad folding phones are already so consistent, but I also don’t want them to stop being weird. And I’m glad Samsung apparently doesn’t want that to stop, either.

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Joe Maring
Section Editor, Mobile
Joe Maring is the Section Editor for Digital Trends' Mobile team, leading the site's coverage for all things smartphones…
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