Samsung’s feminine folding phone is a step forward … I think

Overnight, among watches and the latest folding phone technology, Samsung announced the Galaxy Z Flip3. What makes the Flip line special is that it’s the only folding phone I know of being marketed particularly to women.

Nearly everyone uses smartphones. Yet the majority of marketing that I’ve noticed for them has either been gender-neutral, or masculine. On the rare occasions a phone is marketed to women, the ads usually focus on how simple the phone is to use, how it can display recipes, and how it now comes in pink.

The Z Flip3 is a tiny pocketable square that folds out into a full-sized phone.

In contrast, the Z Flip3 marketing focuses on influencers; how the phone can take extra good selfies, and can fold up small enough to fit into one of those comically tiny handbags that don’t have a proper shoulder strap and cost $2000. It’s also a bit narrower, which (although it’s not said) is important for women whose hands tend to be a bit smaller, and has a range of dainty cases and accessories you can pair with it. It does also come in pink.

Feminine things have been looked down on or ignored for so long, particularly in the technology world, that it’s hard to tell now when a brand is being condescending, or just marketing to women based on their interests. Not being able to tell that difference also points to some interesting internalised misogyny, but also it could be a bit of all three; none of those things are mutually exclusive.

Finally, a powerful phone that fits in the most ridiculous of handbags.

Cameras are the main way to market phones these days, and I’d rather a focus on selfies than “this will take photos of your children”, which used to be the only thing female consumers were supposedly interested in. Being able to fold up small enough to fit in women’s jeans pocket or a small bag is a huge selling point, given how frustrated I and all my friends get trying to fit phablets anywhere. I’m tall and big, so smaller phones aren’t really a priority for me, but I have plenty of tiny friends who would really benefit from a phone more suited to their size that was still powerful.

Those points are all important. But I also want to know what the Fold3 is like for games, and other more tech-intensive features that get talked up on other smartphones, including explicitly in the marketing for the larger Z Fold3 also announced overnight. It’s exciting to see a phone this advanced marketed towards a feminine audience, taking the needs of that audience into account. I just wish the marketers remembered that we are more than vain creatures with tiny hands and pockets.

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