For about a decade, the smartphone market has copied Apple and built pretty much every phone just like its solid slab iPhone. That was until roughly the past year, when several companies have tried to bring the flip phone back, with new devices from Samsung, Motorola, and Microsoft.
The verdict is still out on whether or not flip phones are back for good. But a new, ’80s-inspired euro jam by artist LOLNEIN will have you rooting for the underdog all over again. The entire song and accompanying music video pits a classic flip phone against the iPhone, the former of which taunts Cupertino with his ripped keyboard abs, multi-day battery life, bulletproof construction, and yes, that one special feature, flipping open and shut.
In the words of our flippy protagonist, “But can you do thiiiissss?”
The song is shamelessly catchy, and the premise is funny enough to carry a few refrains without killing the joke. But the real wonder of it is that this is a music video dedicated entirely to industrial design, and articulating a nearly unquantifiable sensation that designers refer to as “delight” or “joy.” Keep your eyes peeled for background cameos by all sorts of other delightful gestures in industrial design, including the push of French-press coffee, the slide of a 3.5-inch floppy, and the shove of a game cartridge into a Super Nintendo. These are the sorts of tactile experiences that the iPhone attempts to recreate with its rich iOS animations but rarely translate perfectly to a screen.
Last year, I spent a full day talking to Motorola’s design team behind the iconic, flipping Razr phone that was first produced in 2004 and has had a recent, rocky remake. Even after hours of thoughtful conversations, in which I heard about studied user testing and engineering breakthroughs, what stuck with me the most was when Motorola designer Paul Pierce smiled to himself as he closed his own Razr prototype with a satisfied snap.
You can describe that sensation all that you want, and weigh the benefits of building mechanics into digital products versus the many costs. Ultimately, however, nothing really nails the idea of a perfectly fulfilling gesture of UX quite as well as LOLNEIN has here: “But can you do thiiiiiissss?”