Japan’s telecom major KDDI to release phone some will flip out over

The Yomiuri Shimbun
KDDI Corp.’s new flip phone is part of the G’zOne series.

Smartphones might be ubiquitous, but one major telecommunications company hopes to be pushing the right buttons by releasing a new flip phone.

On Friday, for the first time in nine years, KDDI Corp. will sell a new model in the G’zOne series that was on sale from 2000 to 2012. KDDI’s main mobile phone brand is au.

Designed by Casio Computer Co., known for its shock-resistant G-Shock watches, and manufactured by Kyocera Corp., the new model is intended for use in the field such as during farmwork or at construction sites, as it is easy to operate the phone while wearing work gloves by manipulating the buttons.

The new phone is also durable, remaining operable even after being dropped from a height of about 1.8 meters or splashed with saltwater.

Old-school flip phones retain enduring popularity among people who prefer not to tap and swipe smartphone touch screens.

Along with four Kyocera flip phones currently in KDDI’s handset lineup, the company will be able to offer five such options to customers.

While most flip phones are compatible with the older 3G communications standard, the new model will be compatible with the mainstream 4G standard. The retail price is ¥52,800.

As KDDI and the two other major mobile phone companies are planning to gradually end 3G services from next year, the company decided to release the new model because many customers wanted to continue using flip phones.

According to KDDI, flip phones are popular among people who like to participate in outdoor activities such as mountain climbing. These phones are favored because it is easier to make phone calls and less likely to be used by mistake, as sometimes happens when smartphone touch screens are unintentionally touched.

Flip phones are also popular among the elderly, so the major mobile phone companies have been continuing to sell such models with limited functions that make them easy to use.