Flip phones are back, thanks to Samsung, Oppo and Huawei. One of my favourite things about testing flip phones is the satisfying snap when you close it or end a call.
I’ve been using the newest flip phone in SA, the Oppo Find N2 Flip, for a short while now, but the first thing that caught my eye was running full screen apps on the vertical cover display. The phone launched in April in South Africa, and in case you are not aware, it currently [read: as of May 2023] has the largest cover screen on a flip phone at 3.26-inches.
Full screen apps on a cover display
You can run full screen apps on your flip phones using third-party software, so I downloaded the CoverScreen OS app from the Play Store, which is compatible with the Samsung Z Flip 3, Z Flip 4, and Find N2 Flip. It allows you to do more with the cover display than what the manufacturers restrict you to. They only let you use a handful of their native apps and chances are you don’t even use those apps daily, except for the camera.
I loaded it on the Z Flip 3 and because the screen is horizontal, it’s not the same – I find it barely useable. I want to state that I’m using the free version of CoverScreen OS, and naturally, the app is full of ads.
CoverScreen OS app
The app itself has all the controls, after you give it certain permissions on your device. It has all the basics you need to know, including a tutorial if you can’t figure it out. Honestly, you won’t need it. It supports its own widgets, vs. the default manufacturer one – but 3 on the free version.
CoverScreen OS gives you access to your app drawer to open any app. The paid version will let you do things like change the order of the apps, choose orientation when opened, choose a screen timeout (it’s 5 seconds by default so you have to snap those pics quickly), set an app drawer style, choose favourite apps, etc.
The CoverScreen app on the N2 Flip changes the experience completely because it’s a vertical screen. If you like scrolling through Reels, IG Stories or TikToks, basically viewing any vertical content, the display is perfect for that. I say ‘viewing’ specifically because don’t bother trying to type a comment on the small screen. A like is fine, but if you want to leave a comment, rather use the app when you open the phone.
Apps on the cover display
Here’s a video I made showing you how it looks when using Twitter, IG, TikTok, Netflix, and Spotify:
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I think it’s a cool new way to interact with a flip phone form factor and certainly an exciting development since regular smartphones are hardly anything to get excited about. The Z Flip 3 was hardly useable for me due to its horizontal size, and on the free version. I found it difficult to scroll Instagram on my profile once I got to my highlights – the touch input thought I wanted to edit them and I could not scroll further.
N2 Flip default screen
The N2 Flip by default will let you access the camera (photo, portrait, video); weather; events; recorder; timer; and wireless earphones. You can choose which ones to activate for quick access. I like the camera the most since you can use the main camera to see what you shoot like a viewfinder, which is useful for selfies from the rear camera. It has a cute home screen pet that I activated.
But I’ve been scrolling through social media more using CoverScreen OS, watching videos (YouTube and Netflix) and scrolling through the new Spotify feed – it will autoplay podcasts and tracks from it too. I like that it means I don’t have to open the phone unnecessarily, and can discreetly check feeds if needed.
If you have an N2 Flip or Z Flip 3 or 4, it is worth downloading the CoverScreen OS app if you don’t want to be restricted by native apps on your flip phone’s cover screen, even if you use the free version. But be prepared for ads, which you can remove if you pay to unlock more features. That said, the experience on a larger cover display is a whole lot better.
Recharged is an independent site that focuses on technology, electric vehicles, and the digital life by Nafisa Akabor. Drawing from her 16-year tech journalism career, expect news, reviews, how-tos, comparisons, and practical uses of tech that are easy to digest. firstname.lastname@example.org