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LG takes a trip down memory lane with old school Android flip phone

LG has officially announced a smartphone that combines modern functionality with an old school aesthetic.

The LG Ice Cream Smart runs Google’s Android operating system inside what is a rather large flip phone and while most smartphones now have very few or no physical buttons, LG’s device also comes with a full keypad on its lower half.

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Rumours have been circulating over the past week surrounding LG’s release of a smart clamshell or flip phone handset, but this is the first time that the company has confirmed the news. It is the second flip phone handset released by the South Korean firm, following the LG Wine Smart launched late last year.

The LG Ice Cream Smart will retail for $270 (£180) and come with a touchscreen display and numeric keypad alongside all the standard Android features. The handset’s keypad, which includes several shortcuts for convenience, means that users will have to get use to the T9 text input method that was all the rage back in the 1990s. However, some commentators have suggested that a QWERTY keyboard would have increased the device’s usability.

In terms of specs, the LG Ice Cream Smart is powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon 400 processor, 1GB of RAM and comes with 8GB of internal storage. The display, however, might be a bit low-res for some users coming in a 320 x 480 pixels across a 3.5-inch screen. The handset also comes equipped with Android 4.4 KitKat, as well as an 8-megapixel rear camera.

Flip phones were one of the most popular styles of mobile during the late-90s and early-2000s, but since the advent of smartphones the need for a physical keypad has been largely removed. The Motorola StarTAC was the first clamshell handset to gain widespread use, selling more than 60 million units back in 1996.

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However, nostalgic smartphone users in the US and UK might end up disappointed, as it's likely that the LG Ice Cream Smart will be limited to emerging markets.