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April 13, 2023

From the Luddite Club to social media influencers, a teenage movement is on the rise – flip phones. Why? For many teens, it’s the perceived damage caused by smartphone apps. They realize that the distraction of constant notifications about texts, Instagram or TikTok posts, and so many other things distract their attention from the person across the table or in the car with them. They want to be more present to cultivate relationships. For others, it’s the appeal of vintage stuff. They are intrigued by cassette players, film cameras, and flip phones because these items are rare and evoke a time before their births. Finally, but not the least important, is the price – flip phones are dramatically less expensive than smartphones.

People who were cell phone users during the original flip phone days might recall their limited capabilities. (We aren’t including folding smartphones, which are also referred to as flip phones.) The numbers-based keypads of actual flip phones made typing anything besides phone numbers tedious. A simple “Hello” required 13 key presses. While this is true for many modern flip phones, today’s versions include GPS, Bluetooth, up to 5MP cameras, video and audio capabilities, and memory card slots to access larger multi-media libraries. They are simpler but not simple. However, they make it less likely that teens and other users will get lost in their phones playing games or texting friends. It’s just not convenient.

And just because these devices are feature-light compared to smartphones doesn’t mean they are less likely to contain information relevant to a case. This might be particularly true for criminal cases. These phones are colloquially referred to as “burners” and are used in the commission of crimes because they are inexpensive, and ownership is untraceable when purchased with cash. As a result, law enforcement officers often find these phones during searches, and they become evidence.

While many mobile device collection software does capture data from these older phones, most of these tools are designed for in-person collection. So, these apparently simpler flip phones can create challenges for forensic collection professionals trying to deliver more cost-effective options. Not so with ModeOne. The ModeOne mobile collection tool can remotely capture targeted data from many flip phones and is constantly expanding that capability for Android devices.

Join the ModeOne Android 2.0 beta group and try it out for yourself.