Clamshell Mobile

What Does Clamshell Mobile Mean?

A clamshell mobile is a type of mobile phone form factor in which the phone is composed of two equal sections that are attached by a hinge with halves that open and close like a clamshell. Because of its flipping action when it opens and closes, the clamshell is also known as a flip phone, although Motorola holds the trademark on this term.


While clamshell mobiles saw a rise in popularity in 2009, they have since given way to other mobile form factors such as slide-out and touch-screen slates.

Techopedia Explains Clamshell Mobile

Because most of the device’s interface elements are found on the inside portion, opening the clamshell means the phone is in use or ready for use. The bottom half of a clamshell typically consists of the keypad, while the display is located on the upper half.

A clamshell phone folds into a compact shape when not in use, making it easy to carry around. Some clamshell models are equipped with a small display on the outside of the body so even when the phone is folded, information such as the date, time and incoming calls can be viewed without opening the phone.

The first handset bearing the clamshell form factor was Motorola’s StarTAC, which was released in 1996. Motorola acknowledges that the communicator of the television series “Star Trek” was its inspiration for the clamshell design. Motorola also takes credit for having invented one of the thinnest and most popular clamshell handsets, the RAZR.


Related Terms

Margaret Rouse

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.