At a time when technology is growing more intelligent and offering us increasingly more features, a surprising number of Americans — especially the younger generations — are turning to “dumb” phones.
Mobile tech companies are reporting climbing sales figures in the U.S. for their most basic mobile phones, according to Fox 4.
Dumb or “feature” phones are simple devices offering calling, texting, internet functions, and some hotspot and GPS capabilities.
HMD Global has seen a huge bump in its sales of Nokia flip phones, with “tens of thousands” purchased monthly.
“The growth in this market supports the trend of consumers buying premium feature phones as part of an effort to improve their quality of social connections by unplugging from their always-on smartphones,” explained an HMD Global spokesperson, according to Fox 4.
Other mobile tech firms like Punkt and Light have begun selling dumbed-down devices that cater to those looking to decrease their screen time, according to CNBC.
Social media users and influencers have chronicled their use of feature phones on TikTok and YouTube.
Using a dumb phone for a month
As the co-founder of Light Joe Hollier told CNBC, the company isn’t trying to be “anti-technology” but instead aims to provide customers with “a more intentional phone” that allows them to choose “how and when to use which aspects of technology.”
Younger generations in particular have been drawn to the idea of escaping from the digital world of constant connectivity.
“I think you can see it with certain Gen Z populations — they’re tired of the screens,” explained Jose Briones, an influencer who moderates a subreddit on the topic. “They don’t know what is going on with mental health and they’re trying to make cutbacks.”
Excessive use and constant connectivity to social media can have damaging effects on one’s health, both mental and physical.
One study linked the increased risk of obesity among children and adolescents to excessive exposure to screen media.
Many young Americans also suffered a significant blow to their mental health during the pandemic due to its isolating lockdowns and subsequent increases in screen time.
As a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention demonstrated, a marked decline in teenagers’ mental health occurred amid the pandemic restrictions. The prevalence of depression, anxiety, as well as suicidal thoughts and behaviors saw an alarming increase.
With these mental health concerns in mind, the American Psychological Association released a set of recommendations for guiding adolescents’ use of social media in May. As The Dallas Express reported, the recommendations were the first of their kind.
Yet some argue that simply trading in a smartphone for a feature phone isn’t the answer.
“The problem is not the device, it’s the lifestyle,” Briones said, according to Fox 4.
While using a feature phone is one approach to reducing screen time, it isn’t the only one: Several apps exist to help people track and limit screen time.
But for those considering transitioning to a more basic phone, several options cater to different needs and preferences.
Punk and Light’s more minimalist devices range from $299 to $379, according to Fox 4.
The Light phone intentionally blocks social media, clickbait news, and internet browsing while allowing a calculator, a hotspot, and simple tools for music, podcasts, and directions.
Punkt’s offering is similar and includes features like Signal Messenger, Bluetooth connectivity, note-taking capabilities with reminders, and a basic calendar.
Still, with approximately 311 million Americans using smartphones today and this number continuing to rise, according to Statista, it stands to reason that feature phones won’t pose much of a challenge to its domination over the market.