While the popularity of dumb phones might be waning worldwide, a surprising trend is emerging in the United States as a growing number of people, particularly among Gen Z, are embracing these simpler mobile devices.
Manufacturers such as HMD Global, the company behind Nokia phones, continue to sell millions of early-2000s-style mobile devices, including feature phones—those traditional flip or slide phones that come with extra features like GPS or a hotspot.
Jose Briones, a dumb phone influencer and moderator of the subreddit “r/dumbphones,” attributes this shift to a growing fatigue with screens among younger generations. He notes that many Gen Z individuals are growing increasingly concerned about mental health and are trying to make cutbacks in their screen time.
HMD Global has witnessed a rise in feature flip phone sales in the US, selling tens of thousands each month. Interestingly, this is in contrast to the company’s global feature phone sales, which have declined. In 2022, almost 80% of feature phone sales came from the Middle East, Africa, and India, according to Counterpoint Research. However, some experts predict a shift in this trend, as more young people in the US opt for minimalist or dumb phones.
Patrick Moorhead of Moor Insights & Strategy observes that the North American market for dumb phones has essentially flatlined. However, he believes it could experience a 5% increase over the next five years, driven in part by growing public health concerns.
This trend has given rise to companies like Punkt and Light, which cater to consumers seeking to reduce their reliance on smartphones and social media. Numerous YouTube influencers also endorse these devices.
Joe Hollier, the co-founder of Light, explains that their aim is not to create a dumb phone, but rather a more intentional, premium, and minimalist phone. He emphasizes that their approach is not anti-technology; instead, it’s about consciously choosing how and when to use the aspects of technology that enhance one’s quality of life.
The video accompanying the article provides a closer look at the dumb phones that could potentially see a resurgence in the US market. The growing interest in these simpler devices highlights a desire among many young people to step back from the constant barrage of information and connectivity offered by smartphones. As this trend gains traction, it will be interesting to observe how the mobile industry adapts to accommodate this shift in consumer preferences.