Dumbphones are back in fashion to ease digital disruption

Did you know that 18% of French people with mobile phones prefer the “dumb” to the ultra-connected? In 2020, the call-only phone market has doubled worldwide, with 735 million of these old models sold across the planet. They are called “dumbphones” for “dumb phones” or even “feature phones” and we all know them, with the famous Nokia 3310 in the main role! Don’t search the internet, your email or Snapchat, the phones that many owned a few years ago are on the way back. But why ? There are several ways mentioned and we will explain to you which ones.

The possible paths

Experts have noted an explosion in sales in the year of the health crisis… 400 million sold in 2019 and 735 million in 2020. The most likely leads would therefore be the need to disconnect and no longer be bothered by hundreds of notifications every day. But these phones would also be bought for their ruggedness, their ease of use and of course their very low prices which make them accessible to as many people as possible.

Nokia 3310 (2017). Illustrative photo not contractual. Image credit: Shutterstock

The need to disconnect…

Remember the Nokia 3310 and its first T9 keyboard released in the 2000s. This phone was the star of mobile phones at the time. In 2017, Nokia released a new version of the 3310, which took over all the features of the old and held the famous game Snake! In 2016, a US survey found that 90% of smartphone users thought their phone vibrated while it remained silent. By 2021, every user uses almost 5 hours on his smartphone every day, scroll and scroll again new messages. Anti-scroll smartphones have therefore appeared on the market such as Punkt MP02, which has no GPS, but only a small notepad. No scroll, no internet, a “real” phone which is used to… call. Some compulsive buyers opt for a dumb phone, which effectively prevents impulse buying with just one click.

The real reason? The price maybe?

If sales have exploded, it will be above all in relation to their selling prices and the fact that they are available, especially in developing countries. The Nokia 150, for example, costs €45, which is a much more appropriate price than the 1800€ for some iPhone 13 Pro Max! This explains the strong growth of low-cost phones in Africa, Asia or the Middle East. In some areas, it is the telephones that pave the way for an Internet connection. In Israel these are security issues which has exploded sales of these basic models. The Pegasus affair, this spyware found on the smartphones of ministers, journalists or activists, had convinced some to switch to “unhackable” phones.

And if the cause was ecological?

Some smartphone brands are known to play on planned obsolescence, which pushes users to switch devices every two years or so. An ecological disaster obviously because most of these smartphones are not recycled and are thrown away or decommissioned while still working. So-called dumb mobile phones last much longer, use fewer electronic components, less transmission data, etc. All of these benefits mean that these phones, which you might think are outdated, are making a strong comeback among environmentalists, or those who no longer want to be bothered by over-notifications. Finally, in countries of the world where access to electricity is not obvious and with their autonomy of several days, they are sometimes the only solution to be able to join or be reached! And you, would you be ready to switch to Nokia 3310?

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