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What are ‘dumb phones’ and why are they the new rage?

sales of “dumb phones” or “dumbphones”, which are characterized by not having internet access, grew exponentially in the world. His rise is related to a boom that recalls the Technological advances of the last 30 years and, in addition, it is related to those who seek to stay away from social networks for digital well-being.

The phones that revolutionized communication in the 1990s and 2000s are back. Back then, in the pre-mobile internet era, it was innovative to talk without being connected to a cable or having an account on a social network, at least until 2004 with the appearance of Facebook.

With the advancement of the internet and social networks -Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, among others-, more and more users have chosen to put aside smartphones and return to old cell phones that are not even good for taking pictures.

The return of the so-called “dumbphones”

The term “dumb cell” (dumbphones, in English) is exactly the opposite of the smartphone that capitalizes on the global device market. Those who turn to this vintage technology choose to disconnect from the digital world, unlike what smartphones offer.

Users who decide to return to the basics of mobile telephony they look for the basic call tools, messaging, contact list and other functions such as a calculator.

Some users choose old cell phones to avoid the hyper connection of smartphones.

This boom for old cell phones was reflected in searches for Google which, according to the firm SEMrush, grew by 89% between 2018 and 2021.

In addition, the Deloitte group indicated that in the United Kingdom one in ten users uses a “dumb phone”.

On the other hand, one report noted that global sales grew and approximately 1,000 million basic cell phones were sold in 2021.

There is a big change in the percentage of sales since in 2019 it was stipulated that around 400 million phones were sold.

Users who access basic phones try to depend less on their smartphones and be more attentive when doing daily activities such as socializing or working. The return of these cell phones is related to the search for a digital wellness.

The BBC made a report where people who chose to go back to the old cell phones tell their experience. “I didn’t realize how much the smartphone was taking over my life until I bought a ‘brick,'” said one user who went back to using a basic phone.

The Nokia 3310 was one of the last cell phones without connectivity that came onto the market.  Photo: AFP.

The Nokia 3310 was one of the last cell phones without connectivity that came onto the market. Photo: AFP.

Among other answers, the people who returned to “dumbphones” confess that they did so to improve their productivity and their leisure time. Other users argued that they returned to basic cell phones because of their size and battery life or because of nostalgia. Also many parents opted for these phones to disconnect from networks and connect with their children.

In 2017, Nokia released a “dumbphone” called Nokia 3310, which claims a classic brand phone. With a new design, it returned to the sale with its simple functions in a market full of smartphones.

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