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Why are Dumbphones Making Comeback With Younger People?


The average person spends about 52,925 minutes each year looking through social media, according to research by Sortlist, a UK mergers and acquisitions consultancy. A typical American uses the internet for 109 days a year, 32 of which are spent on social media.

The Sortlist poll also found that customers wanted to spend less time using smartphones, as shown by an 18% rise in searches for dumb phones in the U.S. Additionally, there has been a 5% rise in searches for services for dumb phones worldwide.

Causes of using Dumbphones 

32% of people under 35 wish to use social media less

According to Nicolas Finet, CMO at Sortlist, “Dumb phones are currently an appealing choice for parents who want their children to have a phone but at the same time limit screen time and social media usage.” In order to reduce their screen time and social media use, as well as to enable privacy and become more proactive in their lives, a large portion of Generation Z and millennials use dumb phones. A recent survey revealed that 32% of people under the age of 35 wish to use social media less, which simply goes to show how the trend is changing.

These findings serve as a caution to digital businesses leveraging Internet of Things and smartphone technology, suggesting that consumers may have reached a tipping point where they are turning back to older technologies they perceive to be less intrusive or disruptive to their life.

Although many medical professionals do, the American Psychological Association does not classify phone use as an addiction. These experts worry that excessive phone use can cause sleep problems, anxiety, diminished cognition, and difficulty focusing. Researchers from the University of Chicago concur. “Recent research indicates smartphone-induced “brain drain” as a potentially expensive side effect of their integration into daily life. We present evidence that two measures of cognitive ability—available working memory capacity and functional fluid intelligence—can be negatively impacted by consumers’ smartphones just being there.

The advice for businesses using cellphones and digital technology for customer outreach may be to provide the following details.

Google searches for dumbphones increased by 89%

According to the BBC, the market for dumbphones is expanding quickly. According to data from Semrush, Google searches for dumbphones increased by 89% between 2019 and 21. Furthermore, a 2019 Counterpoint Research analysis predicted that feature phone sales will reach a billion units by 2021, primarily due to growth in areas like India and some regions of Africa. Calling and texting may be sufficient for the needs of the majority of the low-income clients in these markets. It is challenging to determine how much the market has truly expanded though, given there may not be recent global aggregated numbers for dumbphone sales.

However, mobile phone-focused websites provide insight into what makes feature phones so alluring. What some users in the BBC report also stated, according to one guide to the best dumbphones available on the market, is a major justification for purchasing one. A dumbphone enables one to “take back [one’s] life,” as the guide puts it, by removing oneself from the hectic world of social media. A younger generation understands that message quite clearly, according to the BBC story, which cites TikTok films in which feature phones are frequently seen.

Certain feature phones today could include characteristics that make it challenging to avoid the social media ecosystem. For instance, the Nokia 6300 4G boasts that it offers access to Facebook, WhatsApp, and YouTube. The phone’s Android OS makes the distinction between smartphones and dumbphones ambiguous. Purists of dumbphones need not worry, though. In 2017, the Finnish phone manufacturer brought back the iconic 3310 model, a completely basic phone. A new version of the Snake game might be the sole diversion.

Sales of Nokia dumbphones have grown significantly

While it still does well in the Western European and Southeast Asian regions, Nokia is no longer the industry leader it once was in the early days of feature phones. Itel Mobile, based in Hong Kong, is another significant player in the market. Like Nokia, it sells smartphones, but thanks to the African market, its sales of dumbphones have grown significantly. It is striking that practically every African country has a tailored microsite available when one visits their website.

Finally, feature phones have three other compelling qualities in addition to letting users return to more basic mobile phone functions. The first is that the battery life of dumbphones is typically longer than that of smartphones, which is a concern mostly due to background apps. Second, it is difficult to contest the fact that a dumbphone is typically more robust. They are tough to break even when dropped, which is fortunately a rare occurrence. The third is straightforward: feature phones cost less than smartphones. When necessary, upgrading or replacing phones won’t break the bank.

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