Uriel Bederman

Without social networks: basic mobile phones are back

As if it were a story, once upon a time there was a world in which The mobile phones used to make and receive calls. Over the years, these wireless devices (it was their great advancement, the absence of cables) added a few functions: SMS, camera, simple games. Apple wrote the end of the story when in 2007, it launched the first iPhone and ushered in the era of smartphonesmaking basic mobiles become old and almost useless.

Who today must define the function of a smartphone he will barely refer to phone calls. 21st century Swiss Army knives pack almost endless tools into their slim bodies: social networks, advanced games, navigation systems, electronic payments, online marketplaces and a long etcetera. Although ubiquitous and all-powerful, these devices today bear witness to the reborn from basic telephones who, like tech zombies, take away the earth thrown at them and promise to return.

Dumbphones vs. smartphones: the differences

Already the first iPhone model determined the signs that differentiate a smartphone from a “dumb cell phone”, also known as “dumbphones”. In general, the contrast is perceived by the permanent connection to the Internet of the first, in addition to the availability of applications.

Basic models focus on calls and texts. Although they are resurfacing with more functions, they are generally devices without access to social networks, messaging services and other popular digital platforms. For the rest, since they do not have great requirements, their specifications are brief compared to the powerful ones. smart phones. Of course: many of them are also used to listen to the radio.

The “dumb cell phones” return to the ring: three facts that confirm the resurrection

  • Google searches related to basic cell phones increased by 89% between 2018 and last year, according to SEMrush.
  • Based on 2021 data, one in ten mobile phone users in the UK use a basic mobile phone, Deloitte Group said.
  • Although it is difficult to obtain statistics in this specific sector, a report indicates that global ‘dumb phone’ sales were around 1 billion units in 2021, up from 400 million in 2019.

The return of basic mobile phones, a phenomenon linked to digital well-being

A mobile device without Instagram, TikTok or YouTube? Who would want something like that? Contrary to what one might initially think, more and more people are opting for modest mobile phones. One of the main reasons they give is the desire to depend less on technology, a development closely linked to what is called digital wellbeing.

“I didn’t realize how much the smartphone was taking over my life until I bought a ‘brick,'” a basic cellphone user told reporters. BBC. “I had a lot of social media apps and I wasn’t working as much because I was always on the phone,” he explained.

But the spirit of digital disconnection (even partially) is not the only motivation. A dumbphone is also chosen based on the following arguments:

  • People who want to improve their productivity and free time: For many, leisure takes place in long sessions within social networks without space for activities such as sports, reading, etc. In turn, the full-time connection facilitated by a smartphone can conspire against work productivity. Carry Phone(s) that they are not clever This would solve both situations.
  • Fathers and mothers who seek a different connection with their children: While the tool is not in question in itself but for the user, it is common to hear that smartphones provide constant distractions and it often affects family ties. In that order, choosing a phone that only receives calls and texts would help you focus more on conversations and time at home.
  • nostalgic users: as there is people who play video games full eighties 2022 or music lovers who prefer vinyl; in the mobile there is a group that listens to its nostalgia and opts for dumbphones. Paradoxically, the dissemination of videos on a popular social network, TikTok, showing basic cell phones is a factor that has encouraged the resurgence of the vintage scene.
  • Long battery life and compact size, two relevant advantages: While any smartphone, even the most affordable, outperforms a basic phone; There are two variables that dumbphones take advantage of. One of them is the battery life: With fewer demands, the available energy can be extended for several days without the need for a recharge. On the other hand, they are usually compact devices that fit comfortably in your pocket and in your hand. Another point to note is the durability: By not having end-to-end screens, they are more robust.

Emblems among the new basic cell phones

The trend does not assume the purchase of used units that circulated in the late 1990s and early 2000s; not only. An essential step on this path is the launch of Nokia 3310 in 2017which resurfaced with a new design after its success in 2000. This device was encouraged to appear with modest specs in a company full of super powerful phones that sometimes had better functionality than a computer.


HMD Global, the company that now sells Nokia-branded phones, at IFA 2019 has confirmed its intention to extend your dumbphone catalog. But it’s not the only one: a New York-based manufacturer, lightweight phonealso pushes the bandwagon of basic mobile phones that rub shoulders with the glitter of smartphones like the Apple iPhone or the Samsung Galaxy S.

Strictly speaking, Light Phone moves into a middle space between dumb cell phones and smart phones. Their phones are used to play music and add Bluetooth, but they do without social networks, web browsers and flux infinite. The company boasts of offering a technology that does not create disconnection with the present, which does not encourage wasting time and which does not generate anxiety. “Consumers realize something is wrong and we want to provide an alternative,” they say.


A detail that a priori can be striking: most Light Phone buyers are between 25 and 35 years old. The New York-based company had its best-performing year in 2021, with sales up 150% from 2020. Its minimalist design phones and e-ink screens start at $99; a price far removed from the nearly $1,000 you have to pay for high-end smartphones.

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