The Rise of Dumbphones: A Shift Towards Simplicity in a Hyperconnected World

The Rise of Dumbphones: A Shift Towards Simplicity in a Hyperconnected World


Imagine one of your friends, stands out from the rest because they don’t own a smartphone. Instead of spending hours scrolling through social media apps like Instagram and TikTok, they opt for a “dumbphone.” They decided to give up their old smartphone. Drawn to the low cost of a basic “brick phone,” they found one for just £6 while browsing for a replacement handset in a thrift store.

Their current phone, from the French company MobiWire, offers no smartphone features, meaning they don’t have to worry about hefty monthly data costs. They admit they didn’t realize how much their smartphone-controlled their life until switching to a basic phone. You Hear them say, “I was constantly glued to my phone, using social media apps, which kept me from being as productive as I could be.”

According to a survey by a software company, between 2018 and 2021, the number of Google searches for dumbphones increased by 89%.

Compared to, an iPhone, these are relatively basic handsets, or feature phones, with very limited capabilities. Usually, you can only send and receive SMS text messages and phone calls. And, if you’re lucky, take simple pictures and listen to the radio, but avoid connecting to the internet or any apps. These gadgets resemble some of the original smartphones that consumers purchased in the most recent year of the 1990s.

Although exact sales numbers are difficult to get, a source said that worldwide dumbphone purchases were expected to reach one billion units in 2018, an increase from 400 million in 2019. In contrast, 1.4 billion smartphones were sold globally last year, down 12.5% from 2020.

In the meanwhile, one in ten UK mobile phone users, according to a 2021 survey by accounting firm Deloitte, owned a dumbphone.

Why are more and more people opting for dumbphones?

Smartphones have taken over in the digital age, changing the way we work, communicate, and engage with the outside world. But amid these quick advances in technology, an interesting new trend has emerged: the unanticipated rise of “dumb phones.” These feature-limited, entry-level mobile devices appeal to a specific demographic looking for simplicity and digital detoxification.

The return of dumbphones offers insurance brokers a unique marketing opportunity, even as the usage of smartphones continues to rise.  It might come as a shock to learn that an increasing proportion of youngsters are choosing “dumb phones” in a world where smartphones are the norm.  Younger generations are starting to wear more subdued, simple mobile devices similar to those we may have worn a decade or two ago, as they try to break free from technology.

Analyze the Trend in the US and UK

A recent survey found that 75% of American teenagers feel content or at ease when not carrying their phones, yet they haven’t reduced their phone usage. Despite this, tens of thousands of “feature flip phones” were sold monthly in the US in 2022, according to HMD Global. However, HMD reported a global decline in “feature phone” sales during the same period.

Counterpoint Research indicates that the Middle East, Africa, and India accounted for over 80% of feature phone sales in 2022. Some speculate that the decrease in sales may be due to American youth reverting to simpler phones.

Moorhead suggests that the dumb phone market is declining in North America. However, given current public health concerns, there could be a potential 5% increase over the next five years.

Who is switching?

Although the trend’s long-term effects are still unknown, the data show a noticeable change in customer preferences:

  • Global Dumb Phone Sales: According to statistics by Counterpoint, dumb phone sales have witnessed a continuous increase, accounting for around 10% of all mobile phone sales worldwide.
  • Demographic Perspectives: Remarkably, elder folks seeking nostalgia are not the only ones embracing the dumb phone trend. According to Pew Research Center research, 17% of Americans between the ages of 18 and 29 own a basic phone, demonstrating the popularity of these devices among younger people.
  • Digital Detox Movement: To maintain a better balance between their personal and digital lives, a growing number of people are purposefully choosing to forgo smartphones as part of this trend. According to a Common Sense Media survey, 54% of American teenagers think they use their smartphones too frequently.

What are the mental health impacts of this trend?

Undoubtedly, a growing number of people are purchasing dumb phones—that is, less sophisticated, simpler phones—for a variety of reasons. The decrease in continual connectedness and digital overload is one of the trend’s main effects on mental health.

Having a dumb phone reduces the desire to continuously check emails, social media posts, and notifications—tasks that can exacerbate stress and anxiety. Alternatively, people should put more emphasis on interacting with others in person, living in the present, and taking part in activities that encourage relaxation and well-being.

Additionally, if you use a dumb phone, you may prevent the blurring of boundaries between your personal and professional life and help set healthier boundaries with technology. Individuals can establish a more balanced lifestyle and lower their risk of burnout and tiredness from continual digital stimulation by restricting their access to specific apps and services.

Dumb phones also frequently have simpler UI and longer battery lives, which reduces annoyance and distraction. Because they are less likely to feel the stress and irritability that come with navigating complicated smartphone features, users may feel more at ease and mindful.

The growing popularity of dumbphones reflects an increasing awareness of the importance of digital well-being and prioritizing mental health. In a society where communication technology is advancing rapidly, this trend emphasizes the need to prioritize mental well-being. People can regain control over their time and attention by cutting back on their technology use, which will increase their level of happiness and mental peace.

References +
  • Bello, C. (2023, June 26). What is a “dumb phone” and why are so many young people buying them? Euronews.
  • Mitchell, L. (2023, July 20). The rise of Dumb Phones: a unique marketing opportunity for insurance agents.
  • Mays, L. (2023, March 29). Dumb phones are on the rise in the U.S. as Gen Z looks to limit screen time. CNBC.
  • Sharma, P. (2024, March 12). 3 in 4 U.S. Teens Happier Without Their Smartphone: Survey [Video].

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