Dumb phones are on the rise in the U.S. as Gen Z looks to limit screen time
Dumb phones may be falling out of fashion on a global scale, but it’s a different story in the U.S.
Companies like HMD Global, the maker of Nokia phones, continue to sell millions of mobile devices similar to those used in the early 2000s. This includes what’s known as “feature phones” — traditional flip or slide phones that have additional features like GPS or a hotspot.
“I think you can see it with certain Gen Z populations — they’re tired of the screens,” said Jose Briones, dumb phone influencer and moderator of the subreddit, “r/dumbphones.” “They don’t know what is going on with mental health and they’re trying to make cutbacks.”
In the U.S., feature flip phone sales were up in 2022 for HMD Global, with tens of thousands sold each month. At the same time, HMD’s global feature phone sales were down, according to the company.
In 2022, almost 80% of feature phone sales in 2022 came from the Middle East, Africa and India, according to Counterpoint Research. But some see that number shifting, as a contingency of young people in the U.S. revert back to dumb or minimalist phones.
“In North America, the market for dumb phones is pretty much flatlined,” said Moorhead. “But I could see it getting up to 5% increase in the next five years if nothing else, based on the public health concerns that are out there.”
Companies like Punkt and Light are catering to the trend, selling devices geared toward those with a desire to spend less time on their phones and social media. On YouTube, you will find a slew of influencers touting these phones.
“What we’re trying to do with the Light phone isn’t to create a dumb phone, but to create a more intentional phone — a premium, minimal phone — which isn’t inherently anti-technology,” said Joe Hollier, co-founder of Light. “But it’s about consciously choosing how and when to use which aspects of technology that add to my quality of life.”
Watch the video to get a look at the dumb phones that may have a promising future in the U.S.