While it doesn’t seem like that long ago, that smartphones were simply nice to have luxury items. These days they feel like a virtual necessity. So much so that over 80% of American adults owns a smartphone.
Although many of you would probably feel pretty crippled if you had to go about your day without your maps and your calendar, older-style feature phones or “dumb phones” have experienced a surge in popularity recently.
But why? I mean it seems like you can’t even pour yourself a glass of juice these days, without firing up the appropriate app. Well, before we can explain, we need to define a “dumb phone”. It’s a mobile phone without full-fledged internet capabilities. No general-purpose web browsing, no social media, no high-res and video playback. While you can obviously call people, even texting often has to be done through the old t9 system. Where you have to mash the number keys to get the corresponding letters. As for why anyone would want to use such a cut-down device, given the affordability of ones that do so much more well.
Smartphone burnout is a real phenomenon. A recent survey showing that 40% of people in Britain feel like they spend too much time on their smartphones. In fact, the average person apparently checks their social media notifications about once every 12 minutes. Leaving many people feeling like they’re addicted to their gadgets and it kind of makes sense that people would burn out. I mean, think of the barrage of notifications. Many of them extraneous that you’re hit with every day and the never-ending flow of information. Not to mention negativity online and on social media.
Some celebrities even have been seen using flip phones again. Helping to make going back to dumb phones, a small but noticeable trend. And even if you’re not experiencing smartphone burnout with their simplicity and longer battery life, dumb phones are becoming increasingly popular as a secondary device, rather than as a replacement for a smart phone. For when people want just feel like disconnecting for a while. But still having something that can send calls and texts in an emergency just without the distraction of full internet connectivity.
While the classic flip phones are still available from mobile carriers, a third class of device is also trying to help people unplug. Minimalist phones are trying to bridge the gap between the dumb phones of yesterday and the do-it-all smart phones of today. Gadgets like The Light Phone and the Punkt MPO2 aren’t dumb phones in the sense that they’re basically the same devices that we were using 15 years ago. They have 4G and Wi-Fi capabilities. Which makes them useful for tethering to a laptop. For example, if you really need to get something done. But what you can do on the devices themselves is intentionally limited.
The light phone uses Android, but you don’t get access to tons of apps. Instead, the team behind it is trying to make custom versions of apps that don’t have as many options. Notifications are very unintuitive. There’s no web browser or social media and no photo messaging.
As for the aforementioned Punkt MPO2, it has a physical dial pad with a complete text on the interface. So you won’t see any icons wraps or notifications. The thing with these phones is that while their prices are higher than some people would like, probably because of their small production runs, unsurprisingly, both of them are significantly cheaper than most smartphones. So they could be interesting choices if you’ve gotten super tired of modern life. But not so much so that you’re ready to go live in the woods and communicate only with smoke signals.