Home Tech The ‘boring phone’: Stressed out Gen Z ditches smartphones for dumb phones

The ‘boring phone’: Stressed out Gen Z ditches smartphones for dumb phones

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The 'boring phone': Stressed out Gen Z ditches smartphones for dumb phones

It’s almost enough to make you stop doomscrolling: boring devices are now cool.

The Boring Phone is a new featureless flip phone that’s feeding the growing appetite of younger people who want to ditch their smartphones in favor of a dumb phone.

The latest model is a collaboration between Heineken beer and fashion retailer Bodega, and caused a storm when it was unveiled this month at Milan design week, the place where the world’s designers anoint trends. The Boring Phone is part of a new boom in dumb phones, built on Gen Z’s suspicion of the data-collecting and attention-grabbing technologies they’ve grown up with. That suspicion has fueled reinventions of retro cultural artifacts – a trend known as Newtro – and has been seen in the resurgence of vinyl records, cassettes, fanzines, 8-bit video games and old-fashioned mobile phones.

“I always hated being available to everyone,” Rana Ali said. The 29-year-old former finance worker, who is now a music producer and rapper like Surya Sen, added: “The idea that if you WhatsApp someone and they don’t respond immediately, then something is wrong. “I’ve had periods where I’ve had a smartphone, but I always go back to having a burner phone.”

Nostalgia for the Nokia 3310, the “brick” phone with seemingly eternal battery life, fueled its relaunch in 2017, but the boom really began in the US last year and, ironically, was fueled by posts from TikTokers under the hashtag #bringbackflipphones. HMD, which was behind Nokia’s relaunch, doubled sales of its foldable phones in April 2023, while Punkt, which prefers to call them feature phones or minimalist phones, also saw substantial sales increases.

The Boring Phone is a retro flip phone that prides itself on having minimal features.

But Apple and Samsung are not threatened yet, according to Mintel. Nine out of 10 phones are smartphones and dumb phones remain niche, said Joe Birch, a technology analyst at the research firm.
“However, there is evidence that this generation is changing their smartphone behavior, which is driven by concerns about the negative impacts of being constantly digitally connected,” Birch added. “Three in five members of Generation Z say they would like to be less connected to the digital world, for example.”

This move toward digital or offline minimalism is also seen in Gen Z’s declining use of social media. They are the only generation whose time on social media has decreased since 2021, according to GWI, another research company. , although older people are also digitally detoxing, including Lars Silberbauer, marketing director at HMD. “For the first four hours, you feel a little anxious,” he said. “But suddenly you start to focus and go back to the behaviors you used to do.”

Twenty-somethings are also more concerned about privacy, according to technology analyst Portulans Institute, on an Internet that can seem more like a surveillance tool for brands, governments and scammers than a place to pursue interests and find interesting people.

Older technologies can create more freedom: Sampling hip-hop and dance music has become nearly impossible for emerging artists, as Spotify or YouTube algorithms will detect unauthorized samples and prevent tracks from being uploaded. But an underground artist can press 500 EPs on vinyl and sell them to DJs and fans without difficulty.

The problem with offline is that the world is increasingly difficult for people without a smartphone. There are 2.4 million households in the UK that cannot afford a mobile phone contract and 2 million young people who do not have access to a learning device, said Hannah Whelan, coordinator of the Data Poverty Lab at the charity Good Things. Foundation. “Most essential services are now online: education, healthcare, universal credit,” she said. People who can’t scan a QR code to fill out a form or order food are at least at a disadvantage, and some systems require it.

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The Luddite Club, a group of New York schoolchildren who announced in December 2022 that they would give up their iPhones in favor of flip phones, would still need their smartphones, said Petter Neby, founder of Punkt. “It’s impossible,” he said. “There is talk in UK schools about banning smartphones, but there is a school system that relies on online activity, for scheduling and doing homework. I would love to ban my kids from smartphones, but it’s a much deeper issue. “We need to have a balance.”

Piers Garrett, a 27-year-old technology sales executive, tried to strike that balance by purchasing a Light Phone (a device that uses the same electronic ink used for e-readers and has no apps) but eventually gave up.

“The idea was amazing, but it only lasted six months,” he said. “Everyone communicates via WhatsApp. So now I have a happy medium. I am very strict with my apps, only banking apps and train apps, and I turn off all my notifications. Now when I get up in the morning, I do things for myself: I have coffee, I read a book. And I noticed the change: much more clarity in my mind.”

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