April 11, 2023
DHAKA – In recent years, there has been a surprising resurgence in the popularity of “dumb phones,” also known as feature phones. While smartphones have dominated the mobile phone market for over a decade, a growing number of people, particularly Generation Z, are looking to cut back on screen time and are turning to these simpler devices.
According to recent data, smartphone sales in the United States have been on the decline. In 2022, sales of smartphones dropped by nearly 20% compared to the previous year, marking the third consecutive year of decline. According to Counterpoint Research, in Bangladesh too smartphone shipments saw a 23.5% YoY decline in 2022. While there are a number of factors that could be contributing to this trend, including the saturation of the smartphone market, the rising cost of these devices, and the overall high inflation rate, it is clear that many consumers are looking for alternatives.
One of the most notable alternatives is the feature phone. These devices are often smaller and more affordable than smartphones and offer basic functions such as texting, calling, and maybe some basic internet connectivity. They are also known for their long battery life, which can last for days or even weeks without needing to be recharged.
But why are feature phones becoming popular again? An important reason is that people are becoming increasingly aware of the negative effects of smartphone addiction, such as anxiety, stress, and social isolation. Feature phones provide a way for people to disconnect from constant notifications and distractions and focus on the present moment.
For many, it is simply a matter of wanting to disconnect from the constant barrage of notifications. By switching to a feature phone, they can still stay connected with friends and family, but without the constant temptation to check social media or browse the internet.
This trend is not limited to the United States, either. In countries around the world, from Japan to Brazil, there has been a growing interest in feature phones. Some companies are even releasing new models of these devices to meet the demand. With sales up 150% from 2020 to 2021, American feature phone manufacturer Light Phone recently reported its strongest financial year.
Rafid Shadman, a final-year student at Brac University has been using a Nokia 105 for the last two years now. “I value the ability to disconnect from technology and focus on the present moment. With a feature phone, I am not constantly bombarded with notifications and distractions. Instead, I can simply make phone calls and send text messages without the temptation to check social media or browse the internet,” he shares.
“I also appreciate the simplicity and reliability of feature phones. They are smaller, lighter, and more affordable than smartphones, making them easy to carry around and less likely to be damaged or lost. They also have a longer battery life, which means that I don’t have to worry about constantly charging my phone.”
Of course, it is unlikely that feature phones will ever completely replace smartphones. There are simply too many functions and conveniences that we have come to rely on, from GPS navigation to mobile banking. But for those who are looking for a simpler, less distracting way to stay connected, feature phones offer an appealing alternative.
As our relationship with technology continues to evolve, it will be interesting to see how this trend develops. Will we see more people switching to feature phones in the coming years, or will the convenience of smartphones continue to hold sway? Only time will tell.