Driven to Distraction? Enter The Dumbphone

My grandfather calls smartphones ‘thickphones’, and thinks it’s very funny. But he’s not joking. He is firm of the opinion that perpetual engagement with mobile media is making people more stupid – less able to interact with the world around them.

Whether he’s right or whether he’s just a cranky old man, he’s not the only one who’s dubious about what smartphones are doing to society. Increasingly, some are choosing to opt out of the smartphone revolution. But it’s not easy to exist in modern society without a mobile of some kind. The world has changed. We’re now at a point where, if you’re not immediately contactable at any point in the day, you’re liable to miss out on an awful lot (including really important things, like jobs!). A compromise is needed between the hyper-connected buzz of the smartphone and the deafening silence of the phone-free life. Enter the ‘dumbphone’.


What is a dumbphone?

Basically, it’s a throwback to the mobiles of the late nineties and early noughties. Dumbphones can make calls and send texts but in most cases, they won’t download the billions of apps, bells and whistles smartphones offer. There’s no social media, no Candy Crush, no selfie filters…and no shortage of buyers either. Part of the appeal of a dumphone is the nostalgia associated with them – a throwback to when simply carrying a mobile telephone and writing text messages revolutionised how we were able to instantly communicate.

Last year, Apple reported a drop in iPhone sales. Sales of ‘dumbphones’ however, have remained pretty consistent for the last few years and have found a niche. They’re bought by various demographics for a variety of reasons but there are a few key dumphone consumers.



People worried about addiction

Smartphone addiction is a matter of growing concern in the UK. People who fear the consequences of smartphone overuse are increasingly turning to dumbphones in order to stay connected without getting ‘sucked in’.

People suffering from stress

The hyper-connected nature of the modern world is taking a toll on the emotional health of some. An easy way to rectify this is to disconnect from your phone. People with dumbphones find themselves without the option of reaching for their phones when they’re bored. They’re forced to re-learn the art of patience and to engage instead with the world around them. All of which apparently, increases ‘mindfulness’ and reduces stress.

Older people

Older people who simply can’t get to grips with modern smartphone technology remain the main consumers of dumbphones. But younger people are taking them up in growing numbers.

People looking for less distraction

It’s fair to say, an increasing number of people don’t want anything more from their phone other than to make a call or text. They want to be less distracted from the pull of mobile phone activities and are looking for a paired back device.

Manufacturers are also cottoning on to the phenomenon. The return of the updated Nokia 3310 is creating a bit of a buzz. Some are putting out new dumbphone models – phones which won’t (in most cases) download social media apps and the like, but which can (unlike older models) store plenty of texts and contacts. Many are also email enabled, to allow people to engage in their work without the distraction of media apps.

Is this a trend which will take off? In our social media-saturated world, it seems a little unlikely. However, there is a growing movement to shun hyper-connectivity and return to a simpler mode of being. Dumbphones facilitate this without requiring people to totally abandon modernity!


More on dumbphones from the web

This Is What It Is Like To Not Own A Smart Phone in 2018

The 8 Best UK Basic Cell Phones

More from Solo Living

VPN’s When You’re On The Move

How To Stay Online When Travelling


Written by
Sarah Myers
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