We explain why “deaf phones” are back in fashion

In Israel, at the beginning of 2022, imports will dumbphones, literally “stupid phones”, the Nokia brand recorded a 200% increase in sales compared to last year. In France, in 2021, 18% of people equipped with a mobile will choose it unintentionally. In the United Kingdom, one in ten phone owners has chosen a “feature phone”, another name for these mobile phones used only for calling …

There are many ways to explain this movement-low cost of purchase, durability, desire to get away from the screens after a pandemic that has led to many living online… But the market for dumbphones the slope rose, before the health crisis associated with Covid-19: from 400 million units in 2019, it almost doubled in 2020, with 735 million worldwide sales. A study by Counterpoint predicts one billion sales for 2021, which is in line with the figures available today – Statista estimates the market size to be worth 9.52 billion euros by 2022.

Nostalgia and the search for disconnection

Since their replacement of smartphones, the first unique peak of love for classic phones dates from 2017. That year, Nokia released a new version of its famous 3310, with a T9 keyboard, small larger screen than in the early 2000s, removable battery… and Snake, of course. Nostalgia for the pre-iPhone and Android era is in full swing: Google searches for phones without internet are in full swing. After all, the Finnish manufacturer is already trying to surf consumers ’desire for“ digital detox ”-in 2016, a study showed that 90% of smartphone owners were victims of the phenomenon of phantom vibrations , convincing them that their phone was vibrating. for no reason.

Since then, the problem has only grown: on average, by 2021, people will spend 4 hours and 48 minutes on their phones per day. Hence the offerings of preventative tools doomscroller (refreshing your networks non-stop, even if it hurts you) has increased, sometimes for prices close to smartphones. Design and minimalist, the Light Phone retails for 300 euros. The Punkt MP02, which doesn’t even offer GPS, but has a note -taking application, is available for 329 euros. What is the interest of the 21% of French who declare themselves unable to do without their phone? Unsure, describes youtubeur Cyrus North, because switching to an offline device could create new problems – slowing down online purchases, for example, as more and more banks use their mobile applications to authenticate the Internet user. And then, the time spent on smartphones is less because of the phone what we do there: hanging out on networks or applications that are, for the most part, fully accessible from a computer.

Accessibility, monitoring … ecology?

No, the real reason for the increase in sales feature phones are elsewhere: at their very low price. We’re talking more “premium” offerings, which are a bit cartoonish, but most of these things are available at a short price. A model like the Nokia 150, for example, sells for 25 euros, a price that is more suited to populations in developing countries than smartphones. This explains why market growth is largely driven by Africa, the Middle East and Asia. In contrast to Western issues, feature phones In some cases, they have even become the first access to their Internet users: in India, the Reliance Jiio company has built “smart basic telephones” that provide access to applications tailored to low-memory devices. telephones.

The opposite concern is security. In Israel, the purchase of disconnected phones jumped after the Pegasus movement, dubbed the spyware found on the phones of ministers, activists and journalists around the world. This jump could be explained by the absence of networks such as WhatsApp, Facebook or Instagram, which are known to collect user data for advertising purposes, suggests the Times of Israel. But SMS, the only means of written communication from a standard telephone, is far from recognizing their security.

The last argument that likely explains the renewed interest in these things is nature. Not just the feature phones more robust than smartphones-didn’t we talk about the “refrigerator” twenty years ago? But the life of their batteries is longer, which is especially useful in areas where the power supply is uncertain. In short, while it remains a very small minority in the global market for mobile phones, the dumbphone seems to be the ideal candidate for anyone who wants an easy-to-use tool, which is unlikely to be distracted from notifications, economical and robust.

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