Call Me Maybe? Dumb Phones Are Having a Moment Thanks To Rise in Digital Detoxing

dumb phones

Do you ever always feel addicted to your phone? Tired of the scroll? Had enough with the notifications?

Dumb phones might be the move. Also known as feature or brick phones, dumb phones are mobile phones with limited functionalities, at least when compared to smartphones.

And they seem to be trending. According to Business Insider, “HMD Global, the maker of Nokia phones, said it sold tens of thousand of flip and slide “feature phones” β€” which include added capabilities like GPS or music storage β€” in the US in each month of 2022, despite sales of the devices being down globally.”

All of this is probably not a surprise. The impact of too much screen time has been well documented. And, according to 2023 data at Consumer Affairs, up to 57% of American adults describe themselves as being ‘addicted’ to their smart phones. Phone addiction could be defined as mindlessly scrolling through apps or surfing the web for extended periods, hiding or lying about your phone use, or experiencing anxiety when separated from your device, and allowing phone use to disrupt your productivity and social life, leading to isolation from loved ones. Additionally, experiencing withdrawal symptoms when trying to cut back on phone use or feeling phantom vibrations may also suggest an addiction.

Right, so what makes a dumb phone so appealing to someone who wants to detox from their addiction?

Here’s a breakdown of some of the key characteristics of dumb phones:

  • Physical Keypad: Unlike smartphones with touchscreens, dumb phones rely on physical buttons for navigation and input.
  • Basic Features: Their core functionalities revolve around calling, texting, and some may offer a camera, music player, and basic web browsing.
  • Limited Apps: They typically don’t have app stores or have very limited app selections compared to smartphones. While there are some phones where social media apps can be installed, it’s not a great environment for long term scroll.

Dumb Phones: Call it a Comeback

Dumb phones were the dominant mobile technology before the widespread adoption of smartphones in the late 2000s. Though they’ve maintained good sales in other parts of the world, they still hold and are growing a niche market in the U.S. due to several advantages:

  • πŸ’ͺ  Durability: Their simpler design often makes them more durable than smartphones and less susceptible to cracks or damage from drops.
  • πŸ”‹ Battery Life: Without the constant strain of running complex apps and features, dumb phones tend to have significantly longer battery life on a single charge.
  • πŸ’° Lower Cost: Dumb phones are generally much cheaper to purchase than smartphones, making them a budget-friendly option for those who only need basic phone functionality.
  • πŸ“΅ Digital Detox: As mentioned above, some people who find themselves spending excessive time on social media or other smartphone apps choose dumb phones as a way to digitally detox and simplify their lives. This is the current reason that’s helping take these phones to trend level.

A great example of the trend arrived last month as beer maker Heineken announced a promotional dumb phone campaign. The Boring Phone, manufactured by Nokia manufacturer HMD and limited to just 5,000 units, is a phone has no third-party apps and does not connect to Wifi. It’s designed to be boring, and encourage the user to socialize, rather than scroll on social media.


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Who Uses Dumb Phones?

While there aren’t definitive statistics on dumb phone usage, here are some groups who tend to favor them:

  • Senior Citizens: Some older adults may find the simpler interface and lack of complex features of dumb phones easier to navigate than smartphones.
  • Professionals Seeking Focus: People in professions that require uninterrupted focus may prefer a dumb phone to avoid distractions from social media and other smartphone notifications.
  • Budget-Conscious Users: For those who only need basic phone functionality and prioritize affordability, dumb phones remain a viable option.
  • Minimalists and Digital Detoxers: It’s hard to maximize screen time on a phone that’s designed to be boring.

Trending Dumb Phone Models for 2024

Here are some of the top brands and models of dumb phones that are popular in 2024, considering factors like user ratings, availability, and features…

Classic Revivals:

  • Nokia 2720 Flip: This flip phone from Nokia offers a familiar design with large buttons, making it user-friendly for people of all ages. It boasts a long battery life, VGA camera, and comes pre-loaded with some basic apps like Facebook, YouTube, and WhatsApp.
  • Nokia 6300: Another Nokia model, the 6300 caters to those seeking a slightly more feature-rich dumb phone. It includes features like YouTube, Facebook, an MP3 player, and even a hotspot capability, while still maintaining a user-friendly interface and long battery life.

Durability Focused:

  • Kyocera DuraXV Extreme E4810: Known for its incredibly rugged design, the Kyocera DuraXV Extreme E4810 is built to withstand harsh conditions. It’s dustproof, waterproof, and even meets military-grade standards for shock resistance. Perfect for those who need a phone that can handle anything life throws at it. This Kyocera flip boasts a MIL-STD-810G rating for shock and dust resistance. It’s perfect for users who need a reliable phone that can withstand tough conditions.
  • Cat S22 Flip: Another strong contender in the durability department is the Cat S22 Flip. This flip phone is waterproof, dustproof, and built to withstand drops. It also packs a long-lasting battery and a walkie-talkie feature, making it ideal for construction workers or outdoor enthusiasts.

Modern Simplicity:

  • Light Phone II: Another option for those seeking a simpler phone experience, the Light Phone II allows calls, texts, and has an alarm clock. It also offers the option to add functionality through modules for music, navigation, or payments, allowing for some level of customization while prioritizing a non-distracting experience.

The Dept’s Picks For the Best In Class

Overall Best Dumb Phone:

  • Nokia 2780 Flip: This flip phone from Nokia offers a good balance of features and affordability. It boasts a clear display, long battery life, a basic camera, and even supports essentials like Wi-Fi and an FM radio. It’s a user-friendly option from a well-known brand.

Best Budget Dumb Phone:

  • Nokia 110 4G: This is a no-frills phone from Nokia ideal for those seeking a basic calling and texting device at an unbeatable price. It’s known for its long battery life and durable build.

Best Designed Dumb Phone for a Digital Detox:

  • Punkt. MP02: This minimalist phone from Punkt prioritizes aesthetics and a distraction-free user experience. It features a sleek design, high-quality materials, and focuses on calling, texting, and basic essentials like an alarm and calendar. It’s a great option for those seeking a phone that complements their style and promotes a more mindful digital life. While it lacks features like a camera or internet browsing, it offers a refreshing alternative for those seeking a digital detox.

Best Phone For Seniors:

  • Doro 6620: Designed for seniors, the Doro 6620 features a large screen, easy-to-use interface, and an emergency response button. It also offers basic camera functionality and hearing aid compatibility.

And.. This Could Be Great:

Techless’ Wisephone II is coming soon. It looks sleek and a good hybrid between a smartphone and dumb phone for users who aren’t ready to fully go Nokia-level feature phone.


Remember, the best dumb phone will be the one that suits your specific needs and priorities. Consider factors like durability, battery life, features, and budget when making your choice.

And of course, if you want to move to a dumb phone, it can be an experiment. Your SIM card can move back and forth between your smart and dumb units, so you can give it a try for a short time, or go all-in if you find it suits you.

What do you think – are you ready for less apps, less notification, and less scrolling? Let us know in the comments.


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