'Dumb Phones' May Be on The Rise

John Lister's picture

A new Nokia flip phone offers no tech features beyond SMS text messaging and a basic phone service. It's part of a supposed trend away from smartphones, though analysts are divided on how significant that trend is and what's causing it.

The Nokia 2660 Flip is made by HMD, which has licensed the Nokia brand for the phone. It's expected to retail for as little as $60 in the US. It does nothing other than make voice calls (but not VOIP such as Skype), send and receive messages and take photos on a single camera.

It resembles late-90s Nokia cellphones, though is missing the much-loved Snake game. It does have a Bluetooth connection though it's used solely for wireless headphones.

Data Dubious

The big question is whether this is just a nostalgia grab or a sign of rising popularity for bare-bones phones that don't have Internet access or any smart features. Both the Wall Street Journal and BBC have reported claims of a trend, though the figures behind them aren't that solid.

Nokia reportedly claims to be selling "tens of thousands" of flip phones. One in ten people who own a cellphone in the UK say they have a "dumb phone" model. And a research company claims global sales of such devices may have risen from 400 million in 2019 to one billion last year. (Source: bbc.co.uk)

Much of the analysis has concentrated on buyers in relatively wealthy nations, with an emphasis on users making a deliberate choice to have a "digital detox" while still being contactable in an emergency. (Source: wsj.com)

Global Picture

However, it also appears that many of the devices are in fact second handsets owned by people who have a modern smartphone but don't want to carry it in every situation. For example, people going to the beach or engaging in physical activity may not want to risk carrying an expensive handset.

There's also a very strong possibility that the bulk of the global sales are to people in countries where incomes aren't high enough to make smartphones affordable, or where data services are either unavailable or unaffordable, making an Internet-connected handset of little use.

What's Your Opinion?

Would you consider buying a basic cellphone with no apps or Internet connection? Do you believe there's a trend towards such devices? If so, what do you think is causing it?

| Tags:
Rate this article: 
Average: 5 (7 votes)


Dennis Faas's picture

I would never go back to a dumb phone strictly because 99.99% of all phone calls I receive are scam calls. I have an app on my Android phone (called "Kitetech Call Blocker") that forces any incoming call to voicemail if the caller isn't registered as a contact on my phone. This blocks 99.99% of all spam / scam calls. Good luck doing that on a dumb phone.

I should also mention that I rarely ever use my phone to make phone calls because everyone I know texts me (and vice versa) using SMS or an app (WhatsApp, Signal, Messenger, etc).

If I do make a phone call it's usually through an app so I don't have to pay for it on my call plan. I only pay $15 a month for 250mb of data and 100 minutes of talk. It's all I need since I'm sitting in front of the computer all day long and have access to WiFi. Even when I'm out I use WiFi whenever I can because it's usually available.

The link to the call blocker app is here:


kitekrazy's picture

I was surprised the amount of tech people preferring this for work only.

Chuckster's picture

Oftentimes I wish I had one to avoid all the tech BS and apps on a smartphone. The other option is to use it to avoid GPS tracking by every site or app on the phone. I'll just copy Gibbs on NCIS......., less hassle. Grocery stores want you to use their app to order groceries, ads for digital deals, and more. I can drive to the store, buy em, and be home before I finish wading through the grocery site looking for what I want to order.

russoule's picture

my kid goes to boarding school and as a result, I can no longer limit his access via the "smart" phone, conveniently. the only reason he requires a phone is to call home. so a "dumb" phone at a fairly low price sounds good to me. I had hm on a TracPhone, but he broke that within a week, so a $60 replacement cost sounds pretty good too. of course, that replacement had to wait a month or two as an objuect lesson, lol.

as an aside, the school has determined that THE SCHOOL will provide cells to the students in order to control IT access and apps. we'll see how that turns out.