It seems that feature phones also called “dumb phones” are headed for a glorious comeback as people are reportedly sick of smartphones. A Counterpoint report suggests that people are many people are turning away from feature-rich smartphones to avoid all the stress coming from smartphone and social media consumption. The smartphone vs. feature phone debate seems to only gain more relevancy with the latter getting an increased number of users.
The idea of carrying a feature phone that has no bells and whistles may be puzzling to many but not everyone cherishes the idea of keeping a “daily driver” with all the advanced technologies. Modern cellular phones do not only come for the basic call and SMS. Modern smartphones even come with specs like 24 GB RAM, 5G, eSIM, and two-way satellite communication among others. Future smartphones will also be capable of Generative AI. Mobile communication technologies have evolved in leaps and bounds from 2G, 3G, and 4G, to 5G. But maybe there is a flip side.
A new Counterpoint report suggests that the “neglected” feature phones are indeed gaining prominence.
The report has it that in the US, feature phones are growing in popularity. Affordability and e-waste concerns are some of driving the sales of these dumb phones replaced by advanced SoC-powered handsets. But many Zen Z and Millennials’ preferences for digital detoxes are making the feature phones popular again. You may have been worried about the radiation from your cell phone harming you, but the way of earning well-being seems to come from refraining from tech gadgets too.
What is digital detox?
Digital Detox refers to a period during which a person completely forsakes electronic devices such as smartphones, laptops/computers, tablets, etc. The exclusion of social media also applies here. You may have heard of the term digital nomad. It’s a person who travels around places but remains connected to the internet and uses electronic gadgets. Digital Detox is the complete opposite scenario.
The question may beg itself. Why are people ignoring feature-rich gadgets then?
Feature phones making a comeback as people want an escape
As people become more tech-reliant, it also has resulted in many unhygienic factors such as anxiety, stress, obsession/addiction, sleep deprivation, etc. Due to social media, many suffer from low self-esteem, and the never-ending desire to look or be like their idols. Feature phones provide an easy escape from all these and set us back to the more modest and straightforward world.
Back to the feature phone resurgence! In the US, feature phones still have a slim market presence but are nevertheless growing. Counterpoint expects feature phone shipments to reach 2.8 million in 2023. TCL and HMD are the two leading feature phone OEMs with 43% and 26% market share respectively.
Sonim, Kyocera, Schok, and Tinno are other phone makers too which are selling the “almost forgotten phones.” It’s safe to say that in the time of a hyperconnected world, smartphones are here to only grow more powerful but even in the home country of iPhones, many prefer feature phones.
Feature phones in Nepal
Feature phones enjoy a significant market share in Nepal. Many use it as an alternative or for the need to use a separate SIM card. And just like in the US and elsewhere, many Nepalese also use it for an escape from all the tech noises and notifications persistent on smartphones. Their affordability also plays a driving role here however, the government’s policy has increased the price of feature phones in FY 2080/81 even lthough, it’s nothing in comparison to the costs of their counterparts.
Do you use a feature phone? Is it for the need for a digital detox or to use multiple numbers? You can share your general idea of using a feature or bar phone in our comment section below.
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