While smartphones are getting ever more desperate to stand out with a comical number of camera lenses and features nobody really cares about, consumers are quietly moving towards something simpler. 

That’s according to a Wall Street Journal report, which claims that Gen Z types are “snapping up flip phones” — the kind with number keys, rather than fancy folding screens.

If you’re not fluent in the letters allocated to each generation, Gen Z covers those born from the mid-to-late 90s all the way up to the early 2010s. Personally, as someone rapidly approaching 40, I prefer the term ‘young flibbertigibbets’, but the point is that they’re aged between ten and 28. 

Nokia sells “tens of thousands” of old-school flip phones in the US every month, according to a company spokesperson quoted in the report. And while that may be a drop in the ocean for a country with a population of nearly 350 million, it’s not insignificant.

For the aforementioned flibbertigibbets, dumbphones aren’t typically to replace their smart brethren. Rather they’re to use when they don’t want to constant pinging of notifications and the temptation of distraction. They’re so cheap — often under NZ$100 — that there’s no real harm in having one on standby.

“We were talking about how we [felt] like slaves to our phones, like robots who keep scrolling and scrolling, even when we’re out at parties,” the 18-year-old TikToker and student Sammy Palazzolo told the paper. 

While modern dumbphones — or ‘feature phones’, as they’re less pejoratively known — aren’t as basic as they look, they’re still nowhere near as distracting. 

Some have 4G, web browsers and half-decent cameras. But the awkwardness of using them without a touchscreen is a significant enough hurdle that the features are really only something you’d want to use as a last resort. No mindlessly scrolling Twitter, here.

As someone who lived through the dumb phone era, it’s not really something I want to go back to. Yes, the battery life was phenomenal and they could survive pretty much any drop, but as someone who refuses to use text speak, nothing sounds worse than returning to the bad old days of painfully composing messages with a number pad. Thx, but no thx.

Photo: Mingwei Lim / Unsplash