Gen Z turns to dumb phones as a way to reduce screen time in the U.S.

In recent years, there has been a growing trend in the U.S. among Gen Z and others to ditch their smartphones and instead use “dumb phones” or minimalist devices. This is a shift away from the norm in the global mobile phone market, where smartphones dominate.

Despite this, companies like HMD Global, the maker of Nokia phones, continue to sell millions of feature phones that are similar to those used in the early 2000s. These feature phones include traditional flip or slide phones with basic functionality like calling and texting, as well as some additional features like GPS or a hotspot. In 2022, almost 80% of feature phone sales came from the Middle East, Africa, and India, according to Counterpoint Research. However, there is a growing number of young people in the U.S. who are turning to dumb or minimalist phones.

One company leading the way in this space is Light. The company’s co-founder, Joe Hollier, describes the Light phone as a “more intentional phone” rather than a “dumb phone.” He explains that it’s a premium, minimalist device that is not inherently anti-technology but instead allows users to consciously choose how and when to use certain aspects of technology that add to their quality of life.

The Light phone is designed to be a secondary device for those who want to limit their screen time and simplify their lives. It’s a small device with a simple interface that only allows for basic features like calling, texting, and alarm clocks. The phone also has an e-ink display that’s easy on the eyes and extends battery life.

Other companies are also tapping into the demand for minimalist devices. Mudita, a company based in Europe, is set to release a minimalist phone with features like a music player and meditation timer. Another company, Punkt, offers a minimalist phone that only allows for calls, texts, and alarms.

The rise of dumb phones and minimalist devices can be attributed to several factors. Many users are becoming increasingly aware of the negative effects of smartphone addiction, such as social media addiction and the constant need to check notifications. Others are concerned about data privacy and the amount of personal information that’s collected by smartphones. Some people are also looking for a way to simplify their lives and reduce distractions.

As more people turn to minimalist phones, it’s likely that the market will continue to grow. However, it remains to be seen if these devices will become a mainstream alternative to smartphones or if they’ll remain a niche product for those seeking a simpler lifestyle.