Not so smartphone


The ‘dumb’ retro phones that people are ditching iPhones and Androids for.

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Useful Vocabulary

peanuts: slang for very little money, much less than the real value

landline: a conventional telecommunications connection by cable laid across land

sleek: well designed and elegant

clunky: solid, heavy and old-fashioned

device: an object or a machine designed for a specific purpose

noughties: the period of years between 00 and 10 in any century, usually 2000–2010

doom scroll: the activity of spending a lot of time looking at your phone or computer and reading bad or negative news stories

old flame: someone with whom you once had a romantic relationship

Listen to the audio and read the text.

Not so smartphone

I was nineteen years old when I got my first mobile phone. My friend wanted a new phone and sold me his phone for peanuts. Otherwise I wouldn’t have bought a phone when I did. I literally had no interest. 

I was at college and living away from home so I though it might be handy to have a phone in case of an emergency. However, I treated my new mobile, which was marketed at the time as small enough to hold between your index finger at the top and thumb at the bottom, as a landline. It never left the house. Different times.

Nowadays, people are rebelling against the sleek smartphone, in favour of their clunky predecessors. These ‘dumb’ phones are, in fact, becoming trendy. The brick-like Nokia is once again in vogue. 

Nokia recently announced that it was starting to regain portions of the mobile phone market last year. The former fan-favourite phone brand has bowed to the popularity of Apple’s iPhones and Google Android devices in recent years.

But a trend is gaining momentum among the smartphone generation—the people who have mostly only known touch-screen devices with access to a whole library of apps. Now, a growing community of people are swapping out their devices for simpler brick and flip phones.

The popularity of 90s and noughties fashion has teens and young adults across the globe alive to how people’s relationship with technology has changed since ‘the good old days’ – before the dawn of the smartphone. The days when you didn’t get FOMO (fear of missing out) through social media apps, or become locked in a so-called ‘doom scroll’. The impacts smartphones and social media have had on mental health has helped drive the movement. 

Some are calling it a ‘dopamine diet’. This is where they try and limit their smartphone consumption after becoming addicted to features that grant users quick bursts of —the brain’s happy chemicals—such as social media or games.

Meanwhile, others are introducing ‘dumb’ phones into their lives to be more present in the ‘real world’. 

One TikTok user, @skzzolno, said she and her friends have all adopted flip phones to use when they are going out to bars and clubs. They are then armed with only each other’s numbers and emergency contacts, no social media and retro cameras. This helps to avoid drunken calls to old flames, embarrassing social media posts and unflattering pictures and videos in high-definition.

Adapted from this article by ECP coach Darren Lynch

Let’s chat about that

  1. How old were you when you got your first mobile phone? What phone did you get?
  2. Do do think mobile phones have more pros than cons? Give reasons for your answer.
  3. Would you consider changing to a retro style phone? Why/not?
  4. What feature of your current mobile phone do you like most?
  5. What’s your favourite app? Explain why you like it.
  6. What do you think mobile phones will look like in the future?