Why are flip phones coming back? Gen Z is powering a renaissance for the forgotten device

More than anything, what kicked off the current era of thinking about work-life balance and disconnecting is likely the smartphone. Before you could be reached at virtually all hours of the day, disconnecting from a job was easy ― you just left, more or less. Smartphone era? Good luck.

Among those quiet-quitting Gen Zers, a recent trend is trying to reverse course: the re-adoption of the flip phone and other non-smart “dumb phones.”

“​​These devices are experiencing a renaissance as budget second phones,” reads a recent Wall Street Journal piece about the trend, “allowing you to detach from constant notifications and the lure of infinite scroll, without losing the ability to send texts and make calls in an emergency.”

Certified trend or flash in the pan? According to the WSJ, sales in the dumb phone category are rising across various demographics. HMD Global, one of the main producers of dumb phones in today’s sector, reported that sales increased for these phones in 2022; when asked about it, their head of marketing Lars Silberbaur replied, “It’s not a small trend.”

Depending on your view, it may sound like a nice digital detox or analog agony. You may be interested, though, in the productivity gains.

“The dumb phone movement argues that using these pared-down devices can enhance focus and productivity,” writes technologist Kyle Humphrey.

“With fewer distractions, people are able to concentrate on tasks at hand and be more present in their daily lives,” he continued. “Business leaders like Arianna Huffington, who has spoken about her decision to use a dumb phone, claim that these devices have made them more efficient and successful in their professional lives.”

Content written by Kieran Delamont for Worklife, a partnership between Ahria Consulting and London Inc. To view this content in newsletter form, click here.