Gen Z loves the flip phone

Gen Z loves the flip phone


new York
CNN

First, they were disposable cameras. Then there were low rise jeans. Now, Gen-Z’s latest “vintage” obsession is the flip phone — that mid-1990s-era phone that’s suddenly become so popular with millennials.

Today, these smaller, lighter devices — some available for as little as $20 at major retailers like Walmart and Amazon — appear in TikTok videos of young people unfurling them, rocking their cases just like previous generations did and filming tutorials on making them. a carefree aesthetic, blurred by the low quality camera.

But most importantly, they like the ability to disconnect – or as much as possible in 2023.

“I’m team flip phone revolution,” singer Camila Cabello tweeted Thursday, posing with a TCL flip phone, epoch. “Maybe I can write the theme song.”

Actress Dove Cameron, who rose to fame on Disney Channel’s “Liv and Maddie,” said in an interview in November that she switched to a flip phone. Spending too much time on the phone and looking at social media “is really bad for me,” she said.

“I found a little Matrix-y flip phone from the ’90s,” Cameron said. “I got a separate number for it, it’s very cheap and I think probably very stupid.”

Cameron said she unplugged and changed because she found her social media presence “misleading.” The feeling is predominant among Gen Zers – and them the impact was linked to an adolescent mental health crisis.

As smartphones and social media became more ubiquitous around 2012, so did the rate of depression among teenagers, psychologists say. Between 2004 and 2019, the rate of teen depression nearly doubled, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, which is part of the US Department of Health and Human Services.

Sammy Palazzolo, 18, a freshman at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, has a new routine with his phone when he’s out with friends at night.

She and her friends listen to the latest music on their smart phones while getting ready. Then, when it’s time to go, they leave those smart devices behind.

Instead, they only contact each other via flip phones throughout the night and take pictures of themselves, despite the now primitive camera. Their devices are a great conversation starter.

“At parties, people will be like, ‘Oh my god, is that a flip phone?'” Palazzolo said. “We get to talk to some new people, meet some people, and everyone loves it.”

Reagan Boeder, 18, said she tries to bring her fraternity sisters into the trend.

“I think people are going to go out more and more with flip phones just because it’s so fun and nostalgic and, frankly, a vibe.” Boeder said.

Before switching phones, Palazzolo found that her nights in her college town often ended in tears from an unwanted. post on social media or a text from an ex, “the main cause was from our phones.”

As vintage technology began to make a comeback, they came up with an unconventional solution.

In December, she and three friends went to their local Walmart. The process was unfamiliar to 18-year-olds, from which model they should buy to finding the right phone plan. After four hours, Palazzolo bought the AT&T Flex for $49.99; Her friends got cheaper models for $19.99 through Tracphone.

Palazzolo’s TikTok, which encourages others to buy flip phones, has more than 14 million views and more than 3 million likes, with hashtags including #BRINGBACKFLIPPHONES and #y2kaesthetic.

“It takes away all the bad things about college and brings all the good things about a phone,” Palazzolo said. “Which is about connecting with people and taking photos and videos. The photos and videos on it are fire.”

HMD Global is Nokia’s exclusive licensee, said Gen Z is an unusual demographic for the company. Both companies are based in Finland.

“It’s a generation that didn’t have a Nokia as their first phone and probably discovered our brand through social media,” said Jackie Kates, HMD Global’s head of marketing.

Generation Z is used to the many functions that come with smartphones, from their many applications such as Instagram, Find My Friends or GPS. But there are also safety concerns that come with relying on these simple devices. Without the “find me” tracking feature, Palozzolo said she and her friends stick together and use a buddy system to keep track of who’s where.

Palozzolo wanted to use a flip phone one summer in high school because he thought it would be “cool.” “My parents said no, we have to be able to track you,” she said.

Palazzolo is no stranger to “vintage” technology—she’s been bringing a digital camera to parties since her sophomore year in high school.

And while Apple’s iPhone 14 Pro has a 48-megapixel camera, it lacks the delayed gratification of waiting for pictures to develop or download to a computer. Popular apps like “Hisptamatic” and “Dazz Cam” recreate digital and film photos and have thousands of downloads.

The disposable camera market is expected to grow by $1.23 billion by 2030. Celebrities like TikTokker Charlie D’Amelio and model Emily Ratajkowski jumped on the 2000s-era digital camera trend.

“I like flip phone photos because they’re grainy and blurry,” Palazzolo said. “And I think that perfectly captures the vibe of going out to college.”

Perhaps one of the reasons Gen Z longs for the era of the 1990s and 2000s is the privacy and absence of carefully curated images. Social networks are the most common – photo repositories with candid images and BeReal, a popular app that asks its users once a day to take a selfie in real time and post it within two minutes.

“I never want to be that person who’s on their phone all the time,” Boeder said. “Getting a flip phone made that more possible.”

Back then, “people were more involved with each other than our phones and social media,” Boeder said. “It seemed like people were talking to each other more, and everything was more genuine and spontaneous.”

HMD Global has told many people that the idea is less available.

“We attribute this shift to many smartphone users beginning to recognize that they spend too much time glued to their devices and have a strong desire to disconnect and ‘be fully present’ to improve the quality of their social connections” , Kates said.

And yes, new Nokia flip phones are still available – the Nokia 2760 Flip is sold at Walmart from prepaid brands like Verizon for $19.99. The 2780 can be found on Amazon and Best Buy for $89.99.

In 2022, International Data Corporation stated that the foldable phone market it was expected to reach $29 billion in 2025 – a compound annual growth rate of 70%. Samsung has shipped more than 10 million units since its first-generation model came out, accounting for more than 88% of the global foldable smartphone market as of 2022.

These aren’t your run-of-the-mill $30 flip phones at Walmart. An unlocked Samsung Galaxy Z Fold4 starts at $1,799.99 and the Galaxy Z Flip4 at $999.99.

“Samsung chose to bet on its foldable smartphones; a decision it has made is well ahead of its rivals in terms of the number and sales of foldable smartphones,” said Zaker Li, senior analyst at Omdia’s mobile team.

Omdia attributed the high price of Samsung’s foldable phones to poor sales of its previous models, but sales “have grown rapidly” to 9 million units in 2021, up 309% year-on-year.

However, Apple needn’t worry – Omdia expects foldable phones to account for 3.6% of the total smartphone market by 2026. By comparison, Apple’s market share is more than half of the entire smartphone market.

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