The good and bad about living with a 'dumb' phone

Perks of a dumb phone include a battery life of several days, a durable design, and almost no chance of getting your ...

Perks of a dumb phone include a battery life of several days, a durable design, and almost no chance of getting your data hacked.

If you feel as though you're losing your life to the digital demands of your phone, then it might be time to downgrade to a "dumb" phone.

They're what we used to call a mobile or cellphone before our devices got clever and we started calling them smartphones.

But now "dumb" or "brick" phones may be poised to make a comeback, with Nokia reportedly bringing back its most famous phone, the 3310, which is similar to the 2280 that many Kiwis owned last decade.

READ MORE: Nokia's 3310 brick phone is making a comeback

Those old models can only make and receive calls and send texts, though some have quirky games included, such as Snake. There are no apps, no social media and no access to the internet.

However, some people are still using them.

Christopher House, 42, of Wellington, loves his Nokia 6070 that he bought for $25 off TradeMe.

"I don't always want to be on. I've got internet at home and at work and I don't want it in places in between."

"I love technology but I just don't want it in my life 24/7."

​He said the best thing about his Nokia was the week-long battery life.

"It's built like an actual brick and unlike some of the other Nokias it doesn't 'pants dial' (accidently call someone when bumped in your pocket).

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He said the only minor drawback of not having a smartphone is when he gets lost and needs a map, though if he does he relies on strangers for help.

House said his phone can attract a bit of attention.

"It definitely gets a second look and people ask about it. The battery life usually gets a reaction."

House knows that his Nokia will not last long. Spark has switched off its 2G network and he expects his provider, Vodafone, to do the same soon.

"I'll ride this wave until the end of the 2G network and then I'll see if they're releasing new dumb phones for 4G and I'll consider buying one of those."

Why would you go back to a dumb phone? Smartphones can keep you connected all day and night, giving you access to your family and friends, sharing and consuming photos and videos, providing instant news and replacing your camera and watch.

However, those features come with a price. They can consume your time and cause you to be distracted or addicted (known as Nomophobia – an abbreviation for no-mobile-phone-phobia).

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A dumb phone can reduce these issues, mainly because there's little reason to look at one. There's no social media notifications, no YouTube videos to watch and no apps to browse aimlessly through.

Another advantage is cutting your costs. You can potentially save up to $1000 on the purchase price (most dumb phones sell for less than $100) and you also cut your monthly costs as you don't need data.

Other perks include a battery life of several days, if not weeks, a durable design, and almost no chance of getting your data hacked as you are not accessing services that use the cloud.

However, there are downsides. First, no selfies, or really any decent photography of any kind. If a dumb phone does have a camera, then it only has a 0.3MP camera compared to the 12MP of today's smartphones.

Also, there's no map app to help you find your way when driving through a strange city.

You many also feel left out. News travels fast and having no smartphone may mean you miss out on what just happened with family and friends or in the media.

However, dumb phones face a steep climb if they are to make a comeback.

Research by Horizon Poll in November 2015 showed about 80 per cent of Kiwi adults owned a smartphone. It predicted then that would now be a 92 per cent ownership rate.

However, if you do want to go back to a more simple time in your digital life, then a dumb phone could be the answer.

House said he doesn't miss owning a smartphone.

"I enjoy walking to work and people watching than reading about the latest Trump Twitter disaster."


You can go on TradeMe to find old dumb phones, but or get a new one. The advantage of buying new is that the phones will have 3G so will not be phased out. However, most new phones are set to work on specific networks.

Skinny R286 ($20)

This is one of the cheapest new phones for sale in New Zealand. It's locked to Skinny so only runs on the Spark network.

ZTE F320 ($20)

This is another budget option but for Vodafone customers. It has an FM radio, a music player and a torch light.


There are several models of this phone available in New Zealand and they work with both Spark and 2degrees. They weigh less than 100g and have a standby battery life of 12 days.

Spark Pocket ($129)

Spark has an old-school flip phone for sale. It's a bit more high-end than other devices with a 2MP camera and the ability to connect to the internet.

 - Stuff


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