First, it was disposable cameras. Then it was low-cut jeans. Now, Gen-Z’s latest “vintage” craze is the flip phone — that mid-1990s era phone that’s suddenly become so popular among millennials.
Today, these smaller, lighter devices, some of which are available for as little as $20 at big-box retailers like Walmart and Amazon, are featured in TikTok videos of young people pulling them off, rocking their cases. , as previous generations did, and shoot tutorials to catch up. a carefree, blurry aesthetic through a low-quality camera.
But most importantly, they love the ability to switch off, or as much as possible in 2023.
“I’m Team Phone Revolution,” singer Camila Cabello on Twitter Thursday, posing with a TCL flip phone, vintage vintage. “Maybe I can write the theme song.”
Actress Dove Cameron, who rose to fame on the Disney Channel show “Liv and Maddie,” said in an interview in November that she had switched to a flip phone. Spending too much time on her 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 really cheap and I think it’s probably really unlucky.”
Cameron said he unplugged and plugged in because he found his social media presence “misleading.” Feeling prevails Among Gen Zers – and her exposure is associated with adolescent mental health crises.
As smartphones and social media became more popular in 2012, so did rates of depression among teenagers, psychologists say. Between 2004 and 2019, rates of teen depression nearly doubled, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Sammy Palazzolo, 18, a freshman at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, has a new routine with her phone when she’s out with friends at night.
She and her friends listen to the latest music on their smart phones as they get ready. Then when it’s time to leave, they leave those smart devices behind.
Instead, they communicate with each other throughout the night only through rotary phones and take photos on them, despite the now primitive camera. Their devices are great conversation starters.
“At parties, people will say: “Oh my God, it’s a rotary phone,” Palazzolo said. “We’re going to talk to some new people, meet some people, and everybody’s enjoying it.”
Reagan Boder, 18, said she’s trying to get her sisters involved in the trend.
“I think people are going to come out with flip phones more and more, just because it’s so fun and nostalgic and, frankly, moody.” Boder said:
Before switching phones, Palazzolo found that her nights out in her college town often ended in tears from unwanted people. post on social media or a message from an ex, “the main reason was from our phones.”
When vintage technologies began to return, they came up with an unusual solution.
In December, he and three friends went to their local Walmart. The process was unfamiliar to 18-year-olds, from deciding which model to buy to finding the right phone plan. Four hours later, Palazzolo bought an AT&T Flex for $49.99; his friends got cheaper models through Tracphone for $19.99.
Palazzolo’s TikTok, which encourages others to buy flip phones, has more than 14 million views and more than 3 million likes, with hashtags that include #BRINGBACKFLIPPHONES and #y2kaesthetic.
“It takes all the bad things out of college and brings all the good things to the phone,” Palazzolo said. “Which is connecting with people and taking pictures and video. The photos and videos about this are fire.”
HMD Global, the exclusive licensee of Nokia, 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 Cates, head of marketing at HMD Global.
Gen Z is used to many functions related to smart phones from their many applications such as Instagram, Find My Friends or GPS. But there are also security concerns that come with relying on these simple devices. Without the “find me” tracking feature, Palozzolo said he and his friends stay close together and use a buddy system to keep track of who’s where.
Palozzolo wanted to use a rotary phone during the summer of high school because he thought it would be “cool.” “My parents said absolutely not, we should be able to follow you,” he said.
Palazzolo is no stranger to “vintage” technology. he’s been bringing a digital camera to parties since his sophomore year in high school.
And while Apple’s iPhone 14 Pro has a 48-megapixel camera, it misses out on the delayed gratification of processing pictures or waiting for them to download to a computer. Popular apps like Hisptamatic and Dazz Cam recreate digital and film camera photos and have thousands of downloads.
The disposable camera market is projected to grow by $1.23 billion by 2030. Celebrities like TikTokker Charlie D’Amelio and model Emily Ratajkowski rode the digital camera trend of 2000.
“I love flip phone photos because they’re grainy and blurry,” Palazzolo said. “And I think it perfectly captures the atmosphere of going out to college.”
Perhaps one of the desires of Gen Z in the 1990s and 2000s is privacy and the absence of carefully curated images. Social media is at its most massive, with candid photos and BeReal, a popular app that asks its users to take a real-time selfie once a day and post it within two minutes.
“I would never want to be the person who’s just on the phone all the time,” Boder said. “Getting a flip phone kind of made it more possible.”
Back then, “people were more engaged with each other than our phones and social media,” Boder said. “It just seemed like people were talking to each other more, and things were more genuine and spontaneous.”
HMD Global said that many people like that the concept is less accessible.
“We attribute this shift to the fact that many smartphone users are beginning to realize that they spend too much time glued to their devices and have a strong desire to switch off and ‘be fully present’ to improve the quality of their social connections,” Cates said.
And yes, new Nokia Flip phones are still available. The Nokia 2760 Flip is on sale 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 announced that the foldable phone market expected to reach $29 billion by 2025, a 70% compound annual growth rate. Samsung has shipped more than 10 million units since the launch of its first-generation model, accounting for more than 88% of the global foldable smartphone market as of 2022.
These aren’t your $30 flip phones At Walmart. The unlocked Samsung Galaxy Z Fold4 starts at $1,799.99 and the Galaxy Z Flip4 starts at $999.99.
“Samsung chose to bet on its foldable smartphones. a decision that has made it far ahead of its competitors in the number and sales of foldable smartphones,” said Zucker Lee, principal analyst at Omdia’s mobile devices team.
Omdia attributes the high price of Samsung’s foldable phones to poor sales of its previous models, but sales are “growing rapidly”. to: 9 million units in 2021, up 309 percent year-on-year.
Apple needn’t worry, but Omdia expects foldable phones to account for 3.6% of the total smartphone market by 2026. By comparison, Apple’s share is more than half of the entire smartphone market.