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return of feature phone title

A surprising new trend has swept over mobile phone consumers that’s not normally associated with the tech crowd; we’re regressing!
Well more specifically, we’re buying more and more retro mobiles, and one of the reasons for this throwback fad is right upon us- The festival season.

Smartphones, they’re packed with useful tech to get you through a festival weekend; Internet access to keep you connected to the outside world, cameras, video recording and a shed load of music apps.  But let be honest past the first day, they’re useless! And why is that? Two words: Battery life!

Battery is Bestbattery charging icons

Does anyone remember the last time their smartphone lasted more than a couple of days without a charge? For that matter, with moderate use do they even last a day?… No.

Feature phones or ‘dumb-phones’ don’t require nearly as much power as their smart counterparts; this means they’re smaller, tougher and crucially last way longer on a single charge.

Festival go-ers are hauled up in a huge field for up to a week without access to power. Now, unless a forward thinking camper plans ahead and bring their own portable power system, the once well-connected smartphone user will be out of battery in about 18 hours… if they’re lucky.

Festival Savvyphone festival air

So what do you do you do? Well turning your phone off is a decent shout, but It’s not a great idea to stay completely out of contact, just in case there’s an emergency. And how do you get in contact with friends whilst at the festival with a dead phone?

Well the answer that our tech savvy music lovers have come up with is pretty simple. Go old School.

That’s right, dig out your old feature phones from the cupboard and revel in battery life that lasts days rather than hours.

It may seem like a distant memory, but most non-smart phones will last at least 5 days without a charge. If you can dig out a pre-2004 device, that battery life could be spared for the week! No need for additional chargers, battery saving apps or the cold, dark exile of a turned off mobile phone.

Some of the major manufactures and retailers have noticed the rise in this rather unique market.

The Disposable Phone?

nokia 105

In 2013 Nokia released their 105 handset. Hailed as the ‘ultimate festival phone’ the Nokia 105 is splashproof, costs under £15 and can last 35 days without a charge.

A phone that would normally be deemed a ‘global market’ or ‘developing country’ device due to its low cost and long battery life, was actually set to be marketed in the high-tech, premium cost European market.

That’s because of the rise in young people buying cheap, robust, feature phones, to save their expensive smartphone from damage.

It wasn’t just festival kids that sparked this market change. A number of studies show that young people are forsaking their £300 smartphones for sturdy , cheap, long lasting ‘bricks’ to take away on holiday, at events or even on nights out.

People are quite rightly cautious about drunkenly throwing their rather expensive iPhone down a nightclub toilet or losing said device on a beach.

Old phones are essentially ‘disposable’ (from a consumer point of view) as long your contacts are saved and you have a backup.


It’s not just about digging your old handsets old of the cupboard, most of the major manufactures still offer super cheap feature phones as an alternative to Smartphones.

In the summer of 2013, Phones4u focused a section of their advertising to the idea of “cheap phones for festivals”. The premise was simple, festivals aren’t the place for our precious smartphones so invest in a pay-as-you-go handset for your muddy escapades.

Retro or Resurrection?

So is this a resurrection of the feature phone market or is it just a case of retro being cool again?

Well it’s probably a bit of both, some of the more fashion conscious retro lovers out there are actually going out of their way to buy ‘vintage’ models from Nokia and Ericsson, with some of the more unique phones fetching up to €1,000 apiece.

On the other side of the coin sales of new feature phone has been on the rise since 2013, although many of these consumers are believed to have the feature phones as well as Smartphone. More like insurance than a fashion statement.

Seems like a pretty good idea to me and with festival season upon us, I might be digging my beloved 3310 out of the cupboard.

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  1. I’ve dug an old Nokia and a basic Samsung neither would charge because they have been left for about four years without being used. Though I have another nokia that has been kept in use and is working fine. So best keep these old phones in use if you want them to last.

  2. I loved early Nokia mobiles. My 5530 could do nearly everything my modern smartphone can do, and some things a modern mobile doesn’t do. The battery problem? Cheap as chips on a well-known auction site.


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