(Smart) Phone, Don’t Kill My Vibe.
Pulitzer Prize winning American rapper and songwriter Kendrick Lamar has entered the tech space with a collaboration on the pgLang Light Phone 2, a limited edition mobile phone developed through Dave Free’s company and the technology company Light.
It is marketed as “just a phone”, and a less distracting alternative to other modern designs – part of the trend that sees more mainstream support for “dumb phones”, which are less smart and more practical devices.
The minimalistic phone has no web browser. You can call, text and set an alarm. You can also use add-on tools that include a music player, notes, a calculator, directions, and a "language" tool that acts as a magic 8-ball. Users are invited to ask the pared-down phone a question and shake it to find out an answer.
The sleek new device, released last week, sold out in a matter of minutes. Hardly surprising considering the 36-year-old rapper’s clout, and the fact that the phones were restricted to just 250 models.
Light phones offer minimalistic experiences without apps or colour, with the intention to see people more present in real life and less dependent on their devices. It is in line with the ethos of the Light brand, which describes itself as “an alternative to the tech monopolies that are fighting more and more aggressively for our time and attention”.
“Dumb Phones” have been particularly popular with Gen-Zers and millennials, who are dumping their smartphones for less complex (and much, much cheaper) options. Indeed, the growing trend of people returning to simpler, more classic phones is something of a retro revolution and a refreshing alternative to the dangers of doomscrolling.
As ExplodingTopics reports, globally, people average 6 hours 58 minutes of screen time per day, an increase of nearly 50 minutes per day since 2013. And as if that wasn't alarming enough, a study conducted last year by the Lorestan University of Medical Sciences concluded that excessive smartphone use is strongly correlated with increased anxiety and stress levels, especially among students.
Rediscovering the pleasures of the offline world also harks back to a sentiment of nostalgia for aging millennials, a trip down memory lane that Gen-Zers, the generation that grew up in front of the screens, appears to be fascinated by. For them, the offline past becomes reminiscent of a time when life seemed simpler and more carefree.
Last year, HMD Global, the maker of Nokia phones, reported that tens of thousands of its flip and slide phones were sold every month.
"We see that the market for flip phones is up 5 per cent," Lars Silberbauer, chief marketing officer of Nokia Phones and HMD Global, told Euronews. "We've doubled our market share in the last year of flip phones, which is quite important for us. And we see that is now picking up in Europe."
Silberbauer added: "I think the trend is really [about] people taking control of their own lives, of their own digital lives."