In Praise of Dumbphones

Two thirds of Americans don't own smartphones

This article is from the archive of our partner .

The world stopped for a moment to watch and then cry about Apple's non-iPhone 5 announcement--at least it consumed the tech blogger masses. But, as SplatF's Dan Frommer points out, two-thirds of Americans don't even have smartphones. While tech freaks and iPhone fan boys got all in a tizzy, the majority of the country watched Apple release another, fancier, more Internet-y phone that's nothing like the phone they own. Will this get people to switch over? Who knows. But for one reason or another, Apple hasn't dazzled most Americans into buying its computer phones. We think that's because because dumbphones have a special sparkle that iPhones just don't have. Here are five reasons basic cell phones rule.

1. Cheaper. The least expensive iPhone 4S costs $199 with a two year contract and needs a data plan, which can run another $30 per month, to do most of its magic. Dumbphones are way cheap. "It's virtually free," dumbphone user and Smithsonian Magazine reporter Joseph Stromberg explained. "I'm on a family plan, it's $10 a month, and I get paid nothing." There are no data plans involved and with a two year contract the actual phone doesn't cost much. In fact, right now you can get an LG Revere from Verizon for zero dollars.

2. More Durable. Any minorly klutzy human should invest in a smartphone protective accessory. Those things are prone to cracked screens and broken hardware. Dumbphones hold up to wear and tear. "I can drive away with it on top of my car and it still works," said Samsung Intensity II user and Annapolis's Key School teacher Molly Johnsen. Another dumbphone owner, The Atlantic Wire's own Elspeth Reeve, told me she estimates she's dropped her 2005 phone 500 times, including while biking and six years later it still works great. And if the phone does break, it's not a huge lost investment. See: Reason 1. Some dumbphones even have built in clumsy person defenses.

3. Theft-proof. No respectable thief wants a flip phone. A mugger might take it anyway, to look legit, but it's practically worthless. And again if stolen, no monetary biggie. (Refer back to reason 1.)

4. Disconnected. For some, the Internet and email mean work. Sometimes it's nice to get away. Disconnecting with a computer phone attached to your hand is difficult. Some simpler cells have Internet capability, but not the full operating system and data plans that make checking e-mail too easy.

5. It's Hipper. Sheep buy iPhones. The truly hip, shall we say, the neo-hipster, doesn't. Owning a flip-phone is like taking a stand against consumerism: "I think there's a lingering bit of Adbusters in me and not buying a new phone makes me feel like I'm not a sheeplike consumer." The person who told us this then said we couldn't use her name because she was embarrassed as soon as the words came out of her mouth.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.