Reinventing the Dumbphone

Reinventing the Dumbphone

Do you remember the times when phones had extremely long life cycles? Or even when mobile technology didn’t advance so rapidly? Those were probably the times when the dumbphones were prevalent.

A dumbphone is defined as something that lacks the features of a smartphone. Mostly, these dumbphones only serve texting and calling as their purpose, but rarely we see some twists in their production; some manufacturers even include a mobile flashlight in the device. It might not be very pleasant to hear or read, but so far it’s the term that is most common. Filipinos might even say “pang-tawag at pang-text lang”.

While some people are very focused on smartphones, there exists this market that we rarely consider innovating upon. We think it’s a very good idea nonetheless to reinvent the average dumbphone – especially in the Philippines.

If you didn’t know, the Philippines is considered as the texting capital of the world. Think about it: do you think that the majority of texts sent come from smartphone users?

While it’s partially true that most people who use dumbphones are those that don’t have the extra budget, it is also true that some people just like to own a dumbphone to lessen the threat of holdups and theft.

Most manufacturers in the Philippines are taking advantage of this situation – the battle however is in price and in quality. Most dumbphones available now are almost entirely the same as the ones released years ago; only the designs keep changing.


Some phone manufacturers might not be interested in this idea, since it may damage the premium images that they have established, such as HTC and Apple.

When most companies are competing with lower prices, why not create something that costs a little bit more while adding some killer ideas such as strong casings, batteries that last up to more than a week, a mirror as a back cover or something basic like a very comfortable QWERTY keyboard?

Some companies have already tried these distinguishing ideas, but none have become a major success so far. They, however, caught the attention of some people.

Examples include the John’s Phone – a phone made in the Netherlands that only makes and receives calls and the OwnPhone – a very customizable phone that only calls the people most important to you.

These phones aren’t available locally but people could surely get a glimpse of how some dumbphones abroad differ in their own way.

We were deeply thinking about the Nokia 3310 for some reason. Nokia could revive the aforementioned dumbphone and make it a hit, especially with all the traction it is getting. From that idea alone, maybe we can see a true successor to the “unbreakable” phone. This could be similar to Motorola’s revival of the Razr, however that ended up being a smartphone.

Think of the article as some sort of shout out. As people enjoy choices and different angles through smartphones, why not with dumbphones? If you had the chance to reinvent the dumbphone, how would you pull it off? Feel free to write your answers, comments and opinions on the matter down below.

Bob Freking occasionally contributes articles to the website. He is a UST Graduate of Commerce & Business Administration, Major in Marketing Management, and a full-time Sith Lord with three dragons.

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15 Responses

  1. BENCHMARK says:

    acetate anyone? hehehehe

    • wha says:

      Sino nga ba ang hindi nakaranas na mag pa ACETATE ng kanyang NOKIA PHONE?
      Simple ang buhay at di complicated na gawa ng APPLE, BLACKBERRY at SAMSUNG

  2. Denzel says:

    Maybe you’re right. Improving practicality can be a good choice by improving some aspects such as power consumption. But only the “dumbphones” would take the credit. This would increase the use of big computers/laptops/notebooks around the country to compensate for the loss of some smartphones. Given that some small features can be added such as internet or media playing capability for that matter, texting is still the number one thing that most people do with their phones. Maybe “dumbphones” should rise up again. :)

  3. tonto says:

    We’ve always been talking about adding a lighter to a phone (for the smokers). I’d buy a ‘dumbphone’ that runs on my body’s electrical current and can slip in my wallet :D
    Anyway, prevalent pa rin naman ang ‘dumbphones’ diba? Lagi naman akong nakakakita ng dual sim ‘dumbphones’… I don’t think it’s very smart, though, even for ‘dumbphones’, to lose screens. I think that’s unnecessary simplification.
    Also, a question: would the S40 be considered a ‘dumb’ OS? Because it seems to me that Nokia is enjoying dominance in that segment… However, I think that the prices of some smartphones have pretty much closed the gap with the ‘dumbphone’ segment. Can’t you just present a smartphone with a simpler skin/ui? That way you can enjoy a dumbphone experience without losing versatility.

    • tonto says:

      ok, replying to myself :P… so the s40 is a ‘feature phone’ os … so is a feature phone a dumbphone just because it’s not as smart as a smartphone?
      Waterproof/shockproof ultra thin (but ergonomic) dumbhones should also sell. Waterproof phones would be great here in our country. Or phones powered by water… ok I’m just rambling… :P

  4. Hannah says:

    We should have one that’s below Php 1500, has only 4 numbers and can be given to a kid (for fieldtrips and sleepovers) and to Lolos and Lolas when they leave the house. Plus one emergency button. I will buy that.

  5. chacha says:

    …there are P600 to 1K Pesos phones out there, and it’s much cheaper and safer answering to important calls and text when your walking on the sidewalk, there’s even a size of a lighter that can play mep3’s and has a radio (CM’s P9 model) though others with just an FM radio and a flashlight would do. or wait for Google’s wonder goggles which can make you like a Saiyan and answer calls at the same time…hehehe

  6. girlalew says:

    I think Nokia’s Asha series is still continuing the tradition of creating dumbphones/featurephones until now, but with near Smartphone functionality. I guess not everyone wants to stare at their phone’s screen most of the time :)

  7. Christopher Quijano says:

    If i remember correctly, there was a phone manufacturer that made a large button phone designed for the elderly.

    How I wish that a dumb phone that can alert a relative that their elderly loved one is in trouble (lost, got sick/heart attack).

    • Jeremiah says:

      “How I wish that a dumb phone that can alert a relative that their elderly loved one is in trouble (lost, got sick/heart attack).”

      This would be a smart dumbphone!

  8. tagak says:

    Yung phone sa wimpy kid dog days. Ok yun. Home at 911 lang ang pwede tawagan. Hehe

  9. jarod says:

    The writer’s question is
    “If you had the chance to reinvent the dumbphone, how would you pull it off?”

    Today when we talk about dumphone it means the price range is P800-P1500.So taking this into consideration and what I have right now, lets take for example my Nokia 101 and highlight some of its features and modify some.
    1.Dual SIM
    2.Polycarbonate body
    3.Bigger display & E-ink(current display is nakakaduling)
    4.SDcard slot
    5.FM & MP3 player
    6.Flashlight w/c proved to be really handy
    7.High capacity battery at least 1000 mAh
    8. USB port charger
    9. 7.5 mm thick

    Other enhancement would be in the Software like
    1.Threaded SMS
    2.Customizable contact info
    3.Notes with custom folder
    4.SDcard limited phonebook
    5.Scheduled ON/OFF

    Yan lang muna for now. Feel free to add more ideas.

  10. metre9dmt says:

    I like the article since it started people talking about other phones aside from smartphones. Few points:

    1. I know its catchy to call other phones not in the smart phone category as “dumb phones” but the more appropriate term should be FEATURE PHONE.

    2. Nokia is selling ‘feature phones’ with the Series 40 operating system. I find them complimentary, even easier and faster to use at times since most of the people I knew started with similar phones. Frankly, I connect to facebook using my Nokia C2 as compared to my Samsung galaxy phone much easier and straight forward. My gripe are that I really like a QWERTY keypad and WiFi connection to come with a phone with a PhP 3,000 or less price tag.
    The upcoming Nokia Asha 205 seems to nail it except for the lack of WiFi connection. Nokia phones are also easier to connect to my computer you don’t even need to install a driver.
    3. Samsung used to have a waterproof and shockproof feature phone. I hope they will come out with a better version.
    4. In an emergency, you would just need a feature phone with call and text capability plus built-in flashlight, FM radio with an MP3 player as a bonus.

  11. fat internet guy says:

    Nokia should reprint the 5110, I would buy the shit out of that. The battery slipped on and off so easily, that I bought several spares and made a battery belt that would allow me to slip on a new battery easily. Too bad it took like three weeks to drain a single charge

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