Gen Z has become obsessed with a technology we thought was buried forever: clamshell phones

“I’m from team flip phone.” Not just anyone said it, no. I tweeted it these days Camila Cabello, the singer who has been infected with a nostalgic, virtual and surprising fashion: that of returning to the old flip phones. The reasons are disparate… and we’ll see if they last.

The folding ones of before are back. The folding screens have given us back that concept of the shell phone modernized and turned into a high-end mobile, but this is something else. The “Gen-Z” is obsessed not with these last generation models, but with the old clamshell phones that, beware, are still sold in that basic and very cheap format.

From grandparents to grandchildren. Simple mobiles (“feature phones”) and clamshell ones with the same format that they had in the early 2000s continue to sell in a very decent way, but they do so with a very different target audience: older people, who thus avoid complications of more modern products. The grandchildren of that generation now seem to be attracted to these types of devices, and they do so for several reasons.

Disconnection (partial). In addition to Camila Cabello, other actresses like Dove Cameron have also admitted to using a basic flip phone. The reason in her case was to run away from social networks a bit, something that can generate stress, anxiety and depression. The clamshell mobile thus becomes a way of “disconnecting”.

The crappy images are cool. These phones are much more limited than conventional smartphones, and this is also noticeable in their cameras, which take photos that are very grainy and often blurry. Sammy Palazzolo. college student and tiktoker, she explained that for her that “perfectly captures the vibe of dating in college.” In fact, she enthuses, “the photos on this device are fire,” referring to that particular finish.

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Mobile to not be available to everyone. At least in certain scenarios, Palazzolo explained, arguing that when you go out with a basic flip phone your friends “are there, in the present.” In addition, with them you avoid posting on social networks accidentally or when you have drunk, and they make it easier not to be so aware of others, especially on social networks.

Smartphone at home, basic flip phone when you go out. These users keep their modern phones and use them at home, but when they go out they leave those devices there and grab the basic flip phones. “At parties people will say, ‘Oh my gosh, is that a flip phone?'” Palazzolo said. “We’ll talk to new people, we’ll meet new people, and everyone loves it…” The video that this user posted on TikTok recommending flip phones already has 14.2 million views and 3.3 million “likes.”

Being cool is using vintage technology. Nostalgia is a powerful ally to sell technology. Apps like Hipstamatic or Dazz Cam recreate the look of old photos taken with analogue cameras, and the disposable camera market is booming, expected to reach $1.23 billion in revenue by 2030. Nokia has been building on that momentum for some time. to adapt their old mobiles to the new times, and that nostalgic component is a powerful fuel for the sales of retro mini version consoles.

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