YORK ó Exactly one year ago, Roman Cochet swapped his
$500 iPhone 7 for a $30 LG flip phone.
by constant alerts, Cochet felt his time was disrupted,
his creativity drained. His flip doesnít do email,
Instagram, Facebook, Uber or news alerts. The
30-year-old Parisian painter, who lives in Brooklyn,
said he regrets nothing.
a smartphone, you spend so much time texting, talking,
in constant communication, that you donít have time to
do anything else," Cochet said. "Iím way
more focused now on what Iím doing. Iím less
an age where everyone seems glued to their smartphone,
the flip phone is turning into a statement of protest
and individuality. These relics of the 1990s, still in
wide use as disposable "burners" by crooks and
FBI informants, are prized by a wider population for
their simplicity, durability and affordability, not to
mention their low-tech appeal to the burgeoning #DeleteFacebook
Until 8th, an organization that urges parents to delay
their childrenís smartphone use until eighth grade,
has an ad that reads, "Need to get in touch with
your child? Buy a flip phone." The group has
collected roughly 10,000 signatures from all 50 states
24 million Americans own a non-smartphone, according to
Forrester Research. Itís still enough of a novelty
that celebrity flip phone users are immediately outed on
Twitter and Instagram when spotted in the wild. Flip
phone users include Oscar winners Daniel Day-Lewis and
Frances McDormand, pop star Rihanna, NFL quarterback
Andrew Luck, billionaire investor Warren Buffett and
Vogue editor Anna Wintour.
Van Dinter, Verizonís public relations manager for the
Great Lakes market, said thereís definitely a
"subset" of customers who buy flip phones,
primarily those who work outdoors and need a device that
can withstand drops, corrosive materials, water and
other extreme conditions. Verizon wouldnít continue to
stock them, he said, if there wasnít "consistent
demand." The latest models have access to 4G LTE,
HD voice and the ability to create a mobile hotspot for
up to 10 devices.
said some of his artist friends dismiss his choice of
phone as a hipster affectation, an artistís
asceticism. But his studio, scattered with paint cans
and empty beer bottles, is now void of a smartphoneís
distractions. The phone itself is a throwaway object
smeared with paint, the keypad indiscernible.
said heís also become more connected to other people
(he remembers the bodega cashierís name) ó and more
present in the moment. "Iím way more conscious of
my surroundings than if I was on my screen," he
said. "I have friends who struggle looking at a
subway map. I think people should throw their phone
away. It would be good for them."
admits there are sacrifices. The phone has a shoddy
camera and no group texting or ride-sharing apps, but he
copes just fine. No Uber? A car service is on speed
dial. No Venmo? He always has cash. And Cochet is by no
means entirely disconnected. He uses his laptop at night
to check email, browse the web and watch Netflix. (Heís
a big fan of "Black Mirror.") He listens to
podcasts on a $25 MP3 player.
dismantling what the iPhone can do into different
objects," he said.
Thatcher, 37, a professor of geospatial technologies at
the University of Washington Tacoma, switched to a flip
phone a year ago after his smartphone broke.
tried to go without a phone for about three weeks,"
he said. "However, with two kids, thereís an
expectation that Iím reachable if something goes
wrong, so I ordered the cheapest Verizon flip phone I
could find on eBay. Iíve had it since then."
is active on social media but he uses devices other than
his phone to access his accounts. "I wanted to be
more purposeful in how I engaged in my day-to-day
life," Thatcher said. "I found myself staring
at my phone more than I was out hanging with my
ditching your smartphone completely feels too extreme,
thereís an in-between option: the Light Phone, the
self-described "anti-smartphone phone."
first Light Phone went on sale in 2015. The latest
version is in testing now and slated for release next
year. Itís just as pleasing to look at as the iPhone,
but reduces your apps to a handful such as calls,
messaging, GPS, contacts and ride-hailing. It wonít
have social media, a browser or email.
than 4,000 people have pre-ordered the Light Phone 2,
according to company CEO Kaiwei Tang. He expects that
figure to increase to more than 10,000, which is the
number of people who bought the original Light Phone.