In today’s hyper-connected world, our smartphones have become more than just communication devices. They are our constant companions, providing access to a multitude of apps, social media platforms and endless streams of information.
While the benefits of technology are undeniable, the downside is the growing concern and research over digital addiction, screen time and its impact on our mental wellbeing.
However, a growing trend is emerging among the Gen Z generation who are turning to feature phones in order to digital detox.
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What is a digital detox?
Digital detoxing is the practice of taking a break from digital devices to reduce stress, improve mental health and reconnect with the physical world. It acknowledges that our over-reliance on smartphones and constant connectivity can be detrimental to our overall wellbeing.
Feature phones, which were once considered obsolete, have made a surprising comeback recently. These devices, with their simple user interfaces and limited functionality, are gaining popularity as tools to facilitate digital detoxing.
The appeal of feature phones
While there are plenty of health benefits coming to the forefront of digital detoxing, there is another complex emotion which appears to be driving interest in feature phones.
Marketers have recognised the potent influence of nostalgia in evoking positive sentiments. In fact, nostalgia marketing has evolved into a well-established strategy, capitalising on the reservoir of affirmative recollections from the past to forge emotional connections with consumers.
Extensive research underscores the impact of nostalgia, revealing its ability to prompt consumers to be more willing to part with their money, strengthen their ties to brands, increase their intention to make purchases, and boost their engagement with digital brand content.
Nostalgia can even play a pivotal role in driving individuals to choose flip phones, as these devices conjure up memories of an earlier era in mobile communication.
However, nostalgia marketing is not confined to targeting solely the younger demographic. It serves as a potent tool for advertising to those who grew up with older mobile devices, and companies like Nokia have effectively harnessed this insight.
Take the Nokia 2660 Flip, for example, with its big buttons and extremely stripped back experience – when compared to what we’re used to with iPhone or Galaxy smartphones. It’s quite a shock to the system.
Benefits of a digital detox
While research into the health benefits of a digital detox are ongoing, there are clearly some more obvious lifestyle benefits to the movement.
- Distractions: Feature phones are designed for one primary purpose; communication. They lack the multitude of apps and notifications that often lead to mindless scrolling and compulsive checking. This minimalism encourages users to focus on meaningful interactions.
- Battery life: One of the primary frustrations of smartphone users is the constant need to charge their devices. Feature phones, with their long-lasting batteries, eliminate this issue and free users from the anxiety of running out of power.
- Cost: Feature phones are more affordable than smartphones, both in terms of the initial purchase and ongoing expenses. This makes them accessible to a wider range of individuals and helps reduce the financial burden of staying constantly connected.
- Screen time: The absence of addictive apps and games on feature phones naturally limits screen time, allowing users to break free from the constant pull of digital screens.
- Focus: With feature phones, conversations become more focused and meaningful. The absence of distracting apps and notifications ensures that users pay full attention to the person they are communicating with.
- Privacy: Feature phones are less susceptible to the data collection and privacy concerns associated with modern smartphones. Users can communicate with a higher degree of privacy and security.
Embracing the digital detox
Embracing a digital detox with a feature phone allows us to rekindle meaningful connections, reduce stress and cultivate a healthier relationship with technology.
While smartphones are undoubtedly valuable tools, a balanced approach that includes occasional breaks with feature phones can help us strike a healthier, more sustainable digital balance.
But does it actually work in practice? We attempted a digital detox with the Nokia 2660 Flip to find out what the fuss is all about.
The digital detox in action
As a seasoned tech writer, I’ve witnessed the profound transformations in the mobile market over the years. In the early days of my career, feature phones ruled the industry, and the ultimate feature coveted by all was the ability to play Snake while waiting for a bus.
Then came the era of smartphones, which almost entirely eclipsed the feature phone market.
However, there still exists a niche of individuals seeking the simplicity of a basic phone experience, and it is within this realm that the Nokia 2660 Flip finds its place quite comfortably. It carries the reassuring Nokia brand, albeit through HMD Global, the company holding the licensing rights to the name in recent times. With its straightforward flip design and, yes, the cherished game “Snake,” it caters to those yearning for a respite from smartphone addiction.
I can appreciate its purpose, especially within the limited selection of handsets available in this category. The Nokia 2660 Flip is undeniably one of the better options. However, I must clarify that while it serves its intended function, it doesn’t always deliver an entirely satisfying user experience. Personally, I’ll be returning to a smartphone as soon as this review is completed.
Nonetheless, if your heart yearns for a simpler mobile existence, this phone should meet your needs – mostly.
The Nokia 2660 Flip, as its name implies, is indeed a flip phone, but it’s no high-end Motorola Razr 40 Ultra. To begin with, it comes at a significantly lower price point, and its folding mechanism employs a traditional hinge with the main 2.8-inch screen located at the top. Interestingly, HMD Global refers to this as a “big” screen, although in the past, that might have been an accurate assessment.
The entire design of the Nokia 2660 Flip is characterised by simplicity, which has its pros and cons. On the positive side, if you’re a user who prefers physical buttons over touch screens, the number pad functions quite effectively. The act of opening and closing the Nokia 2660 Flip provides a satisfying “thump,” which can be quite pleasing when concluding a call.
When closed, the phone offers a basic 1.77-inch display for time and notifications, along with volume controls and a power button that serves a dual purpose when the phone is open. A long press on the power button while the Nokia 2660 Flip is open activates its emergency calling mode, a useful feature for older users living alone who may require such functionality.
The Nokia 2660 Flip also comes in various colours, with the model HMD Global provided being in Lush Green, but other options include Pop Pink, Red, Blue, or Black.
One notable throwback feature is the fully removable battery, accessed from the rear. This is also where you insert your nano SIM card, or even two of them thanks to the dual SIM card slots. However, this is where you start to notice the downside of the Nokia 2660 Flip’s simpler design.
Priced at $129, the Nokia 2660 Flip falls into the affordable category, thanks in part to its construction using relatively cheap plastic. It lacks the robustness that classic Nokias were known for, and those who remember those days understand what I mean. Many of those old Nokia phones felt like they could survive a tumble down a flight of concrete stairs and continue working.
The Nokia 2660 Flip sports a single rear-facing 0.3MP camera. No, that’s not a typo or a misplaced decimal point. To be frank, it’s almost an error to assert that the Nokia 2660 Flip has a camera.
I understand that early mobile phones had rudimentary cameras, and this inclusion is likely to keep the Nokia 2660 Flip’s price low. However, no amount of branding it as “retro” can disguise the fact that this phone consistently takes subpar photos. It’s slow, struggles in anything but ideal lighting conditions, and even then, the resulting images tend to be washed out.
In my opinion, having a camera on this phone is a questionable decision, as it’s unlikely anyone will capture decent shots with it. It might have been even more cost-effective to omit the camera altogether.
The Nokia 2660 Flip is powered by a Unisoc T107 Processor, although “powered” might not be the most accurate term. Like many other feature phones, it lacks a wide array of exciting features and new apps to install. Most users will primarily consider the Nokia 2660 Flip as a device for calling and texting, and in that regard, it performs adequately, reminiscent of classic feature phones from two decades or more ago.
One interesting observation is that the T107 processor runs at 1GHz. In the era when Nokia produced its classic flip phones, this speed would have been considered top-notch for a high-end PC running Windows. However, it’s important to note that the T107 is a simple and inexpensive component by 2023 standards.
Nonetheless, since it is 2023, one might expect more than just calling and texting capabilities, right? The Nokia 2660 Flip offers a bit more, but with several compromises. Yes, it can run Snake and a handful of other games like Tetris and a disappointingly bad racing game called Racing Attack. While these may evoke nostalgia for the early days of mobile gaming, they have not aged well.
You can also access the internet on the Nokia 2660 Flip, or at least attempt to. There are two challenges in this endeavour. Firstly, to conserve battery life, the Nokia 2660 Flip completely lacks Wi-Fi support. So, any online activity will rely on your SIM card’s mobile data. Some users, especially those on pay-as-you-go plans with limited data, may find this limitation inconvenient, but it’s a choice made by HMD Global.
The second challenge involves entering URLs. The Nokia 2660 Flip attempts to assist with autocompletion using the T9 texting pad, but it often jumps ahead, making the input of longer URLs a cumbersome task. I did attempt to load 7NEWS.com.au on it just to see what would happen. While it did load some of the page, it exhibited peculiar formatting issues with text and overall performed poorly.
Perhaps this is intentional, as the Nokia 2660 Flip may only be used for online functions when absolutely necessary, if viewed as a digital detox device.
Classic feature phones were known for their long-lasting battery life, with claims of days without charging being a common boast. This was back in the days when users could take such claims at face value, charging their phones only once a week. In contrast, most smartphones require daily recharging for sustenance.
So, where does the Nokia 2660 Flip fit into this battery equation? For the most part, it performs admirably. I couldn’t run my usual YouTube battery tests on the Nokia 2660 Flip for obvious reasons, but as a standalone phone, it is easily capable of lasting at least three to four days with moderate use, and considerably longer on standby. For its target audience of people seeking a simple phone or a digital detox tool, this level of battery endurance is more than sufficient.
One feature I wish HMD Global had updated on the Nokia 2660 Flip is the charger. While it’s included in the box, it still utilises a microUSB connection, which is becoming less common as time goes by. Would it have hurt to include a USB-C charger, HMD Global?
Our final take
The Nokia 2660 Flip may not be my personal choice, but I can see its appeal. The Nokia brand still carries a certain allure, and despite its basic plastic construction, it boasts a suitable design and attractive color options.
For basic calling and texting needs, it’s a great little phone with impressive battery life. However, for any extended usage beyond these functions, it begins to reveal its limitations, whether through the absence of Wi-Fi, its clunky internet access, or the abysmal camera.
Nevertheless, when considering the limited array of feature phones available today, many of these limitations are par for the course. A direct comparison with a budget smartphone isn’t entirely fair, and if you genuinely desire to avoid a smartphone, then the Nokia 2660 Flip is, indeed, a smart choice.