The Flip Phone Is The New Protest Statement

By Scott Enman
Tribune Interactive

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) In an age where everyone seems glued to their smartphone, the flip phone is turning into a statement of protest and individuality.

NEW YORK

Exactly one year ago, Roman Cochet swapped his $500 iPhone 7 for a $30 LG flip phone.

Overwhelmed by constant alerts, Cochet felt his time was disrupted, his creativity drained. His flip doesn’t do email, Instagram, Facebook, Uber or news alerts. The 30-year-old Parisian painter, who lives in Brooklyn, said he regrets nothing.

“With a smartphone, you spend so much time texting, talking, in constant communication, that you don’t have time to do anything else,” Cochet said. “I’m way more focused now on what I’m doing. I’m less distracted.”

In 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 crowd.

Wait Until 8th, an organization that urges parents to delay their children’s 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 in March.

About 24 million Americans own a non-smartphone, according to Forrester Research. It’s 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.

Steve Van Dinter, Verizon’s public relations manager for the Great Lakes market, said there’s 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.

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