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Bill Bennett


Feature phones

Nokia Express feature phones

Smartphones now dominate mobile phone sales — even in poor countries. Yet not everyone wants a touch screen device with the power of a laptop in their pocket. Or not everyone can afford to pay for a touch screen device.

The obvious name for a phone that doesn’t qualify as a smartphone is ‘dumb phone’ or possibly ‘ordinary phone’.

This creates a problem for the insecure marketing people working for phone makers. They can’t bring themselves to use such honest, straightforward terms to describe their products.

Hence we have feature phones. A remarkable term given the main thing about a feature phone is that it has few, if any, features worth talking about. Although that doesn’t mean they have to be boring.

While we’re on this subject, it’s time to drop the smart from smartphones. The prefix made sense 10 years ago when most phones weren’t smart, but now it is the status quo.




6 thoughts on “Feature phones

  1. I’m sure the term feature phone has been around for a long time. Longer than the mainstream smartphone. I remember calling the Nokia 5200 a feature phone in 2006.

  2. That’s right. Before smartphones we had, well, just plain phones and ‘feature phones’. They had features to distinguish them from the pack. These days it’s not entirely clear what separates feature phones from smartphones, I guess they just happen to be not as smart.

    1. I do a lot of online surveys and I like their definition: it has a web browser.

      Of course this means pretty much all low-end Androids are smartphones but I’m okay with that. They’re smart, but not fast.


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