June 15, 2024

Flip phones and digital cameras: Gen Z’s need for retro gadgets is much wiser than you realize

6 min read



Graphic: Getty Images

There have been plenty of tales not too long ago about how Gen Zers have taken an fascination in retro tech, ditching their smartphones for one-objective gadgets this sort of as issue-and-shoot digital cameras and flip telephones. A generation that experienced a childhood stuffed with the screens of computer systems and smartphones is apparently ditching contemporary technology for the equipment of the early 2000s. So, what is actually going on?

It can be not just a refusal to embrace new technologies lots of Gen Zers still up grade their smartphones each individual calendar year. What seems to be occurring correct now is an intentional relinquishing of contrived spontaneity, social media overindulgence, and an attempt to reclaim some of the time invested hunched in excess of a screen.

Also: Best mobile phone showdown: The top rated Apple iphone, Galaxy, and Pixel models stacked up

So, Gen Z is investing in Y2K-era technological innovation, such as 2009’s Nikon Coolpix, a 12.1-megapixel electronic camera, or 2006’s incredibly hot pink Razr V3. They are going to nonetheless maintain on to their smartphones, but will decide to leave them at home on a night out and tote a flip cellular phone for a several hrs. 

It’s how Gen Z is unplugging — albeit — temporarily.

Smartphones supply Gen Z an easy strike of dopamine, a speedy take care of for a bored mind, or an straightforward way out of social interaction. Whether or not scrolling on social media, actively playing a downloaded sport, or examining the time to stay away from eye contact, smartphones give Gen Zers a feeling of convenience. 

Early variations of social media applications were being all about keeping in touch with distant close friends and spouse and children. Now, for several persons, these spots are pits of misinformation, breeding grounds for trolls — and a catalog of cautiously curated posts to present how great an individual else’s existence is. 

From wars to catastrophic normal disasters to vast-scale social unrest, Gen Zers are constantly swamped with undesirable information. And frequently, they experience accountable for creating a good alter in the earth. Producing petitions, boosting GoFundMes, and bringing awareness to social and political troubles are the crux of Gen Z’s characteristics

After a even though, working with that barrage of info and requires becomes exhausting and potentially detrimental to one’s mental wellbeing. Some Gen Zers could come to feel the urge to set their phones down and take a crack. But that break hardly ever lasts quite very long.

There are approaches for smartphone users to quiet down the chaos guiding the glass screen, but ‘Do Not Disturb’ and ‘Focus’ configurations will not ease Gen Z’s elementary issue of being chronically on-line

Gen Z is coping with these issues by returning to retro tech, specifically say those born involving all over 1997 and 2003, who nonetheless fondly remember their parents’ flip phones, camcorders, and other early 2000s electronics.

This age group also grew up together with technologies as they matured, so did the products. A lot of Gen Zers in this group did not get their initially Apple iphone till they were 15, and it was an Apple iphone 3G. Ahead of that, numerous experienced an LG Slider or a Blackberry Curve.

Also: Nothing at all Mobile phone 1 evaluation: You ain’t observed Very little nevertheless

On the other hand, most more youthful Gen Zers been given a smartphone as youthful as 10 a long time outdated. They have been born into the age of smartphones and predatory social media algorithms. They can not keep in mind a time just before modern iPhones, and undoubtedly can’t visualize a lifetime without them. 

I would recommend Gen Zers who are in their 20s and Gen Zers who are tweens and adolescents have incredibly diverse relationships with technological know-how. And older Gen Zers are the key group looking toward their legacy tech to lighten the electronic load.

Paul Greenwood, head of investigate and insight at We Are Social, claims these more mature Gen Zers are correct on time. He told the BBC that when youthful men and women arrive at their 20s, they prolonged for the “cultural touchstones of their youth.” 

I wrote about Sony’s most recent iteration of its famed Walkman new music participant a couple of weeks back. In that report, I stated that Gen Zers would take into consideration getting the device since it fits into a retro aesthetic many test to obtain. 

I also mentioned that more mature generations could be intrigued in the product due to the fact of the nostalgic thoughts the Walkman could invoke in the children of the 60s, 70s, and 80s. But from the suggestions I been given on that write-up, it appears that older folks don’t miss their Walkman adequate to order a modernized — and much extra high priced — model of it. 

But the causes why I believed Gen Z would be intrigued by a electronic Walkman did not resonate with the more mature visitors of the post. They mentioned they have no challenge abstaining from social media although listening to new music. And they appear to be to delight in the capabilities of recent songs-streaming solutions when made use of with their smartphone’s connectivity.

Also: The most effective green telephones: Sustainable and eco-helpful smartphones

Maybe, the aspects fueling the mass unplugging I described in the Walkman article — and in this piece — are exceptional to Gen Z. This is the greatest way I can relate Gen Z’s media overconsumption to Gen X: smartphones and social are to Gen Z what television and the 24-hour news cycle was to Gen X — but even worse.

Maybe more mature people may not come to feel the consequences of doom-scrolling rather so intensely or understand how getting entry to just about every piece of info in existence can consider a large toll on one’s mental health? And perhaps they never realize how an alarming sum of Gen Zers expertise loneliness, social isolation, cyberbullying, disrupted sleep designs, and a authentic addiction to their smartphones, all thanks to the ubiquity of smartphones and social media?

With all that staying mentioned, I believe it really is commendable that some Gen Zers realize that their tech more than-use is detrimental. Becoming glued to gadgets is a habit many younger people are chastised for and, pretty frankly, can even be insecure about.

So, extra energy to you, Gen Z. We think in you.


ZDNet’s Monday Opener is our opening take on the 7 days in tech, published by associates of our editorial workforce.



Supply connection In recent times, smartphone products are continuously pushing their hardware capabilities to the limits. As a result, to the surprise of many, the demand for the simpler, retro gadgets of the past has been on the rise, especially among Gen Z. This includes flip phones and digital cameras which are increasingly being seen as not just a testament to nostalgia, but a more practical tool for the 21st century.

Flip phones, for instance, offer a more relaxed user experience and convenience compared to smartphones, giving users a much needed break from notifications and alerts. They also simplify communication and provide a more focused and streamlined point of contact, something which is becoming increasingly attractive to those who want to stay connected yet not be suffocated by the pressure of instant messaging apps.

Digital cameras, on the other hand, are more than just a reminder of our analogue past. Unlike phone cameras, these devices sport state of the art optics and technology which can result in remarkable shots, something which has been difficult to achieve with budget smartphones. For instance, many of these cameras offer full manual control of shutter speed and ISO sensitivity, as well as a range of lens types, offering a real step up compared to what is available on the majority of smartphones today.

It is clear then that there is in fact a very real demand for retro gadgets such as the flip phone and digital camera. Far from being simply a novelty, these gadgets are providing a much needed break from the ever-increasing onslaught of technology in our day-to-day lives. As such, it is wise for Gen Z to look beyond the latest smartphones and consider just how much these low-fi gadgets can offer.