Heineken just announced its own flip phone, and it oozes nostalgia

Partnering with HMD and a clothing brand, the beer company unveils The Boring Phone, a flip phone that has no apps. Here's why we need this and what it's actually for.
Written by Kyle Kucharski, Editor

Heineken, the beer company, just released a flip phone. Yes, you read that right. The phone is a collaboration between Heineken, a Boston-based clothing label named Bodega, and Human Mobile Devices (HMD), one of the leading manufacturers of "dumbphones".

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Named "The Boring Phone", Heineken's flip phone exudes nostalgic circa 2000 vibes with a translucent shell and 2.8-inch QVGA display. The marketing imagery, cleverly reminiscent of physically scanned pages from a Delia's catalog, claims the phone will take you back to a time when "smartphones weren't a thing." The phone's (lack of) features are notable, but it's the concept that's being marketed here.

Digital detox is real, and people are increasingly interested in downgrading away from the perma-connectivity of smartphones back to a "simpler time" when phones were just phones. But the awareness that it's even possible to divest from the smartphone lifestyle is relatively new.

That's where phones like the Boring Phone come in. It works, but there's no point in looking too closely at its specs. It does have a little 0.3-megapixel camera, but it has no apps and essentially only works for calling and texting. Or, as Heineken says, "no features. But, with tons of swag."

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This isn't the first time we've seen this sort of promotional phone product, either. Earlier this year, HMD announced plans to release a Barbie flip phone, capitalizing on the hype generated by the movie while generating awareness of the dumbphone product.

Heineken's phone, which will be unveiled at Milan Design Week (not the usual venue for tech announcements, in case you were wondering), will unfortunately not be very easy to get ahold of. Heineken stated that the phone will be "given away" to those wishing to "reclaim quality time with friends, family and loved ones." That's... vague. But there's also a form on the Boring Phone website you can submit to stay posted on updates.


HMD's current mission plan seems to revolve around partnerships like this -- pairing with well-known brands to create experiential devices that show off the dumbphone concept via viral marketing. Well, it's working: I'm writing about it right now, and --as HMD stated in a press release earlier this year -- 2024 will see several of these partnerships.

But how many marketing ploys do we need? There is a genuine curiosity and desire for a dumbphone product, and it's growing, but eventually it will need to be anchored by an actual product. Sure, anyone can power down their iPhone right now, throw it in a drawer, and go buy a new Nokia dumbphone. But those phones don't inspire a lifestyle the way an iPhone or Samsung Galaxy does.

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What the market needs is a well-designed, intentional post-smartphone device -- a dumbphone that captures the desire for a return to a simpler time, but is informed by modern technology and made practical for life in 2024.

Imagine something that looks and feels like an iPhone (smooth, touch-based UI, vibrant display) but only has call, text, and email capabilities and nothing else. For now, the concept remains niche, but one that many will be watching closely.

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