Dying to Survive – The Future of Feature!

  1. YRJ
    The Lab - OnePlus 7T Reviewer Jun 20, 2020

    YRJ , Jun 20, 2020 :
    Future of feature.png

    Hello Community,

    Our smartphones of today are more powerful than ever. With strong hardware capabilities, an extensive OS, and multimedia functionality, these devices can do things that were unimaginable just a few years ago. So much so, that some see them a threat to the existence of PCs.

    With an ocean of choices, the global smartphone market is booming. There is a smartphone for every budget. You can choose to pick a smartphone for just $4 or you can spend as much as $2000. However, despite companies providing compelling propositions in every segment, feature phones continue to interest people. What should have been a thing of the past, turns out to be an appealing product for buyers - even today. That leads us to question: Why are feature phones still relevant and above all why do they still exist?

    The wireless transmission of speech has a long history but the idea of communication through a device that is wireless, mobile, and can connect to the internet is fairly recent. Even though our strong attachment to these glass and metal bodies may make it seem like they have been here forever, in reality, it has only been about 28 years! Before these all-screen wonders were a thing, mobile phones were carried around in car trunks or worn as backpacks, thereby, contradicting its core feature: "mobility"

    Pic: @dsmonteiro

    The first-ever, truly mobile phone was demonstrated by Motorola's John F. Mitchell and Martin Cooper in 1973. At a staggering 2 pounds, it was still hefty but it was a first of its kind. A device that would later revolutionize mobile connectivity and reimagine its core purpose. It was the birth of the mobile phone.

    In the years that followed, phones have been subjected to various technological advancements and have undergone some drastic changes (both on the outside and the inside). It has evolved from a device that was once meant only for talking to an inseparable extension of ourselves. From then it turned into a constant process of improvising and finding the desirable balance between form and function.

    Almost three decades since the first smartphone, consumers still are divided into 2 categories:
    • Feature Phone users
    • Smartphone users.
    Feature phones may not be as popular as they used to be, but they still happen to be the first choice for millions of people across the globe. What is keeping people from making the switch?

    The jump from a feature phone to a smartphone is a long one. And change as we know, is not easy. Feature phones and smartphones are at two opposite sides of a spectrum with a huge void in between. A void that is making it difficult for people to take the leap. While there are several factors that affect the migration, sophistication tops the list!

    Feature phones are simple, you have a green button to receive the call and a red one to hang up. For the vast majority of people, that's the only thing that matters. Smartphones on the other hand have reimagined possibilities. They have very few to absolutely no buttons at all. From switching the phone on and getting in, to placing a call successfully can prove to be a challenge and that is a potential problem. What the world needs is a perfect middle ground that can facilitate the shift and make the switch smoother. Baby steps are the key.

    Bringing smartphones to the next billion people!


    The term “Next Billion Users” (NBU) is a classification given to the segment of users who will connect to the Internet for the first time, a term first coined by Google.

    When we talk about the NBUs, generalizing them is impossible. However, to get them onboard it is important to understand the needs of prospective buyers, anticipate and solve the challenges that can arise. With smartphones becoming the primary device for consuming content and accessing the Internet, it is expected that the next wave of billion users will connect to the Internet via a smartphone.

    To bridge the ever increasing gap between smartphones and feature phones, there is a need for a device that will make this transition a lot less overwhelming than it seems to be. As it turns out, a smarter feature phone is the need of the hour.

    Recently, Reliance Jio, a major telecom operator in India, introduced a feature phone that came equipped with smart features. For starters, it can connect to the Internet, run basic applications including Whatsapp. Sporting a traditional form and look, this new breed of hybrid device, the Jio Phone, was an instant hit and the results speak for themselves: since its launch in 2017, it has sold over 70 Million units!

    Smart feature phones are an economic solution to people who are willing to join the smart category.

    The growing popularity of social apps coupled with cheap and bountiful data makes the idea of switching to a smartphone a lot more appealing. As a result, the premium smartphone market in India, a region that is expected to bring the next billion users, has registered a 21% Year-Over-Year (YoY) growth in Q1 2020 despite the situation with the virus.

    Source: Bondcap.com

    Mary Meeker, a person reffered to as the Queen of Internet, in her 2019 internet trends report stated that internet penetration has gone up from 24% in 2009 to 51% in 2018. And as of May 2020 it is already at 59.65% (according to Internet World Stats) These numbers are evidence that people are making the switch and I'm confident that others will follow suit too. To put it simply, the transition is inevitable. The aggressive pricing model adopted by new and existing players makes the deal a lot sweeter.

    Source: Internet World Stats

    Smartphones are making computing and Internet accessible for everyone. OEMs and App developers need to make combined efforts to bring smartphones to the next billion people. It is important to create accessible information about the benefits and potential of smartphones for those who are reluctant to change. As I see it, adoption of a user-friendly, multilingual, UI tailor-made for specific regions (as demographic plays a vital role when it comes to consumer habits) can provide the much-needed boost.

    The Future of Feature Phones


    Feature phones, though a basic device with limited functionality, manage to outperform even the best of smartphones in some key areas. While the battery on smartphones keeps getting bigger with every new phone it is still no match for the feature phones. The fact that they do not have applications running in the background and are not connected to the Internet all the time works in their favor. Some feature phones could last you for days, or even weeks, on a single charge. Hence, people often carry a feature phone in addition to their smartphones on long journeys.

    Durable and inexpensive: Battery life, though a strong point, isn't the only reason why feature phones are so popular. As smartphones pursue slimmer profiles and lighter weights, they are also arriving with a compromised durability. You should count yourself lucky if an above-the-knee drop does not result in shattered glass. In contrast, the feature phone is pretty much indestructible. You can drop it many times and still be sure that it will work just fine. The lack of an all-display front and use of plastic makes them less fragile than most modern-day smartphones. The icing on the cake, however, is the fact that they are cheaper than most smartphones.

    More Secure: Feature Phones have a much smaller attacking surface when compared to smartphones. The lack of 3rd party apps eradicates the possibility of open backdoors that can be exploited by hackers to steal personal data.

    With so many good's at such a compelling price, it is hard to imagine that they will ever be extinct. Well, to be honest, they aren't going to disappear anytime soon. In addition to people who are resistant to change, there are customers who use a feature phone as a secondary device for the rare, yet plausible, scenario wherein the smartphone fails. Such people are also preventing feature phones from disappearing.

    Keeping up with the trends, OEMs are evoking nostalgia by relaunching past hits! HMD Global has renewed a couple of its devices with more vibrant color options, bigger and better displays, and loads of new features. People who have used these classic devices before, instantly connect with the idea of refreshed versions. For some, it holds a sentimental value while for others it's just a novelty item.

    However, numerous efforts from OEMs to revive the feature phone segment have gone in vain. With Gartner, a global research and advisory firm, claiming a 14% drop in overall phones shipments, feature phones are only going to get less popular. And the same has already been reported in India, one of the biggest feature phone markets, where the market witnessed a 24% drop in shipments.
    In contrast, smartphone shipments grew by a modest 4% in the same quarter.

    Naturally, the next step is to make these feature phones smarter. Companies are bringing back classic tried and tested designs such as the clamshell or open and shut style phones in a smarter form. The recently announced Moto Razr is a fine example.

    While the demand for feature phones is currently on the decline, it will take quite a long time for feature phones to disappear completely. They will be kept alive by people who use their phone only for talking or who simply want to stay away from smartphones.

    Given current market trends and consumer habits, both these categories of devices will have to co-exist. For the reasons stated above, it is impossible to pick a clear winner. These products have their own user base and it will continue to fulfill their needs accordingly. The question of the hour is: Will the next billion users choose the smartphone or a smarter feature phone?

    I guess only time will tell. But one thing is for certain, feature phones aren't going anywhere, not yet at least.


    What do you think: Are feature phones an immortal species or will they soon be replaced by smarter feature phones?
    If OnePlus was to make a feature / smarter feature phone, would you buy it?

    I'm curious to hear your thoughts.



  2. #2
  3. Dresa91
    User of the Year 2016 Jun 20, 2020

    Dresa91 , Jun 20, 2020 :
    wow! Thanks @YRJ for this very detailed thread:)!

    well, let me answer your questions:

    Are feature phones an immortal species or will they soon be replaced by smarter feature phones?
    I think they will be replaced by smarter feature phones. Why? Because it is the future and everything is getting smarter: TV, refrigerator, cars, etc.
    To make sure, you can use all the smart features, which are provided by the new devices and gadgets, you have to use a smarter feature phone. So, this will be the future - no matter if you like and want it or not .

    If OnePlus was to make a feature / smarter feature phone, would you buy it?
    Well, to keep up my last answer, you have to buy it. There won’t be a choice. Why? because, to use this new features and to get the latest security features/updates you have to buy new phones, because old (feature phones) phones are reaching eol and won’t be supported anymore.


  4. Dresa91
    User of the Year 2016 Jun 20, 2020

    Dresa91 , Jun 20, 2020 :
    oh, one addition: the real reason why a feature phone will survive is the original snake game of Nokia :p

  5. Batman360
    Lollipop Jun 20, 2020

    Batman360 , Jun 20, 2020 :
    @YRJ an amazing read 😊 Clearer facts, data, graphs, you searched everything didn't you? 😉 The aesthetic of the photo by @dsmonteiro is too good🔥

    And to answer your questions:
    Tbh I don't think the next billions are going to buy a feature phones, as the the coming generations will more more smarter than the current one. A child who is just 4y/o learns to you a smartphone before it could even walk or talk properly these days. But the older generation like my grandfather/grandmother give them a new feature phone like the Jio Phone that you mentioned, they will be as happy as us getting a OnePlus 8 series device.
    Also naa, I wouldn't buy a feature phone may it be any company. The need of the hour is smartphones, everything you do is mostly on the smartphones these days so yeah that is that😊

  6. Chiranjit Das
    Gingerbread Jun 20, 2020

    Immi007, buntycubal and YRJ like this.
  7. Kleb32
    Gingerbread Jun 20, 2020

    Kleb32 , via OnePlus 6T , Jun 20, 2020 :
    This is a great read, in Africa they have a market coz smartphones are relatively still expensive for an average consumer. The feature phones are why Africa has grown very fast in internet connectivity.

  8. G_plusone
    Marshmallow Jun 20, 2020

    G_plusone , Jun 20, 2020 :
    That was a scam right :p
    I don't think the feature phone market will bloom Though there are people now who prefer to use feature phones to be away from the internet and people who can't afford to buy smartphones.
    In a couple of years You could buy a used phone instead of a feature phone seeing how cheap used old phones are these days.

    To your Hypothetical question no I'd probably still get a Nokia or maybe even the banana phone . It has to be very compelling for me to even consider it like the OnePlus one or 3(T) or 7T .
    Btw nice one Pewds

  9. DoubleEye
    Cupcake Jun 20, 2020

  10. Horsault
    Nougat Moderator Jun 20, 2020

  11. Dhruv Kashyap , via OnePlus 7T Glacier Blue , Jun 20, 2020 :
    @YRJ another amazing thread, congrats!

    The future of feature phones is bright indeed.

    And, Why not, the OnePlus Zord (My way of nomenclature😬😅) can be an immense hit in the world, maybe we can see people switching back from smart phones to feature phones after being caught up in existence of the smartest to being smart themselves and enjoying real life more than virtual life[e]1f31f[/e][e]2728[/e]🙃

  12. deep0611
    Honeycomb Jun 20, 2020

    deep0611 , via OnePlus 8 Pro , Jun 20, 2020 :
    Very intresting and detailed article @YRJ an amazing read [e]1f60a[/e]
    In near future feature phone will replaced by smarter feature phone. Now a days a small kid would also like to have a phone in which he can play video in internet or play games, take pictures etc. So in future people use a feature phone which has smarter feature.
    For your second question I can't think one plus as a feature phone manufacturer. Not in my dreams also. If I have to use a feature phone, I would go to Samsung or Nokia, not other company.
    Last edited: Jun 20, 2020

  13. mak63
    Eclair Jun 20, 2020

    mak63 , via OnePlus 8 , Jun 20, 2020 :
    Feature phones...they are cheap, durable, longest battery life, FM radio,
    The first thing is the cost. Smart phone how soever made cheap can not match feature phone. I think it is most difficult for any company to sale smart phone which will fulfill smartness criteria's at less than 50 dollars. The feature phone highest model is matching this price. Many if not most of the users use phone for basic function of making calls and sending text message today. Even money transfer is also possible with feature phone. So if basic requirements are met at very low and affoarding price most of the above 50 yes age group will be inclined to the feature phone.

    They are durable...no second thought about it. Look at today's smart phone, if you drop it you are definitely going to break either the back or the front most of the time and end up spending almost half the price you bought it for. This is the most fearsome experience every smart phone user is bound to experience. It is not the case with feature phone. I had dropped and thrown my Nokia phones N number of times and you reassemble it and is back in action without single penny cost involved. The elderly parents and parents of young kids require this kind of handset which is practically indistuctible.

    All the feature phones have long long battery life, good standbye and good talk time. No smart phone can beat the record. Where will you get month of stand bye time and very long talk time.

    All of the feature phones have FM radio and also have SD card where we can store tones of songs which can entertain for hours. The feature phones have head fone jack which is available for few hundred rupees. Now we can have TV and OTT videos available. Only con is small screen to watch on.

    Modern smart feature phones have 4G dual SIM available and also can be used as modem in hotspot mode. This connecting it to TV or laptop is also possible.

    I personally feel smart feature phones with not very big but
    4 inch display is adequate to beat most of the smart phones in their own game. It will be good competition for HMD global which is the only company making great quality feature phones at present from rupees 1000 onward to 4 to 5000 the famous Banana phone with Kia OS rendering some of the smart features to it like what's app, Facebook, Twitter, email and also has TV and OTT platform available. Only con is small display which can be solved with 4" touch screen and keyboard sliding underneath. If we as OnePlus can make such a device I will be first one to buy it and very sure many will be willing for it.

  14. YRJ
    The Lab - OnePlus 7T Reviewer Jun 20, 2020

    YRJ , Jun 20, 2020 :
    Hahah! Have to admit, it is :p
    You're welcome. I am pleased to hear your thoughts :)
    How I love that game lol
    Heheh! Only the numbers were a research, rest everything happens to be my opinions ;)
    Glad you liked it :)
    This is so true! :sweatsmile:

    Indeed. Smarter Feature phones are just the thing that people need to get a taste of the internet.
    Hahah! Nope that is different. I'm not talking about Freedom 251 but Adcom ikon 4 ;)

    That was a thing of beauty :hearteyes:

    Thank you!
    Noted. :D
    Omg! That's hilarious:tearsofjoy:
    Why does this sound familiar :grin:

    Btw, I too would buy a feature / smarter feature phone. I would not use it as a daily driver but it would make for a great novelty item.
    Cannot agree more. My 1.5 year old nephew can unlock and launch YouTube on his phone. Its really amazing how much they know about smartphones. He would eat or drink without his favourite rhyme playing in the background. I didn't know the first thing about phones when I was his age :laughing:
    I need to devise a detox plan for these kids now. :sweatsmile:
    I do agree with mostly everything you stated.

  15. Starcommander
    Lollipop Jun 20, 2020

    Starcommander , Jun 20, 2020 :
    Click click keyboard 🥺 Blackberry tried but failed ☹️

  16. G_plusone
    Marshmallow Jun 20, 2020

    G_plusone , Jun 20, 2020 :
    Oh didn't know that :D
    Thanks for the graph
    Z ultra was 6.4 inches :p
    Op8 pro is more although z ultra probably had more screen.
    Look at where we have come to especially when see at the fold phones

  17. YRJ
    The Lab - OnePlus 7T Reviewer Jun 20, 2020

    YRJ , Jun 20, 2020 :
    I used the Bold and curve for a brief period, absolutely loved it! Its unfortunate they phased out :(

  18. Dresa91
    User of the Year 2016 Jun 20, 2020

    Dresa91 , Jun 20, 2020 :

    haha, I loved it too:D

  19. Starcommander
    Lollipop Jun 20, 2020

    Starcommander , Jun 20, 2020 :

  20. Swatiranjan
    Ice Cream Sandwich Jun 20, 2020

    Swatiranjan , via OnePlus 7T , Jun 20, 2020 :
    Yet another skillfully... factfully...wonderfully presented thread by our Very own @YRJ .

    4$ - freedom ???

    Your thread has forced me to think about feature or future.
    I feel feature phones have already Rested in Peace. They can give a nostalgic feel only.
    Really..... When I see a Nokia 1100 or a Blackberry Curve ( first generation) , I feel bad because once I was in love with these phones. Blackberry was considered as the most prestigious phone at that time.
    But with changing requirements I really never miss them except 2 things -
    1. Battery ( Atleast 7 days of rough use)
    2. I had a phone ( Many didn't have). At least the snake game or the torch ( who can think of a phone with a torch in-built at that time) or long press the # button to listen a soft voice " The time is 6:30 PM" I already mentioned that #nostalgic feel [e]1f60a[/e]

    No sir... I won't return back to the featured phones. I would rather look forward for the smartest phone which can take care of other works as well.

    Thanks for the thread in a beautiful Saturday evening. [e]1f44d[/e]