Human Mobile Devices, Europe’s largest and leading smartphone manufacturer, partners with Mattel, a leading global toy company and owner of one of the strongest portfolios of children’s and family entertainment franchises in the world, to create the Barbie Flip Phone arriving this summer 2024.  

Barbie is an icon of design, from the chevron stripes of No. 1 Barbie released in 1959 to the bold styling of Totally Hair Barbie which hit the market in 1992.  This device promises to embody the vintage chic of the original girl empowerment brand with a dash of pink and of course, sparkle.

Human Mobile Devices Chief Marketing Office, Lars Silberbauer, said: “Is it time to swap reel life for real life and take a breather from all the interruptions of notifications? We’re thrilled to partner with Mattel, a company that shares our commitment to meaningful innovation and societal change.”

Head of Consumer Products, Publishing, and LBE, Mattel EMEA, Ruth Henriquez said “At the heart of Mattel is design and innovation, and this latest collaboration is another step forward in that direction. The Barbie x HMD launch promises to be an exciting moment for Barbie fans of all ages, we’re excited to flip the switch and unveil it to the world at Mobile World Congress.”.

Flip phones are beloved for offering a solution for a digital detox in a world where almost four in ten (38%) of 16-24 year-olds worry they spend too much time on their smartphone.  In the US alone, a third of Gen Z are actively trying to limit time on social media, and their fear of missing out (FOMO) is creeping down.

Gen Z are the only generation whose daily time on social media has fallen since Q1 2021 for the better. Since 2021 talking to friends online dropped 13%, while seeing friends in-person increased to 28%.

Feature phones are on the rise as Gen Z and millennials are choosing to limit their screen time for their own mental health. Self-named ‘screenagers’ took to TikTok with #bringbackflipphones garnering 60.2 million views.

But it’s not just a generational shift, it’s a cultural movement. The great switch-off trend, initiated in 2021, is gaining momentum as people of all ages seek balance in an increasingly digital world. Feature phones are making a comeback with HMD reporting Flip Phone sales alone more than doubled in Europe (2022 vs 2023) and expects further growth in 2024.

Even celebrities are jumping on board, with Michael Cera,  opting for a flip phone lifestyle.

Arne Mathiasen, advocate of the feature phone movement works with young people in Denmark to help them switch off and enjoy the present.  So far he has converted over 1500 university students from a smartphone to a feature phone. He said: “My students take part in experiments where they switch to a feature phone for ten days. The students noticeably chatted more with each other, reported better sleep and also said their anxiety levels dropped. It’s all about the balance; I like to say to my students, use your smartphone like a tablet, use it for what you need, then put it away, don’t get lost in it.”