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The latest mobile trend? Flip phones

Advocates cite ease of use, but the celebrity nude hack may have also played a part.

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Credit: iStockphoto

It's funny how often we abandon a technology in favor of something new, only to return to the old. Vinyl albums are the poster child for this, as audiophiles frustrated with the horrendous sound of compressed MP3 audio seek out the cleaner, more natural sound of analog records. While everything else in the music industry is trending down, vinyl is going up.

Apparently, a similar new trend appears to be flip phones, aka feature phones, aka dumb phones. The devices of a decade ago were rapidly disappearing in favor of smartphones, but CBS News notes that many celebrities are making the switch back.

Vogue's editor-in-chief Anna Wintour was seen at the U.S. Open three months ago with a flip phone model from the early 2000s, while actress Kate Beckinsale and singer Rihanna were also photographed using the old technology. New York Senator Chuck Schumer is said to like his flip phone so much he's stockpiling the device, since he figures "they'll stop making them sooner or later."

Actually, they haven't. Flip phones continue to be offered as cheap or free phones by the major carriers and are often used as disposable phones or by the second-tier carriers.

This isn't the first article on the resurrection of flip phones. CNN last month had a piece on the subject, but it noted that the trend was starting among hipsters with their reflexive, go-against-the-grain mindset. It also noted that some people just plain didn't want the features of a smartphone, like Facebook and mail, and a flip phone gave them a chance to unplug.

CBS rightfully noted that celebrities are gravitating toward the privacy that a flip phone provides. Don't think for one minute that "The Fappening" of a few months back isn't playing a role. Rihanna was one of the victims, although given her propensity for posing without clothing, it wasn't much the public hasn’t already seen.

While the massive breach is a good reason to switch – and I'm sure Jennifer Lawrence has one by now – the movement back to flip phones isn't exactly new or driven by the celebrity nude hack. Mashable gave a bunch of good reasons in January, and they were valid – small and easy to carry, battery charge lasts for days, very durable compared to smartphones.

But there's also the fact that many feature phones don't have Bluetooth and/or Wi-Fi, making them virtually impossible to hack, and that alone has its appeal. So flip phones are secure by their primitive nature. For celebrities, the why isn't their concern. All they care about is the what.

For business, of course, this isn't feasible. With so much work done on smartphones, this retro gimmick is not going to happen. But it is amusing to watch something old become new again.

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