Russia, the strange case of the return to feature phones

The number of feature phones sold in the Russian country is growing: only in the first quarter of 2022 deliveries increased by 43%. Experts fear that the sharp increase in demand is mainly influenced by the Russian-Ukrainian conflict.

It looks like a new chapter in the saga “Back to the Future” but is not so.
There Russia choose to go back to using feature phones: mobile phones that have basic functionality, physical keys and no internet connection.


In the first quarter of this year, deliveries of vintage mobile phones in Russia increased by 43% compared to the same period last year and reached 3.5 million devicesaccording to a report by the analytical center of the Gs Group. At the same time, smartphone imports fell by 14%, a 6.8 million units.

The report notes that the number of vintage mobile phones imported in the first quarter is the same as in 2017, but lower than in 2019 (4.2 million devices).
The sharp rise in feature phone imports was caused by a large supply of the then new brand Inoi (a Russian brand that in addition to push-button phones produces cheap smartphones, tablets and wireless headphones, ed.). In the first quarter of this year, most of the imports of mobile phones – about two million devices – were supplied by three Russian brands: the aforementioned Inoi, F + And Bq.

The possible reasons for the return to feature phones

The head of the Gs Group analytical center Alexander Surkov explains that: “The popularity factors of feature phones are still relevant: simplicity and reliability, low price, long battery and lack of internet access.”
But the return to vintage mobile phones is not limited only to what the expert reported.
After the start of“Special military operation” in Ukrainesome foreign smartphone brands have suspended the supply of their products to Russia: among the main companies in the smartphone market, the American Apple and the South Korean Samsung.
Also, due to logistics and pricing problems, shipments of Chinese brands Xiaomi, Huawei and Oppo nearly halved in early March. At the end of the third month of 2022, Russian retailers predicted that availability of imported devices in the country would be enough for two to three months.
According to the Russian news site Rbc this would be the period in which Russian citizens decided to return to feature phones.
“Traditionally, more vintage cell phones are used as additional devices for work, first devices for children and the elderly, or as an alternative to the home phone. It should be emphasized that the number of employees in the service sector who need an economic device for communication has also increased “, says a representative of M.Video-Eldorado.

However, later the prime minister of Russia Mikhail Mishustin allowed the parallel import (import into the country without the consent of the copyright holder) of requested foreign goods, including the list of Ministry of Industry and Commerce for phones, watches and wireless headphones, gadgets and electronic products supplied by the companies Samsung, Nokia, Sony, Siemens, HP, as well as printers and scanners of the Chinese brands Huawei and Lenovo.

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Russia, the strange case of the return to feature phones


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