The cell phone market is both fast-paced and volatile. Things are constantly changing and new tech is always being introduced. We've seen companies rise and fall in a matter of years ... and even months in some cases, operating systems that make tablets more like desktops and 3D phones are just around the corner.  Something we have yet to see though, is the extinction of a particular style of phone.

Looking back just six years ago, feature and messaging phones were all that were widely available. But smartphones had just started entering the scene. There has always been a fine line between these two categories: smartphones were easily capable of sending and receiving emails, browsing the Internet, running applications and much more, while feature phones were primarily meant to make calls, take (poor) pictures, and send SMS and MMS messages. More recently, however, the feature phone has slightly adapted to the communication era. Carriers have created feature phone-specific data plans, allowing users with feature phones to (painfully) browse the Internet – mainly for social media like Facebook or Twitter.

For a while, this seemed to work. But in light of all of the new technology and ever-evolving mobile operating systems, feature phones have quickly taken a back seat to the more functional and more desired smartphones. The question is, will they eventually die out ... for good?

Initially, I have to say no. Just like the basic flip phone has stuck around, the messaging phone will, too. Being "middle tech" with limited marketability, these phones have simply become a way to save a few pennies instead of splurging for that smartphone. They still have a target demographic: teens who are on their parents' plan and adults who don't care to pay extra for data. This alone will keep the feature phone alive for several years.

But wireless providers have quickly learned that smartphones can be much more lucrative than their predecessors by making relatively expensive data plans mandatory. Ever since the popularization of the smartphone, both manufacturers and carriers have put less focus on feature phones, turning that extra attention to Android, BlackBerry, the iPhone, etc. As a side-effect, build quality, durability and even specifications of messaging phones have taken a turn for the worse.

Like I said before, feature phones attempted to bridge the gap between a basic phone and smartphones. With this added functionality, carriers have felt the need to implement a minimum data requirement for all multimedia phones. Pairing this with the fact that most carriers are moving toward tiered data for smartphones effectively makes messaging phones more of a nuisance and smartphones a more viable option for the money customers are required to pay each month. You can get a higher quality smartphone with a smaller data package – that you can actually use – for what you could get a messaging phone with its required package.

Even still, I highly doubt messaging phones will completely disappear anytime soon. They will continue to be made simply to keep the technology alive for those who still refute smartphones. That said, carriers will continue to make it harder for users who don't want to adopt the new tech by requiring data plans on devices that aren't optimized for data use in the first place and rehashing the exact same phones with different names time and time again.

It's pretty obvious that carriers are playing hardball, trying to entice customers to upgrade to a smartphone. Will it work? Will feature/messaging/multimedia phones eventually die out for good? Or will they stick around only for carriers make them completely and entirely undesirable amongst the ever-popular smartphones?

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54 Reactions to this post

"Will feature and messaging phones eventually die out?"

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Zach Cline
Zach Cline I hope android dies out in the next five years. I'm sick of the mindless fandroids .
Michael Garrett
Michael Garrett no never...
Tyler Madsen
Tyler Madsen yes
Cole Mannuzza
Cole Mannuzza That picture reminds me of a motorola rival but its touch, possible motorola rival 2?
Shawn Poling
Shawn Poling Probably someday.
Clint Winstead
Clint Winstead The clock is ticking for sure.
Leroy Litchmore Jr
Leroy Litchmore Jr The real problem needs to be addressed. Battery life. Smarter more powerful phones are being made but they still have the same 1500mah battery. What is that about?
Daryl Pruitt
Daryl Pruitt i really hope they do not...because my dad doesnt ever need to pay for a data plan
Andy Trinh
Andy Trinh Yea
Zach Cline
Zach Cline "Course" . People need to learn how to spell.
Mike Lee
Mike Lee Of coarse
Cameron Tanner
Cameron Tanner No, I believe the amount will, like not as many will be made, but they should still be around for beginners and senior citizens there are quite a few but not many people use them, I believe that they won't die out, but the quantity will most likely decrease over time
Nathaniel Hull
Nathaniel Hull Eventually on contract carriers probably......... but not for a while till the younger crowd is the old folks
Ben Conover
Ben Conover there's still old people and 5 yr olds (unfortunately)
Ben Bartholomew
Ben Bartholomew just like t9 feature phones did. It's gonna suck for those who can't afford a data plan.
Shaun Lim
Shaun Lim i think feature phones would someday have either symbian/android 1.6/bada as their os/platform
Christopher Blaine Erb
Christopher Blaine Erb Thought they already did....
James Adelan Cowie
James Adelan Cowie Never. Not in this time
Sashikaran Giritharan
Sashikaran Giritharan well i am big fan of phonedog but in srilanka and i think high end smart phones are not affordable here and we do not have any kind of plans like us and europe so dont have a choice but to buy a low end device
Andrew Johnson
Andrew Johnson As smart phones get better and faster, the old ones will take the place of the messaging phones and feature phones. So in a way yes.
Anonymous Today's smartphone will be tomorrow's feature phone.
Kyle Adams
Kyle Adams These should disappear. People that claim to not "want" a smartphone probably really do but cant get one for whatever reason. People are happy with smartphones. How could you not be?
Jason Vargas
Jason Vargas Feature yes. Messaging no. Sidekick 4G is a pretty cool messaging device. It could use some improvements though
Kevin Lo
Kevin Lo In my opinion, feature phone is really match with tablet, if it has the network relay ability.
Carlos Quinones
Carlos Quinones Probably not. Simply because the data plans on smartphones r too expensive for some people. Feature phones usually have much cheaper data plans, which is just enough for most people and younger kids.
Sunny Patel
Sunny Patel Some people can't really afford smart phones but maybe android 1.6 will become a "feature phone "
Matt Weber
Matt Weber Probably
Erman Guido
Erman Guido not messaging phones...
Skye Villanueva
Skye Villanueva Yea....they will all become low end android phones...
Eddie Velasquez
Eddie Velasquez Yes
Terry Nolting
Terry Nolting @Sumeet: But they don't want to pay for a data plan if they don't get on the web. Smartphones, you have a data plan, feature phones you don't if you don't want it.
Matt Bourdette
Matt Bourdette Yeah
Daniel Galletti
Daniel Galletti messaging phones and feature phones are important. The keep things simple to use and functional in today's world. Because some people Dnt really know to use and full blown android or symbian or other OS for different phones. So companies make phones to make things simple so honestly in my opinion feature and messaging phones will no be done for and will keep going. As well as there cheaper to buy especially with the crisis occurring some can't afford an iPhone or an Evo and that's being concervative. But all in all they are here to stay. :)
Heather V. Crutchley
Heather V. Crutchley If smartphone plans go down more in price, I'm sure feature phones will die.
Kevin McFarland
Kevin McFarland Yea
Sumeet Deshmukh
Sumeet Deshmukh @terry, frnd smartphones also suports calling and txt
Ryan Nusbaum
Ryan Nusbaum No, the older generation and some people just want a phone to call and text message.
Eric Kroh
Eric Kroh Yep...every phone will need data soon enough
Terry Nolting
Terry Nolting No, I don't think so. Their are still people out there who just want to call and txt. I think the phones they have to choose from will be smaller, but not die out.
Sumeet Deshmukh
Sumeet Deshmukh I think aftr some yrs phone makers will stop producing featured phones! So any one will use smart phone in replace to there laptops, digi cam, pda and phone! And spcly android divises! Bcz they r avilable from many manufracturers And also web os will hit the markt in few years
Joe Steiger
Joe Steiger They need to do 1 data plan per plan, not per line
Kevin Gongob
Kevin Gongob Some people don't like or need a data plan or smartphone. I believe the market will continue producing these types of phones.
Adrian Fernandez
Adrian Fernandez Only if data rates go down for consumers to jump on board for a smartphone.
Ricky Hitch Johnson
Ricky Hitch Johnson I agree wit Stephen, I personally LOVE phones wit touchscreens AND keyboards! Makes life that much easier!
Frank Valle
Frank Valle Naaah its gonna b awhile for those phones to die out especially since there are hundreds of ppl that still prefer a simpler phone compared to android
Kaleb Klee
Kaleb Klee I wish we could get more high end smart phones with physical keyboards
Javon Johnson Turner
Javon Johnson Turner They already are!
Chris Byrd
Chris Byrd Old people hate smartphones
Stephen Wagner
Stephen Wagner i really think they shouldnt, because for people like my whole family who dont like smartphones they just need something with a nice full keyboard and the basic features (pic,video,text,mms, etc...) they cant just get rid of phones like this
Zack Northern
Zack Northern Ehh I think they might but then again there is a bunch of people who don't like high end devices and prefer something more simpler so they will probably stay around but only be a small selection to choose from.
Mark Charlton
Mark Charlton yupp
Tomas Hernandez
Tomas Hernandez Eh
Sumeet Deshmukh
Sumeet Deshmukh Obsly! Yes
David Laweka
David Laweka yes

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