That image above of a plastic toy flip phone in the hands of an actual Barbie Doll is as close as anyone has gotten yet to seeing what could be the most anticipated phone launch of 2024. Ok, so that’s stretching it a bit, but this will be big – HMD has partnered with Mattel to release a Barbie Flip Phone in the middle of this year.

HMD (Human Mobile Devices) Chief Marketing Officer Lars Silberbauer says “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.”

This comes as the company sees a growing demand for a digital detox and for even the youngest phone users to step away from their smartphones. HMD say 38% of 16-24 year olds worry they spend too much time on their smartphones, while in the US alone one third of Gen Z are actively trying to limit time on Social Media with FOMO in decline.

Enter the flip phone, and what better time for the Barbie brand to branch out into this kind of device after the 2023 success of the Barbie Movie, Head of Consumer Products at Mattel 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.”

These “dumb phones” or more correctly “Feature phones” are on the rise, as many people choose to limit screen time for their own mental health – a long way though from having an impact on the business of Samsung or Apple though.

Today’s announcement at Mobile World Congress here in Barcelona was a line in the sand for HMD, looking to grow beyond their successful Nokia brand in the market, but drawing on that technology for partnerships like this.

HMD representatives will meet with Australian retailers such as Harvey Norman, JB HiFi and Officeworks here in Barcelona over the days ahead, so expect to see Barbie make a splash in Australia mid-year.