The Israeli importer of Nokia products said there had been a 200% increase in sales of so-called dumb phones last week.
The jump is thought to be due to Israelis worried about sophisticated spyware like NSO Group’s Pegasus, after reports that police were spying on civilians with the software.
Devices other than smartphones have limited or no internet connectivity, do not allow browsing and lack messaging platforms such as WhatsApp, Telegram and others, making them harder to infiltrate .
The Calcalist financial newspaper, which cited no source or evidence, reported on Monday that spyware was deployed without due judicial review against senior government officials, mayors, activist leaders, journalists, as well as members family and advisers of former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
According to data provided to Walla News by HY Group, over the past three days, more than 4,000 single Nokia units have been purchased. In a normal week, between 1,000 and 2,000 devices are usually sold.
Liav Ron, Nokia brand manager at HY Group, told Walla that “there is a meteoric rise in the sale of older generation phones… These are simple ‘send and finish’ phones that have experienced a crazy increase in sales. He came out of nowhere.”
Asked about the security of the devices, he said: “Only hackers and law enforcement can answer that question, but overall the older generation feature-phone that is not a smartphone n doesn’t have content like Facebook and Instagram, so there’s already not a lot of content that can be pulled from the device. You can buy simple phones that have WhatsApp, but on most devices, it doesn’t acts only messages and calls.
The simplest phone available, which only includes the option to receive and make calls and send and receive text messages, costs around 100 NIS ($30).
Finance Minister Avigdor Liberman flaunted his stupid phone on Twitter on Monday, saying: “For years everyone asked how I could manage without a smartphone – now everyone knows I’m doing great! “
ככים ככוםם שואלים איך אני סססדר בני ססארטפון – יום כוםם מבסדר צצוםי ס ן! pic.twitter.com/nC5HFOTDkv
— אביגדור ליברמן (@AvigdorLiberman) February 7, 2022
Non-smartphones from once-ubiquitous Finnish company Nokia remain popular among some ultra-Orthodox in Israel, who shy away from internet access but still want to be contactable when away from home. They are also sometimes used by older people who find it difficult to manage smartphones.