The End of an Experiment

I love technology. In particular, I’ve long held a grand fascination with computers. During the spring and fall growing up((But not the summers. Those were spent in the technological void that is my mother’s house, which still does not have internet. In 2015. Because it’s apparently Satan. But that’s another post for another time.)), I would play near-daily football games at my grandparents’ house with my cousins. I would detail the results of our games in spreadsheet after spreadsheet of data, thanks in part to one cousin’s willingness to note take during games. When I first got regular access to internet in 2006((I didn’t have regular internet access until about two weeks before I went to college. Even in the rural area I grew up in, this was extremely late…like 5-7 years late)), my mind was opened up to a new world of technology, opinions, cultures, and opportunities. I found it to be a wonderful thing.

In late 2009, I got my first smartphone, a Motorola Q9. Over the next few years, my smartphone became my primary source for connecting with and learning about the outside world. Without it, many of my day-to-day activities — in particular keeping in touch with friends, reading relatively unbiased news, and dating — would have become significantly more difficult. Nevermind the fact that having a smartphone made three months in Manila, as well as a pair of cross-USA moves significantly easier.

In the spring of 2013, I decided to give up my smartphone for a dumbphone. I stopped using my Motorola Droid x2 and switched to a Samsung Intensity III (pictured below).

Samsung Intensity III


Save for a pair of one day spans where I’ve forgotten said phone places((I’ve never forgotten my phone anywhere before having this phone. I had a phone stolen once, but making my phone’s alarm trigger remotely in the thief’s home for four hours straight was worth it)), I’ve used that phone continuously as my primary form of communication for the past 22 months. There’s a lot I’ve learned during that time just from having a non-smartphone as my phone. I figured I’d share a few of those points with you all.

  • Very little changes in terms of communicating. While not having a smartphone obviously means less access to email when I’m out and about (more on that in a moment), I still had the ability to call and text people. Sure, it took a few weeks…okay, months…of getting used to a physical keyboard again. That said, just because I didn’t have a smartphone doesn’t mean I forgot how to take a phone call.
  • You get really weird looks from people for not having a smartphone. Most people tend to assume that you are either a technological dinosaur or sub-poverty line poor if you don’t have a smartphone. Toying with people by showing them my dumbphone before outsmarting them in a technological debate was (and still is) great fun.
  • Most of those weird looks go away when you explain that it’s for financial purposes. Nearly everyone understands the need to make a better living and future for yourself. Saving an extra $35 a month on my cell phone bill by switching to a dumbphone was one of the easiest choices I could make. Of course, with how Verizon’s plans have changed since then, that difference is not as significant. A smartphone plan now with unlimited calls and texting, though not unlimited data((Seriously though, cell phone companies getting rid of unlimited data is the third biggest policy error they’ve made in the last 15 years, behind opposing net neutrality and supporting NSA spying)) costs less than my non-smartphone plan did in 2013.
  • It’s a great conversation piece for interviews. I’ve pulled out my phone on more than one occasion in an interview, just to see how people would react. I personally don’t care what people say to me. However if they’re scoffing at my slider phone, how can they be expected to maintain their composure if a customer asks them a stupid question on the phone?((Yes, Virginia, there is such a thing as a stupid question.))
  • It’s very freeing, particularly when it comes to email. If you’re like me, you’re the type of person who will reply immediately to an email if at all possible. Just having that little bit of disconnect between my email and my phone was a very calming feeling. While I did set my dumbphone up to pull up email through its web browser, it was something I rarely used — maybe 2-3 times a month at most.
  • We live in a world with so much technology that a smartphone isn’t needed — yet is the best way to combine everything we need. Unless you’re typing up a dissertation or a blog post with excessive formatting((Like the one you’re reading)), most everyday activities that you’d complete on the internet don’t need a full-blown computer to use. While I love my iPad mini((Arguably the second best purchase I’ve made in the last 12 months)), the convenience of having a phone/computer I can fit in my pocket is wonderful.

Despite this experiment going better than expected, I’m dropping my self-imposed smartphone ban. I’ve gone back to my Droid x2 while I await being able to upgrade in April, where I’ll continue my shift to Apple products((A shift which has been partially motivated by Microsoft killing off Windows 8. Seriously though, I love that OS.)). A dying dumbphone battery helped nudge me in that direction. With that said, I don’t regret this experiment. I think it helped me to reorganize some priorities, while also allowing me to better structure my day around — as well as independent of — technology.

The End of an Experiment

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16 thoughts on “The End of an Experiment

  1. Since I rarely call people, seriosuly, I hate making phone calls, and I never had unlimited texting, getting a smartphone was a blessing because I could use whatsapp and text mx friends whenever I wanted. Plus, it was very helpful as I spent way too much time in hospitals or on way to hospitals, either to navigate or to kill time.
    Like you though, I am also generally the kind of person who tries to answer everything at once because when I don’t I tend to forget about that email and it sits in my inbox for 3 months until I remember that there was something I needed to reply to.
    That said, I can understand your motivation to use a dumbphone and while I could live without my smartphone, of course I could, I don’t want to.

    1. I think that once I go buy a new smartphone (April), I’ll appreciate it more. The battery on my current smartphone is on par with my dumb phone, in that neither one is worth a damn. The more I talk to millennials outside of my friend circle, the more I think that I’m in the minority because I like making phone calls and like getting voicemails.

      1. I have very personal reasons why I hate making actual phone calls thanks to my father. I don’t even know when the last time was that I got a voicemail and while I can now make phone calls without breaking into a sweat, I still prefer not to.

  2. I tried this is 2012. I felt basically the same way…it really wasn’t so bad, especially for how much money I saved…but I switched back to an iPhone in 2013. I like being able to navigate and look stuff up and keep up with my blog things when I’m on the go.

    1. Verizon changing the way their upgrades work immediately before I upgraded (a fact which I knew about but didn’t put much stock in) kept me from making a change sooner. To be fair, the dumbphone sold to me was sold as being able to do more than it actually did, which was annoying. But that’s not the point. Like you, I like being able to keep up with things on the go. Having been without a smartphone for nearly two years taught me which things I don’t want or need to be keeping up with.

  3. I had looked into this for a while, however phone plans in Canada are so ridonkulous that downgrading wasn’t going to be saving me much money at all.

    Plus, with my job, downgrading isn’t an option anymore. I had an iPhone for a while, but it just couldn’t provide the services I needed with reporting and such, so I switched to the S5. I’ve gotten myself to a point where now, on weekends and holidays, I put my phone in my room or something so that I don’t worry about it. It helps keep me away from it a bit more.

    1. I tend to leave my phone in the other room too on the weekends. I’m sure that will get more pronounced once the fiancee and I move in together (as she’s legitimately 70% of the texts I get on a daily basis).

      I like being disconnected and yet I don’t. It’s more than I like being disconnected from specific people who make my life difficult, yet I have to deal with for various reasons. Not sure if that makes sense.

  4. I used an iPhone 3 for four years, and just recently upgraded to an iPhone 5 (so still not a “new” platform). I seriously considered getting a dumb-phone, but they are SO HARD to find nowdays and truthfully there isn’t enough of a price difference to make it worth it. I absolutely think I could live without my smart phone, but finally having a phone that works like it should (the iPhone 3 stopped updating & generally working at decent pace almost a year ago) has been great. So it seems that either all or nothing is best with technology.

    1. There are non-smartphones out there that are pretty easy to find. The problem is that the carrier stores themselves (Verizon/AT&T corporate stores) tend not to have them. If you want a decent non-smartphone, you almost have to buy a non-contract phone at Walmart or a similar store, then add it to your cell plan.

      1. Yeah those are the only places I saw them. But as my husband LOVES his smartphone, it’s still a PITA to handle separately and costly if we aren’t on the same page. I can operate with one much easier than he can operate without it, LOL.

        1. I adapt really well to new technology. The only smartphone I’ve ever tried to use that was terrible to navigate/work was a Blackberry. Nothing good has ever come of someone using a Blackberry.

  5. This has been a very interesting read, honestly. For the longest time I was fine with a dumb phone, but my husband (bf then) was obsessed with technology. I guess that happens when you work in a electronic store. Regardless, I went from dumb phone to smartphone. While, I miss the dumb phone, I am now perfectly intuned with the smartphone.

    Can’t give it up XD

    1. The sad part is that I’m the one everyone in my family — and even in many cases coworkers — come to because of my interest in technology. It was a bit jarring to people when I told them I don’t use a smartphone. I’ve considered myself more of a computer nerd than a smartphone nerd for some time. That said, I think the line between those two areas is blurring fast.

  6. That’s cheating! Texting is the pinnacle of smartphone functions [for me, at least]! Returning to dumbphone without giving up texting is like attempting to reduce carbon footprint while still driving fuel cars. 😛

    In all seriousness, it’s kind of refreshing reading up on people’s experiences returning to dumbphones. It wasn’t until ~6 months ago when I converted to a smartphone, and I’m doing a good job of not developing an addiction to it. I think it is that fear that keeps me in check. This is why I leave the new phone far from the bed. So far, I haven’t even had the urge. Let’s hope it stays that way.

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