So, I went and swapped my iPhone X for a ‘dumb phone’ – a £7 Alcatel to be precise.
Am I an attention seeker? Maybe.
Was it wise? Most definitely.
It may seem very much ‘out there’ to suggest that you should trade in your latest smart phone for a far dumber phone, but if you hear me and my personal story out, your mind may just be swayed a lil’ bit.
My smart phone journey
Way back when, not long after the dizzying heights of the Motorola Razr, I decided it was time to try out these new ‘smart phone’ things.
I opted for the LG cookie – what a phone that was! It even came with a slide-out stylus pen, way ahead of its time…
Anyway, the Cookie had me hooked. Then I got myself a Blackberry Bold, which was a strange mix of touch screen and keyboard. The important thing at that time though was the inclusion of Blackberry Messenger, which I hoped to use to pick up droves of hunnies from school (in reality, all I ever used it for was sending FIFA team ideas to my equally-uncool pals).
After that, I discovered Android and stayed with really cheap, poor quality smart phones from China for a a few years. They were alright to be fair. Because of their slower quality, I didn’t spend that much time on them and they were always more of a help than a hinderance.
Once I come across the iPhone though, things seemed to accelerate a bit.
I’ve always been a bit of a cheapskate when it comes to tech – I had a £50 HP laptop from the early 00’s for years, even when I started this blog.
So my first foray into the iPhone market was the 3Gs. ‘Not bad’, I hear you say. Well, considering the 6 was out at the time, I would probably class that as cheapskating to the max.
Once I got into the apple ecosystem it was hard to get out. I found myself getting sucked into its lovely operating system, it had a nice camera and it was easy to use – much easier than Android.
Luckily at the time (2013), we weren’t quite as interconnected as we are now and social media, phone internet usage, etc, were still in their relative adolescence, so I didn’t become too obsessed just yet.
I felt the pull of the iPhone though, which is why I sold it on and got myself another android – back to a Motorola in fact.
We had a great relationship so we did, but then I felt the pull again and at the end of 2017 I took the went and got a brand spanking new iPhone X.
It helped propel the blog to a completely different level thanks to being ultra-connected to all social media platforms and the unbelievable camera it had.
In fact, everything was pretty rosy until I took a long, hard look at how my habits had changed over the past 18 months…
Where did it all go wrong?
As I said, I had to take a look at myself because I felt like I was slipping away from reality a bit.
Whenever I was on my own in public, my hand would slip into my pocket to grab my phone. When I was walking down the street, I’d be glued to my phone. When I was bored? Phone.
Dinner with friends or family was interrupted by conversations with others who were in my pocket and worst of all, I would cut off and zone out of conversations because I’d be scrolling the latest social media feed, start messaging friends on WhatsApp or simply just have a quick look at my emails.
This wasn’t exclusive to me though. This is basically everyone nowadays, but I knew deep down it wasn’t going to be me for much longer.
We have become zombies. We have semi-conversations that we barely remember with people because we’re doing something else on our phones.
We can’t enjoy anything fully because we’re obsessed with capturing the moment through a screen, putting it on our Instagram and Snapchat stories for a day and then never looking at it again.
Do people ever genuinely look at their videos again from a gig? Or a football match? Or a night out whilst they mime their favourite song?
I doubt it.
As much as I hate these people, I was one of them. I used to preach about how much these people were wasting their lives and how they were all vapid, shallow goons, yet I had wilfully become part of the circus.
Something had to change. If this resonates with you, make sure you’re reading carefully in the next section.
What did I do?
I took the bloody plunge.
Not on a whim though. If you’re going to trade in an iPhone or an equally smart device, you’re going to want a plan in place.
What apps do you need? Both for work and for play.
First, I’d recommend trimming them down – check out my quitting twitter article for more on that.
I decided I needed some apps for work and a few for pleasure, so I set up an iPad with everything I needed on, such as Instagram. The fact that they’re on an iPad makes it much less likely that I’ll binge on social media due to the fact it simply isn’t as easy to.
I also needed WhatsApp because I speak to a lot of my copywriting clients and like to arrange stuff with my friends on there.
For this reason, I bought a second Alcatel.
This time though, it was a smart phone version *shocked screams*. I purposely bought the worst smartphone I could get my hands on (this cost £15) so that it would be clunky and slow to use.
This means I hate spending time on it, so only check it once or twice a day. I also leave it in a drawer somewhere and never take it out with me.
It’s not like you’re going to miss any emergencies if you’ve got the dumb phone on you at all times and the WhatsApp messages will still be there when you get back, so I would definitely recommend the second phone for those who don’t want to give up their group chats.
Benefits of going back to a dumb phone
There are so many amazing benefits to trading in your new fancy tech for a little old dumb phone.
Here are a few of my favourites.
Back to the real world
I liken this to Neo taking the red pill in the matrix.
You may even go for a poo without taking your phone with you. The shock! The horror!
When your head isn’t buried in your phone all day, you’ll start taking in life again instead of numbing it constantly.
You might go for a walk without listening to music and texting the entire way. You might even just sit down and watch the world go by for a bit without reaching down to respond to messages about nothing in particular.
Bloody hell, you might even interact with strangers!
Improved planning skills
You won’t have a map to get you everywhere now.
That means you might have to plan your journey in advance. This may seem a bit daunting but it’s not hard.
Your planning skills will get so much better as a result and you can even go back to the old technique of asking locals where something is.
This might improve your confidence too which is a handy bonus.
Save yourself a lot of money
The majority of people are slaves to a contract, I know I was.
A £60-a-month slave to be precise.
That works out to £720 a year. Just to use free apps, distract myself on the internet, message people and make a few phone calls.
And I got a heavily discounted rate because I have a friend who worked for the provider – it would have been about £85 otherwise.
What a joke that is!
Paying such an extortionate amount of money for a little bit of tech in your pocket.
Listen, I know I sound like your senile grandad who berates all forms of change, but come on, that is a waste of money.
Luckily for me I used mine to my advantage to better the blog and made that money back, but that was lucky. If you’re not using it for business then there is literally no point in wasting almost a grand a year on this subtle little humble brag.
Even if you are using it for business, it’ll still take over your life – and your savings – much like it did mine.
Don’t fall prey and spend that money on something better. You could buy yourself a big stinking trip to Thailand for that money.
Just don’t waste it on a stupid contract.
If you need a cheap provider, I got myself a 1p mobile sim. It’ll cost you about £15 every 4 months. Cheap as bloody chips.
“Have you got a charger mate?”
“Any plug sockets around here?”
The usual questions you’ll get from a smart phone user. In fact, I’ve probably asked them exact questions about 764 times.
What sort of bum deal is that? You pay all that money, but you have to charge the thing 3 times a day? Then the battery life worsens until it frustrates you enough so that you go and upgrade to the latest model.
With a dumb phone, you’ll never be caught short.
I tested this theory out to see how much battery life I could eek out of one charge.
I got 5 days.
This wasn’t just leaving it untouched either – I used it for all the usual calls and texts I needed to. This isn’t uncommon – some of the more niche dumb phones boast over a week’s life from one charge.
No need to worry about being caught at the end of a night out with no battery to ring a cab now, you dirty stop out.
This is a bit weird but…you won’t have any fear attached to your phone.
Get mugged? So what? Good luck selling that bad boy on.
Smash it? Drop it in water? Stick it up your bum? So what? It won’t break. Even if it does, just buy a new one.
Lose it? DOESN’T MATTER.
You see, once you have a stupidly cheap handset on your person, you no longer feel on edge about anything happening to it because it simply doesn’t matter.
You can let go a bit more and stop ya worrying. It’s all good.
Escape the upgrade rat race
What happens at the end of our 2 year contract? We are bombarded with ads trying to get us to upgrade to the latest and greatest smart phone.
Even after just 1 year you are offered the chance to trade in your current phone for a new one.
This creates a never ending FOMO cycle that never rights itself and you’ll always be stuck upgrading your phone for fear of feeling outdated when in fact, the phone you’ve got will be good for another 5 years!
Investing (can we even call it investing if it costs about a tenner?) in a dumb phone will get you out of the rat race and allow you to just get on with your life and not have to think about whether your current phone has hyper supersonic retinal display in mega detailed 8k or not – it’s just a phone – and it doesn’t need an upgrade.
You’ll realise no one cares
We think that people will take offence if we don’t reply to them straight away – or even in a day’s time, but the truth is, they don’t.
Especially once they become accustomed to having to wait for your replies. They will learn to respect your time and construct their messages so that it becomes a lot easier for you to keep the conversation short and sweet.
It’s a genuinely liberating experience untethering yourself from the constant back and forth of modern comms and you’ll feel much less guilty about missing calls and texts – I know I do.
The thing you need to remind yourself of is – important stuff very rarely ever comes up. What people think is important, they can solve themselves 9 times out of 10 but instead, they use you as a first port of call because it is comfortable to do so. Let them deal with the problem themselves.
If something is genuinely important, they will find a way to contact you.
Regain your focus
With distractions almost completely gone (Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, etc) after ridding yourself of a smartphone, you will probably get a bit bored.
But boredom is where productivity comes into its own.
When we have nothing to distract ourselves with, we will inevitably come back to our work to keep us occupied and eventually, the task at hand becomes as enthralling as the empty distractions of a smart phone.
This will drastically improve your work quality and your overall enjoyment/fulfilment.
It will also push you to look for other forms of entertainment that have fallen by the wayside over the years. Recently, I have fallen back in love with reading and sketching, the stuff I’d do for hours as a kid.
Stuff like this is so much more fulfilling than checking your phone every 30 seconds and you’ll get far more from the experience as a whole.
Will I ever go back?
Well technically, I already am back since I do have a banged up smart phone for Whatsapp, but day-to-day? Definitely not.
I feel so much better without looking down at my phone all day, every day.
The moment I swapped my iPhone was the moment I got back to who I used to be.
I’m pretty sure I’ll stay true to the dumb phone life for the foreseeable future.
Should you take the plunge?
Why not try it out for a month?
It’ll cost less than £10 and may well revolutionise the way you live your life.
There are literally no downsides to giving it a try.
Quick recap: Your action plan
Here’s a quick recap of what we’ve discussed and how you can action your swap of a smartphone for a dumb phone:
- Buy a cheap dumb phone (Alcatel do the cheapest I think).
- Top it up with a £10-£15 credit from 1p mobile or an equally cheap provider.
- Work out what you will need to keep in terms of apps, files, etc.
- Try to trim those apps that you use.
- Download remaining apps to an iPad or Computer if possible.
- If WhatsApp is an issue, purchase a terrible, cheap android to keep in a drawer.
- Get used to going out with no access to the internet.
- Live your life to the fullest.
So, I traded in my iPhone X and re-embraced the dumb phone life.
The question is – will you?