Ok, I’m at 30 days in with a little Nokia X3. I sold my iPhone 5S and upgraded my life by simplifying my cellular use. Is this really possible? Can you go with a simple phone, be more free, pay less, and really be satisfied? My answer is yes.
Before we really dig into this, I have to be clear. I am not totally against smart phones. There is a good chance that I will go back to one myself (but with some strict limitations I will talk about later).
In realization that I’m making a fairly bold claim by saying that Apple, Google, and Microsoft are lying to us, I’ll break down my understanding of the smart phone sales model before getting into my smart-phone-free experience.
Apple, Google, and Microsoft (combined) provide any of the following combinations:
- sell hardware
- sell or market software
- make money from ads and/or ad networks
- sell internet bandwidth to consumers
- sell their consumers an ecosystem of devices
- market security services to consumers
- market their own video conferencing
- own other smaller companies that produce any of the above services
(These are just the first things I thought of and the list could be much longer.)
So, you buy a smart phone. Initially for me, I purchased a smart phone because I wanted communication security for an organization I was doing work with. The phone I purchased was a Blackberry and, as we now know, the security model I bought into was a complete illusion (Blackberry is now known for using the same key on all consumer devices and holding a “master key” which would give them the ability to unlock any content they wanted).
Perhaps you justified the need when you originally purchased a smart phone, but then, you build a dependency. This dependency is what every manufacturer strives for as it builds a reliance for the consumer to keep consuming goods and services from the vendor. For me, I purchased a communications device, then I got sucked into the apps that were available, and over time (years for me) I became distracted more and more by the device. The device became an animal that justified it’s own need. It was an obsession. For me, it became about having it, being distracted by it, looking at it when I was in a boring meeting, pulling it out of my pocket when I was in a line… but why?
It doesn’t make sense. But does it? I am addicted to information. Interestingly enough, there’s already a couple terms dubbed for this:
- infoholic: someone with an insatiable desire for information
- dataholic: someone that uses the internet unnecessarily
There’s a great similarity between alcoholism and infoholism (I’m not sure if “infoholism” has been dubbed yet, so I may be the first). The drink makes you desire more and the information makes you desire more. The fact is, you can’t know everything. I would argue that you weren’t designed by God to know everything and that information easily becomes a distraction to God’s will for us… but maybe that’s a future post.
So, we consume the information and really the information consumes us as well. We Google, Bing, and DuckDuckGo. We Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. We game, we waste time, and consume, consume consume. We are gorgers of the internet feast. We live in a digital world, forgetting our physical links to physical people, text instead of talk and post instead of touch. We look and read instead of tasting the life that God has right in front of us.
We have senses for a reason: taste, touch, smell, sight, and hearing. We can only use two of these effectively with a smart phone. We can see and hear. Yes, we can touch, but it is a faked-out version of touch and limits to a screen. Real life experience is so much more than a screen. Really, even sight is faked-out since it is a two dimensional screen. I know 3D research is making huge improvements, but still it just mimics what God already created.
So, when I say Apple, Google, and Microsoft are lying to us. It is that they are selling us a cheapened version of life. They are moving more and more stuff into the digital realm and we are falling for it and paying for it hand over fist.
But, not only are these big three manipulating how we make decisions, almost every cellular dealer has bought into this as well. At most cellular companies you might have the option for, at most, 2 or 3 simple phones. They sell you a smart phone, then capitalize on the data usage. Data usage grows year over year and you eventually feel it in your wallet. At first, when you buy the phone, you are thinking, “gimme gimme gimme, I need, I need” (much like the character Bob in the movie “What About Bob?”). Then, the device just seems to take over. The business model for cellular companies is that you need a smart phone and you will receive cross looks if you go to get a simple feature phone. Of course, Ting is the exception here due to their open model allowing a user to bring any compatible phone to their network.
Ok, now to my own experience in the last 30 days.
- More productivity. It wasn’t getting rid of the phone alone that removed distraction and helped me focus, I also changed to a standing desk in my office and that has also been a great improvement.
- Reclaimed spare time. Yeah, I still get bored when in a line or in a boring meeting. However, I have time to think. If I get my computer out, it is specifically because I need to search something and not just because I have a device in my pocket. So, I don’t mindlessly waste time. I guess you might say that if I waste time now it is more intentional.
- More observant. Because I have less distraction in my pocket, I tend to see more of what is going on around me. I try to say “hello” to more people (even if their heads are buried in phones). Overall, I find myself examining my surroundings more.
- Battery life. I’ve gone from charging every night to charging every couple days (even though the battery is really only 50-75% depleted). I could probably go for 4 days easy or three days if I’m using the audio player for a few hours.
- Higher Attention to People. When people try to reach me, they know they’ve got me. There isn’t the illusion of texting when a person may or may not be really paying attention to you. When you reach me on the phone, you know that you are talking to me. You know that I am engaging in conversation. Vocal inflections are lost in text, but hard to fake when you are listening to somebody speak.
One of my biggest challenges was music and audiobooks. I love both of these. Music wasn’t too much of a challenge as I just picked up a 16GB card, put it in my phone and transferred my music library over to the card. Audiobooks were a huge challenge. However, I was finally able to get my audiobooks using a program called AAX-to-MP3. Then, I had to get an app for the Symbian S40 from a guy online (the app bookmarks your last listening location and is designed specifically for the Symbian S40). I had to compile a program on linux, download and convert my Audible AAX files, then get the app working on the phone, but after a few hours of mucking around, I finally got it all to work. The Nokia X3-02 has phenomenal audio quality and I would HIGHLY recommend this phone over any phone I’ve ever heard (smart phones included).
What’s the downside? Well, I still have lots of friends that use iMessage. Really, any sort of texting on my little phone is annoying. But, it does keep my texts shorter and reduce cost. Also, there are times that looking something up on my phone or taking a quality picture would be nice, but I guess I’ve lived without these features for a month and it really isn’t a big deal.
Will I go back to a smart phone? Maybe. But, I know I really need to limit some things. Now that I know I can make it on a small phone, I will likely get another GSM phone so I can just swap sims when I feel like I need to use a smart phone. Also, I will likely limit all my messaging to “signal” messenger to maintain some security. Now that all my friends think I’ve forgotten about them, making the switch to signal will be an improvement! I would also likely choose Copperhead OS to make sure I am getting the latest patches. But, really, I’m on the fence. I don’t feel like I need a smart phone and maybe just having access to a tablet for occasional portable use would be plenty. For that matter, where can I take a tablet that I can’t take a laptop? Really, I am trying to keep myself in check.
What’s also interesting are the comments I’ve heard. I’ve heard people say…
- Wow, I really commend you.
- That’s a brave move.
- WHAT is that? (gives me a chance to explain what I’m doing and why)
As an IT Professional without a smart phone, you bet I get glances from my peers. But, I don’t care. I’m more care-free and it is great not being tethered to information or let other people keep their thumbs on you with unnecessary text messages and distractions.
Of course, I’d be amiss if I didn’t mention Ting. Yeah, yeah, I know, you are saying, “What!? Now you are going to hit your readers with a commercial?!” The fact is, I could have made this switch happen without a company that gives me control over changing my devices, porting my number around, and has both CDMA and GSM access. Thank you TING! I love you guys and am proud to be a Ting Agent. So, if you are looking to pick up a cheap GSM chip that you can throw into a device and try their care-free service, you can click the link below. Maybe you are even in the market to change phones, they can help you there too. Even if you are sticking with a smart phone, you can just purchase a SIM at $9, you get a $25 service credit (which on a little cheap phone like mine could get you through a couple months of service!).