A week without a smartphone

A week after ditching my iPhone, I’m happy to report that it’s survivable. Preferable, in fact. However there are a few issues to which I will have to adapt.

The so-so


Some sort of calendar is essential. While the iPhone calendar is very difficult to use[1], if you stop carrying around an iPhone then you’ll have to come up with some way of knowing when your appointments are.


While my contacts transferred accurately to my dumb phone, using the contact list on the new phone is not easy. I still have no idea how to use it effectively. Other subtle issues cropped up. On the iPhone contact list, I use the full phone number with the +1 prefix. But the dumb phone requires the absence of the prefix in the contact in order to show the name of the person calling or texting.


I can’t, or won’t, take gratuitous photographs with the low resolution camera in the dumb phone because I have no real place for them to go. So I have had to ask people to take photos for me and send them via email. It’s not a problem; after all, how many cameras does the world need?


My car has a GPS, albeit a poor one. When I travel, I almost always do so with my wife who still carries an iPhone. So I haven’t really lost any capability in navigation.

The good


I don’t feel nearly as distracted as when I carried an iPhone. I don’t feel compelled to answer any question that pops up in my mind by surfing the mobile web and I feel no compulsion to check my email. This is remarkably freeing; and I feel much more present.


After years of using the iPhone keyboard and its autocorrection features I find texting on the physical slide-out keyboard of the dumb phone difficult. The result is that I don’t text as much. I’d much rather talk to someone because it’s physically easier to do. And it’s way our species evolved to do.

In all, my life is not in shambles. I don’t feel left out of anything that I need to be a part of. I feel more relaxed. I don’t feel any compulsion to “check things”[2] or otherwise occupy my “downtime.”

  1. To be fair, the iPhone calendar is accurate and does the best that it can do with the available screen size. Certain tasks like scheduling items on the calendar if you know a specific date and time are easy. However much of the time that I am using a calendar, I’m searching for an available date and time where context matters. This is where paper calendars excel. I can see a large number of days at once.

  2. Although we often describe heavy smartphone use as a sort of addiction, the organizers of The Disconnect project describe it as more of a compulsion. They challenged 15 year olds at a private school in London to give up their smartphones for a week. The students found the task difficult but not impossible suggesting that the checking behavior that leads of excessive use is a compulsion rather than an addiction. The Guardian has more on the project.