On the pleasure of using a ‘dumb’ phone

With each smartphone upgrade cycle from Apple and other manufacturers, tech bloggers spend countless hours writing countless words about whether this phone is better than that one, what operating system is best and which carrier is best.

To hell with all of it. I have removed myself from that rat race all together.

This past fall I got rid of my iPhone and replaced it with a “dumb” phone. It can make calls. It can, after a fashion, produce text messages. That’s it.

There are a lot of upsides.

For one thing, it’s incredibly cheap to operate. No data plan to manage, shared or otherwise. No long list of features I get nickled and dimed for by the carrier. No more concerns about whether I go with the carrier who has the best coverage, or the one that lets me make calls and use data at the same time.

I don’t have my face stuck in my phone wherever I go, social network or playing games or checking e-mail. I have better situational awareness. I’m more present. I don’t take pictures of my food before I eat it, or tweet about how delicious this skinny vanilla latte and pumpkin scone are.

I no longer blankly pull out my phone and start fiddling with it mid-conversation with friends. If you do that, by the way, stop. It’s really rude.

The phone needs to be recharged, on average, maybe once per week. Sometimes twice if I’ve used it a lot.

What I discovered is that I just don’t need the level of connectivity I used to assume was a now indispensable part of daily life. If people e-mail me, they have to wait until I check e-mail. If people need to get a hold of me, they can, but it better be damned important.

I just don’t want to be tethered to the giant, pulsating übermind of the Internet 24/7 anymore. It was making me dull and more than a bit stupid.

Sure, there are a few downsides. I’ve gotten lost a couple of times. Once I needed to know a store’s hours and had to actually call them using my voice, like a cave-dwelling neanderthal.

In fairness, it’s not like I’m Grizzly Adams living off the land, making fire by sparking rocks together and gathering berries and moss. In some cases, I’ve migrated tasks I used to do on my phone to my iPad, for example. I don’t take my iPad with me wherever I go, like I do with a phone, but if I know I’m going to be waiting around for a while, like, say, at a doctor’s office, I’ll bring the iPad with me to keep me distracted.

But for the most part, I’ve reverted back to the way life used to be for me before 2007, when the iPhone became part of it.

And I can’t say I’m in a big hurry to go back. I’m enjoying my freedom. I’m enjoying just a tiny bit more self-reliance. I’m certainly enjoying lower phone bills every month.

And the endless squawking about which smartphone is better has become a lot of chatter that has absolutely no relevance to the quality of my life. Watching people howl and wail about Android, iOS and Windows Phone 8 has become almost comical. You’d think they were talking about something that mattered.

Try it some time. You might find life without your smartphone is still manageable. Enjoyable, even. Take a walk. Breathe fresh air. Live life.

  • justin_horn

    Ron Swanson approves this message.

    • Vamsmack

      No he doesn’t. Peter didn’t take up woodworking to craft a fine chair.

  • Cost isn’t an issue for me. I use prepaid (Straight Talk) with my iPhone 5. $45 a month, no extras. As far as poor social behavior or internet addiction, I guess that’s just a personal choice like most things. But I use a lot of different features on my phone, so I couldn’t do this.

    • Peter Cohen

      You’re absolutely right about poor social behavior being a personal choice. But not having a device to serve as a distraction certainly helps reinforce it. 🙂

      • r.d

        problem is that you are not a nerd yet your audience is all nerds. So how do you think your advice is appropriate to them.

        • Peter Cohen

          You don’t understand our audience as well as you think you do, judging from the comments and the positive feedback this article has generated.

  • You missed off the final line of the article…

    Peter Cohen

    Sent from my iPhone

  • I am a “dumb-phone” guy myself. While there is an iPhone in my house, it is not mine. I especially love how cheap it is to operate, and how every carrier is now an option. Sure, it is a PITA to text, but I never liked that anyways.

  • I gave up my iPhone a month ago, and it’s been great!

  • I can readily confirm the cost-savings in not having a data plan or a smartphone to use it on. My dumbphone refuses to die, almost eight years after it was manufactured.

    Alongside it, I generally carry an iPod Touch half its age. Its connectivity is limited to public wi-fi when I’m out of the house, but that’s a minor inconvenience at best.

    • Moeskido

      Update: Got my first iPhone last month, unlocked, on an MNVO $10/month plan, just voice and text. It’s been nice to reduce the number of pocket devices again.

  • nachos

    What dumb phone do you use?

    • Peter Cohen

      I pretty simple Kyocera model. Another bonus: tiny. Can’t even feel it when I’m carrying it.

      • 8PAQ

        Should have said Galaxy III. Oh snap!

      • Alex Soriano

        Mine is a Kyocera, too. I just pulled out the battery and found that it’s name is Presto. It’s tiny and durable, and I love that I can toss it around or drop it without worry.

    • It doesn’t matter.

    • Brent Vernon


  • I’m halfway there.

    Before my first iPhone I used a dumbphone but always had a PDA with me. Somewhere to keep my contacts, calendar, reminders, and so forth. I like not having two devices, but I don’t want or need the constant distractions of push this and email that – nor do I need the expense of a data plan.

    So I have my iPhone 4S (which I bought unlocked from Apple last year) and I use it on PAYG with 7-11’s Speakout system. Compared to the full fledged smartphone plans from the big carriers, it costs peanuts. It’s also really easy on the battery when you aren’t on 3G all day long. Easily 3 or 4 days between charges.

    Personally, I think it’s the best of both worlds: I have a plain old mobile phone, that also meets all my PDA requirements.

  • Domicinator

    Currently copy and pasting this to every one of my co-workers that likes to constantly nag me about what phone I use.

  • I remember the days of a dumb phone. I used my brain a whole lot more back then. Excellent piece.

  • How did you get the phone number for the store that you needed to call to find out their hours?

    • Peter Cohen

      411 still works.

    • terpacks

      You can still search Google via text message at 46645. You can get directions, movie times, weather, sports and lots of other info.

  • n10shnl

    Excellent decision. I’m not there yet myself, but I applaud someones ability to take the step against the grain and reap the benefits.

  • EzraWard

    I have often thought about doing something like this. I’d probably try to pick up some type of Nokia candy bar phone, and a 7″ tablet to carry when I want a more capable computing device.

  • Daniel Swanson

    You threw the baby out with the bath water, in my opinion.

    There is much potential value in “connectedness”, no aspect of which is necessarily objectionable.

    The iPhone provides additional channels of communication/perception, any of which can enhance one’s life if applied well.

    The fact that some smartphone users are rude comes from the person, not from the technology. The technology merely makes the character flaws which were already there, more apparent.

    • Peter Cohen

      “You threw the baby out with the bathwater.”

      Tell that to my bank balance.

      • dr.no

        bank pays less than 1% if at all. Inflation rate is much higher. Everyone is loosing money if you are not getting 10% or higher return. Rich people look for 20% from hedge funds. that should give you some clue.

        But then again credit card fees are part of the cost of a good whether you pay with cash.

      • Maybe it’s different in the US, but in Canada you don’t have to get a data plan with your iPhone. You also don’t have to pay for any additional features, like visual voice mail, call display or unlimited texts, if you don’t want them. You could essentially keep the iPhone for all the great things it can do apart from using data, and even enjoy connectivity on wifi when available, and still pay the same monthly rate as a dumbphone.

        • Jim H

          You can buy an iPhone without a plan and do the same here. Or save money by buying an older iPhone (or any smartphone) get a sim card and pay as you go. There are many, many, options in most countries.

        • Dink

          If you don’t have a data plan, then what’s the point of a smartphone anyways… That’s basically stripping away all the potentially useful aspects of the device.

      • Daniel Swanson

        No need to be so short-sighted. Our AT&T Mobile Share lets us spread the data cost over up to 10 devices. We have three now and will most likely add two iPad Minis. With this plan there is NO charge for calls or text messages. So far, we haven’t needed more than 1GB/mo. I think that’s entirely reasonable. It also gets us Apple Maps over cellular on the iPads, which I think is a decent app despite all of its detractors.

        • Peter Cohen

          Daniel, I’m delighted your plan is working out well for you. I went in a different direction. Doesn’t make it wrong or shortsighted.

  • I didn’t even have a cell until 2005. I had resisted getting one, and I still remember thinking that I was forevermore going to be anchored by having this thing in my life after my parents hoisted one on me so that they could stay in touch while I was away working that summer at a NASA internship. That is still my belief. At least the iPhone is an anchor I can sometimes enjoy, rather than something I feel as if I’ve been Pavlovian-conditioned to loathe every time it intrudes in my life.

    Also, I feel it’s important to set expectations. If you’re carrying a cell, you can’t avoid the expectation that you’ll be willing to take calls, but you can train people to not expect e-mails, texts, or other responses from you. Doing so has ensured that my iPhone never became more burdensome for me than any of my previous phones. People can expect me to take calls (if I’m available), but I’ll respond to texts when I feel like it, and e-mails can wait until I get to my desk.

    As for the rest of what was said, I agree. There are definitely benefits to keeping things simpler.

  • Anthony Reimer

    I used a prepaid dumbphone + iPod touch until a couple of months ago. It is entirely viable, especially if you are tech-savvy.

    Having said that, I’ve used a digital datebook since 2001 (Palm, then iPod touch), so I was carrying two devices (three when it was iPod mini + Palm + phone). Coming from this background, moving to a used iPhone 4 (my wife’s old phone) has been a blessing, since it’s only one device to carry. I’ve chosen to pay $10/month to get a meagre 100 MB of data, which, as I have learned, is all I need to mitigate any inconvenience of my previous arrangement.

    I could never justify $50+ per month for a cell phone since I did not use it much at all. If people needed to reach me, they called me at work or at home. Right now, I’m paying about $20, and that’s in the uncompetitive market known as Canada. I guess what I’m saying is that no-contract iPhones are another option that has similar benefits to Peter’s dumbphone arrangement, especially for those of us who still use their iOS device as a music/podcast player.

    • Peter Cohen

      I still use the iPhone occasionally as a music player when I go for drives. Fortunately, though, my vehicle is Bluetooth-equipped. So more often than not, if I have my iPad with me, I’ll just stream music from there instead.

    • SV650

      I’d like to learn how you managed this. I have a 3Gs i’d like to pass along to another family member without a large committment.

  • I was having problems overeating, so I got rid of my fridge! Now I keep my food in a camping cooler, which you’d think would be super inconvenient and a huge step backwards, but it’s actually great because I can only store enough food for me to eat sensibly. And it’s way more portable. Never mind all the money I’m saving on my electric bill. I never realized how annoying fridge owners were until I ditched mine. Life is so much better now.

    • Peter Cohen

      You’ve missed the point. It wasn’t a problem with my overeating – it was my service provider’s. I decided after analyzing it that I just couldn’t afford it anymore.

      • I was using overeating as an analogy for how much time one might spend with their face in their phone, like you were saying about always using it to go on social networks, play games or check emails.

        The service provider was represented in the electric bill savings.

        I’m pretty sure I got the point.

      • Seems like you’re making 2 different points in your post (and especially in the comments section) – first, that for you, the cost of the iphone/data plan wasn’t worth the benefit, and second, that you found life sans smartphone delightful and are encouraging others to try it (per your last paragraph). I imagine it’s that second point that’s sparking such annoyance, especially given how condescending that last paragraph sounds – an awful lot of us are happily living life, breathing air, chatting with friends in person, etc. while still carrying around a smartphone. Not everyone (not even most people I know) have such trouble balancing different kinds of connectivity (virtual vs. meatspace).

      • How much is your time worth?

        My iPhone saves me an inordinate amount of time in all kinds of ways. It enables me to do things on the go, while I’m otherwise unable to do anything else, that frees me up when I get home.

        • rj

          Agreed. I don’t know about Peter Cohen’s specific case, but I think that for most people the economic argument against a smartphone is a pretty weak one. What is he saving… a buck, maybe a buck fifty a day?

          • Owning an iPhone with a data plan (how else?) amounts to a cost of ownership of thousands of USD over years. Thousands.

            If you’ve had an Iphone since 2007, you’re probably close to 10 000 USD of cost already:


          • rj

            That infographic is not well-designed, and appears to have mislead you. The final number is $1800 for two years. It assumes the purchase of a new phone every two years, and includes the purchase price of accessories that not everybody buys (and in some cases should be amortized over a longer period than 2 years).

            Some people may have larger plans, or buy the larger capacity phone or whatever, so the total annual cost is perhaps in the neighbourhood of $1000…. essentially half of your “$10000 since 2007” estimate.

            Of course this isn’t “net new” expense: for most people, a smartphone is purchased instead of a dumbphone (and possibly a landline, ipod, pocket camera, etc as well). I don’t think a dumbphone can be had in north america for less than $20/month (including the cost of the phone), so the “smartphone premium” is maybe about $750/year, or about $2/day. I think most people get $2/day in value from the built in camera, maps, messaging, music, apps, etc.

            In Peter’s case, he already has an iPhone and presumably whatever accessories he needs. So the difference between the smartphone and dumbphone existence is the price of a data plan (less the cost to acquire the new dumbphone), which is probably about $30/month, or a dollar a day.

      • Jim H

        Peter, I agree with another poster here about following this up in a few months or so. It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

        • Peter Cohen

          Will do.

    • Ashley Torres

      HA! If your comparing your phone to a fridge which is pretty essential concidering its contents, FOOD, which is a BASIC human necessity I feel sorry for you. The fact that you believe having this super phone is a BASIC human necessity like food just makes me think whaat has the world come to.

  • The thing you’ve done Peter is actually something I’ve been thinking about for a long time—with the introduction of the iPad mini even more often—get a phone only for talking and the occasional SMS and a 3G/LTE equipped tablet.

    Remember how the alternate universe Fringe characters did it: a small earpiece for phone calls and a 7″-ish tablet for everything else. I’d like that.

    Unfortunately such solution isn’t here yet and for me the hassle of manually adding numbers to my phone every time a get a new contact (even if that doesn’t happen very often) is not worth it. Or if I, for whatever reason, don’t carry the tablet with me and should need it.

    I hope this’ll be a reality someday.

  • Alex Soriano

    I have been a member of the dumbphone+iPod Touch camp for several years, now. Paying only $30/month flat for unlimited calls/sms/mms has more than paid for my iPod Touch (as well as other things). I am so rarely not within range of a friendly Wi-Fi network that cellular Internet is a non-issue, and I am perfectly fine with the opportunity cost in the handful of instances where I’d like to use the Internet and cannot.

  • Woolfairy

    I have been doing the dumb phone/iPad combo myself for about a year and a half. I don’t mind it for the most part, but the one thing that has me strongly inclined to switch back is th camera. I need a camera to be able to be my point and shoot for basic camera needs. The dumb phone camera is too awful and the iPad camera isn’t much better, plus it is awkward. And without it attached to my phone, I don’t think I would have a camera to catch all my kids candid moments that I currently try to catch with the iPad.

  • Ok then. To be honest I thought you were also an apple gadget reviewer and blogger. What’s changed? You bored of the iPhone? I stopped using PDAs and smart phones before the iPhone came out because mobile tech was hard to use and didn’t enrich my life anymore. The iPhone and Apple changed all that and made me creative again.

    • Peter Cohen

      Decided it wasn’t worth the extraordinary expense, wanted to stop throwing money at a cell service provider I thoroughly detested, and failed to see the value of it.

      I still use the phone to test apps I’m reviewing and such, but it’s no longer part of my daily workflow like it was.

      • You could buy the phone at full price, get a cheap contract and turn off the annoying notifications. The camera alone is worth it.

  • i use an iphone the way you’re using a dumbphone. no dataplan, the cheapest att gophone plan, but i still have my music player and my (emergency) phone in a single device.

  • Ross Graham

    I myself went the route of dumb phone (Moto W233 Renew to be exact) for about five years alongside my trusty first gen iPod touch. I sucked free wi-fi left and right and paid only $40ish a month for my cell service. Plenty of free texts through Google Voice anytime I was within wi-fi, which was perfectly easy at home.

    I got tired of the chase and jumped into the iPhone 5 back in November. I’m not looking back. Ya just gotta shut off notifications and learn some self-control. Just because you have the internet at your fingertips doesn’t mean it needs to substitute for your brain. Dig deep and try to remember things. Chew on them. And then maybe look them up later.

    I live my life by leaving my phone at home sometimes, shutting it off, ignoring it. It’s pretty pleasant.

    I’m glad you’ve found a way to do the same. I’m interested in hearing your report about this experiment after you’ve been at it six months to a year. 🙂

  • def4

    I love my iPad, but I have yet to find a good reason to spend 30% more than what I paid for it AND overpay for mobile data just to have an iPhone.

    When I’ll need or be able to profit significantly from mobile Internet access, I’ll surely buy one.

  • Scruff0

    But then how do you play Angry Birds? 🙂

    I just recently replaced my 9 y.o. Sony Ericcson dumb phone for a second-hand iPhone 4S, the main driver was to have music and podcasts when I’m out trying to lose this darn flab I’ve accrued over the last 20 years as a programmer. However I must admit, centralised contact management is pretty awesome – and having a reasonable camera is good.

    The ‘social’ aspect of owning a smartphone drives me nuts – go out anywhere and 30% of people have their heads buried in their phones.

    As one of the other commenters said, smart phones are only as smart as you need them to be. Down here in Aus once you own the phone the costs for the plans are pretty much similar to dumb phones (ignoring data plans, but you can choose not to have data)

    • Firehazel

      Good cheesus, I loathe Angry Birds. Irrationally, too.

  • Bob Cedrone

    I feel like I don’t even know you anymore. The only way they’ll get my iPhone from me is if they pry it from my cold, dead hands.

  • Chris

    i find it highly amusing that so many comments here are from people who seem offended somehow that you’ve made this choice. GET A LIFE! it’s a f’ing GADGET. i’ve never had a cellphone of any kind in my life, and i get by just fine (disclaimer: i work all day on macs and own a bunch of em, plus ipad) … MY point of view is that when i leave the house, that’s MY time. if someone needs me they’ll just have to cope until i’m home again and can get a message. wow.

  • Some of us can make (or can teach ourselves to make) sensible food decisions, and some of us are better off on a restrictive points plan. Some of us can smoke a cigarette now and then at a party and never develop a habit, while some of us started experiencing an addition with the very first puff and have to go cold-turkey forever.

    Similarly: some of us can manage our internet/connectivity usage sensibly (maybe by employing some common-sense changes like turning off push notifications), and some of us need major structural changes to avoid eating more internet than we even want. Willpower and addiction are weird beasts, and cold-turkey people maybe just have different neuro wiring from everything-in-moderation types.

  • John

    I prefer to just call it a “phone” without the derogatory adjective “dumb”. A phone lacking smartphone features doesn’t make it “dumb”—it’s what we call it before all the iPhones and Androids anyway.

  • Congratulations, you’re better than everybody because you are no longer like the masses who can’t live without their smart phones. This reminds me of the people who go out and buy an old record player and can’t shut up about how much better it is than having an MP3 player.

    This whole post could’ve been a lot less pretentious if you had just omitted the condescending “Try it some time” paragraph at the end. Should’ve just stopped at how cheap and battery efficient it is.

    Want to be really cool? Get rid of your iPad and tell us how hands-on your life is.

  • I think I may do this when my contract is up.

  • dvdphn

    I originally used a Virgin Mobile flip-phone + 3G iPad (1) combo, (didn’t talk or text much, but occasional texts from friends, while the iPad would cover the missing “smartphone” features, mainly maps & navigation), which then turned into a Virgin Mobile slider-phone + 3G iPad (1) combo, (when I started to text a lot more, as friends got unlimited text plans).

    Got an iPhone 4 in September/October 2010, and put in a prepaid SpeakOut Wireless SIM, (had to trim it into a microSIM). Used the iPhone 4 as mainly a camera and iPod Touch until the balance on my Virgin phone ran out and ported my number to SpeakOut, (February 2011).

    I’ve only started using the $10 text and $10 unlimited browsing add-ons this past summer. My phone costs have increased from $100 a year, to $20 a month, but I can opt into/out of the add-ons whenever I want. And SpeakOut usually have seasonal promotions of giving $25 bonus credit for a top-up of $100.

    I don’t think I can ever go back to using a feature-phone. I rarely carry the iPad around with me now, since it’s inconvenient to pull out to use in public.

    Don’t know if I’ll ever get a real 3G data plan for my phone, (the browsing add-on includes YouTube, Facebook, Maps, e-mail, and obviously, web browsing, but I find some apps don’t work with the add-on: most importantly, Waze). SpeakOut also doesn’t allow MMS, but I never send pictures by text anyway.

    Overall, I’m happy with SpeakOut Wireless, the iPhone, and Apple products in general.

    Just debating on getting a Wi-Fi iPad Mini now. 😀

  • Firehazel

    I am pretty late to commenting, but I really want to chronicle my phone journey this year.

    (Note, this is a copy/paste job from a similar article I commented on, the author of which decided to go with a dumbphone while his replacement comes in.)

    This year, I voluntarily went back to dumb phones for a while. (Actually, I went through a number of phones…)

    In February, I bought my first smartphone, an Exhibit II 4G. I was coming from an LG Prime, which was a super-psuedo-smartphone. MAJOR difference. I loved being able to access the internet anywhere. playing with apps and jazz, and Google Maps

    However, that grew old. Android started to wonk out on me, and once even shut down completely in the middle of a phone call. That pushed me to stop using it.

    In June, I got a Nokia C3 from my aunt. Beat up, but still very functional. It did calls and texts very well, but I didn’t use internet on it, and I still missed that.

    In August, I bought a Sharp PV300GR(a rebadged Sidekick LX 2009). Nicer hardware than the Nokia, and just enough internet functionality. However, I missed email, and started to hate waiting till I got back home to check mail. (Non push email isn’t the same…)

    So, in September, I bought my second smartphone, a BlackBerry Curve 9310. I LOVED the granularity of alerts. Having a custom tone, combined with an app called Advance OS+LED that allowed me to set different colors for the notification light made keeping in touch more of a joy than a chore. However, the thing that irked me the most about the BlackBerry was the fact it was on Sprint’s network(Boost Mobile), and the fact that I had to pay extra for BIS(RIM really needs to find a means to get rid of that relic, if they can keep their handsets just as secure…)

    I stuck with the BB for a month and went back to my Sidekick. I was starting to miss my Exhibit, which I unlocked and gave to my mom. In late November there was a odd turn of events that worked in my favor. MMS stopped working on my mom’s phone, so she bought a AT&T Fusion(she’s on GoPhone, and I guess AT&T changed some backend settings), and gave me back my Exhibit, which I now rock again.

    Compared to the beginning of the year, my usage has changed. I realized I do more talking and texting than use data. I don’t surf on my phone as much as I thought I would. I realized I like buttons a bit more than I like touchscreens(If that wasn’t evidenced by my phone choices this year…). I realized I valued battery life and basic communication over converged functionality(For example, all of these phones had a 3.5 mm headphone jack, and I did most of my music listening on my phone exclusively. I bought an iPod to quell the habit and save my phone’s battery.).

    Now, I’m looking for a simpler phone. I was thinking about one of the new Nokia Asha phones, maybe the Nokia 206, or the Nokia Asha 205. I haven’t decided yet… Will I go back to smartphones? Who knows…

    I can answer that question. I did. I was tired of waiting.

    • Leon

      Do you still have the PV300GR?

  • all that chatter-squawking about carriers and data coverage and jelly beans and apple cookies… is the reason why I’ve never owned a smart phone in the first place. I’m actually looking to dumb things down even further and try a mobile planless plan thing, the ole pay as you go no contract idea.

  • I hate this data plan racket. It’s extortion. It should be illegal. I should be able to pay for the data I use, which is next to none. Even at&ts lowest plan is highway robbery. 20 bucks a month for next to nothing. The regular plan is 30bucks for 3 gig. Of course they know the will corral everyone into that. Last month I didn’t even use 50 megabytes but still have to pay the 20 bucks. Should be able to have a nice smart phone and not be extorted to pay for Internet data I don’t need.

  • Nice…my immediate family and I still have dumb phones too and are fine with them. And we don’t even have an ipad either. My husband and I have the old classic ipods and our dumb phones. We don’t have any problems with it. We don’t feel the need to be tied to internet all day long. When people are posting pictures or statuses of their child practically coming out of the womb, you know it’s sad what this society has come to.

  • i use a “smartphone” as a dumb phone. i have a 4s and an at&t prepaid account; no data, 10¢/min calls, slap $100 in once a year and -er- live off that. use wifi when available otherwise no network. works great. main reason for the smartphone is its itunes library. i have my tunes and a phone and don’t have to carry two devices.

    strategy fails with the iphone5 which apparently can’t be activated without a dataplan. on at&t’s network? or all? dunno. it’s bs but my 4s is fine for my purposes.

  • Mark Webster

    I loved your article. Very well written. I’m dumping my RAZR when my contract is up in June. I’m looking for the smallest dumb phone I can find, and plan to pair it with an iTouch. I have to have a way to manage appointments, play music, talking books, and sync my contacts. But I have no need for contant connectivity. I work all day on computers, no need to have one in my pocket. I was fine with my old palm. The cell phone companies have hooked us on the concept that our lives are improved when we are in constant contact. It’s ok to be out of touch for a day or two. Many young people are losing critical communication skills because they are always on their smart phones, instead of talking to the people around them. Yes, it’s often awkward to talk to strangers, but you never know who you might meet if you aren’t staring at your smart phone. Open your eyes, look around, there is a world out there that has nothing to do with your little electronic screen.

  • Spot on. I just wrote why I want to go back to a dumb phone. I think it may be one of the smartest decisions I’ve made in a while. Like you, I have an iPad if I want to do social networking while mobile; and I have a camera if I want to take cool pics.


  • Katherine@Popular Touch Phones

    Basically I don’t like to use the dump mobile. But to read your above article I think all dump mobiles are not useless some mobiles are really useful for us .Dump mobiles are always cheap from the other mobiles.So it’s one of the biggest reason for using this mobile.

  • Sukhavati86

    I did the exact same thing, leaving my computer duties at home. I used to feel anxiety and stress from iphone its presence was always there, knowing you could pull it out anytime to play a game, answer a question in your head, put on music or take a photo. There always seemed to be a reason to get it out.

    After getting rid of the iphone you realise how easily it is to live without any of these gimmicks and its nice to actually stare out of the window of the train like the old days and just be somewhat bored giving a chance for the brain to rest, maybe have a daydream, think about a project you are working on or go back to reading good literature in a book and not being influenced by mostly garbage pop culture on your phone.

    At the end of the day I asked my self the simplest question, is this device making your life more happy? I thought No! I liked my life before the Iphone made it technical, and the GPS thing is easy, all it usually takes is talking to another human being and asking for some directions or being prepared and doing it on the computer before you leave the house. I will never go back to having a smart phone, I already feel more confident and relaxed than I have been for the last few years!

  • em

    Great article, Peter. All of these commenters concerned with cost are completely missing the point. They will get it someday…when their marriages have ended, they have no more friends, and their lives feel empty.

  • Derby Stewart-Amsden

    Hi Peter, how do I find the best of the dumb phones? I simply want great phone coverage, text, huge address book. Elegance and a camera would be great. searching has driven me crazy. Cheers, Derby

    • Sherius Bhanget

      Huge address book is the main problem when migrating from smartphone to dumbphone. I am using 2 very cheap dumbphones. At the dumbest, I use Nokia 105 just for call & text, it has over a week battery life. At the smarter one, but still not too smart (lol), I use Nokia 206 for taking a picture and able to run Opera Mini and pull email when I need, and it can accept VCF files for importing contacts upto 1000 on phone and 250 on SIM. Still worth to live.

  • deeznuts

    absolutely agree, Im only in my early 30’s and can’t stand smartphones. I got rid of my blackberry and iPhone 5 and now use a motorola razr and backup nokia 3310 and macbook pro to run my 2 businesses when needed.

  • deeznuts

    Oh and its NOT about the money. Its about not wanting to be constantly connected.

  • Barry

    Phones are for making phone calls…occasionally texts…… a few times I made a call on someones smart phone I was like ..”what a hassle” …..scroll here…scroll there… I flip open my old razr and DIAL…..DONE! …how profound.

  • Derby Stewart-Amsden

    I so long for a good dumb phone, how do i find the right one for me? I only want it for great phone reception, ability to hold loads of people and numbers, and really easy messaging. I’d be happy for a camera, but want no other ad ons, can anyone suggest

  • Yianni

    I have a nokia asha. its the perfect balance between basic phone and smartphone. With heavy use (periodic web browsing thoughout the day and playing music without headphones for >1 hr a day) it lasts around 3 days. I’m spending so much less time on it and not glued to my phone like a zombie. I mostly use data over wifi and pay 20 something a month for unlimited everything. On the other hand my partner has an iPhone that he can’t stand and pays over a hundred dollars a month for.

  • Rousseau

    On the 31st night, yesterday, I kicked out my Samsung Android and went back to my old Nokia flip. I began the new year with going back to a plain-old flip. I feel so much better and I’m so much in love with the flip-phone, like I always were. Smartphones suck!

  • Brent Vernon

    I’m doing it now and I love it flipping back to a flip phone is the best decision I have made.

  • Mike Brooks

    I have an iPhone because I like having a sleek, modern piece of kit. In short Im just the sort of idiot the likes of Apple & Samsung feed off. However, I dont play games, listen to music, or use almost all the apps on my phone. I make and receive calls, send the odd text message, check the weather, and very occasionally surf the internet.

    Unfortunately, If an old codger like me is seen using an idiot phone, thats what people assume I am. They assume either that I am incapable of using anything more complex, or that I am one of those people who are proud to admit they use a 10 year-old device because its meant to be a phone isnt it, and why change it if it still works.

  • CrazyTerry

    I do the basic phone + IPAD thing too. My LG flipphone is technically not a flipphone but very similar where you open it from the side and a full keyboard is present with a bigger screen for easy texting. Plus my laptop is with me half the time anyway as I like to code on the fly whenever inspiration strikes.

    I want my phone to be a phone first.

  • Fabian Jolivet

    I have never owned an smart phone – horrible devices, last nail in the coffin of this world’s social nightmare. Don’t have a dumb phone either! Gave up on those a decade ago. I do have SKYPE for my local & international calls (cheap). See, when I stand up from this chair, the computer stays behind – nobody follows me.