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.