What are Your Experiences on Ditching your Smartphone?

I got rid of my smartphone 6 months ago and never looked back. I now have a flip phone and it’s wonderful.

I think it’s important to normalize diverse forms of tech use, and make people realize that there is a whole range of technological engagement that could work with the modern lifestyle. A world where billions of people are all plugged into the same Apple/Android OS, using the same mobile browser, the same search engine, etc. is a really scary idea. I think diversity of platforms and levels of sophistication of our tech is a more important issue than most people have yet realized. We need to learn to resist the pressure to always have the newest, fastest gadget.

Do you think ditching smartphones is a good solution? If you have already done so, what would have to happen for you to go back?

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I have three phones in active use, two iPhones SEs and an Alcatel Go Flip. All share the same number.

One iPhone has all the distractions and tools including a browser, email, news, social media, cloud storage, etc. The other iPhone is stripped of most apps except what’s helpful to navigate dinner and a movie, possibly using a ride-hailing service (i.e. Yelp, Fandango, Google Maps, Uber/Lyft). The second iPhone also has a few other apps like Google Photos that operate in the background.

This second, stripped-down iPhone is a bit of an experimental middle-ground. All apps except those in the dock are in a single folder, which is one page to the right, and the screen is grayscale.

It’s not very “exciting” to use, which is the point.

I am reluctant to ditch the smartphone entirely because I want to be able to use the aforementioned apps and also Find Friends to locate family members.

The flip phone comes out on weekends and evenings when the entire family is together.

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I love this system you have. My priorities very similar. Thanks for posting

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My flip-phone died yesterday; started using what is basically a smart-phone but without Internet connection. I used to work in ICT, till 1988. My friends know that " away from home" they need to SMS or call me. No problem for most. Biggest advantage… you can see where you walk or ride the bike, you can talk in the train and bus, or read a book.

Nokia is re-releasing the 8110 “Banana Phone” featured in the Matrix.

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I’d love to be able to ditch my iPhone. I have it in greyscale, and for Lent have removed email as well as a game I was getting sadly addicted to. I rarely download new apps, and generally avoid adding games.

But as a 30-something, I find it very difficult to get rid of WhatsApp (even though it is owned by Facebook, one of my least favourite companies), and FaceTime, especially as my immediate family is overseas. As much as I struggle with the ubiquity of technology, there is a genuine boost in my quality of life now that my family can call me easily and I can have casual test communication with my sister.

I agree with the OP about normalising different approaches to tech, and look forward to diverse business models int he future - perhaps where users can access different functionalities (like video chat) without engaging in a branded exercise and ceding their data to a middleman app provider. I’d like communication to go back to being unbranded. We never used to care about the providers of platforms, like individual phone companies, the way we care about Snapchat vs Facebook vs whatever, and I think that’s where a big part of my dislike of smart phones and social media comes in.

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I tried a bit of everything. The most effective I did was living 1.5 years without mobile data, it came at a point where I really needed to reduce my use of the phone. Without thinking I’d check the phone every few minutes for updates, whether I was at work, out with friends or chilling with my girlfriend.

Reducing the use of the internet to when I had access to wifi really changed this a lot. I enjoyed the ability to have prolonged conversations and thoughts without checking for the latest updates. In the beginning I also deleted all social apps.

Today I’m back with mobile data, but all notifications are switched off. I’m also grayscaling and try to have as few apps as possible installed.

I do believe that it is a great tool to have a computer at hands and I don’t envision leaving it behind anytime soon. That said, I’m enforcing myself to use it for higher quality interaction and less browsing. I’m also very focused on not letting it disturb my agenda, only sharing my phone number with the close friends and family.

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I got rid of my iPhone around 4 months ago and switched to an absolutely terrible Nokia 100.

My summary is that I think ditching your smartphone is a terrific solution, and I highly recommend it. It has changed my life for the better, without a doubt - despite many obvious inconveniences. I would only go back if I moved to a city or country where I couldn’t get around without Uber.

Here are some unordered observations:

  • I barely check my phone now (maybe as little as 10 times a day). Sometimes I miss calls, or reply to texts late, but I don’t really mind because everything works out in the end
  • I don’t have a job that requires me to check email or anything else very often
  • Not having maps is initially inconvenient, but then you get used to it, prepare better for getting places, and spend more time looking around on your way there instead of being glued to a map on your screen. Sometimes I have to ask people for directions, which feels kind of nice actually - an interaction I would otherwise not have had
  • People literally start laughing when I take out my dumbphone
  • I now have to print boarding passes and tickets for events, and accessing online banking is slightly more inconvenient too
  • I take a look at the pictures on my family WhatsApp group when I am with a family member, so I don’t feel like I’m missing out too much there
  • I free-ride off friends’ smartphones (as long as it doesn’t annoy them) by for instance, occasionally asking people to order me an Uber and paying them back in cash, or borrowing their phone to look at maps
  • I now spend way more time being bored in life, which I think is not just good but essential. Once I break through the initial boredom, I spend the time reflecting on my life, or noticing far more around me. Life just feels richer and more interesting. I don’t feel like I jump from one distraction to the next. I feel like I live in the real world again
  • I’ve dusted off my iPod and I read more now
  • I often call people now instead of texting them (because texting is a pain), which I really enjoy. Hearing people’s voices is way nicer than trading a bunch of written messages
  • My phone only has memory for 100 texts, so I have to delete them all intermittently. It’s never been a problem so far, and further incentivises me to call instead of text
  • It has heightened my awareness of people who are particularly distracted by their smartphones and constantly check them
  • I don’t mind my Nokia 100 being terrible. In fact, I regard its terribleness as quite a good thing. Because it’s so bad, I don’t really want to use it except for when I really need to
  • I feel far more present in life
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Everything you mentioned has matched almost exactly with my experience. Particularly noticing when others are distracted by their phones, and having to prepare better for going places.

I thought that missing the GPS would be the worst part. A couple times I have had to pull over at a starbucks/mcdonalds and pull out my laptops to look at google maps, but other than that it hasn’t really been an issue. If I had to go a bunch of different places for work, I’d probably just buy a standalone GPS for the car.

The only other thing I would add is that it’s not a magic solution for all of life’s problems. People are often interested in asking me how I “feel”, whether I feel more connected to the “real” world. I tell them it has changed by life for the better, but emphasize that it won’t solve all of your problems - if anything it only gives back the focus you need to start solving them!

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This is a great topic! I actually never have had a smartphone, with the exception of having one for a couple of weeks before switching back. In a lot of ways, I feel like it is more advantageous to not have one than to have one. Sure, having a smartphone gives you access to the vast, online world, but there is something to be said about being complete present in the moment with an individual or group of people. Though they may not all be fully “present,” I’m led to believe that your presence and focus will stand out amongst the crowd. Someone will take notice.

Not having a smartphone, in my opinion, allows you to recognize opportunities that may have been glanced over if your head was buried in a smartphone.

-Pat

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The greyscale trick is a total placebo effect. Turns out contrast is more important to the brain than color! Unfortunately iOS and native Android don’t let users adjust contrast. Only Android developers can.

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I wouldn’t say going grey is a „total placebo effect“. Even though the aspect of attention grabbing may not be as minimized as we thought, isn’t there more to turning your phone grey than just that?
I’d say for me „going grey“ worked because of two things: It broke what I felt was learned triggers (like the red notification bubbles). Of course grey notifications still grab my attention, but it’s different, it’s like a completely new stimulus. It’s the same with app icons. Some of them had a certain promise of experience that would be delivered if I click them. This is all gone now, they all look the same (Kind of like plain tobacco packaging). The other thing which I think was very impactful for me was, that it makes using my phone much more inconvenient. Especially the things that were just pointless time consumers like Instagram or Browsing the Web feel very incomplete in black and white. It’s very easy now, to not get lost in it.

I just found this article, which was very interesting to me because I had the same experience when I started using smartphones.

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Really interesting topic to discuss.

In the pre-smartphone era, I was a reluctant mobile user. In a shop one day back in around 2006 I saw a bin for recycling phones for a charity. on the spur of the moment, I deleted all the data, took out the sim and dropped it in there. I had a landline phone at home (as I still do) as my main means of communication alongside email. I felt liberated, and when my watch broke, I did without that too (i was living in a city then and clocks are everywhere, visibly and audibly). Everyone kept telling me life would be awful and I’d miss out, but instead, things got planned and people couldn’t bail out easily on me, and other things happened spontaneously through face-face.
in the smartphone era, I’ve resisted buying one, but have had a succession of 3+year old ones from family members who were throwing them away (iphone original, then 4, now a sony). In between last year I went back to the old Nokia, and loved it. I stopped finding news to read. I never load email onto these phones, partly because the apps aren’t supported, and the OS is too old for me trust with security. I have got in to using whatsapp because I don’t use any other social media, though i prefer signal. I’m looking at whether to go back to the nokia again though after reading this. I mainly use the phone for messages, music, travel info and news. I could port another version of linux like ubuntu onto the phone, or ditch it. My problem is, for work I need an app for secure logins. What I hadn’t thought of was running two phones like some of you are. I am at the stage where I would like the nokia for day to day usage, but a newer secure (and preferably ethically made) stripped down smartphone where I can use my VPN and other privacy apps to conduct work and communications on the move. I don’t want all the bloatware and distractions and lack of control that most phones present to us.

Hello everybody -

Two years ago, I gave up my smart phone. It’s been challenging at times, but overall, it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. It took a bit of getting used to, but at this point, it’s been so long and I’m an effective CEO even without being constantly connected. I work ~20-30 hours per week and I think that the Silicon Valley obsession with being a constantly-connected workaholic is a complete f***ing nightmare. It’s not healthy, fun, or smart. The negative ramifications are huge. :exploding_head:

We have to do better.

I want to connect with other people who are proactively & intentionally removing harmful technology from their lives. And I mean more than just deleting a few apps and dialing back on the notifications.

Where can I find more flip phone users?
Who are the people and organizations on the bleeding edge of this movement?

I’m so happy to have found this community and I’m looking forward to connecting with many of you.

Happy Friday!

-Bill
https://www.linkedin.com/in/loundy

PS A bit more about me: I’m a co-founder of reallyread.it. We’re building a social media platform powered by reading for an online community of people who really, actually read things on the internet. We’re already creating civil discourse and changing the way that people find and interact with content and each other on the web. We envision a web that looks a lot happier, healthier and slower. We’re currently participating in Matter, an accelerator program that focuses on media companies. We’re also raising a pre-seed round that we hope to close by summer. I was an English major at Stanford ('10) and worked for 5+ years in product and strategy roles at marketplace/community startups, including PM at Couchsurfing and director at Contently. I am always always always down to grab drink(s) and/or coffee with interesting people, especially in small(ish) groups. Let’s hang! :v:

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I have a Samsung 330, nearly the most basic phone you can get from Credo. It’s not a flip phone but a slide phone.

You can connect with @afuchs and @PatMc too. Pat and I have both written for his blog about our so-called dumbphones, which I have redubbed A-phone (for average phone).

And here is an article I wrote about not having a smartphone on the day of Hawaii’s false missile alert.

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Hi Bill,

Thanks for sharing your post! I would love to connect. As @patm mentioned, I also don’t have a smartphone (I have a slider phone as well).

I was just talking with a colleague about this; I find that the advantages of NOT having a smartphone far outweigh the advantages of having one. Productivity, building relationships, and active listening skills are crucial in this digital age, as I’m sure you are well aware of as a CEO.

I teach a lot of this type of work on communication and listening through The Low Tech Trek. Be sure to check us out! If ever you are interested in being a guest writer, like @patm, please let us know! I think you would offer a unique perspective being in Silicon Valley.

All the best,
Pat

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Hey! FYI, I’m in the process of moving back to the Bay Area. Where are you located? I’d love to connect! (CC: @patm, you too!)

This blogpost, “Techceptions,” may address that subject :slight_smile: It was inspired, in part, by Tristan Harris’s testimony before the UK House of Commons.

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Hey Bill,

That would be great! Shoot me an email at contact@thelowtechtrek.com. I’m located in NYC, but perhaps we can arrange a call. Looking forward to connecting!

All the best,
Pat