Quitting My Smartphone

Before you jump to crazy conclusions that I’ve joined a luddite cult, hear me out:

Not everyone needs a smartphone.

Perhaps, I can be one of those people. I’m determined to find out. I suspect I could live without one entirely if I wanted to, the only necessity being a local number so that I can buzz people into our home.

If you haven’t read Joseph Epstein’s excellent essay on so-called “Dumb Phones” already, please take a minute and do so. I’ll wait.

For those who won’t take my advice and read it, here are a few pertinent parts:

I already feel sufficiently enslaved by computers and digital culture. I can no longer write at more than a few paragraphs’ length except on my computer… Digital life, with its promise of keeping one up to the moment, is very jumpy.

So why, then, do I need to carry a computer around with me, for smartphones have of course become portable computers. Do I require Google in my pocket, a permanent aid to memory, so I can check something as important as who pitched the fifth game of the 1945 World Series? Do I really need apps that will give me stock-market quotations, or let me play video games, or provide Baroque string quartets while I am in the bathroom? I have no need for these artificial distractions.

I have now had my Android phone since 2011. It still works quite well, except for the whole calling people thing — but that seems to plague nearly all smartphones in this day and age. The battery loses its charge quite quickly nowadays. Knowing my two-year contract was up, I started considering other phones and other providers.

This had me considering my smartphone usage. I don’t use my smartphone all that often. Most often, I use it for calls while driving, despite Ray LaHood’s dire warnings. I used it today while out of the office to learn that something I wanted to accomplish was beyond reach. Too late matters little to the smartphone culture.

Normally, I carry my phone, a battery backup for USB devices, and my first generation Kindle Fire, which still works like a dream — and I usually use either in range of a wifi signal.

After much thought, I determined I spend most of my time sitting at a very nice computer that can do far more than either device. Most of my texting, which I do not do very much of in the first place, is done via my my computer. Same with a lot of phone calls.

While my cell provider of a decade, not the best in town, has served me well, I think it’s time to part ways. I don’t blame them because it’s more a problem of the culture of smartphones, where “phone” comes second to “smartness.” It would be be cheaper for me to have a “dumb phone,” my tablet, and pay for a mobile wifi hotspot.

Commercials on television explain that bigger phones are better and smaller tablets are better. We’re converging. Apparently, many are none the wiser to this, because people are buying bigger phones and smaller tablets when tablets are the far better deal.

What I seek, and think I’ve found, is a reasonable middle ground. And one that’ll save me money.

I’ll still keep my old Android phone. After all, I paid a pretty penny for it, considering the insurance I paid for it alone. I can still use it on-the-go for Gmail, Instagram photos, Facebook, and Twitter. I suppose I could even use it for texting through Google Voice.

What I do know is that I need a phone and one that works well. The Samsung S150G will work for me.  It has a talk time of 5 hours and can go without charge for nearly 10.5 days. I had a similar phone when I worked the 2012 political conventions, and it was great.

Busy people will complain about losing their charge on their smartphone. For this reliable “dumb phone,” keeping a charge is not a problem. It’s like the cell phones that we once knew but are eager to forget.

We’ve just been too complacent to deal with the terrible battery lives of “smartphones.” Not to mention, as Epstein highlights, how they interfere with what was once our social lives.

You may think this is crazy, but for reading this far, I’ll share a special steal for Android users:

The S150G comes with a (1) portable car charger,  (1) wall charger, and  (1) headset. All for micro-USB phones. The whole package at Walmart is sold for less than $10. The wall charger included in the package is sold for $20 by Samsung by itself.

Even if you don’t need the phone, just recycle it, and enjoy the glorious savings these can bring you on the road.




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