Back to Basics: Could You Live Without Your Smartphone?

Mobile phones and smartphones might have progressed rapidly over the years, but are we just a slave to having the newest must-have feature? Could you break free?


I joined the mobile scene over 15 years ago and have been hooked ever since, with each new device having something flashier than the older one. My first mobile phone was a Sony CMD X2000, which was replaced by a Nokia 3210- and the rest is history, racking up over 35 handsets in that time including multiple Nokias, Sony Ericssons, HTCs, and iPhones as well as a BlackBerry, Philips, Panasonic, and NEC.

I have seen in most of the major “new features” in phones, such as changeable covers, color screens, polyphonic ringtones, Bluetooth, cameras, touchscreen, memory cards, MP3 ringtones, 3G connectivity, front-facing cameras, WiFi connectivity, QWERTY keyboards, and various operating systems.

For the past few years I have been hooked on iPhones and love my current iPhone 4s, but something in me always hankers after a newer model.

My phone is a major part of my every day. It never leaves my side, and I will not leave the house without it.

Change the Way You Think

Sometimes I sit and wonder, wouldn’t it be great to stop thinking “charge my phone” last thing at night or first thing every morning, or even to stop arranging my day around how much battery I have left?

Do we really need to answer every notification sound as soon as it goes off in our pocket? Do we really need mobile apps for every purpose, reminding us this is happening, that auction is finishing or so-and-so just paid us money as soon as it happens? Do we really need to send an email so urgently that it interrupts our supermarket visit?

Could we all pull ourselves away from that miniature computer in our pocket and spend more uninterupted time with loved ones? Do we need to take pictures and videos of every moment rather that actually enjoying it at the time?

But really, it would be nice sometimes not to have an tech interest in phones, so I wouldn’t feel the want of the next big thing.

Basic Phone

Could I squash my obsession with the latest mobile tech and grab a basic mobile phone, one that can make and receive calls and text messages – and that’s it.

There are advantages to this. Basic phones can last weeks on a single charge, and they tend to hold a signal far better than your new fangled smartphone, mainly due to its basic non-data connection.

Your modern smartphone is so fragile, a £400 delicate piece of equipment, which needs further money spent on it in cases and protection to keep it safe, and you worry each time you handle it about dropping it. Whereas your average £30 “dumbphone” is robust – it has no glass front to worry about and is usually made of thick plastic. Anyone who has owned an old fashioned Nokia knows how tough they are. And if you do drop it and break it, it is cheap to replace.


Nokia 1100

I recently gained a Nokia 1100, a handset that harks back to the good ol’ days of Nokia. It has a mono screen, a T9 rubberised water resistant keypad, no camera, no fancy ringtone or music capabilities, and certainly no Internet. It features a paultry 850 mAh battery, which in smartphone terms wouldn’t last above a few hours, but on this thing it promises 16 days of standby. It’s only fancy features are a copy of Snake 2 to play and a flashlight on the top.

You could go the whole way and say why bother with a mobile phone at all, but I wouldn’t. There are some technological advances that make our lives better or safer. A mobile phone isn’t always essential, but it is handy – but then a washing machine or a toaster could be classed as non-essential, just a piece of tech that makes our everyday lives easier.

Too Much Emphasis on Specs

Modern mobile phones are sold based on their specs, such as processor speed, screen size, how much storage, and which OS it is running – this has become a huge battle.

In the early days of mobile phones nobody knew or cared what processor their phone had or how much memory it had, system updates didn’t exist, and it was just a menu system, not an operating system. A phone had what it came with and that was it – if a bug was found, they might fix it in a new batch of phones, but older ones would just have to live with it.

Could you go back to that? Could you have a simple communication device.

Try It

Why not take the challenge. Do it for an entire day or week. Use a simple phone loaded with phone numbers and see how it affects your daily look on life.

Too Far

Maybe slumming it down to a phone such as the Nokia 1100 is a bit too far. A “less dumb” phone with camera and music capabilities could be an option, but then you find those “requirements” start creeping back up again.


Perhaps this article is a little tongue-in-cheek, but it raises a point that we rely heavily on our portable pocket devices and maybe we should take a step back at times and put it down for a while.

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One thought on “Back to Basics: Could You Live Without Your Smartphone?

  1. It looks like you’re over in the UK, but if anyone out there is reading this from the USA, there’s a very important reason to keep your old dumbphone, especially if it has a long battery and a water resistant keyboard:

    To call 911 in case of emergencies

    I was told by the California State Police that any cell phone that picks up a signal can call 911 – regardless if the phone is activated or not.

    So keep that old spare dumbphone in the glovebox of your car – you never know when it might come in handy.

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