I have a smartphone, but I hardly use it for anything meaningful. So I am considering trading it in for a basic phone, and save $60 or so a month in cell service plan cost.

But let’s step back and look at what I really do use my cell phone for other than calling and texting, in order of usefulness:

  • Camera. The best camera is the one you have with you
  • Telegram, which has replaced texting with my family, SO and some (but not all) friends
  • Lyft, to hail rides
  • Location logging using Overland to connect to a Compass server
  • Gaia GPS to orient myself in the outdoors, away from cell coverage
  • MoviePass, to go see many movies
  • Weather
  • Apple Pay
  • Overcast and Spotify for listening to things
  • Fantastical and Things for knowing what’s next
  • Siri to dictate notes
  • Skype, to talk to people who use Skype
  • Instagram, to post pictures and look at my friends’ pictures
  • Doordash &c to order food
  • Delta, to avoid printed boarding passes and get flight updates
  • Nest, to control my thermostat and let it know I am away
  • Powerview, to control / program the blinds
  • Insight Timer, to take breaks / meditate
  • Moodnotes, to log my mood
  • Paypal
  • Swarm for checking into places
  • Starbucks, to get coffee

Quite a list, but the list of essensials is actually pretty short. Getting rid of my smartphone means making my life more complicated / less enjoyable because I can no longer:

  • Snap a quick picture
  • Enjoy a group chat / exchange photos with my brothers, SO and some friends
  • Hail a ride
  • Log my location automatically (without bringing another device)
  • Have access to maps and aerials when camping / hiking
  • See unlimited movies for $9.95 a month

Most of these things are replaceable. I can bring a pocket camera. I can use Telegram on my laptop, and revert to texting. I can take a taxi, bike or use transit. I can bring a pocket GPS to log my location if I want to keep doing that. I can bring paper maps on hikes or camping trips. I can just pay for movies with cash or card.

All that to save maybe $50 a month and one less thing to carry around and charge? Well, there is a little more to it than that. Not having a smartphone also means fewer distractions. Even with no email, no social media except Instagram, and no notifications, I find myself picking it up to seek distraction often. Losing the smartphone may mean increased happiness because life becomes quieter.

Here’s what I think I will do. I have an iPhone SE lying around that I will erase. I will disable all non-essential notifications and install only the apps marked as essensial. I will use my phone like this until the end of August and then see if I want to go back. If not, I will sell my smartphone and watch and stick with the SE. I’ll report back.