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
- 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
- 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.