Shane Dowling : Switching to a dumbphone


I am aware, that while there is a trend towards smart-phones there are quite a few articles around on the subject of people swapping back to a dumb-phone or even using your smartphone as a dumphone. Apparently it can help your marriage.

I'm not that naive. Frankly, my reasons for swapping away from my smartphone is pretty pragmatic, it was simply a persistent call to mindless action. That I carried around in my pocket. Everywhere. I found myself in a constant state of half-living, meaning half of my mind is on the present moment and the other half on a device. I've flipped to it when I'm communicating with people, commuting or even watching TV. Apparently TV is no longer enough of a distraction for this half-living brain I seem to have developed.

Sure I could just not use those features, like the Gizmodo article I linked to. I tried this, and cut pretty much everything but the useful stuff out of my phone, it boiled down to maps, public transport apps, RunKeeper and Whatsapp. However, I still constantly found myself in a tug of war where I would uninstall, then re-install browsers for an information fix. Just because it was easy and I could. It got to the point where I discovered a really small(100KB or so) browser so I could get my internet fix even faster. I realised my phone wasn't giving me enough benefit for the mental costs. Maybe I'm particularly weak, I'm sure others can happily keep their smart-phones at a healthy distance, but I accepted that I simply couldn't.


As soon as I realised I hadn't the ability to distance myself from my phone and that this was negatively effecting my mindfulness, I needed to figure out a way solve this. What I wanted to do was maintain some of the useful benefits of a smart-phone minus the distractions. Taking a cold hard look at the realistic benefits I got from my phone really helped.

The features I wanted(not needed) started with GPS-based maps of some sort. London is big, without GPS maps I knew I'd spend a lot of time getting lost, which isn't so bad sometimes but maps are essential when I need to be at a place at a certain time, which happens quite often. I also use RunKeeper a lot and enjoyed looking at my stats and progress, it wasn't a deal-breaker but I worried about my motivation to run. The same with can be said for using Sleep as Android which I used for logging sleep patterns. I like being able to view how many hours I'm sleeping each night, it's a very useful to me and has generally improved my wellbeing. Finally, as I'm a contractor, I spend a lot of time taking photos of receipts for expenses etc, I've found Evernote really useful for this. Eventually, I decided to get myself a Symbian, so a half smart/dumb-phone. Specifically the Nokia 6730. Essentially because it supports 3G and GPS. Symbian also supported Whatsapp, Viber, Endomondo(no RunKeeper unfortunately) and even Evernote. I also picked up a FitBit One, for exercise and sleep logging.




February 28, 2014 – Counterfeit Update - I'm still using my dumb-phone and loving it. In fact, one Saturday I trialled using my Samsung S3 for a day and couldn't stand it, I constantly kept checking it and that drove my crazy. Giving it away as a gift.