Today I stowed away my shiny new iPhone 14 Pro and transferred its SIM card into a flip feature phone.
I’ve grown a bit tired of the smartphone as both a product category and as a general concept. The reason is manyfold:
- When I look back, most of what I do on my smartphone doesn’t matter. In particular, the device doesn’t bring much productivity or meaning to my life—two important currencies to me. I got by just fine before I had one.
- I’m connected 8+ hours a day anyway. Most of my work is done on my laptop. This should be enough time to keep up with my digital life.
- I rarely feel elated, or even happy, while using my smartphone. The opposite is true: my phone is probably the most stressful and negative thing that I pay attention to on a regular basis.
I often lose control of my behavior while using the device. As I write in How to Calm Your Mind, some apps hijack our attention by taking advantage of our brain’s built-in desire for novelty. It’s through this mechanism that our smartphone weakens our attention over time, shrinking our working memory while slashing our attention span. Research shows that “the mere presence of these devices reduces available cognitive capacity.”
- I enjoy life more when I do things the analog way. I don’t want to spend any more time than necessary in the digital world. Life is simply more enjoyable to me in the analog world, and I want to work to spend more time in it. It’s where I find more meaning—and even productivity.
- I’m already a lousy texting correspondent. Giving up your smartphone in 2023 feels like the social equivalent of moving to a commune. But when you’re already lousy at staying in touch over text, becoming less connected isn’t as much of a change for the people around you.
I chose the Alcatel Go Flip 3 for this experiment. Its feature list is short (like the amount of time I want to spend on the thing) but it still has some “smart” features that’ll come in handy. For example, the phone has Google Assistant, and you can use it as a personal internet hotspot, a feature I use all the time when traveling. For a flip phone, the screen looks clear and big. My calendar and contacts will sync on the device. And on standby mode the battery life is 17.8 days.
I once loved my smartphone. But these days it makes me depressed, is a significant source of chronic stress, and shrinks my mental capacity. For now, I’m done.
Over the last few months, and especially while writing How to Calm Your Mind, I’ve been thinking more about the role the smartphone has in my life. Better yet, the role that my smartphone deserves to have in my life.
I can’t wait to see how this experiment goes—and share updates with you. I’m going to miss the camera on my iPhone 14 Pro—but I’m also excited to give my mirrorless camera a try.
Want to join me?
If you’d like to do this experiment alongside (I’m not expecting a lot of takers), I’d be curious to hear what you discover! Shoot me a message and let me know if you want to go smartphone-free for the month!