Off the Grid: Surviving Without a Smart Phone
I can’t help but grin (just a little) when I see Apple’s CEO Steve Jobs hold a press conference to defend the ‘magical’ iPhone 4, which has been plagued by reception issues when gripped a certain way. This, on top of the naturally minimal coverage of ATT’s 3G network have only added to my aversion to the iPhone.
Don’t get me wrong, I like Apple – kinda. Last December, I invested in a MacBook Pro – which I’m still trying to learn how to use. It’s not as easy to ‘Switch to Mac’ as they’d have you believe. Still lovin’ my iPod, though.
The iPhone glitch (and before it, the Palm Pre glitch) have proven to validate a relatively new mantra of mine, which I adopted earlier this year and continue to implement. I’ve declared 2010 the year of “Simplify”. Yep, that’s it. I’m trying to incorporate “Simplify” into everything I do, with varying levels of success (so far).
As it applies to mobile phones, I’ve committed Geek Heresy, getting rid of my Smart Phone and embracing my Dumb Phone.
Here’s why. Since Smart Phones came into existence, I’ve owned all manner of the beast. I loved that they’d allow me to do all kinds of cool things, like synchronize the contacts, appointments and some documents from my computer. I also liked the applications or ‘apps’ as they’re called now, the games, and so on. In the early days, the apps weren’t as plentiful, but they added functionality to a device you could carry around with you.
Looking back, I rationalized the need for the latest and greatest smart phones as being critical for work, and if I’m to be honest – they were more of a novelty than a necessity. Still, it was nice to have a GPS I could carry on my belt. Unfortunately, the closer they come to being a replacement for a laptop, the less functional they’ve become as a phone – the original reason we lug them around!
Additionally, I found myself increasingly frustrated with the apps themselves. While I could do a lot of the same things on my smart phone as I could on my laptop, many times the functionality was limited by the processing power of the device, or by the data connection. So the smart phone could barely do the job of the laptop it was aiming to replace, and it was getting worse at the primary function of being a phone!
I just needed a phone to be a phone.
When I swore off the Smart Phone, I looked for a replacement, initially thinking one of the old style candy bar shaped phones that have served me well in the past. I was introduced to Straight Talk Wireless, which offers a number of dumb phones. I then thought, “What about a camera?” – so, not being able to survive without one – even if I can count the pixels on one hand – I opted for a classic Motorola Razr. It’s a flip style phone with a camera, and not much else. Perfect. And while it doesn’t have all the bells and whistles, I am able to do much of what I did before via web applications like Utterli or Ping.fm that I can call or text from my dumb phone.
Now, not only do I have NO overpriced contract, my monthly phone bill is about $35, less than many carrier’s data plan, and much less than my old Smart Phone bill.
I just hope they don’t revoke my Geek membership.