Ditching My Smartphone – FAIL! - Kev Quirk

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Ditching My Smartphone – FAIL!

A couple of days ago, I wrote a post about how I was intending to ditch my smartphone for at least a month. Well, it’s 24 hours later as I type this, and the “experiment” was a complete and utter failure!

I mentioned in the article that I had a “few use cases” that would prove the process of ditching my smartphone difficult. I knew it would be hard, but let me tell you, I massively underestimated just how reliant I am on my smartphone. So much so that just 24 hours later, I’ve actually ditched the crappy Nokia, and I’m back on my smartphone.

Complete Fail

So why was this process such a catastrophic failure right from the start? Well, there were a number of crucial use cases that I didn’t consider before taking the plunge. Basically, like the idiot I am, I didn’t give it enough thought.

The use cases I listed in my original article were:

  • The camera
  • Fosstodon
  • Spotify
  • The many podcasts I listen to
  • Email and calendar
  • WhatsApp

I decided that I didn’t really need a camera, that I could check Fosstodon less often, I could (and did) buy a Bluetooth MP3 player and use that for music and podcasts, I could check my email and calendar as and when I needed to – like Fosstodon, and I could simply go back to texting instead of WhatsApp.

All of this was fine, and worked as expected for the most part. However, there were some surprises once I actually got going:

  • Two factor authentication – I use this for many of my online accounts, but without a smartphone, I’m unable to generate codes on the go. This effectively locked me out of many of my own accounts!
  • Motorcycle tracker – I have a tracker on my motorcycle that communicates with my smartphone via an app. If the bike gets moved unexpectedly, I get a notification to my smartphone with the co-ordinates of the bike. This wouldn’t work on a “feature” phone, thus rendering a very expensive tracker useless.
  • No QWERTY – I quickly realised that I text more than I thought. However, doing this without a full QWERTY keyboard, and reverting to the old style of 7777, 44, 444, 8 for texting slowed me down significantly. To the point where I actually spent more time on the feature phone than I would have on my smartphone.
  • Smart Watch – My Garmin smart watch is pretty much useless if it isn’t tethered to a smartphone.

The Successes

In short, there weren’t many. Along with the Nokia, I bought a Bluetooth MP3 player. I transferred my music library on to it, along with a handful of podcasts that I haven’t got around to listening to yet.

The audio quality in the car was actually better from the MP3 player than it was from my smartphone. Plus, I discovered a number of hidden gems in my old music library that was stored on my Synology NAS.

I’m actually considering cancelling my Spotify subscription as a result of this. So it’s not all bad, as I may have saved myself £10/month, which will pay for the phone and MP3 player in 4 months.

Then again, I might not cancel it, as the playlists and convenience of Spotify excellent. 🙂

Is There A Compromise Here?

So I thought there may be a compromise to be had here. Maybe getting a simple Android phone that will allow me to have the core apps that I need, but in a cheaper device. Or maybe a feature phone that has a full QWERTY keyboard.

It then dawned on me – what’s the point in buying another Android phone if I already have a good one? It’s a completely pointless exercise; I might as well keep the smartphone I already have.

The QWERTY feature phone is another matter though. I think if I were able to find one (which I couldn’t), I could maybe make it work. But then again, I’d still have to forfeit my watch, tracker and two factor authentication. It’s a none-starter.

Final Thoughts

I’ve jumped in to this without giving it any proper thought. Whilst I’m not reliant on my smartphone for frivolous things, like social media and games, I am heavily reliant on it as part of my daily workflow and quite frankly, my life.

Honestly, I’m a little embarrassed as I thought I would be able to last longer than 24 hours. But the fact is, I can’t and that’s really sad. I suppose I can take solace in fact that I didn’t have to revert to my smartphone for silly reasons, but rather practical ones.

If I think back to the process of De-Googling my life, I started with the caveat that it needs to be as good as, or better than, anything I currently use. I knew I wouldn’t be able to approach this process in the same way, and I was willing to make compromises here. But completely changing significant portions of my workflow for products and services that are inferior, is completely pointless in my opinion.

So, can I ditch my smartphone? Not a chance!

Can you offer any advice for me to give this another go? Maybe another phone that offers some kind of middle-ground, or maybe something I haven’t thought of at all? If you do have any suggestions, please leave them in the comments below.

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