A Week with a Smartphone


Although I went a week without a smartphone and basically without tablets and learned much about myself and smartphones, I am happy to have my phone back. This week I have learned a lot about myself again and what smartphones do to me.

  1. Smartphones are super-convenient – I love having the ability to search Bing, send a text message, compose email, sync with my calendar, or use Nokia Here maps at my fingertips. Just today, I was going to my Mom’s wedding – congratulations to her btw – used maps to find my way there, listened to music that I wanted to listen to, and was able to call hands free while driving by voice command.
  2. Smartphones shorten my attention span – This is something I need to work on. During our weekly meeting at work, I got bored and was playing on my phone. My boss suddenly says, “Matt, what have you been working on this week?” Embarrassed, I said what I was doing and moved on, but it seems like having the smartphone gave me more opportunity to tune out. I need to focus on paying attention, even when it seems unimportant.
  3. Smartphones drive me crazy – My phone has been having trouble streaming music this week, when I’m in my car. It makes me curse it out, then I think of the week that I didn’t have a smartphone and just switch to listening to the radio. I’m still dissatisfied, but I know that I should calm down.
  4. Smartphones make me less personal – I tried to make rules that I would not send texts, search Bing for things, look at Twitter, etc. while I was in the car or with other people. This has been a hard goal to accomplish. I would always think of things to search for in the car or people to text and do it at stoplights. I actually followed through with this part of my goal and was able to focus more on driving. I’m getting better at not constantly checking my phone when I’m around people, but I did text my roommates while I was hanging out with my grandparents tonight. Sorry, Papa, some of your stories are boring.

Overall, I’m so glad to have my smartphone back, and am working on having better social etiquette with it. I read an article this week – can’t find the link :( – that was talking about how to battle people who are glued to their phones in the work environment. They talked about, if someone were to be rudely using their phone during a meeting, to ask to reschedule the meeting. I don’t want to be that guy. I want to be genuine and able to communicate well with people in person.


The Rest of My Experience Without a Smartphone

On the last few days of the experiment, Wednesday through today, I have learned about smartphones and what they do to me. Smartphones fill the lulls in life. The times that I am in the elevator, waiting on a computer to install or uninstall a program, waiting in line at the grocery store, or other various situations where I am in limbo between one task and another.

I discovered that elevators are awkward places without smartphones. Sometimes I would get out my phone, check the time, change the background and put it back in my pocket. This is the only sort of game I have on my Samsung SGH-a157.

As I leave my dumb phone to again return to my glorious Nokia Lumia 920, I leave myself with the following knowledge:

  • Focus on people, not your phone. Even with my closest friends, I used to use my phone all the time. I would check Twitter, text other friends, and Bing various things. I felt like these things were so important that I had to get them done at that point. I would like to change this. I don’t need to check Facebook, Twitter, Vine, etc. while I am chilling with my friends. Even if all of them do it, I don’t need to.
  • Bathrooms are awkward without a smartphone. I want to let this one be clear. Using the bathroom to do a number two without a smartphone sucks.
  • I can do it. As nervous as I was for this experiment, as much as this goes against my nature, I can go without a smartphone. It doesn’t control me. I can live without it. It’s convenient, yes, but it can consume my life. #balance

I also learned that my digital life was clogged up. I had too many social networks, things I was following, etc. Yesterday, I deleted about half the apps off my iPad, today, I will do the same thing on my phone. I had too many news sources that I was following. Too many Twitter accounts I was following. I’ve thinned my following list from 153 to 78. I need to go through my Facebook friends and have a similar reaping.

I could have switched yesterday afternoon back to my phone, but I decided to wait and I’m glad I did. I’ll kind of miss this crappy phone. T9 is amazing by the way.

Another blogger commented on one of my previous posts with the following video. I believe it speaks well to what I learned from going a week with a dumb phone.

Without a Smartphone 3

I was at a coffee shop and with no tablets or smartphones, I wrote the post for day 3 on paper.

Day 3

This morning I awake to a loud alarm, startled. I finally figure out how the snooze button works. For a $10 phone, this thing seems hard to figure out. I wake up again 10 minutes in the future to a sound just as loud as before. I had adjusted the ringer volume down, but apparently it has no effect on the alarm volume.

I am surprised to find my phone still holds three of five bars of battery. I have never charged it. It’s battery has been going strong since Sunday at 4pm. This is a huge advantage of this phone.

Speaking of advantages, I figured out speaker phone. I was overjoyed at this, but soon realized that at the same time I felt pathetic for finding this to be such a big deal in my life. I am saddened that I have sunk to such a state that I am this dependent on technology.

I feel like my texting response speed has improved. I am getting better at not looking at the keyboard and figuring out where the letters are. I’m impressed by the designers of T9. It works.


Today, when I arrive home from work, I decide to run. I like to time myself when I run to track my progress. The timer app on my Samsung SGH-a157 forgets where it is at if the phone is closed. I don’t own a watch, nor have an old iPod to deal with. I figure I can go into the clock app, track the hour minute and second I start and finish, and subtract. Even the clock app has no second hand. I cannot figure out for the life of me how to time this run on this $10 phone. I just track the minutes and guestimate the seconds. The main thing I miss while running is music. Music feels so motivational and fun. I only hear the gross sounds my body makes while running: the breathing, sweaty arms rubbing against my tired torso, my ankles cracking on certain steps. At the same time, I feel more at one with myself running without the music. I feel like I am a part of my surroundings. I complete my run and eat dinner.


I later go to a coffee shop with my roommates and some friends. I know, the prime place to blog is a coffee shop, where all the other narcissists and I can write about ourselves on the internet. I quickly remember that I am not going to be using my tablets, so I am left with pen and paper or T9. While T9 may be great for texting, it is not great for writing long essays. Pen and paper, back to the basics, I think. My hand starts to hurt near the end. I haven’t hand-written this much in years. The other bothersome thing about being at the coffee shop is de novo music. There are so many distracting conversations and noises; it seems impossible to focus. I try to read a bit of my book, but have no luck. I am able to write out this post, but poorly. I miss my music.

Positives for the day

  • T9
  • Speaker phone!


  • Music
  • Timer for running
  • Music again — This one really sucks.