Why I Haven’t Bought a Smartphone…and Why It’s Both Great & Terrible

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I don’t think you need me to point this out to you, but smartphones are ubiquitous nowadays, it seems. Everywhere I look, people are tapping on screens, bringing up apps, and checking their Instagram accounts.

And then there’s me, still with my “dumb phone.” (Remember those? They’re the ones that flip open and everything?)

Something I’ve found frustrating about my refusal to get a smart device is that the world seems to be making it more and more complicated for us flip-phone-lovers to keep our non-smart devices. A few examples to back me up:

1. When I went to the store a couple years ago to replace my old flip phone, there were no basic phones out on display–I actually had to have someone go into the back of the store and bring out this dusty box that contained (supposedly) one of the last flip phones they had in stock. And then they charged me like $40 for it (even with my upgrade credit). Now, I know that nowadays, $40 for a phone is nothing. However, five years ago, before the onslaught of the smartphone and smart device revolution, I was always able to get the basic phone for free with my upgrade. To make it more frustrating, I could have used my upgrade to get a basic smartphone for pretty much free (or only like $15), but then I would be forced to upgrade my plan to include data because Verizon doesn’t allow you to have a smart device and not have a data plan.

I’m sure the whole thing is part of a marketing scheme, and the sad part is, it’s basically working.

2. It seems that phone companies have purposely (?) made smartphones and non-smartphones incompatible. For example, almost every time I receive a text message from someone with an iPhone, I only receive about two or three words out of the message or receive just a blank text. And, when group texts are sent out, my reply is only sent back to the original sender, not everyone in the group (which can be both a blessing a curse, really).

3. As part of my job expectations, I’m supposed to be on the cutting-edge of technology in my classroom. Therefore, almost all of our professional development that has to do with technology only gives ideas and suggestions based on the assumption that the teacher owns a smart device of some kind. Since I don’t own a smartphone and few other technology options have been presented to me, I just stick with the tried-and-true technology methods I was using five years ago in student teaching and feel a little guilty that I’m unable to use any of the hundreds of great educational apps available.

4. A LOT of stuff apparently goes down on Instagram, including updates on the student I mentioned in yesterday’s post. But guess what? You are unable to get an Instagram account through a computer alone (or at least, I haven’t been able to)—-Instagram makes you install the app in order to use the program. This is super frustrating because I’m sure I’d actually really love Instagram since I love getting photography ideas and seeing other people’s pics of what they’ve been up to, but I am unable to sign up for an account due to my lack of smart device.

So why don’t I just break down and get a smartphone?

It’s partly a matter of money and partly a matter of principle.

On the money side, I have *usually* found that plans that include data tend to be more expensive than non-data plans, especially through Verizon (who I go through because they’re the only provider whose towers give me phone access at work). If I wanted to stay with Verizon and upgraded to a smartphone, I would likely need to pay at least $10-20 more a month, even if I didn’t even need to use hardly any data (because I have wifi access at home and at work).

Plus, there’s the cost of a smartphone itself—even with an upgrade available, I’m still looking at spending at least $50 (more likely to be about $100-150) for the phone itself, and I need to buy Raven a crib mattress before I buy myself a phone (since she’s still sleeping in a Pack ‘n Play in our room…).

But the real reason is much more principle-based than money-based, to be honest. I have noticed that many people–once they make the switch to smartphones–are on their devices All. The. Time. And sure, sometimes they’re using them constructively (like to access scriptures during the lesson at church or to call/text somebody), but a LOT of the time, they just seem to be scrolling through endless news feeds, even when they have a real live human person right in front of them. Basically, it seems like a lot more time is wasted when you have endless access to mindless entertainment right at your fingertips, and it seems like a lot fewer real live human conversations happen when there are smartphones present.

Right now, whenever I’m forced to wait in line (usually at the doctor’s office), I just take out the book I’ve brought with me and use the time to read. Or sometimes, if I’ve really planned ahead, I will have brought a stack of papers to grade and will work on that. I just have this feeling that if I had a smartphone with all its enticing apps and access to pretty pics on Instagram, I would just waste all that wait time playing on my phone…like everyone else.

So there you have it–calculated reasons for remaining in the Stone Age for as long as possible. Of course, a part of me wants to upgrade to a smartphone just for the fact that the cameras on them are so much better, but we’ll see how long I can hold out (especially since not having a decent camera on my phone forces me to take out my “real” camera when I take pictures, which is a good thing anyway).

Anyone else out there still have a “dumb phone”? What are your reasons for holding out?

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