Why I don't own a smartphone

When you tell people that you don’t have a smart phone, you can see the cogs start to spin. Maybe he has broken or lost it they think.

The last smartphone was broken when it decided to go swimming in a pint glass around six years ago now. It was replaced with a spare feature phone that a colleague had, required at the time to allow me to continue to use various services that require a mobile number. As the period of mourning passed, I grew to love the new little device.

I’m going to run you through the good, bad and ugly of owning a smartphone.

The Good

The Camera

I miss being able to take a picture and have it auto upload to the cloud and being safely backed up. The quality on the modern smartphone is awesome compared to the camera on my feature phone. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen photos from the early days of photography that are of better quality than the feature phone.

Looking back at some of the photos I do have, it reminds you just how much photos help you remember what you were doing on a given day.

The Bad

Always contactable

You are always contactable and are never out of reach. I’m not a fan of this feeling, being expected to reply to something at a moment’s notice. I might be hanging out with friends or just don’t feel like responding.

Texts on the feature phone are the only method for communication and I don’t get very many, so they tend to not be a problem.

Missing the moments

We were in a little Spanish speaking village and as we sat down in the restaurant it became apparent that they didn’t know any English. Leading to my friend trying mime for a glass of water – one of the funniest things to happen that holiday (Aqua is now forever burned onto my brain).

A phone can make you self-reliant in ways which don’t always give you best results. This is especially true in new places where my previously researched TripAdvisor top things to do is normally thrown out. The locals will then tell you about what the best activities actually are.

Sometimes things turn out bad using a phoneless technique don’t get me wrong – but the journey is as important as the final destination.

The Ugly

Your attention is fought for

The things you used to own, now they own you.

Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club

Millions of dollars are spent trying to get the attention of your eyeballs on their products. This comes in many forms including adverts, products, or platform where they sell adverts.

These practices remind me of the book ‘Addiction by Design: Machine Gambling in Las Vegas’ where each variable has been finely tuned to try and get you to gamble on slot machines and how they pull you in. I don’t gamble and even I gave the slot machines a go in Vegas.

Normally, in the technology realm it’s your time, which is even more precious than money as you can’t ever make more. Do you remember that time you scrolled down your Facebook timeline five years ago? These companies get you spend hours on their endless scrolls, to the point that you get bored but carry on the march down the feed.

Don’t get me wrong, seeing that an old acquaintance is doing X is great to see. Just unfortunately stuff like that doesn’t happen all the time.

With a smart phone it means your time is available most of the time, in bed, on the bus, at the dinner table. Without one you are off limits, they can’t buy your eyeballs and you can relax.


The smartphone is very weak on the privacy front, allowing more companies and governments have data than ever.

The trusty feature phone is still totally trackable by the governments (through the cell towers). It however does limit your exposure to a whole host of actors and malicious apps, mainly because you don’t have any exposure to them.


That’s the roundup of what I think are some of the more interesting points on this topic. I don’t think going cold turkey for most people is likely, you might want to try a period without using your smart phone.