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The Dumbphone Experience

When I went to dumbphone (Oct 2017, so more than three years at the time of this writing), the model I got had an FM radio so I was like “OK that’s fine, I’ll switch from pods&music to listening to FM”. And that was frankly awesome! Until the headphone jack broke after a few months. And then I was like “OK that’s fine, I’ll just have to practice not having pods&music when I’m out and about.” And that was hell for the first few days but I ended up liking it.

I really appreciate smartphones for the maps feature, I woulda completely panicked in a new city without it.

Two unexpected things I’ve noticed:

First, I (subconsciously, but still) really strongly hoped people would be impressed by me not having a smartphone and think I was cool. But that has almost never happened.

Second, and this one is a good thing: I get way less annoyed at people whipping out their phones, checking their phones at dinner etc. For three reasons:

  1. I guess there was a guilt-based component to my annoyance and now that I don’t do it, I have a lot more compassion for, and a lot less annoyance at, those who still do it.
  2. I now see it as them seeking to maintain connection to their friends and loved ones—when I leave the home and my desktop computer, I’m basically disconnecting from everyone online. Sure, them sneaking peeks at their smartphones is them disconnecting from the local world, but it’s also them connecting to a wider, global world.
  3. It also happens way less often. Since I’m not doing it, they’re doing it way less, too. Not necessarily as a conscious decision.


With a little planning, I found I could avoid most hardship. I took a camera when I might need to take a photo or a book if I might be waiting.

I had been meditating for a few years when I went dumbphone so for me that part was not so bad.

My smartphone broke early October 2017, and I went three weeks without a phone altogether, and then got a dumbphone at the end of October that year.

In March 2020 I inherited my grandma’s old tablet. So that kind of put an end to the dumbphone experience in a way.

For the actual phone part of the phone I’m still on my dumbphone, but the tablet means that I’m never more than 3 cm away from what’s pretty much indistinguishable from the smartphone experience I thought I had left behind.

In the summer of 2021, I got to start leaving my apartment some more after being cooped up for a while. Getting away from the desktop and the tablet, and once more getting to experience the benefits of dumbphone.