Why I Don’t Want A Smartphone Comments146 Comments

Ok I admit that part of me does really want a smartphone, but I am just not willing to get one right now. With my current situation, the negatives simply outweigh the positives.

The reason that this is suddenly on my mind is that my cell phone provider recently sent me an e-mail offering the phone I wanted for free…if I sign a 3 year contract. The irresponsible spender I was a year ago would jump at this opportunity. Instead I took some time to think about it and it just doesn’t feel like the right time to splurge on a cell phone.

I will keep using my outdated cell phone that I honestly get a little embarrassed about taking out in public. In fact, it might have really hurt my chances on a date a few weeks ago when she revealed that she’s a bit of a phone snob. Well she also saw my bulky first gen 60gb iPod and didn’t even know what it was. So yeah, I felt pretty outdated and old.

Anyways, back to the smartphone, here are the reasons I decided to remain as one of the few bloggers without a decent cell phone.

The Added Expense Of Having A Smartphone

Since I’m not big on chatting on the phone, I currently have one of the cheapest cell phone plans possible. I’m actually only paying about $30 per month. Canadians pay some of the highest prices for cell phone plans. So I think I’m getting a pretty good deal.

If I were to upgrade to a smart phone, I’d feel quite obligated to also pay the extra for a data plan to get the full benefits. That alone would likely double my monthly bill. I suspect I’d also go over my data limits as I get accustomed to how much cell phone data adds up.

On top of this I’d be tempted to buy various apps to further improve the experience. I have no idea which apps are free and which need to be purchased. I’m sure some of the apps I’d want would at least cost something though.

Then there’s the possibility of the phone getting lost, stolen or broken. I just don’t think I’m careful enough to carry around such an expensive phone everyday.

Fear Of Long Term Contracts

Maybe I just have a commitment phobia, but there’s something scary about getting locked in long term. With the way cell phone contracts are structured, you usually have to pay off the balance of your ‘free’ phone in order to get out of a contract. When they’ve got your nuts in a vise like that, what’s to stop them from abusing it? Most would probably say that just having your nuts in a vise is abuse.

Ok so they still would profit more if they keep customers happy, but cell providers tend to be rather unethical with some of their billing practices. I’m sure you’ve heard of the people who have accidentally racked up 4 figure cell phone bills.

Also what if cell phone plan rates suddenly drop sometime in the next few years? I’d be stuck overpaying until my contract is up.

Excessive Online Time

I don’t even want to say how much time I already spend online. I do website marketing work for my daytime job and then I am doing a lot of work on my blog outside of those hours. Then add in all the random surfing, chatting, facebook, etc. It’s just a whole lot of time spent staring at a screen.

Do I really want to let that invade the time that I am away from the computer? Sure it would ultimately make me more productive, but then I’d gradually block out more and more of the real world. I’ll save that for when everyone starts getting cell phones surgically implanted into their heads.

For now I’ll walk around enjoying the sights around me. I’ll stand in the supermarket line and people watch instead of reminding myself of all work responsibilities. When I’m hanging out with friends, I’ll give them my attention instead of making them a secondary priority.

Conclusion

Since I’ve managed to get this far without a smartphone, I know I’ll survive with my old school cell phone. I won’t give in to societal pressures and blow money on something I don’t really need. Besides, just like my search for a new girlfriend, the longer I wait, the more it’ll improve.

Anyone else out there still rocking a small cell phone that easily fits in your jeans pocket?
Those of you with smartphones, do you have any regrets? Hopefully this doesn’t turn into a big sales pitch of everyone listing all the things they love about their smart phones. Feel free to be negative about it for my sake :)

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By : Jeremy Biberdorf | 25 Jun 2012
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146 thoughts on “Why I Don’t Want A Smartphone

  1. Invest It Wisely

    Things change fast; 12 years ago not many had cell phones let alone smart phones. What will come in 12 years from now?

    Reply
    1. Jeremy

      Yeah smartphones have taken off like crazy. I grew up in a small town with limited cell phone reception. So back then it was unheard of for people to have a cell phone. I figure in 12 years from now cell phones will simply run our lives. By then it would probably be more to use a cell phone as a full on computer.

      Reply
    2. Guest

      Twelve years ago was when my 2G cell phone came out. My copy is still going strong, having outlasted its contemporaries and many smartphones.

      I own my phone, not the other way around.

      Reply
  2. Melissa Say What?

    Don’t do it! I have an iPhone 4. I love it, but I hate it.

    I love it because it helps me stay on top of things in my busy life (day job, blogging, selling Avon). I hate it because I’m ALWAYS connected and feel obligated to check this or that (like whether or not it’s my turn on Words with Friends with my mother). I hate it because not only must you feel obligated to pay for the data plan, you ARE obligated. The contracts actually require it. So take your GPS maps and shove them. I can use Mapquest or plan which restaurant I want to go to before I leave the house.

    Reply
    1. Jeremy

      I have bee getting by fine without a smart phone. I just feel a little awkward when I pull out their smart phones to check this or that and I just sit there twiddling my thumbs. It would be pretty convenient for catching up on work on the go. I don’t really want to be connected all the time though. My mom would be wanting to play scrabble more often too lol. She doesn’t like words with friends as much :P

      Reply
  3. Carla Omoruyi

    Cute post.
    Just thinkin aloud… I’ve noticed that the “real” millionaires and billionaires pretty much never carry cell phones….. they have “people” to do that menial stuff :)
    They protect their privacy with military zeal.
    Even the “lazy investor” Derek Foster, who retired a millionaire at age 34 doesn’t carry a cell phone.
    Life is for the living folks, not for constant monitoring and/or email checking….
    Smart phones provide too much access. I don’t want to be THAT accessible. how bout you?

    Reply
    1. Jeremy

      Very good point Carla. Those people obviously know all about the downsides of being tied to a phone. I already feel too accessible with a regular cell phone. If I had a smart phone, people would start expecting me to always have access to e-mail, facebook, twitter, my blog, etc. Time away from the computer should be a real break. I don’t know if I’d go so far as not carrying a cell phone at all though. Sometimes there are very good reasons to be accessible.

      Reply
    2. Shirley R

      I’m with you there!! I have an old Nokia that has outlasted my family’s bigger and better cell phones. If I’d lose this one I can handle it, if I lost a Smartphone I think I’d sit down and cry like my neighbor did. I’d rather not have the eletronic leash attached all the time and have my attention drawn away from living life. Many of my friends have Smartphones and are always checking this and doing that for work, we work to live not live to work.

      Reply
      1. Jeremy

        Well I joined the smart phone masses and already had a scare with possibly losing it. It fell out of my pocket on the side of the road as I got out of my car. I went for dinner not realizing I didn’t have my phone with me. Luckily I found it when I got back to my car and nobody ran it over. I find that I’m using it in situations where I’m not really missing anything. So I can’t say that’s been a problem.

        Reply
  4. K @ Get Worth

    I’m once again rocking a not-so-smart phone. I was in the smart phone game for awhile. Although I loved my iPhone, I couldn’t justify paying the extra few hundred a year for a data plan. Now I want to go cell phone free but I’m stuck under contract.

    Reply
    1. Jeremy

      I wonder how I’d feel about my new smartphone if I was paying a much bigger monthly bill. Since it’s covered for work I get to ignore that one big downside that most people face. I don’t know about going completely cell phone free though. That would be a bit too extreme.

      Reply
  5. Phone Bill Cut

    You can get a smartphone and still pay as little as $30 a month for Unlimited data (current no-contract deal through T-Mobile). Other providers like Straight Talk offer $45/month “unlimited” everything. And the prices for Android smartphones in particular have dropped a lot over time, especially if you don’t mind picking up last year’s (or even last month’s model).

    If anyone is reading this blog and is paying the typical $60-100 for a data plan via a contract. Stop! Consider no-contract plans. Do the math and see if it can bring you savings – for most people it can add up into hundreds of dollars of savings over the life of a typical 2-year contract.

    Reply
    1. Jeremy

      Unfortunately they don’t have those kinds of deals here in Canada. I don’t think any provider up here still offers unlimited data. I think my new phone has a 6gb monthly limit but it seems more than enough for what I use it for.

      Reply
  6. John @Cheapest Cell Phone Plans

    And for some people it comes down to money. Thats why there are free cell phones with free airtime each month through a program called SafeLink Wireless, which was created by TracFone, and is currently available in 29 states check their website for more information.

    However if you’re in a long-term cellular contract and want to escape without paying the hefty early termination penalty see cellswapper.com or celltradeusa.com. These companies match cellular customers who want out of their contracts with people who are willing to take them over.

    Reply
    1. Jeremy

      Interesting services John. I don’t think they have those offers here in Canada. A free cell phone sounds like a cool idea though. I guess it could be easily subsidized by ads within the phone. Being able to transfer your contract over to someone else sounds like a good deal too. I know lots of people want to get out of their current contract, but sometimes it’s still a reasonable contract for someone else.

      Reply
  7. Old Fashioned

    I am 22 and by choice have a $60 nokia on prepaid and it does phone calls and texts. If I want to take photos I have a camera which is better than most phone cameras. If I want to play games or get on the internet I have a computer. If I want to listen to music on the go I have an old ipod shuffle which does just that, plays music, if I want to listen to it at home I have a decent set of speakers and my computer again.

    My friends all have numerous gadgets and they love them, but I don’t like the idea of people being able to contact me 100% of the time, and I’d rather spend my money on other things. I also like the fact that I can do things like read timetables, understand maps, and predict the weather without a gadget telling me the answer…looking up on a ‘timetable app’ when the next train is coming just feels dumbed down and patronising to me, I like to use my brain. I also find the ‘games’ on them pointless time wasting when I could be reading a book, writing in my journal or doing other things (I have plenty of better games on my computer for when I feel like gaming). I know there are ways of doing a lot of these things online, but I’d rather do them in real life… no iphone is going to make up for the feel of a pen writing on paper. Sorry if this sounds elitist or snobby, I’m really not; if smartphones work for others and they like them then that’s fantastic. They’re just not my thing and I’ll refrain from buying one as long as I can.

    Reply
    1. Jeremy

      Well if you have a cell phone people can contact you 100% of the time. And what’s the point of having all those separate devices when one good smart phone can handle it all? It’s not like you’re going to carry your camera and ipod with you everywhere you go, but it would be nice to have access to that kind of stuff all the time. I was anti-smartphone for a long time, but I’m glad I finally made the switch. I don’t feel that it dumbs things down at all. It just makes things more efficient and makes it so I don’t have to waste brain power on meaningless stuff like checking timetables.

      Reply
      1. Guest

        Sorry, gotta go with Old Fashioned on this one. Having lost cell phones before, I think it’s smart not to put all your eggs in one basket.

        Reply
  8. Gisselle

    I have had a vacations, 1 month without my smarthphone and no regrets. I’m happy, saving more money and being able to be more in touch with the people. It is not just virtual, but now I spend more time actually talking to them on the phone or even seeing them to catch up. That’s something I’m enjoying during my smarthpone vacations!

    Eventually I’ll go back to it, but now with a balance. Before it was so consuming for me, I was to attached to it.

    Reply
    1. Jeremy

      I am starting to get attached to my new phone, but it works for me. If I’m with a group of people I’m still the last one to whip out my phone to check something. I’d only be doing that if everyone else got consumed with their own phones. Now that I have a smartphone, I’d be interested to see how I do without one for a while.

      Reply
    1. Jeremy

      Wow no cell phone at all? I guess when you’ve never had that convenience it’s pretty tough to miss. It’s also easy to pass off the benefits and notice all the negatives when you don’t have one.

      Reply
  9. @antsmakemoney

    I also do not have a smart phone, my mobile moves around my desk and only comes out in extreme circumstances!

    I am currently considering getting a smart phone as I can see the benefits for blogging purposes, also here in the UK a cashback site allows you to check in at various retail outlets and earn money (so hoping to make it relatively cheap).

    The only thing holding me back (apart from cost) is that I don’t want to become one of those people who are looking at thier phone every 5 seconds!

    Reply
    1. Jeremy

      I think if you are set on not becoming a phone addict you still can even when you own a smartphone. It does allow you to do extra blogging work on the go. I haven’t used my new phone for any money saving tactics, but it’s something I should look into.

      Reply
  10. Valerie

    It depends where your priorities lie. Do you have cable television? This is a real money waster in my opinion. You can easily get a free smartphone, a decent data package and free apps. I think cutting expenses on a cell phone plan is a mistake. I have absolutely no cable television, no Netflix, no home phone–but I will be damned if I have no smartphone. I know people that have cable, smoke cigarettes and complain about the fees with smartphones. Really? Seems you could cut costs elsewhere.

    Reply
    1. Jeremy

      I wouldn’t say you can get a free smartphone. You end up paying that phone off over the life of your contract. That’s why they can charge big cancellation fees. I don’t think everyone really needs a smartphone. Some people are just happier with cable instead. I know I had cable tv the whole time I had no smartphone. I wasn’t about to cut that just to get a fancy phone.

      Reply
  11. Yeoreum

    Hey I just read your post and that’s what I wanted to say to people, who asking me “what? you don’t have smart phone? seriously?”
    all the time haha. almost Korean people using the smart phone include my mom. when I meet the foreign people, they don’t believe that I don’t have smart phone. it’s impossible for Korean usually haha.
    I miss that time when I in Turkey in my Turkish friend home, I had nothing. internet, cell phone, and it was country side. what people do in there is talking with tea…

    Reply
    1. Jeremy

      With certain demographics people do make assumptions about the technology they use. I think this would be the case with most young people these days. They’re all expected to have some fancy smart phone. I feel sorry for the parents having to buy those phones when the kids aren’t old enough to take care of it.

      Reply
  12. Yichuan

    I am using a T-mobile basic phone. Pay as you go. $110 in the account lasted a year and half and still have $80 in it. Not many calls to not much spending on phone. I use Google Voice to call and text as much as possible. The only thing I see smartphone has the edge is the GPS, but I can get by with hand-drawn maps wherever I go.

    Reply
    1. Jeremy

      Wow I wish I had been on that kind of plan when I didn’t have a smart phone. The pay as you go I was using forced you to use your minutes that month. I’m finding that a smart phone has a ton of benefits beyond just GPS. So now I probably wouldn’t be able to switch back.

      Reply
  13. John Alexander

    I’m 33, and it was only 6 years ago that I got my first cell phone because my dad wanted me to have one in case my car broke down. We both still have the free, bottom-of-the-barrel flip phones with no camera and T9 texting. If it had been up to me I’d still probably be phoneless.

    I’m a web programmer and I work in an office full of Apple junkies. It’s tempting to want the latest and greatest gadget — they make some awesome things — but when I really think about it, I can’t really come up with too many reasons that I need a smartphone. The games seem like huge time wasters, I avoid YouTube and Facebook in most cases, and I like checking my email when I’m ready to check it. The maps could be useful, but I’m good with directions, and I like the adventure of finding my own way. I also know that when I’m on the computer I get engrossed in my work, and as such I don’t want to introduce even more online time into my day. If I do end up getting anything at all, it might be a cheap Android tablet so I can test my sites in a mobile browser.

    A lot of the things I enjoy doing on the computer (painting, illustration, composing music, programming) are impossible or impractical on a phone. And it can be irritating when you’re out at a restaurant and the person you’re with is messing with their gadget. I’m already bad enough about giving real people my undivided attention when I’m at the computer… I’d be intolerable with a smartphone.

    I think what it comes down to is that I love technology for creating art and learning about the marvels of creation, but I just don’t enjoy consuming large doses of media. Never watch movies, don’t have cable, and my 14-inch TV gets turned on maybe once or twice a month. If there were a practical way to do without it, I might lose the cell phone altogether. Too much connectivity is not good for the soul… it hollows you out. I think of the thorns that rose up to choke out the good seed.

    Reply
    1. Jeremy

      That is a surprising view for a web programmer, but I guess that is pretty close to what I do for a living and I was in a similar mindset. A smart phone is still pretty impractical for most work functionality, but there is a ton of other benefits. For someone who spends a lot of time in front of a computer at work, I can relate to wanting to break free from that connection outside of work. I think a big factor is how much time you are border waiting around, such as when commuting on public transit. If you don’t have much of that kind of time, you probably don’t really need a smartphone. Most of its features really are luxuries that people have got by without for ages.

      Reply
  14. Michael

    My wife and I do not have personal smart phones. Our enslavement with Verizon just ended and we have the opportunity to “upgrade” to new phones and we just do not wish to do so.

    I spend so much time on my regular ol PC that when I do decide to walk away and enjoy my life, the last thing I want is a computer in my pocket. Oh, I have played with the phones of my friends and to be truthful, yea, they are nice, but not so nice that I would wish to pay the exorbitant data rates and be chained to one 24/7.

    We are having our second child soon and I have contemplated just using google talk for a primary and getting rid of my cell altogether as I will be a stay at home dad for several years. We will see how that plays out.

    Good article. Enjoyed reading it and the comments.

    Reply
    1. Jeremy

      The high price to own a smart phone is a major turn off. It was really the main reason that I held off on getting a smart phone for so long. To me the price just isn’t worth it unless you have a ton of time on the go that you need to fill up with some amount of productivity. While I did give in a get a smart phone since my employer pays for it, I think I’d be a lot less satisfied with it if I was the one paying for it. I’d end up paying too much attention to bandwidth used and being too careful with how I used it.

      Since you have a new child on the way, I’m sure you’ll be far too busy to need a smart phone. I don’t know about getting rid of your cell phone altogether though.

      Reply
  15. Amanda

    It’s all about what’s important to you. I don’t have a smartphone, either, and won’t for at least another year (when my contract runs out). But if I do decide to get one, I’m looking into one of the smaller companies, like Republic or CREDO because they’re cheaper.

    Reply
    1. Jeremy

      Sometimes it makes a lot of sense to go with one of those smaller companies. They are often run by a bigger cell company. It’s smart to not rush into getting on while still under contract. By rushing you’d end up having to pay some hefty cancellation fee.

      Reply
  16. Wendy T

    Amen to this….

    But this is coming from a woman who just sent her first text about two years ago and has never had a laptop. I think we all need to “look up” far more often than we do. And what you said about the expense of the plan is a huge point!

    Reply
    1. Jeremy

      It is strange seeing so many people so absorbed in their cell phones that they are ignoring the world around them. It’s really contributed to people’s declining manners.

      Reply

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