Why I Don’t Want A Smartphone

Why I Don't Want A Smartphone

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 of getting this fine piece of mobile tech 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I will keep using my outdated cell phone that I honestly get a little embarrassed about taking out in public, especially since we’re now in the digital age. 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 So yeah, I felt pretty outdated and old.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 like getting access to internet connection anywhere. 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 their business 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.


Since I’ve managed to get this far without a smartphone, I know I’ll survive with my old school cell phone. There is a part of me that truly wants to own one- an android or an ios phone, whatever is great. However, 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? Are you happy with your iPhone or probably your Samsung Galaxy? 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 🙂

Photo Source

Jeremy K. Biberdorf

About the Author:

Jeremy Biberdorf is the founder of Modest Money. After working many years in the website marketing industry, he decided to take on blogging full time and also get his finances headed in the right direction. Also check out his contributions to Equities.com and Benzinga.

155 thoughts on “Why I Don’t Want A Smartphone”

  1. Avatar for 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.

    1. Avatar for 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.

  2. Avatar for 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…

    1. Avatar for 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.

  3. Avatar for 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.

    1. Avatar for 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.

  4. Avatar for 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.

    1. Avatar for 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.

  5. Avatar for 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.

    1. Avatar for 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.

  6. Avatar for 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 because they’re cheaper.

    1. Avatar for 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.

  7. Avatar for 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!

    1. Avatar for 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.

  8. Avatar for Grumpy old lady
    Grumpy old lady

    My phone died & I was bamboozled into getting a smartphone instead, & I can’t get on with the thing. it keeps directing me meaninglessly to Google which I don’t use at home. I can’t see who’s called. If I can find the e-mails, they’re barely readable & mostly advertising puffs. It doesn’t say how you answer a text, & when you tap away in desperation and manage that, it doesn’t tell you the text’s been sent. Even my 14 year old genius granddaughter said it was “a bit obscure”. The pamphlet with the phone just tells you how to use Facebook etc which I’m not even on. So I ordered a replacement dumbphone & am happy again. Nearly happy. Thanks for blog.

  9. Avatar for Gabriel

    I like the technology that surrounds a smartphone. I like to root them, install custom recoveries and ROMs. I like to fix them, but I don’t use them much!
    They are hard to see in the sunlight and they are hard to use in a moving vehicle just to name a couple of things.
    Actually I think they are lo-fo! Just look at all the people looking down at their devices.
    For most people they are an appendage, a path to an addiction, to a social life that provides anonymity and little responsibility to creating a really personal relationship and certainly devoid of structure.
    Whats wrong with just sitting quietly when you have little to do? Do you have to be entertained or stimulated 24/7?
    I think being socially connected all the time stifles creativity and sharing every thought and action would be mind numbing for me.
    I have an LG G3 that seldom leaves the house but it is technically impressive and fun to learn about, but soon I will trade it off for something different.
    If I take a phone when I leave I usually take a relatively new Razr V3 that I bought new for 34 bucks.
    I have a 10.1 Galaxy Tab that I use for it’s GPS features. I have a laptop that has Ubuntu and Slax operating systems. (for working on Android devices)
    I have a water cooled PC on 8.1 with three 32″ 1080P monitors running at 4.5 gigs.
    I spend about 15 hours a day in front of this set up but it’s not in chat rooms or personal blogs. I spend my time studying technology and the world we live in because I was born in a time when plastic was not even around yet.
    So computers opened a whole new world for me and now I can learn about anything I want but I can’t do that with my face buried in a cell phone.
    Sure they can do a lot but they don’t do a lot well, they just don’t have the real estate or the horse power.
    Hang up and live!

  10. Avatar for Private

    Just so you all know, all this so called “smart” device craze is nothing more than TPTP conditioning the masses to accept the singularity. The next phase is implantable chips, eye lenses, etc. Once you accept this, there is no turning back. Get rid of your electronic leash and learn to love life as God intended it. Reject the beast.

  11. Avatar for Guest

    Technology should only be used as a tool. The problem with most people and their smart phones is that technology is using them as a tool. People are addicted to these devices and have forgotten how to be human. Look up and enjoy the life that God gave you. Pick up the land line and actually talk to your true friends. Yo will find that life is more rewarding when your head isn’t buried in sand.

  12. Avatar for Anonymous

    I have had 3 smartphones, and I have to say, every single one was 100% worth it. Wasn’t privacy? Turn on a VPN/proxy, tell your phone to stop bothering you, or just turn it off. Smartphones actually give you more privacy in many ways, but they also allow you to change your mind and not have to be a slave to default functions. I’m a bit of a tech geek, but even though I’m on a budget, all my Android smartphones (HTC One V, Samsung Galaxy SII, and LG Volt) have performed well and allowed me to customize my lifestyle to my heart’s delight. Since I’m an Android user, I rarely pay for apps. I also pay $35 for 300 minutes of calling, unlimited text, and unlimited data with a speed cap at 2.5GB of high-speed data. I use Virgin Mobile running on Sprint’s network.

  13. Avatar for Snappy

    I bought my first prepaid smart phone approximately 2011.. It lasted approximately 2 years and then it died. I had a reasonable priced prepaid plan with voice and texting. Wifi in public areas. Then a friend gave me a hand me down smartphone. Lasted me one year again. I don’t use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, on my home computer or cell phone. My phone is for texting, phone calls and to check emails or maps occasionally. My mom has a ‘dumb’ phone (flip phone) and it’s still going strong. She’s owned it for 6-7 years. I probably could live without a smart phone since I don’t need to check emails etc all the time. I’m considering going back to a flip phone. Simple voice and text. I know texting is not as easy on a flip compared to smart phones but it can be done.

  14. Avatar for Walt

    I’m an electronics design engineer. I design cutting edge electronics for specific industries. I am not “backward” about technology – I create it.

    I still have my 2G Mot TracFone that costs me under $7 per month to run and it requires no contract. It is from the slim flip phone family and fits well in a pocket. I’ve had it for over 10 years and I still only have to recharge it about once a month. I can do this funny thing called talking with it and I can do it faster than anyone can text.

    I DO NOT want a BIGGER phone. I want a SMALLER phone. I have no need to carry a cumbersome computer everywhere with me that happens to work as a phone. If I want to carry a computer, I’ll carry my notebook computer that is drastically more powerful than any “smart” phone today.

  15. Avatar for Angie

    The only reason I have a Smartphone is because I’m living far from my homeland and it’s the way to keep in touch with people from there, family and friend. I hate the Smartphone, it costs me a lot and I wish I could get back to a simple antique one without all these features like I used to have back in my homeland.

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