My Smartphone Detox

My Smartphone Detox

Dumbing down to a basic phone after nearly a decade with smartphones.

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Note: This Article is ongoing; as I continue this journey, I will be posting updates at the end of the story, so be sure to check back for updates!

I remember when I first got a smartphone; it was 2010, and T-Mobile offered me a free LG Optimus if I got a contract with them. Up until then, I?d only ever owned basic phones, like the Motorola RAZR and a Nokia candybar phone, much to my displeasure, as I window-shopped for smartphones every day I came to work; I worked at Best Buy at the time, and smartphones were the new big thing. Even my dad had a smartphone before I did.

Of course, the one I wanted was the iPhone. It was still pretty new back then, and still seemed unattainable; the price of the device and the adjacent AT&T service plan were expensive to my 20-year-old self (and even today the iPhone remains exaggeratedly expensive, even with lease plans offered by carriers). But anything to get me into the smartphone game, and so when T-Mobile offered me a free one in exchange for signing their contract, I jumped on it.

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I don?t remember the Optimus much (I don?t even remember if mine looked like the one pictured above, but it seems correct given extensive Google searches)? I remember it was clearly a budget device, but it was leagues better than the Boost Mobile Motorola Clutch phone I?d had previously. Back then Android was nothing pretty to look at, but neither were the OS?s on basic phones.

After the Optimus, I went through a handful of other cheap devices, including an HTC Windows 7 phone, and possibly one of the smallest Android phones ever to hit the market. But finally, finally, I got it: The iPhone.

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It was the iPhone 4s, brand new with Siri, with such a premium feel- solid glass on the front and back. I remember the first night with it was so tense because I?d failed to buy a case, and I was sure I was going to break it.

Now, here I am, at the beginning of 2019, and five iPhones later (plus a smattering of Android and Windows phones thrown in between). Smartphones are everywhere. They are part of the fabric of our existence. I feel lost if I leave home without my iPhone. I feel naked without my Apple Watch on my wrist.

But life with the smartphone isn?t better, at least, not for me. I?ve written previously about my desires to ?dumb down.? I?ve tried to delete distracting apps, I?ve tried limiting my phone?s functionality (I even stripped my iPhone of nearly everything except the basic phone functions at one point). It is more than an attention grabber- it?s an attention drainer. My iPhone is constantly beckoning for my attention.

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And having one is a constant drag on my wallet, too. I mean, the Apple watch ain?t cheap! And neither are the cell phone plans and payment schedules that come with them. Right now, as we speak, Verizon is siphoning $158 a month from my bank account to pay for my phone lease, my ?unlimited? (but still limited) data plan, and the bundled data plan for my iPad. I suppose it is better than buying a new iPhone outright- the latest models currently run a grand each- but that?s a ton of cash, especially if you live paycheck to paycheck.

The last couple of years, I?ve felt a longing. A desire to step back in time, and lose this constant connection that I?ve had with the internet. I?ve forgotten what it is like to be bored, to have a free moment where I?m not consuming, to just exist. Sure, I use my iPhone as my camera (and that will be the hardest thing to get rid of), but while I?m staring at the world through a lens, I?m not experiencing it. I remember a few years back I went to see a concert for my very favorite band (the only time I?ve gotten to see them live, mind you), and I watched the entire concert from behind my phone?s camera. I don?t remember the experience of it as much as I remember the shoddy videos I took of the event (it was an iPhone 5s, and it didn?t do very good in the low light).

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Things need to change.

So here?s what I?m looking at, now. I got a nice ?dumb phone? for $60 (the new Nokia 3310), and I can get a service plan for it for next to nothing (or actually nothing, as the one I?m looking at from FreedomPop is $0 a month for limited talk and text). I can save myself roughly $150 a month, and I can release myself from the bonds of my phone.

It will be an excruciating process; I?ve got a friend who did this last year, and he said the first two weeks were hell. But after the adjustment period, I might find that I?ve got more time on my hands, more concentration, and more productivity. I?m still writing a book, and it isn?t getting written while I stare at my phone.

But can I do it? Well, only time will tell. And I?ll have to come back here and write about it again, and let you know what happened.

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But for now, wish me luck.

When deciding on this venture, the very first thing that struck me was how much, exactly, I?d be giving up. What smartphone features do I use on a daily basis that I won?t be able to use with a basic feature phone?

It?s a very good question, and one that I?ve mulled over for days. On the Nokia 3310, I have talk and text, sure, but I lost the qwerty keyboard and go back to T9. That?s not so bad, I don?t plan on writing a book on it. I have a camera- if you can call a 2 megapixel shooter a camera- and I even have a headphone jack, but my subscription to YouTube Music won?t be anywhere to be found. There?s an SD card slot to bring my own tunes, but only the ones I own.

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One of the biggest losses is GPS, but honestly, how often do I really use it? And more importantly, when I usually need it, my girlfriend is in the car, too, and her iPhone will still be capable of using Google Maps just fine. I?ll also lose out on multimedia messages; if someone sends me a link or a video or a photo, chances are I won?t get it. But I?ll just have to inform my friends and family to send things like that to my email or Facebook Messenger, where I can see it on my computer or my iPad. That will actually help reduce the amount of distraction I get as only the most important communications will come to me on my phone.

The Nokia does actually support Facebook and Twitter, but to what extent I don?t know, and I don?t plan on finding out- this experiment is designed to ween me off of social media, not enable it. And it does feature Snake, if I truly need a game to play for a few minutes.

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Something that the Nokia features that no smartphone could ever feature is the battery life. Not having to power all of the features smartphones are capable of, the Nokia will last for days before needing to find a charger. And that, more than anything else, is a big boon for me; I hate having a dead phone, because I hate the idea of someone trying to reach me and not being able to. And if the Nokia gets damaged beyond repair, I?m not out a lot of money to buy another one (and can definitely afford one, since I?m not paying for a data plan).

The Nokia is also tiny. Holding it in my hand is so comfortable, and it won?t take up nearly as much space in my pocket as the iPhone 7 Plus that I currently lug around (and there?s no need for a bulky case on the Nokia, either).

Some surprising things to find in the Nokia are bluetooth capabilities- meaning my bluetooth headphones are not obsolete- as well as an FM radio and a flashlight. There?s even a voice recorder, for when I need to take down an idea and don?t have my iPhone?s Notes app at the ready (I?m kidding? who uses Notes? I use Keep and OneNote).

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Thinking about all the smartphone apps that I use daily, however, I realize how many- or rather how few- I actually needed. My daily use apps include Facebook, Tumblr, and YouTube. But I don?t need them. And even apps that I do need, like GPS, aren?t actually apps that I use that often enough to continue paying for it?s constant availability; for GPS, I don?t need it around town, and usually only use it when travelling, and when travelling, my girlfriend is in the car, too, and has her phone. Even if I needed GPS without her present, I can always have a smartphone that isn?t on a service in my bag, with Google Maps offline downloaded.

I?m not entirely giving up my smartphone, you see. Not yet at least. My iPhone is still the best camera I have, and even without it on a contract I can use it for music playback and other offline tasks. But maybe it won?t be with me wherever I go now, because I?ll have a cheap, dumb phone for that.

What if I can?t Cope with a Dumb Phone?

There?s a very real possibility that I won?t be able to cope with a dumb phone; my girlfriend has given me two months before she thinks I?ll be scrambling back for my iPhone. And she?s probably right; the last time I tried to ?dumb down? my iPhone, it didn?t last more than a couple weeks.

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But even if I go back to a smart phone, I?m not going back to a big smartphone bill; I?ve still got a Lumia 640 that works just fine, and without Microsoft?s continued support of the Windows Phone platform, it might just be the ?sort of smart phone? I was looking for back in March. So, if this experience with the Nokia dumb phone doesn?t pan out, expect that to be my fallback.

If I do succeed in sticking with a feature phone, I am hoping that Nokia will soon release the Nokia 8110 in the US, which is a dumb phone that features a few smart utilities, like GPS and Google Assistant.

But I?ll be updating this article as I continue on this journey, to see how far I can go.

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Update 1:

Despite only publishing this article today, I wrote it last week, and feel the need to go ahead and write in my first update, as I?ve been using the Nokia 3310 in earnest for three days now.

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First and foremost, some corrections: the Nokia actually can receive multimedia texts, including videos, pictures, and even web links, which I can open in the small browser built in, and forward them to my Gmail inbox by texting it to my email address. It can receive a gif properly, and even stickers sent from iOS (they also fine in as gifs). One limitation I?ve run into so far is the quality of outbound photos. Of course, photos taken on the phone are crap, but if someone sends me a picture that I want to transfer to my iPad or computer, it won?t sent the high resolution image via text (but they can be retrieved by connecting the phone or SD card to my computer).

I am definitely getting used to it; as my iPhone still has a data plan active for the next couple weeks, my iPhone is still with me, too. I?m still transitioning people to texting me at my new number, so today was actually the first day that I left the house and left the iPhone behind. I?m intending on keeping the iPhone as my camera, and I like to have my camera with me at all times, but when I headed out sans iPhone, I felt sort of freed. Granted, I only left the house for about half an hour, but during that time there was no pull to look at a device, because there wasn?t a device to look at. I did miss my camera- and a couple photo opportunities- but it might be more prudent to get a dedicated camera; not only will it lack distracting apps that can work without data, but a point and shoot digital likely will have a much better megapixel count and better photo features (like proper macro photography).

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Typing is not the pain in the ass that I thought it would be; the Nokia has a pretty decent predictive texting feature, though I?ve given up trying to properly capitalize when the texting app doesn?t recognize it.

I?m not using it for music; if I?m still caring my iPhone for a camera, then I might as well use it for my music subscriptions. And Facebook and Twitter are useable, but just sucky enough that it will keep me from using them unless I actually need them.

As for service, I ended up with a company called Ting, which only charges for what you use. $6 for the line as a base cost, and then there are brackets breaking down the costs depending on how much data, messaging, and calls you use. For me, right now, I?m in the bracket to pay about $17 for my usage (plus, they give you the first month free for activating your sim). It tunes on T-Mobile?s towers, and the little bit I?ve played with in the web browser had been pretty fast for a dumb phone.

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So far? I?m not disappointed. The only thing I?m not sure about is the color of the phone I got; I picked red, but in some lights it looks more salmon pink or orange. But I might end up taking this handset back to Target and swapping it for the grey or blue models; thankfully the messages and contacts can be synced to my SD card for easy transfer. So at the moment, this expander is successful. But stay tuned for more updates.

Update 2:

I miss my Apple Watch. There, I said it. I miss that utility, the ease of getting my notifications on my wrist.

But that?s not a sign that I?m fine with this a mere the days in. No, I need to hunker down and stick with it. Saying I miss my Apple Watch is saying I miss the constant barrage of attention-seeking bother from my iPhone.

I keep picking up the Nokia to make sure I haven?t missed a text, knowing full well I?ll hear my Willy Wonka text tone when something comes in. If this is truly a detox from an addiction, I?m entering the withdrawals stage.

I started to miss the connection of Google Calendar, even though the only real calendar commitment I need to remember is my cousin?s wedding in May. I began missing the consistent vibration in my wrist when pointless other calendar events and reminders- most of which are old or completed but haven?t been deleted- even though I usually missed them because I had gotten so used to the Apple Watch?s tap tap tap that they went unnoticed.

As the days go by, my withdrawals will probably get more severe; I know what the world looks like with a smartphone, with a smart watch. I can?t un-law it. I can?t take it back now. As my friend said, these first two weeks will be hell. Even though my iPhone had data still, and I?m keeping it around for music and camera, I might go ahead and take out the sim card, or at least disable cellular data, so I can get a feel for life without it.

I keep glancing at the Nokia, even as I write this. I should check it, shouldn?t I? That urge will die down as the days move on. I?ll start to realize there isn?t a rain to pull it out; my messages aren?t usually urgent- I?m not a brain surgeon- so if I don?t see them right away, the world will not end.

I miss my Apple Watch, but only because I?m conditioned to think I need it. To think I need to know the instant someone messages me, the instant someone mentions me on Facebook, the instant one of my many forgotten reminders or calendar alerts come due.

I don?t need it. I don?t need my Apple Watch. I don?t need that constant tether, vying for my attention, demanding that I connect to my phone. I don?t need it.

But I will need to start wearing a watch? I?ve gotten used to having the time on my wrist again.

Update 3:

Things I?ve found I can?t do:

I can?t send or receive emoji, at least not today?s standard of round, yellow faces; if I want to convey an emotion, I have to do it the old school way: punctuation marks 😉

Likewise, while typing, the predictive text is great- saving me from mashing the ?7? button four times when I need an ?S?- but unlike on a smartphone, I need to know how to spell the words I?m typing, or I won?t get that word. No more typing ?wofds? and getting auto corrected to ?words.? But, in reality, I see that as a plus; I?ve long since thought spelling and grammar were getting demolished by smartphones, so this will keep me honest when it comes to spelling.

Grammar, on the other hand? Well, I haven?t yet found an easy way to capitalize a letter midway through a sentence; currently it involves rotating the keyboard through all of its different modes to get back to a capital letter. There had to be an easier way? Right? Until I find it, my friends who receive texts from me best forgive some lower case letters.

I do like that I can program in words. So when I?m talking about Thanos, now my phone can properly predict the Mad Titan?s name.

I?m still in that limbo where my iPhone still has a data plan, so I?m trying to keep that data plan off to show myself that I can exist without it. That starts in earnest today, as we were travelling all day yesterday (and a series of unfortunate events caused my girlfriend?s phone to fall under her seat while we needed the GPS). I?ve always kept my favorite tunes downloaded to my phone (I didn?t always have an unlimited data plan, so when out and about I never streamed music, only playing what I had stored on the device), so I should be fine without the data?right?

My girlfriend has brought up a good point- one that could see this experiment ending with me going to my sort-of-smart Lumia 640 middle ground: if I still have my smartphone (even if it only works on wifi) and my iPad, what is the point of this endeavor? I mean, this entire weekend (and even right now) I?ve used my smartphone on wifi, the only real difference being that my texts and calls now go to the Nokia dumb phone. Well, the point was never to stop using them altogether- like I?ve said, my iPhone is still the best camera I own, and I still plan to use it for things like music and writing. The point is not to be so connected. Not to be so hooked on these devices. When I?m out in the world, yes, I want my camera with me, but I don?t need Facebook with me, too. I don?t need a million notifications begging for my attention. My goal is to turn my iPhone into a tool- a glorified iPod, if you will, or an iPad Mini Mini- rather than a distraction. I mean, it is 2019; I need a smartphone some of the time. But I don?t need it all of the time. And I definitely don?t need to be paying $158 a month for all these extra unnecessary features. A big part is to get away from that mega bill that comes every month from Verizon; my little Nokia is on track to have a $20 bill by the end of the month. I cannot complain about that. So it may be hard for others to understand why I?m doing this- especially when they see my iPhone still in hand. But I never said it was going anywhere; It just won?t be doing nearly as much as it used to do.

I still have a long way to go with my smartphone detox. The first step was dumbing down my phone, going back to the basics. The next step is curbing my habits. I?m shackled without a data plan, but when I have wifi, my smartphone has all the functionality it used to have. I could sell the iPhone- and I?ve thought about it, replacing it with a dedicated point-and-shoot- but I still need something to get my music subscription. Sure, the Nokia can store tunes, but I?ve curated so many songs in Google Music and Youtube Music that any savings from the reduced phone bill would go to purchasing those tracks to keep. Maybe the end of this road will be my Lumia, which can access Spotify and- through third party means- Google Music. Only time will tell. But for now, I?m sticking with my little dumb phone.

Update 4: ?Deal breakers?

It?s a fun word, ?Deal breaker.? Here meaning the thing (or things plural) that could disrupt the fragile agreement upon which things have been set. In this case, that agreement is between myself and the Nokia 3310. It would be a missing feature, or a quirk that I just can?t get past in order to live with the device.

I?m my experiment, I?ve come across a few potential deal breakers, and have seriously considered what they mean to the future of my phone usage.

First and foremostly, images. Now, I knew taking pics on the Nokia?s 2 megapixel camera was not going to be pleasant. I knew that. It?s why the iPhone- defanged without a data plan- remains in my arsenal of technology during this detox. But that?s fine; the camera quality is not a deal breaker- it was printed on the box before I even purchased the device. I was aware. No, what is causing me ire is sending and receiving pictures.

Alright, a little backstory. I send a lot of pictures. I?m a photographer, and I like to share my work with friends and family from time to time. Of course, I?m not taking these photos on the dumbphone, but I can send them to the Nokia via email or side-load them on the SD card (which I?ve done; currently the ?little Nokia that could? contains most of my recent artwork), and they are stored in full resolution on the diminutive device. And I can send them to people- but the Nokia automatically reduces the file format to send it. That means when my recipient receives the photo, it will not look as glorious as I intended it to be.

Why this feels like a deal breaker, but really isn?t: do I need to send these photos from my phone? Can I not send them from my computer as an email, or through Facebook Messenger when I have wifi? Are these pictures so urgent that they must be sent right now? No, they aren?t. It?s a matter of convenience, and it is probably the smartphone addiction talking, telling me that I need that connection when, truthfully, I don?t. When someone sends me a picture, I can transfer it to my computer to keep the high-res image. When I need to send out my artwork, I can do it from my computer (and, frankly, I?m usually sharing to my parents, and they get the art through Google Photos instead of texts). I will miss sending gifs, as sometimes I like to communicate through silly pop culture pictures rather than actual works. But I don?t need it (and I can still do that in Facebook Messenger).

There is another potential deal breaker that I?ve come across, too, and this one is more frustrating. There?s no ?do not disturb? mode. I have a few friends who like to text me no matter what time it is. And that?s fine; my iPhone has always been set to go into ?Do Not Disturb? after 1 A.M., so as not to wake me up. The only way to replicate this on the Nokia is to turn the volume down- but unlike on a smartphone, turning the Nokia?s volume down also turns down volume on alarm clocks. There seems to be no work around to silence notifications without silencing alarms, and it is frustrating because- from Google searches- it seems that there is some sort of personalization feature included in the Nokia 3310 abroad that didn?t make it to the US version.

But, again, is this a deal breaker? If my iPhone is sticking around as my camera, as my iPod, and as my note taker for writing, can it not also be my alarm clock? After all, data isn?t required for an alarm clock, and undoubtedly the speakers are louder on the iPhone than they will ever be on the Nokia, ensuring that I do wake up when my Dr. McCoy ?He?s dead, Jim? alarm goes off (seriously, I chose this sound bite because there?s no way to sleep through it, and you can use it too, by downloading it from that link). And if I?m truly roughing it (meaning my iPhone is either dead or not with me), then, well, I can suffer from potentially being woken by a text at three in the morning (or I can tell my night-owl friends that I?m going to sleep and to shut the hell up).

The point of this long-winded update is that there are many things that feel like deal breakers with this little phone. But they aren?t, really. I have work arounds for each one, and- like the GPS- these little features that I think I?m missing are ones that I don?t use nearly as regularly as I think I do.

I?ve been playing with my Lumia 640 for a couple days now, too. Just to have the proper comparison. But even with it?s limited app store, it still feels a little to smart for my smartphone detox. And knowing Microsoft will pull all support for the phone come December, and knowing at that point I?ll either have to switch to an Android or an iPhone, which would put me back at square one, it will be better off for me to stick with the dumb phone.

I may switch my number from Ting to Cricket, however, as I wouldn?t be paying too much more to have truly unlimited talk and text (currently I?m trending to have a $20?27 bill with Ting for my first month, whereas Cricket would be $30 for 2 GB data and unlimited everything else), and then, should I decide to forego the dumb phone and switch to the Lumia, I?ll already be on the proper service (my Lumia is locked to Cricket). Travelling this weekend to Alabama with Ting showed now issues, however, and their service seems to be quite good. If you?re looking for a cheap ass plan and you aren?t going to be using a lot of talk, text, or data, there?s not many that could beat Ting?s pricing plan.

Update 5:

I?ve fretted over what friends will say to my decision to go dumb. I mean, a lot of my friends use iPhones and Apple Watches; what will they think if I?m no longer on iMessages or able to use walkie talkie? Walking through work, while everyone has their eyes glued to their smartphones, I feel weird pulling out my little dumb phone. But you know what? I don?t care. It is my life, and my phone. Why should I care if others think it is silly or behind the times?

That?s part of any addiction: what will everyone think of me? What will my iphone-bearing friends think of my decision not to use a smart phone for my daily phone necessities? It isn?t important. I?m not condemning anyone for using a smartphone (and I am, in part, relying on my girlfriend to keep her?s around), but I?m deciding that it just isn?t for me anymore.

So the Nokia finally died the other day. This was the first time I let it drain completely; starting with a nearly full charge Saturday morning (I unplugged it before it was completely full), it didn?t die until 10 pm on Tuesday night.

I continue to realize little things that I think I can?t live without and then have to consider why I really don?t need it. For example, the weather. Driving the other day, I noticed it was becoming overcast. For a moment, I lamented the fact that I couldn?t ask Siri for the weather (not that Siri has ever been entirely accurate in that field, anyway). And I know what you are probably thinking; being able to find out what the weather is going to be is definitely a useful feature to have. But foreknowledge that rain is coming wasn?t going to change the fact that I?m driving down the highway, sans jacket or umbrella, on my way to dinner. These things will continue to happen whether I?m dry or soaked. Now? Tornadoes, I do want to know about those. But my dumb phone will still get emergency alerts. And that?s all I really need, because whether or not a thunderstorm is rolling through the city isn?t really going to affect my day.

It is also making me use my noggin more. As one comedian said, ?remember when someone would ask you a question and ?I don?t know was a valid answer??? Sure, I can?t look things up when a question is posed (something I?m known to do during conversations), but in turn it will make me work things out myself. Smartphones, to some extent, can relieve us of the need to come to our own conclusions, to answer our own questions. To think for ourselves. Now, if I?m trying to place an actor in a movie, I?ll have to rely on my own memory to figure it out, rather than asking Google. That will be frustrating at first. But again? Do I need the power to summon these answers while shopping in Walmart? No, I don?t.

It isn?t that I won?t use the internet ever. I do need it. But I don?t need it in my pocket at the grocery store, or while driving on the highway. I don?t need it at work, and I don?t need it while out to dinner. There is a time and a place for it, and now that I?m no longer constantly connected, I?m realizing that it doesn?t have to be with me all the time.

Thinking about whether I need these things- like the Apple Watch- has really begun to open my eyes to the web that these companies trap is in. Especially Apple. Now, I?m not crapping on Apple; I love their products. But once they get your into their ecosystem, they keep pulling you in. It starts with an iPhone, and then one you have one, well, you might as well get an Apple Watch to go with it- ya know, to get the most out of it. Airpods, too; you don?t want to deal with cords, do you? And what computers do you use? Well, an iPhone really only works best with an iPad, and a MacBook. So you probably need those. If you go for all of this (plus an Apple Pencil for the iPad), you?ve just spent around $5000.

Most people don?t but the iPhone outright, however. Many, like myself, can?t afford it. Instead, they get in a payment plan, paying off the device monthly, combined into their cell phone bill. And most carriers will let you upgrade before you finish paying off the device you have (remember Sprint?s ?iPhone for life? plan?) Meaning you will never actually be done paying off your phones?

I?m not saying my Nokia is better than the iPhone. No chance in hell. But my Nokia is paid off. I could buy a new a Nokia each month and still save money compared to what I was paying for my iPhone plan (there are four colors of the Nokia 3310? Collect them all?). I could have a drawer full of phones, like Leroy Jethro Gibbs, ready to go in the event my current handset gets irreparably damaged (though the 3310 is apparently indestructible? ?Indestrible my ass?).

I think I?ve decided I like the color. It is vibrant, but at least I won?t lose it.

Update 6:

Yesterday I had some issues. When my girlfriend sent me a picture message, the device got hung up on trying to receive it. For about thirty minutes it told me that I had a message, but that the message was unavailable. It didn?t even tell me who the message was from. Only after I turned off the phone and turned it back on did it sync properly and let me retrieve the picture. Probably a fluke- we were sending pictures back and forth to examine the reduction in quality when it is sent from the Nokia- but something I will keep an eye on. Also, every now and then I pull the Nokia out to discover the flashlight is on, and I don?t know why; when it is locked, there is no shortcut keys to press to activate the flashlight, at least none that I have found. But apparently the phone thinks I need the flashlight while in my pocket (I mean? it is dark in my pockets).

I have decided to try out a different phone, however. Today I switched my service from Ting to Cricket, where I will pay a tiny bit more but won?t have to worry about limits, and with that switch I picked up Cricket?s only dumb phone offering, the Alcatel flip phone. It isn?t anything pretty to look at, not like the Nokia, but it is a little more modern for a flip phone; better capable at receiving today?s messaging standards, like emoji, as well as the capability to receive LTE connection and wifi (and apparently can be used as a hotspot in emergencies, though I have yet to find that feature in settings). It has bigger keys for typing (still T9), and the added benefit of avoiding pocket dialing (being a flip phone). The operating system- KaiOS- is a bit prettier than Nokia?s programming, and has some investment by Google; down the road, it should be capable of making few useful smart tasks, like GPS and Google Assistant. Still a dumb phone through and through, but I feel it is worth checking out, to see if it?s substance is really better than Nokia?s style.

I?ve been using it all day instead of the Nokia, and while I miss the Nokia?s iconic look and diminutive form factor (and that weird red/pink/orange that has finally grown on me), I have to say that the Alcatel is the better choice for me. It?s a much cheaper phone ($24.99 at Target right now, vs. Nokia?s $60 price tag), but much more useful, while still maintaining the essence of why I went to a dumb phone in the first place. There?s a bigger, more inviting screen for texting (and a dedicated button to take you to the messaging app), the ability to sync with Google Calendar and Contacts, and a dedicated camera button (which I hit far too often; I wish I could program it to be something else, since I?m not planning to ever take a picture with the camera, which, if possible, is even worse than the one on the Nokia).

Plus, I feel like Captain Kirk every time I flip open the phone. I don?t see a problem there.

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