Last week, My iPhone X showed that my average weekly screen-time was edging towards 25 hours. A bit of Facebook here, some Instagram there, a few hours of YouTube and about 3 messaging apps — I had no idea that I was spending that much time every week, staring at the small slab of glass that seemed to be glued to my hand, almost oblivious to the world around me.
It was actually one of my kids who told me that I was always on my phone, and while I initially disagreed with her and said that it wasn’t nearly as much as she made it sound like — the screen-time numbers were siding with her observation.
Granted, I don’t consider all of these hours as “wasted”, but even if only half of was spent on checking up on irrelevant social media posts, pointless YouTube videos and looking up random stuff on Google — that’s still nearly 2 full work-days a week that I could have used more productively.
A few days ago, after contemplating another social media hiatus, I decided to take it a step further than to just delete the apps from my phone this time. God knows — I’ve uninstalled and installed the culprits more often than I can count, and for some reason, not having the apps handy made me feel even more of the dreaded FOMO.
So I went looking for a more permanent solution. For me, the iPhone is clearly an enabler when it comes to jumping on these apps, so I figured that by taking the phone out of the equation — getting back on social media would be a lot harder.
So I bought a new Nokia 2720 4G flip phone.
After trying to find a phone that wouldn’t allow me to jump onto social media and all its seductions, but still something that would allow me to stay connected to 2019 technology — the Nokia 2720 4G flip phone appeared on my Google search result page.
This looked strangely familiar, seeing I’ve had a mobile phone since the late 90s. Feeling a little nostalgic, I found a local store online that had the phone in stock and asked Siri to navigate to the store address to pick it up.
Here’s a short video review I found on YouTube.
With the phone in hand, I wanted to try the flip phone right away, but I had to drive home first because I didn’t have a sim tray pin on me to transfer my SIM card. Once again Google Maps directed my home in the shortest route possible — so convenient.
Setting up the phone was a breeze. Plugged it into the wall charger, KaiOS notified me that there was an OS update which took me 5 seconds (try that, Apple!) to download and after the reboot I started my discovery session within this unfamiliar OS. It’s so small that it took me less than 5 minutes to figure the whole thing out. Everything you could want from a feature phone is available, albeit with a lot less polish and performance, yet very usable.
The main reason I chose this particular model is that it is advertised as a 4G enabled hotspot device, which comes in very handy for someone like me, who is often working from different places in the city. The other reason was that it has a Google Assistant built in and some other Google features, such as Google Maps and the ability to synch contacts and emails with my Gmail account.
Funnily enough, this phone comes with Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp preinstalled, but the tiny screen, ancient T-9 texting mechanism and overall slow performance for anything else but basic functions, makes this a very unattractive invitation to social media land, which makes it easy to decline that invitation — politely.
The main things I wanted from this phone all work well, I can make and take calls, send and receive text messages, ask Google for directions (although it doesn’t do turn-by-turn navigation), play MP3 files, read ePub books, take (crappy) photos, and use the 4G data hotspot for when I need it. Oh, and battery life is pretty amazing if you’re used to smartphone battery life.
Ifind myself reading my ePub books instead of people’s Facebook updates. I listen to hand-picked and curated music instead of getting random stuff fed over Apple Music, I need to pay attention to my surroundings when driving with Google Maps, because it won’t tell me if I missed the turn, so I see more of the real world around me. I can ask Google what the weather is and I can even use the YouTube app to listen to my YouTube Music playlists if I want to (oh, and Radio!).
Am I “missing” a few things? Sure! The ability to quickly reply to messages or emails with the “dumb” keyboard. Or using things like AirDrop or even using basic copy/paste. But after a week of using this phone, I find myself spending more dedicated time on my Macbook Pro to do actual work. And being in the moment when I’m away from my desk.
I talk more with the kids when we’re out getting breakfast somewhere, I feel less anxious about client emails or messages that used to infiltrate my life 24/7 when a notification came in on my phone. My mood doesn’t swing as much anymore because I’ve removed a lot of these digital triggers from my personal environment.
Even getting up in the morning or going to bed has become easier, because I don’t just mindlessly grab my phone anymore, and I have just fallen into an easier, faster and less stressful routine again.
All this took me was $100 and some willpower, and I feel like I should have done this years ago, before my smartphone hi-jacked my attention, time and in a way — my relationships.
Oh, and last but not least — it kinda feels nice being able to handle the phone like a cheap tool instead of an overpriced, $2,000 fragile slab of glass that is more precious to some of us than almost anything else in life.
I dare you to at least give this a try for a 30-day period and tell me how it has changed your quality of life. See you on the flip side.