Summary: You can reduce time wasted on your phone without sacrificing its usefulness
I worked at Orange (the phone network that’s now part of EE) in 2007-8, when the original iPhone was released. My colleagues and I all got free phones that year, but iPhone was an O2 exclusive, and as a light phone user, I didn’t want a big contract.
The Nokia 6220 Classic was the best phone I could get for free. It ran on Symbian OS, like Nokia’s flagship N95, and had GPS, a front facing camera, an FM radio and a 2.2″ screen above the creeky plastic buttons.
That was my last non touch screen phone. Since then, I’ve had mostly Androids with a brief, 12 month move to an iPhone 7 when I got sent an AxisGo water housing to review.
I use my phone in more distinct ways for less overall time than most people.
During my paternity leave for my second child, I got to spend lots of time with two young children in places with lots of other parents and children. I witnessed, and recognised in myself, how much time parents spent on their phones.
I started making a conscious effort to not get my phone out when I was with my kids. It felt good, so I started doing the same thing with everyone.
The benefits are immediate and obvious when you leave your phone in your pocket.
I am not anti smart phone, I do not fear 5G, I think reasonable screen time is fine for kids, I use my phone whenever it’s appropriate. I just don’t think it’s appropriate as much as most other adults.
To make it easier to resist the billion dollar companies with hundreds of thousands of software engineers whose only job is to get you to look at your phone more often, I decided to get a minimal phone.
There are a few expensive, minimal “dumb” phones available. Lightphone, Punkt, Mudita all have options if you only want to call or text, not to mention a bunch of retro re-releases from Nokia. But I use my phone for all sorts of other things.
I want to be able to use WhatsApp, Google Maps, a camera, banking apps, podcatchers, email and a decent web browser. I also want decent battery life in a pocketable size, and I don’t want to pay a premium for a highly marketed flagship phone.
Here’s what I’ve ended up with:
- Hisense A5
- 5.8″ black and white e-ink screen
- Half decent camera
- Android 9
- Side Loaded Google Play Store
- Indistractable Launcher – Pro version
It’s great, I’ve never not been able to do something I wanted to do on my phone, and I’ve avoided installing any social media apps since buying it.
The price is reasonable and the e-ink screen saves a lot of battery and allows me to read books just like a kindle in bright sunlight, or using the built in front light.