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back to article Without a smartphone your reptile brain gets a workout

A couple of weeks back, I ditched my Galaxy S4 and adopted a Nokia 110 as an experiment to see if modern life is possible without a smartphone. The premise for the test is that I'm worried I'm spending a bit too much time with my phone and could probably disconnect from the online world without. A couple of experiences …

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Other options exist for the neo-luddite!

Other options.

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Goat Farming

I still remember from the late 70s in one of the computing magazines of the day, an interview with one of the Captains of Industry who noted that if his life every became complicated enough that he needed a computer to manage it, he'd chuck it all in and take up goat farming.

I wonder where he is now?

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Trollface

Re: Goat Farming @number6

Downvote because you don't have a name to go along with quote.

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Re: Goat Farming @number6

Sadly, my Google-fu failed me on this one. It was probably in Computing Today though.

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Facepalm

Nokia 110 is a smartphone.

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Re: Facepalm

Actually it's a "feature phone", which means "neither one thing nor 't'other, but an ungodly hybrid that would make Doctor Moreau blench".

A true dumbphone would give a battery life *way* better than "3 days". (And the games would probably be better, too. Anyone remember 'Snake'?)

But seriously... settling arguments in pubs is a *really* bad reason to have a smartphone. And "giving your own memory something to do" is a good reason not to. I only made the jump to smartphone very recently, and haven't yet got into the habit of dragging it out to settle every piffling question that crosses my mind... and I'm trying to keep it that way.

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Re: Facepalm

I bought an Alcatel OneTouch phone from Carphone Warehouse for £50 last year as my current phone was broken. It ran Android 2.2 and it had a very fuzzy screen. BUT the battery would last 3 to 4 days, and that was a smartphone.

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Re: Facepalm

It can surf the web, take photos, take notes, play video, organize meetings, sing & dance. It's a smartphone, just a bad/poorly specced one one with a small screen.

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Re: Facepalm

>But seriously... settling arguments in pubs is a *really* bad reason to have a smartphone.

It was the same reason that Guinness started publishing a Book of World Records every year.

>It can surf the web, take photos, take notes, play video, organize meetings, sing & dance. It's a smartphone, just a bad/poorly specced one one with a small screen.

The divide between a 'feature-phone' and a smartphone' is a bit fuzzy, but most people would describe the above Nokia as a 'feature-phone', to distinguish it from phones that run OSs supported by 3rd party software (besides Java apps, obviously).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Feature_phone#Difference_between_smartphone_and_feature_phone

but as I said, it's a fuzzy definition:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Feature_phone#Needs_Work

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Of course it's possible...

<Old Crotchety Bastard voice>Iiii've got a Basic Phone, and that's the way Iiiii LIKE it!</Bastard>

It's a Samsung Haven. No camera, no downloadable apps, no ring tones, no games, can't be used as a tethered modem, *nada*.

It makes & takes voice calls, sends & receives text messages, and it's built in, non upgradeable, non deleteable, "This is what it's got & that's all you get!" features include a calculator (with a maximum of 2 decimal places, & if the answer uses more than 10 digits, the phone pukes), a "tip calculator", and "Health & Wellness" selections of craptastic looped midi "songs" of "ocean waves" that sounds more like my cat frolicking in the litter box.

Check email? Not possible.

Go online? There's no Browser, no way to install one, & as previously mentioned, it can't be tethered to a computer.

(There's a MicroUSB port, but it's only for charging & doesn't include the Data connections.)

In short, it's a Basic, not even a Feature Phone.

So if you *really* want to test your ability to disconnect, stop pussy footing around & get a *completely* Basic phone.

The fact that your Nokia can do *anything* online means you've not really disconnected from anything, merely throttled it to such a degree as to make it FEEL that way.

<Shakes a palsied fist menacingly>You young whippersnappers with your fancy Features, Smart, Apps, Angry Flappy birds, ring tones, games playin', tweet makin', Self-eez snappin', instagrammy shootin', infographic makin', lolcatz surfin', GUI usin' uppity miscreants! Now get off my laaaaawn!</gibbering old coot>

=-)p

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Re: Of course it's possible...

My thoughts exactly.

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Re: Of course it's possible...

Hear, hear.

I use a phone for talking to people and a computer for doing things on the net.

I wonder how many people realise that they are working overtime by reading and answering work related e-mails and calls out of normal working hours.

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Re: Of course it's possible...

My phone does have a few games I've never used, and can get on the web with a really crap screen (I tried it once). Oh and a rubbish camera. But basically it does calls and text.

The battery lasts well over a week.

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Re: Of course it's possible...

Or how about no phone at all? I often go out with no phone at all. Sometimes I just don't feel I NEED (as distinct from want) a phone, sometimes I just plain forget to take a phone and sometimes I'm in a situation where I couldn't. Whatever the reason I am phoneless I seldom miss being "connected".

I think one of the issues with the author and a large part of society is that they can no longer differentiate between want and need. Something most people used to grow out of when they were about 12.

Remember need is always more important than want.

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Why did you pick such a crap luddite-phone?

I recently went luddite too, but I got some Huawei phone (NZ$24 including 16 bucks of airtime and SIM). Selection criteria: cheap and big enough to actually hold and read.

Battery life is well over a week, then I got bored and charged it any way. What's this 3-day bullshit?

How the hell are you supposed to have good arguments and pub fights if all the movie stats are online and arguments can be settled in a few swipes?

If you don't know something then use the same cop-out we used 30 years ago: look the bloke up and down and say samething like: "only a complete poofter would know something like that".

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Re: Why did you pick such a crap luddite-phone?

>Why did you pick such a crap luddite-phone?

I seem to recall that the writer gave the reasoning behind his specific choice of phone in an article a couple of weeks ago... though he hasn't linked to it in today's piece.

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Re: Why did you pick such a crap luddite-phone?

Article containing reasoning: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2014/02/03/is_modern_life_possible_without_a_smartphone/

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Anonymous Coward

It's an EDGE phone

Battery lasts forever... as long as it takes uploading a photo. Same goes on my Blackberry when I switch it to 2G only.

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Crotchety old bastardry aside ...

This is really a valuable exercise, and everyone should try this sort of thing occasionally. Especially for those of us over a "certain age" (meaning me, not Simon), a bit of mental exercise becomes important to prevent the grey matter from seizing up completely.

I keep an old Nokia in my desk, so I can revert to this for a week occasionally - as well as deliberately dispensing with other technologies from time to time.

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In my job...

I often work in foreign countries with a large transient team who need to communicate cheaply. We have a stack of 60 Nokia 100's and 101's we use. When we land in a country we buy (assuming local laws and companies allow - irritating how often they don't) a stack of PAYG SIM cards, and program each one up with the numbers of all the other SIM cards and names for who we give that phone to.

It's an elegant solution because...

1) The phones are small, the battery lasts forever (unlike those who try to use the SIM in a smartphone and find come 8pm showtime that they're out of battery - just when they need to be on the phone!)

2) They are rugged enough for carpenters, roadies, site etc

3) They are fugly, don't tempt thieves

4) No internet, so no stupid data charges when some drum tech installs some 1.5GB phone game (EA, I'm looking at you!)

5) Truly irritating to text on, so fewer SMS to worry about

6) Retro Gaming!!

They are ideal phones for this kind of thing. But it does mean everyone travels with 2 phones, one we pay for and one that's entirely their own unsupported problem.

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Pint

Re: In my job...

"I often work in foreign countries with a large transient team who need to communicate cheaply."

Was thinking all sorts until I read the rest of the post...

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Anonymous Coward

I'm just dipping my toe back into the smartphone water.

I've been using a Nokia 8890 for the last 4 - 5 years (I keep refurbing it when it gets a bit too scratched).

Here's why I like it:

- It's stylish and stands out in the smartphone crowd

- It's a conversation starter (What the hell is that! How old is that! And don't get me started on what happens when you pull out the aerial...!)

- The battery lasts for several days and I have a desk charger with spare batteries so I can just swap it out when on one bar

- I'm not glued to my phone when in social situations. My full attention is always with the people I'm hanging out with, not with people half way around the world on Facebook.

Here's why I'm getting a smart phone and giving it a go again:

- 2G is getting switched off in the USA which I visit frequently, so my phone is on borrowed time there at least

- It's getting tougher to find spares and the costs add up over time

- I definitely miss having a camera with me at all times. It's amazing how many things you can see in a day that would be nice to capture and/or share

- Organisation is difficult without a calendar. The Nokia has one but no easy way to sync with anything useful

- I miss a lot of useful apps, like VoucherCloud and TopTable when I'm out and about.

- Some apps seem like fun, e.g. SnapChat and Tinder, which I'd like to use.

In short, life without a smartphone has not been hell. I actually like it, and as I work in IT, I'm usually near a computer if I need to look something up, and when I'm not near one, I'm probably in a social situation. But the draw of a camera, and of some apps that are smartphone only, are finally pulling me back into modern times.

Thanks for reading.

Sent from my Nokia (!)

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Re: I'm just dipping my toe back into the smartphone water.

I still miss my Nokia 6210. That was the best phone I ever had. If I didn't have to have a company smartphone, I'd still have a 6210.

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Re: I'm just dipping my toe back into the smartphone water.

I carry two smartphones, and rarely, if ever, use them for looking up details online, especially if I'm out of the house. I have a measly data-bundle on both (I think it is less than 200MB per month), but most months I'm paying for nothing, since I don't even switch the data connection on. I will use either phone for picking up emails or looking up some sites if I have wifi, but since I usually have my laptop nearby it is either because I'm saving that battery on the laptop by turning the radios off, or I'm in a room where the laptop isn't. I would never, ever, use the data-gathering function when out in a social situation - in fact, I rarely answer the phone when out with people - there is nothing that urgent that it can't wait (and what are you doing in a pub with wifi,or even a mobile signal anyway? The purpose of a pub is to get some peace and quiet).

So, some may be asking why I have a smartphone (or even two) anyway? Well, I find I'm better at using an electronic calendar and contact list than a paper one, and I like the synch with other calendars. I also like the fact that my diary and phone (on which I still dial some numbers from my own memory) is also an ebook reader, alarm clock, good-enough camera for emergencies, atlas, satnav (while the battery lasts), and file store. These, for me, are good enough reasons to have a chunky smartphone.

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Re: I'm just dipping my toe back into the smartphone water.

ahh - the 6310i - still going strong

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Can one live without a smartphone today? Absolutely. Could I be persuaded to even consider it? Hell no.

Yes, pub discussions are one frequent use (and for the life of me I can't see what's wrong in being able to conclusively substantiate my claim to my mate that the sun is light-minutes instead of light-years away from us), but by far not the only one. Voluntarily giving up the ability to look stuff up on the internet (which may often include obscure contact information of an entity I might not even be able to name directly for an oldskool operator-based directory lookup), access to my entire mail archive, (offline) address book, calendar and task list (not to mention the extensive bunch of other offline apps I use occasionally) is the equivalent of insisting to create fire by rubbing pieces of wood every time I want to light one as far as I'm concerned - it's a nice skill to have but disproportionately inconvenient in any sane context.

Oh, and for the record - I could never remember phone numbers anyway, even long before this whole thing started, so insisting on something like that now would be beyond pointless. The only one I ever knew was our own landline - anything else I had to look up somewhere; my first mobile's (it was one of those true bricks) address book was a welcome change. The rest is just an extension of the concept - I prefer to keep dry, raw data outside my skull where it belongs as long as I can look it up easily when I need it, and use my brain for what it's good at: making connections within / reasoning based on / storing personal experience related to whatever data I happen to actually work with. Stuff I really use often gets etched in deeply anyway. The rest is just fine where it is - swapped out to arbitrary external storage.

I find smartphones are greatly helpful with that.

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Pint

My local has very thick walls, and no mobile signal can enter, well at least not from my provider!

So I walk in and get transported back 50 years, even has old fashioned pub games!

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If commuting is dull again, buy a newspaper, read a book, do a crossword...

(or get a Nintendo game and watch)

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No need to leave your smartphone at home

Just move out of central London. I play in the local pub quiz league - nationally there are concerns that Google* and smartphones will destroy this type of competition. Round here it isn't a problem, because none of the village pubs we play at has decent reception (often to the point of struggling to get a voice connection). And no, we're not playing in the Inner Hebrides (where the signal's actually quite good), but within 25 miles of Piccadilly Circus.

* Although an intelligent question setter shouldn't find it too difficult to come up with questions that can't be resolved by use of Google.

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Re: No need to leave your smartphone at home

"Although an intelligent question setter shouldn't find it too difficult to come up with questions that can't be resolved by use of Google."

It's interesting how often different sources on the internet disagree on matters that could easilly be checked. Recently a heated debate at the end of a pub quiz lead to two teams being disqualified. Why? Because on a question about a particular actor two teams began to argue over which was right IMDB or Wikipedia. Since smart internet access was strictly banned in the quiz the quiz master disqualified both teams as they'd clearly got their answers from the internet. Interestingly in that case both the internet sourced answers were wrong, as the quizmaster had got the official "right" answer from the actor's autobiography.

Now I'm not saying the actor might not be lying, but it's fascinating that the authors for both articles didn't consider an autobiography to be a good source. Who knows where they got their "facts"?

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Meh

So not have a smart phone is a *bit* difficult if you're a journalist with a short attention span.

Right.

And for the rest of us?

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Anonymous Coward

110 is a decent phone for voice communications

exactly what a phone's supposed to be for, right?

well, clearly "someone" has made us believe it is NOT, and voice comms is one of the less-important features, eh?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: 110 is a decent phone for voice communications

Apparently there was a suggestion at the end of WW2 that the phone network should be replaced with a data network - we're talking teletype technology here. The argument was that the bandwidth required is much less, S/N ratio would be much higher and there would be paper copies of all communications.

At the time the Post Office ran the telephone service, so you can see why the idea would have some traction.

Voice, of course, won in the end. But given all its problems, it isn't necessarily an optimal solution for person to person communications. Which is perhaps why the younger generation make less and less use of it.

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Slave to the rythym

Being 44 next month I remember very well living and working quite happily without any form of mobile phone, smart or not. These days my smartphone is very useful and a tool that complements my life but I USE IT, it doesn't use me - I'm not checking my emails/texts/forums (I don't do twatter etc.) every five seconds.

Smartphones are like so much of modern technology, very useful if you're the master of it, not so good when you're a slave to it.

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Memories

When I first got a mobile phone back in the mid-Nineties, I forced myself to dial my friend's numbers in full rather than use the phone's memory, so that I would actually remember their numbers, which was handy when I was using a different phone. But, for that to be practical, you really need decent old-fashioned buttons, so you can just unlock the phone and start dialling. I got out of the habit, and now only know my wife's number -- and that only because she hasn't changed it since those days.

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The smartphone's advantage

Just got a smartphone and for someone of a certain age I can predict one of its best uses will be to supplement my aging ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,, what's the word............................. memory: names of people in particular, for someone who works in various venues.

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Re: The smartphone's advantage

Ah, but which will the smartphone do; aid your memory; or hasten its demise?

BTW even dumb phones can maintain a contact list.

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I've got a smartphone for personal use and a dumb phone for business use (which includes hours-long interviews). I'm ditching the smartphone (which always runs out of juice when I need it), using the dumb phone for personal stuff, and going back to a landline for the business. I'm old enough to know quite well that a smartphone does nothing essential for me, let alone anything that's worth the trouble. (Is there any such thing as a well-designed, bloat-free smartphone that's any good for voice? I gave up looking.) Having a desktop (three of them, actually) and a small laptop, I need a pocket-sized, badly-designed computer-cum-low-end-camera that can't be away from a charger about as much as I need a second ... appendix.

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IMDB

Two things:

1. That you consider the fact that you couldn't look up something on IMDB an issue worth comment tells us that you have a very twisted idea of what constitutes the significant matters in "modern life". Likewise the fact that people sniggered at your phone. The issue here is not modern life, but your need to fit in with a particular social grouping and your fear of being seen as "different". Are you sure you're not 13?

2. The IMDB incident just goes to show that the human brain will eventually through evolution atrophy into nothing and that you and your social circle are deeply boring. Once upon a time such a discussion could, should it prove interesting enough, have been sustained for the whole evening. More likely spiraling off into uncharted reasons in such a way that nobody could remember or indeed care where the conversation had started. So in killing the conversation such use of the internet not only makes life a lot less interesting it also removes stimulation for the brain. Without stimulation the brain will atrophy. One landlord suggested to me that the internet was to blame for his drop in trade, people would rather be at home on the internet than down the pub. People, he told me, who used to stay all night would now leave after a couple of drinks. I also blame the internet, but for a different reason. Most groups contain at least one smartarse with a smartphone who insists on using the internet to settle every argument as soon as it starts. The result being that after half an hour there's nothing left to talk about so everybody goes home. If you don't believe me consider this; pubs are closing left right and centre hereabouts, but one particular pub with no wifi hotspot and where you can manage a feeble GPRS signal at best, but mostly no signal at all, continues to do a roaring trade. I can only assume that this is because people there can continue to be interesting rather than right long into the night.

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