Farewell Dumb Phone, Welcome Smartphone (Part 1)

Nearly ten years ago, I got my first cell phone. At the end of this week, if Apple makes good on its promise, I will receive my first smartphone. As I wait for my shiny new iPhone 4S to arrive, this two-part essay will give you a glimpse into my phone journey.

This post is the “Farewell,” where I reminisce on my past dumb phone usage. See Part 2 for the “Welcome,” where I predict my smartphone usage.

Why I’ve waited this long

A UX designer who still doesn’t have a smartphone, you ask? I’ve remained a proud “dumb phone” user this long for two reasons:

  1. I felt that between work and pleasure, I spent too much of my time online already; I did not need the temptation to increase the hours I spent disconnected from the physical world.
  2. I could not justify spending the money. No, not on the cell phone, silly. On the data plan—three years of data plan usage can cost nine times the price of the phone.* I’m just sayin’.

My dumb phone, a Nokia 2600, did just what I needed it to do. It remembered the phone numbers I couldn’t remember; it had fine sound quality; and I could text with relative ease. I used its “apps,” too. Alarm for just certain days of the week, countdown timer for when I needed to check my laundry or baking, and a stopwatch for exercise tracking.

I thought I would get to enjoy its company until I finally switched to a smartphone, but alas, that was not the case.

The dumb phone’s downfall

After nearly a year of withstanding my name calling and two years of loyal service before that, my Nokia 2600 finally gave up on the world.

The final blow occurred while I was visited the Walters Museum in Baltimore with a friend a couple weeks ago. I had once again allowed text messages to completely fill its tiny memory, and it begged, “Memory too full to receive message. Delete something?”

I decided, yes, I will save you and make you young again. I told it to delete ALL of my sent messages. I don’t know how many there were, but there were enough that the command destroyed the poor thing.

After the incident, the phone lost its ability to even stay powered long enough to hard reset. I was forced to give up on it, and temporarily use a GoPhone with my current SIM card.

Goodbye, dear friend

I am truly sorry to see me dumb phone die, despite the flippancy with which I treated it. It was a tough one: it was my only phone to experience a software failure before a hardware failure.** I’d say that’s pretty impressive. So…

Thank you, my dear dumb phone. I will miss you. It’s obvious why:

  1. You fit in the tiniest of girl pockets. The world of clothing producers thinks that women have no reason to carry anything in their pockets. But you knew better.
  2. You sacrificed your screen size to accommodate a physical keyboard. It may not have been the glamorous choice, but it meant that I could dial a number AND read it from a business card at the same time.
  3. You kept your endurance up. I have never once had to tell someone I couldn’t talk because “my phone was dying.”
  4. You gave me space. I never felt that you needed my attention more than the people around me. I knew I could leave you quietly in my pocket for hours at a time, and you would still be there for me, just when I needed you.

I’ve enjoyed my time with you, Dumb Phone. Thank you.

Your thoughts?

Have you ever bonded with a dumb phone? Do you sometimes miss it? Tweet at me, or comment below.

Next up: Farewell Dumb Phone, Welcome Smartphone (Part 2), where I share why I’m switching now and what I expect to gain with a smartphone.

* Math with hypothetical numbers: $50 monthly data plan x 36 months / $200 phone = 9 times the price of the phone. That’s $1800.

** I don’t imagine the GoPhone will have the opportunity to fail with me, since I’ll either donate or recycle it when the iPhone arrives.


About Veronica Erb

Designs, researches, illustrates, and writes code. Plays ukulele. Dances Balboa. Grew up in a geodesic dome, and hasn't gotten over it.
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4 Responses to Farewell Dumb Phone, Welcome Smartphone (Part 1)

  1. Pingback: Farewell Dumb Phone, Welcome Smartphone (Part 2) | verbistheword

  2. Dan Keebler says:

    Good luck with the new phone, this is all too funny and accurate. I went through the same process delaying the purchase for a long time, but now Im not sure how I got by without one. Fun fact- too many text messages is how Paul McCartney came up with the name for his last album, “Memory Almost Full”

  3. Jeff says:

    I’ve had pda’s and feature phones over the years, but resisted smart phones because of that horrible data plan.

    And yes, now that I have the internetsin the palm of my hand, I’m always checking the tweetstream or playing a silly game.

    it’s not an improvement.

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