Tech Resolutions #3: why I’m swapping my iPhone for a Nokia dumbphone

Chris Rowlands explains why old-school phones make tech feel like new...

I know: this is Stuff India. Home of the best gadgets the world has to offer. And I’m talking about ditching my fancy smartphone for an anything-but-clever Nokia brick.

Why? Well, the practical reason is because I travel a lot, and it's a dual-sim phone with a hefty six-day battery life from a single charge.

But there are dual-sim smartphones, too. So, why don’t I want one? Because they make life too easy.

Don’t get me wrong, that’s exactly what good tech should do: answer real-world problems. But should it do that for every. Single. Thing? For me, the answer is no.

Increasingly, I’ve found myself relying on my phablet for almost everything. Maps. Banking. Translations. Facebook. Travel information. The list goes on. What’s the problem? I’ve forgotten how to function without a phone in my pocket. Well, not any longer.

System reboot

So, am I going off-grid completely? Not at all. In fact, a big part of why I’m waving goodbye to my iPhone in favour of Nokia’s finest 105 brick is to reconnect with the tech I take for granted.

If you’re thinking this all sounds a bit ridiculous, stay with me. Tech has helped me do amazing things - send a video I just shot in Vietnam to my parents, find the best restaurant in Lisbon seconds after I've landed - but it also means I'm taking a lot of things for granted.

I’m no longer amazed when Google knows exactly where I am, even though I’ve flown for 8 hours. It no longer astounds me that the cloud is a reality and every photo I take is almost instantly backed up.

Should it? I think so. Tech should be the stuff that makes us gasp, more than the one time you open the packaging. But surrounded every day by the smartest gadgets in the world, missing the wood for the trees is a regular occurrence.

Not with my Nokia, though. With my Nokia, I now sit on the bus or in the car in a bubble free from the Internet – and I can reflect a bit on just how cool the world is today.

Less social media, more socialising

Not carrying a smartphone doesn't mean severing your ties with tech. Far from it - during my experiment so far, I've used stacks of cool services that I now appreciate a bit more. 4K streaming. Worldwide geo-location and satellite imagery - for free. Even Spotify: literally millions of tracks, a click away.

I now get to combine that with interacting with people a bit more. Where I'd once have opened Google Maps, I now have to ask for directions. The funny thing is, a lot of people actually use their smartphone to assist me - but the difference is that I’ve started a conversation, even for a couple of minutes, with a complete stranger that usually involves us laughing at my Nokia, chatting about what tech they like, and what they love or loathe about their smartphone.

Since my first foray into living without an iPhone, I’ve been talking to people more. A lot more. On the train, in cities, on the road: when you can’t turn to a smartphone for the answer, you have to call for help a lot more - and that’s good. Not only does it mean I make more connections, it also means I seriously appreciate when I do have tech at my disposal.

What’s more, I’m actually calling people a lot more. No more aimless smartphone Facebook scrolling; I actually have verbal conversations with mates, family and, well, everyone. Sure, my Nokia can do SMS - but after a couple of minutes spent wrestling with predictive text, calling is definitely more preferable.