Are feature phones the new vinyl

Although everywhere you go, there’s a good chance you see people staring at their screens, however, does anyone have the feeling that people have had enough of the idea of constant connection?
In our latest blog, we discuss the benefits of having a phone without internet capabilities. Personally for me, it was the time which I was wasting on a smartphone that cemented my decision. I’m curious, what are some of the reasons you guys are making the switch? Let me know your thoughts.

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I am making the switch (now with a dumbed-down simplified Android phone, and later with the Mudita Pure) because I want to restore lost:

  • Privacy: I appreciate now how I have sacrificed my privacy for “free” services that are enabled through smartphone apps.
  • Connections to people: We all have seen how people already on an elevator will look at their smartphones when we enter the elevator – instead of acknowledging our presence. We also have seen every member of a family sitting together at a restaurant but each glued to his or her smartphone instead of talking to one another.
  • Connections to places: We all have seen televised sporting events in which sports fans are busier with their smartphones than with watching the events that they paid good money to attend. We also have seen tourists whose smartphones grab their attention more than does the once-in-a-lifetime scenery or architecture right in front of them.
  • Connections to things: We all have read stories or seen videos of people so distracted by their smartphones that they stepped in front of a moving train, car, or bicycle.
  • Control over interruptions: We all know people who will interrupt a one-on-one, in-person conversation to look at a social-media app because it beeped … or even if it did not beep but because there was a lull in the conversation and they no longer knew how to simply “be” with the lull.
  • Intentionality over when I do what I do: By returning to using my computer – instead of a smartphone – for Internet access, I have become more intentional about online shopping, reading news, etc.
  • Appreciation for products with one or a few uses: There is nothing as satisfying product-wise as a product that does one or a few things well.

Feature phones almost create a parallel world to the world of smartphones. I now prefer to live in that parallel world, where inhabitants have more privacy, more connections to people, places, and things, more control over interruptions, more intentionality over when they do what they do, and more appreciation for products with one or a few uses.

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@kirkmahoneyphd I still have a smartphone, but it’s for occasional use. I think I mentioned it before that I have a two-phone system. I have an ancient Blackberry that I use most of the time & my smartphone for work purposes. The time I’ve gained as a result of not using a smartphone, to do other things…mainly read & write, but also spend time with my dog, has been the best benefit.

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Yes, I agree on nearly all of that. I, too, use my existing Android phone as a regular phone while waiting for the Pure. I have already canceled my data plan, saving additional money. (:

But I have issues with the term feature- or dumb-phone. I even do not consider smart phones smart. My current phone promises so much features, but cannot fullfill them, because it did not cost 1000 € or more. In reality, smart phones, are devices with features I do not need. In addition, it is sometime unreliable for it’s main purpose (calling and texting). So, smart phones, are dumb phones in my opinion, and real feature phones do not exist yet. But, I hope that the Pure will be exactly that. I want it to be a smart feature phone as planned by you, Mudita.

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@poinck I, too, HATE the term “dumb phone.” Every time I hear that word, or see it written somewhere, I breathe faster :rofl: :joy: I like the term “feature phone.” It makes me think of just the “essentials”

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Thank you, @urszula and @poinck. You made me think a second time about terms.

I replaced “dumbed-down Android phone” with “simplified Android phone” in my post.

As @Jose_Briones has pointed out in his videos, some users want to be able to simplify even their feature phones. For example, I had a Nokia 225 4G – a feature phone – for a few days before returning it. One of its annoying “features” was that I could not remove several of its apps in which I had no interest.

"Feature creep" in the software-development world refers to the growth in a program’s features well beyond the original business requirements.

Android phones and iPhones let owners give their phones feature creep without out-of-pocket costs when they add “free” apps to their phones. Instead, the owners pay in lost privacy, lost connections to people, places, and things, lost control over interruptions, and lost intentionality over when they do what they do.

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@kirkmahoneyphd You’re right about this “feature creep” apps. There are certain apps that come pre-loaded & sometimes it’s very difficult to remove them. Do you have any tips on removing such apps?

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I never learned how to remove the Nokia 225 4G’s pre-loaded apps that I did not want. The most that I did was move unwanted apps to a second or third page. Perhaps @Jose_Briones knows how to do this on the various feature phones that he has reviewed?

Hello,
Same thing for me. It works well. I can see though that I’m using less and less the smartphone… Interesting. It is like sugar. The less you eat, the less you want it.

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I think that phone is an S30+. There is no tool available for that phone as far as I know and the apps are baked into the ROM. The same folks that do the work with bananahackers have been asking for this for a long time. Especially those not-really-free games that nobody ever plays…and if you know anyone with those phones tell them not to let their children touch them. If they activate the game it is charged to their phone bill automatically.

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On Android, you can get rid of many bloatware apps through adb.

I’m not tech savvy but I manage to follow guides such as this to get rid of most of the bloatware on a friend’s phone. It ended up with just 29 apps. Too many, I know, but I only could get rid of so much (remove some of them requires root).

You can swap Google Play for F-Droid (or Aurora) and make a small improvement in your phone life quality. Battery wise the change is amazing. Google bloatware is really data and energy greedy.

Handle it with care: at some point I even deleted the system keyboard :sweat_smile:

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@nirvana One time, I bricked a phone trying to be too techy :sweat_smile::rofl::joy:

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This is also useful and user-friendly

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I prefer the terms “simple phone” or “basic phone” to describe it, since it is both accurate and expressive. I like “feature phone” but my challenge with that is it is not a common way to describe having a non-smart phone. I do see your point about the term “dumb phone” but I also think it’s worth embracing the dumb aspect to some degree. Is it really such a good thing to have a phone that is “smart”? Often times “smart” means it’s doing things for someone else versus you, such as listening to keywords to deliver targeted marketing. Here’s a piece I wrote five years ago when I made the switch away from smart technology: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/i-love-my-dumb-phone-william-hubbard/.

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As someone who has been using a properly basic phone all along—Samsung GT-E1200 for the past nine years—I’ve found that people comment on it often in recent years, and usually, the response is positive on the whole. It ends up being an inadvertent conversation starter at times, and a sentiment I hear often is that people hate their smartphones, but at the same time, they don’t feel like it’s feasible to get rid of them. It sometimes feels like the trapped in an abusive relationship dynamic. It’s interesting that even people who think it’s “cool” or whatever that I don’t have a smartphone inevitably have some excuse for why they can’t give theirs up, even when they recognise that it has a net negative impact on their lives.

But at the same time, I recognise that society is increasingly pushing us toward smartphones as essential tools. More and more services are coming to fundamentally depend on smartphones—from Uber/Bolt/etc. to bike/scooter/carsharing to smart transit tickets—and somewhat paradoxically, many of them facilitate some of the same sorts of goals that motivate the desire to avoid smartphones. For this reason, I’m watching the pending development of Bluetooth tethering for the Pure with great interest, because it seems like being able to have a tablet or perhaps even a sim-less smartphone with these tools that relies on tethering to the Pure could be the best compromise.

As to terminology, I’ve always tended simply to use “just a phone” rather than “basic”, “dumb”, “feature”, etc. In general, I find that talking in terms like “I just want a phone” or “My phone is just a phone” to be clear and to better encapsulate the mentality behind my decision. I also sometimes use “monofunction” to describe various devices, including my phone.

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I would love to try this, but I’m just too scared

I love basic phones and I have tried a bunch of them. I have yet to find one that makes calls and does texting better than my iPhone. It’s a shame, because I really don’t like smartphones anymore, but to have a basic phone that does only calls and texts, those two things have to work really well. I am in a long distance relationship, and to not hear my girlfriend clearly keeps me going back to my iPhone. I would love a phone with only those two features, but done really well.

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So true. From the other side, as someone who isn’t willing to submit myself to a smartphone, it has been endlessly frustrating that I can’t buy a phone that calls and texts equally well without consigning myself to a bunch of features I do not want. I can’t understand how every phone on the market that refrains from including a bunch of needless “smart” features is still using the bloody awful Inbox/Outbox model for SMS! How do more manufacturers not see an opportunity in doing better?

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That reminds me of some days ago, when I was at a restaurant and would have needed to scan two QR-codes. One for the menu and the other to check-in for Corona-tracing. I left my phone at home this day, and in the end it was not a problem, having no phone.

I can understand the motivation of the utilization of QR-codes in this way: less contact, no need to disinfect menu cards. After lunch I have found out that I could’ve just read the printed menu on the door instead of asking for one. So, there is a non-smartphone-solution. But for the Corona-tracing I see currently no other way. Speaking of that, my dumb underpowered Nokia 1 smartphone is so smart, it can not reliably share bluetooth-tokens with other smartphones using the Corona Tracing app because other crap apps and Android removes it from the background process, even though I allowed it. It is just broken and useless. Otherwise, this would given this phone a “smart” meaning.

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^ This is my hope for the Mudita Pure!

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