Downgrading my cell phone was an awesome success

42 thoughts on “Downgrading my cell phone was an awesome success”

  1. Whoa, what a cool story, Steve! I’ve heard of people saying that they should do something like this, but I don’t think I’ve talked to anyone who has actually done it. I’d be curious to know if you’ve had any experiences where you felt like you did miss something important because of the switch (like getting a work email too late, that kind of thing?). It sounds like overall it’s been great though.
    Also, I like your comment that our addiction to our phones — problematic though it may be — stems largely from our desire for communication and connection with others. That’s a very compassionate way to look at it. 🙂

    1. Thanks for your comment Sarah! Honestly, I haven’t run into a situation where I wished that I had my other phone because I missed an email that was important. Though I work from home, I refuse to be tethered to my work without interruption. And besides, back when I had my work email coming in straight to my phone, I NEVER got an email that couldn’t wait. I guess that is one of the many benefits of finally being unimportant at work. It’s blissful. 🙂

  2. Congrats for fighting the cell phone addiction! Though phones helped keep us connected to loved ones and help us make new connections, they also keep us apart from others, too. A friend shared with me recently that we use phones in such a way as to insulate ourselves from others, to keep from having to make small talk. Interesting stuff. Thanks for sharing your story!

    1. It’s true – phones both keep us connected to others but also distant at the same time. That is, we don’t actually have to be in the same place – or even the same country – to instantly communicate. It’s an interesting paradox! 🙂

  3. I continually find myself out with friends, and every single one of us will have a phone out doing something other than engaging with each other. It makes me sad that we’re so bad at prioritizing the socializing opportunities right in front of us over the things happening on social media.

    I’m a long way from making a phone downgrade, but I did receive the best compliment from a friend who visited for a few days: “I don’t know if this is an intentional thing,” he said, “but I realized I haven’t seen your phone all weekend.” What a concept!

    1. Hey Matt – it is interesting that the person who doesn’t feel trapped by their phone tends to be the one who stands out in a group of people. It’s almost like they are asking why you aren’t knee-deep in your digital social persona. 🙂

    2. I think this is fantastic. I deleted work email after the company stopped reimbursing for data and I realized that my work never suffered. Almost every single email can wait 10 minutes and if it can’t, you should have called!

      I think I am going to try remove phones when we go to my family’s for Christmas. Pull out a basket and tell everybody to drop it in. We’re here to talk to each other, not to “friends” on the internet. Social media is such a farce (at least Facebook is) because it’s a carefully curated version of you not actually you. I’ll even admit to guilt on that front on my personal Facebook page…I look way cooler than I actually am.

      1. I love the “phones in a basket” idea. Think I will implement this for my girls’ night tomorrow. The wine and cheese will not taste any better just because it’s been Instagrammed 16 times. 🙂

      2. That’s an excellent point about important emails, Mr. Benny. If it’s important enough, they will call. I’ve told myself that a couple of times, in fact, and it’s true.

  4. Do you feel like Mel Gibson in Braveheart, “Freedoooom?” I cancelled my Club W membership this morning. Anyway, congrats on downsizing, luxuries aren’t worth it if they don’t add value to your life.

  5. YES! I switched to Republic Wireless and got the most basic plan with only 0.5GB of data – and I keep my data turned off 24/7 unless I need to look up directions or something. I don’t have FB, etc. apps on my phone. The main thing I use my phone for is texting and taking pictures (it actually has an amazing camera). It has made all the difference, and I’m saving a ton of money. My bill last month was $14. One of the biggest and best changes I have made in the downsizing/saving effort.

    Now if only I could stop compulsively playing Bubble Witch…

    1. Very cool! My bill is at $25 now, so not quite at your level of $14, but we’d probably use a little more data over the month than 500MBs. Like you, my phone is a voice and texting device – and even the texting is minimal – maybe a couple a day, max. Honestly all I really need is a flip phone, but the larger screen on the Android does make it easier to use when I truly do need to interact with its data-based features.

  6. I’m really good at just leaving it behind, but if it’s around, I’m addicted. This is a great experiment, Steve. I do have the problem of needing to be tethered to work (one of the problems with working so little is that I actually have to make sure I can throw things over quickly when requested), but I’m looking for ways to move toward not using it. Haven’t figured out a good balance yet. Thanks for the motivation to do so.

    1. Hey Maggie – I definitely understand the work aspect, though I would argue that if they demand your availability with your phone, you might be able to get them to either pay for your phone entirely or give you an additional stipend for it. 🙂

      1. Interesting idea… my phone is nearly dead… maybe I’ll just downgrade and see how much trouble I actually get into by not being “on” all the time. 🙂 It’s a great idea!

        1. Great idea, Maggie – if you’re about ready to replace your current phone anyway, get one that won’t set you back hundreds of dollars, but still meets your needs. Might just be a perfect solution. 🙂

  7. One of the apps that I use the most on my phone is the lifting log. So I do consult it often at the gym, but I’ve made a habit of putting it in airplane mode from the time I get changed until when I leave.

    1. That is a good point, CJ – there are many mobile apps designed to track your progress and fitness level in the gym. Though, I can’t help but notice the familiar Android and iPhone text messaging interfaces whenever I glance down at their phone as I walk by or do my thing in the gym. I’d be impressed if these people were tracking their fitness results! 🙂

  8. What a powerful post! Unfortunately, Mr Money Monster and I are so very addicted to our mobile devices. There are times we must actively put them in different rooms or turn them to silent. Most times, it is bombarding us with useless information and emails. We know we spend way too much money each month on this addiction. Loved the insight into downgrading for a simpler, more enjoyable life!

    1. Thanks Mrs. MM – well hey, admitting your addiction is your first step towards recovery, isn’t it? That’s the way it went for me a couple months ago. I found that after making the switch, you might initially miss being so connected, but after a few days you literally begin not to care so much any more. 🙂

      1. Good on you, Mr. Benny! Yup, I’ve found myself doing the same thing when I’m out in public – just…noticing my environment a lot more. It has definitely turned into a wonderful, wonderful life enhancement.

  9. I find myself pushing back more and more on how much I’m “expected” to be reachable and on via my phone these days, so I absolutely love this entire post. For years I’ve been inseparable from my phone, partially because I never really noticed and partially because I work in marketing, so the expectation is that we’re always monitoring social media and that kind of stuff. Recently though, I’ve made it a priority to shift back to spending time intentionally away from my phone, and it’s been great.

    I’m looking forward to when my current cell phone contract is up, so I can a) “downgrade” to one of the wonderful mid-range Android phones out there and b) buy it outright and switch from my outrageously high cost cell phone provider. It’ll mean being a bit more mindful of my data usage (because as Canadians, we have no real “good” option for cell phone service, only less bad ones) but I’m so excited for it.

    1. I definitely understand that, Des. It seems like it’s just assumed that we will always be available because of these cell phones that we carry around with us. It is one thing if the company is providing that phone, but if you’re footing the bill for it, my view is your availability is up to YOU, not THEM. I do also understand that sometimes, that is easier said than done. 🙂

  10. Good for you, Steve. This is a bold move, especially considering the environment we live in today. Like you said – people are glued to their phones all day and it’s distracting. I actually think it’s making us stupid. We’re taking away our need to want, or to wait, or to think. It’s all right at our fingertips. I admit I probably use more data than I should (especially because Verizon just gave us a ton of extra data at the same price we were paying) but I am waiting until my contract is up and I plan to switch to Republic Wireless. I don’t really want to pay an early termination fee. As far as social media and email go – I’m not sure I could get rid of those from my phone. I’d just like to use it when I have Wi-Fi, which is pretty much just at home. Maybe I’ll change my ways though, especially after reading this!

    1. Yup, it is so easy to get enveloped into our phones and what those things provide right at our finger tips. And it’s not all bad, either – there are many, many wonderful uses for that kind of technology on our hips. I think a good balance between that communication and our general awareness of our surroundings is in order, not necessarily a whole-sale elimination of phones entirely (as much as I might secretly want that!).

  11. Luckily work pays for my cell phone and monthly bill. I try to be cognizant about my usage, but I know its high. When I’m with others hanging out, or at dinner, etc. I try to not touch it and just leave it in my pocket. Glad your experiment worked well for you!

    1. Thanks Fervent – nothing wrong with a company-paid phone. My first true smart phone was company-paid…a Blackberry at the time, and it was THE phone that business-types used. That is probably what originally got me hooked. 🙂

  12. We’re still in the stage of life where work pays for our phones, so we have no incentive to cut back (other than to, you know, not miss our present lives). And for now, especially with all the travel, I love having my travel apps especially. Or to be able to catch up on Twitter at the airport without having to take my laptop out. But we definitely ask ourselves that question of what we want from our phones after we quit and have to pay for whatever we have — the jury is still out. But I love knowing that this experiment, for you, was about more than just the money. Good stuff, Steve!

    1. Thanks ONL! Yup, there are many really cool uses of cell phones these days and I definitely don’t begrudge anyone for using them when necessary. It’s really the distraction that I have the most problem with. Like you said, as long as we don’t miss our present lives, I think all is good! 🙂

  13. Oh, god! I feel myself old, despite being something in late 20s. I’ve had 2 smartphones since 2010 and both costed less than 130€. I don’t know what is Twitter, Facebook or blingstagram on mobile. Or was it Instragram? I’m only using Player FM for listening podcasts. So, basically I understand how does it feel while enjoying meals in restaurant without having the deep need to see what some random guy has wrote me in Facebook.

    Well done, Steve!

    1. Thanks Daniel, appreciate the kind words! And awesome article, BTW – you went one step further than I did, too. Well done. It’s awesome saving some cash on the monthly bill as well as getting some time back from the NEED to be on the smart phone all the time! 🙂

  14. This is awesome! I had not thought of doing this but after reading your post it just seems like such a stress relieving and practical solution! I hate the new age addiction that seems to be taking over and I am definitely ready to look into a simple life with less mobile traffic!

  15. Hello Sir,

    This article is good and it is giving an advice for others for not using mobile phones all the time.

    Mostly people are having very big addiction of mobile phones today and it is not good for them.

    So i would like to say this information is helpful for people.

    Thank you for sharing this valuable information for us.

    It will create a great motivation for everyone.

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    Thank you so much.

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