The Benefits of NOT Having a Smartphone


The Benefits of NOT Having a Smartphone

What are the benefits of not having a Smartphone? According to a 2015 article posted by the Pew Research Center, as of 2015 some 64% of American adults “owned a smartphone of some kind, up from 35% in the spring of 2011”. A more recent Pew Report is even more telling; a “vast majority” of Americans (Pew reports the number may be as high as 96% ) own a cellphone of some kind, with the number of smartphones up to 81%. Compare the numbers from the earlier report and the later one and you get an idea of the trends at work here.

Furthermore, Pew research includes mentions that Smartphone ownership is high among younger Americans, and that income (or a lack thereof) is no reliable indicator of Smartphone ownership or use.

In this article, we’ll explore the (many?) benefits of not having a smartphone. And yes, this is ironic if you’re viewing this post on a smartphone right now.

Surprising Benefits Of Not Having A Smartphone

The ability to actually unplug, get some peace and quiet, and ignore the tyranny of the urgent is a wonderful thing indeed.

At home, there’s always a computer running. At work, there’s always a computer running. So what’s the need to have a computer running in the palm of your hand 24/7? Sometimes it’s stress-relieving to NOT be able to check your email every second of the day. Productivity gurus such as Tim Ferriss say it’s healthy to unplug sometimes. Ferriss claims to only check his email twice per day.

Some judgmentally ask, “Why is it you feel the need to check your email all the time? Perhaps you should prioritize your emails. Or get an email handler.” But these cringe-inducing questions aside, the benefit of being able to ignore your digital communications for a time should not be underestimated when it comes to good work-life balance.

Saving Money With A Feature Phone

What’s a “dumb phone”? Sometimes called non-smartphones or more commonly, “feature phones”, are a wise alternative. The benefits of not having a smartphone and using a feature phone instead aren’t always about the month-to-month savings you realize by not being on an iPhone installment payment plan.

Sometimes it’s about knowing that you work in a manner that is hard on your phone. People who work in damp or wet conditions, those who work in rugged areas like construction sites and other physical jobs run the daily risk of smashing those $800 smartphones.

Carrying a feature phone in such conditions makes a lot more sense. You save money with a burner phone or dumbphone at purchase time, but you also save money later if you need to replace the phone due to an accidental drop, immersion, etc.

Dumb Phone Productivity

This is something you might consider an “inverse productivity hack”–how much time gets wasted on smartphone gaming apps and online shopping? Internet time-wasters abound, and this is for some consumers one of the biggest downsides to owning a smartphone. Using a feature phone instead removes the temptation to game or shop.

The lack of distractions from your phone makes it easier to become more engaged with the world around you. That’s a serious “Grandpa Jones” thing to say, but consider the words of the L.A. Times writer Roy Germano, who had his smartphone stolen and found a whole different world waiting for him without it.

Germano writes, “The most immediate advantage of not owning a smartphone, I quickly learned, is the ability to immerse yourself in social situations. Without a smartphone to look at, you don’t have much of a choice but to be present, and other people — whether it’s a colleague or a stranger on social media — can’t insert themselves as easily into your life at inopportune times.

Quality Versus Quantity

Wasting time on apps is a pretty obvious downside to having a smartphone. But here’s something that’s less obvious. This idea is cited in many productivity hacking books. It’s the idea that you should not focus on how much work you get done, rather the quality of work you get done.

Tim Ferriss has talked about this as well. With a smartphone, you can work nearly 24/7 – but that doesn’t mean the quality of work is very good. Furthermore, sometimes the amount you produce is less, the more you work. Sounds counterproductive, I know. But think about it like this… If you were told to create a budget in 16 hours, how hard would you work on the budget every hour? Probably not very hard. You have so much time, it becomes silly to work extremely hard.

This is called Parkinson’s Law. You do the task with the time you have; if you only have an hour, you’ll get the project knocked out in an hour. Having only one hour means you’ll save those extra 15 hours if you would have allowed yourself to work that much! How about that?