Could I live without a smartphone?

Could I live without a smartphone?

An article on the BBC tech page about people prepared to give up their smartphones made me wonder what I would miss if using my smartphone was suddenly made illegal.

Some uses of my phone I could not live without

Starting with the positive, my reliance on certain apps has become ubiquitous and I would be reluctant to lose the following services:

  • Navigation via Google Maps: I can hardly venture out today without tapping the destination into Google Maps. This is even true when I am going somewhere I know how to get to, because I love knowing when I will get there and possible alternate routes.
  • Podcasting: I use the Pocket Casts app to automatically keep me posted of the podcasts I am subscribed to. I love the ability to pick up the pod from exactly the point I’ve last got to across multiple devices: in the car or when walking the dog!
  • National Rail Enquiries app: since COVID I have been on a train less than before, but this used to be my go-to app and one of the very few apps I would pay for. It is brilliant at telling me when the train is late and which platform to expect it on.
  • Google Photos: possibly the most useful service from Google, I love the ability to carry out a detailed search to find images from years ago and appreciate the nostalgia of looking back on what I was doing a year, two years or even 15 years ago. The app’s capability to identify someone as the same person aged three or 18 is incredible.

And some uses of my phone I could certainly live without

  • Like everyone, a lot of my time is spent on email, but I hate the email smartphone experience. Just glancing at the inbox induces stress.  Combined with the fundamental difficulty of typing on a small screen (at least for those of us with big fingers) I would prefer to wait until I get to a laptop before facing the juggernaut.
  • Twitter: of all the distraction rabbit holes, Twitter is surely the worst. A quick glance leads to endless scrolling in the hope of finding something relevant.
  • Loyalty cards: invariably by the time I have got to the front of the queue in Starbucks/Nero/Pret/Costa, the last thing anyone behind me wants me to do is get my phone out, search for the relevant app, open it and brandish it at the till to ensure that – at some point in the future – I get my free coffee. In fact, most retail apps – loyalty or otherwise – seem incredibly lame and despite them clogging up my smartphone screen, they hardly ever get used.

While I might struggle to give up the entire smartphone experience, there are certainly elements I can live without.  Perhaps – rather than ditching the device altogether – the answer is more self-discipline or simply deleting the functions and features that drive us to distraction.

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