Why I’ve Never Owned a Smartphone

Why i’ve never owned a smartphone

I don’t have a smartphone. Sometimes I think we’re in the zombie apocalypse already. Wherever I go, everyone’s got their head buried in a smartphone.

Whether I’m standing at a bus stop or sitting in an airport, I’m the only one looking up, because I don’t have a smartphone. I’ve never had a smartphone in my life.

For the kids that don’t remember, back in my day (2000’s), we had flip phones. Even then I was way behind the times.

I owned a small box-shaped phone with prepaid minutes. Each text would cost half a prepaid minute. Yep, that was once a reality.

Now I have a flip phone. No apps on it whatsoever. I can only text, call, and take pictures.

My phone can even access Facebook, though it’s very tiny on my 1 x 1 and a half-inch screen.

Why i don't own a smartphone

How do I get around without a smartphone?

I know you’re thinking at this point how do I survive with all that, but I not only survive, I’m happy with things this way. Not constantly looking at my phone allows me to enjoy everything around me more and be in the moment.

I breathe in the fresh air of nature more, enjoy the view of places in all their intricate detail, and just feel like I’m alive. Have you seen those videos where people walk with their smartphone and end up running into something?

I actually had someone bump right into my chest one time. Other people end up falling into fountains and getting soaked.

All because they’re focused on a screen and not focused on the world around them. When I was sitting in that airport looking at everybody I almost felt invisible.

A strange feeling, but comforting at the same time, because I don’t like being noticed since I’m more introverted.

Less Social Media

Another benefit I get is I’m not constantly checking anything while I’m out. I feel enough of an anxious pull to look at social media when I’m sitting at home on my laptop.

I can only imagine that feeling quadruples when you have a device that connects you at the tap of a finger. And then all the games and other apps people have that get them hooked, it feels like an addiction almost.

The only reason this blog has an Instagram is through one of my friend’s smartphone. But without all the bells and whistles on my flip phone, I don’t have any temptations to avoid.

Lastly, long term, I know screen time isn’t good for us. Our bodies weren’t designed to constantly look at screens.

Plenty of research comes to the same conclusion that it increases anxiety and depression. Not having a smartphone is one less device I have to deal with.

Cellphone addiction quote

Downsides of Not Owning a Smartphone

There are only a few downsides. Because everybody has a smartphone, a lot of people like to use the emojis on them.

This causes the texts to come to my phone scrambled and unreadable. I always have to remind my friends not to use smiley emojis.

Another downside is that some people I’m close to don’t have plans with their smartphones and use global networks. This means they communicate with everybody via WhatsApp and other messaging apps.

Fortunately, I can access Facebook messaging, but it does use up a lot of battery life on my phone, so I can’t communicate on it very long.

Additionally, people like to share videos and record voice clips to share with others. Another way to be more connected beyond just texting, but my flip phone isn’t big enough to receive videos and voice clips.

So I miss out on that stuff too.

Do I really need a smartphone?

Eventually, in order to thrive in society because of the constant upgrades to technology, I’ll have to get a smartphone one day. Just like no one can do school without the internet anymore, soon no one will be able to survive without smartphones.

Unless I’m on my laptop and have internet, it can be tricky to keep in touch with some friends since I can’t use Facebook too long or other messaging apps on my phone.

For that and other reasons, I’ll probably upgrade.

But even when I do, I’m going to make an effort not to have too many apps on it. I’d like to keep things as simple as possible with my phone usage because I believe life should be experienced more outside of a screen.

The more I’ve thought about it, the more I’ve realized how much the internet has made me feel less human and more zombie-like. Lower empathy, lower compassion, and just a sense of apathy and stone-like feelings towards the world.

Regaining My Humanity

When you see so much negativity all over the internet and also participate in the negativity, it makes you hollow to the world. You become numb to everything and stop caring at times.

Having a cynicism about a society that excuses you of making any effort to be a better person. I want to regain more of my humanity again.

Our lives won’t be measured by the number of texts we sent. And they won’t be judged by the number of apps we use.

Our lasting memories won’t have anything to do with our phones. What will matter in the end will be the depth of the relationships we had and the variety of our experiences we enjoyed.

We may be zombie-like in this generation, but we’re still human, which means the time we have to make meaningful won’t be forever.

Why I don’t use a smartphone

Articles you might like

Digital Minimalism: How To Be Happy Cutting News and Social Media

Extreme Digital Minimalism: The Town Without Wifi

How to Embrace the Journey of Life

I don't have a smartphone

Sharing is Caring:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  1. grapeswhiz says:

    This is great. I do have a smartphone but I limit the apps and then I try to use self-control to limit the amount of time I spend using those apps I have installed (constantly working on that.) Once I was in New York City, enjoying my day immensely and of course on sensory overload from all the fun and new experiences. I kept updating my social media with pics and descriptions of what I was doing. Strangely, when the comments and likes started flowing in, I became anxious. It felt weird to have “friends” (acquaintances I have little in common with) back home giving approval and asking questions (“what are you eating?” or “did you see X tourist destination”?) when those comments only highlighted how little those people know me. I had invited them to comment, obviously, but then it seemed like an invasion of my privacy when they made jokes or suggestions that reflected benign voyeurism rather than a personal interest or concern. I felt like I was on TV, with unseen people following my travels and sitting at the dinner table with me, virtual-wise. It didn’t feel as real as life should, so I shut down the app and now I am more judicious about how much I share, post, and interact on social media, choosing carefully under which circumstances it makes sense to live privately and keep my thoughts and mementos to my closer circle of several family members and/or close friends. In summary, I agree that a life is lived more authentically when it’s lived in real-time and real-space, not in the digital documentary mode at every moment.

    1. Hi grapeswhiz. That’s quite an interesting description of how the sharing felt for you. It would feel weird for me too having people like or comment on statuses of mine that barely knew me. It all seemed like a competition that I was trying to win after a while, and I eventually got off. That’s good you’ve come to a better balance with when and how you choose to interact on social media.

  2. Kimi Crescenzo says:

    I have never owned a smartphone and don’t plan on getting one in the future. I can’t say I have missed much. My only source of technology is a laptop and a simple flip phone used just for calls. If I need directions, I just write the Google directions I got from using my laptop, on a piece of paper. I use real paper maps for traveling and as far as getting lost, I just make sure I know where I am going ahead of time and if need be, ask for directions. No GPS do I have. I don’t use online banking and seldom buy anything online. I just deleted my facebook account because it became a burden to use (it was becoming a crutch and I didn’t like that) My adult kids all have smartphones and text their father. I seldom hear from them because they rather text than call. My simple flip phone doesn’t text well so I don’t have data on my plan.

    I am an avid traveler (road trips actually) and one thing I have observed is rarely do I see those around me traveling as well, using their smartphones while outdoors. I have found people who do take the time to enjoy the outdoors actually are spending less time on their phones. Maybe that is why I enjoy meeting people who travel and/or spend time outdoors as I do because their smartphones are put away and they take time to look up and say hello.

    1. Hi Kimi. I admire how you manage so well without some of the technology more people are using. It seems like these are skills people should still know how to do. Writing and following directions and knowing how to read a map. I’m fortunate I grew up in a time before GPS came around. People preferring to text than call is one of my pet peeves with my generation. I can understand it saves time in some cases, but people don’t seem to care to talk as much anymore. I really like road trips myself too. I haven’t done one in a while, but I hope to again soon. It’s nice to know people are disconnecting themselves from their devices in those settings.

  3. Another smartphone refusenik here. Entirely too expensive. Too expensive to acquire, too expensive to “feed” every month, terrible UI – too small to be a computer, too large to be a phone. I’m not “missing out” on anything, and see no reason to own one of these overpriced, hard to use gadgets now or at anytime in the future!
    I have a rugged flip that costs me $15/mo to “feed”, and I turned off texting altogether because I seldom used it, and texting was never intended as a replacement for email. I wouldn’t even have the flip except I drive a 35 year old car and “they” did away with payphones! And you’ll never catch me DEAD on facebook or similar “fad sites” on any kind of device!

    1. Hi Zorba. Yeah, it’s crazy how expensive it is. It’s an inspiration to see people like yourself and the other commenters manage well without one. I still haven’t jumped on the smartphone bandwagon quite yet since writing this. Earlier this year, I tried one out that my brother no longer used on a trial basis. As luck would have it, I accidentally broke it, and I’ve still just been using my flip phone. I think I’m good for now, and funny enough, I actually don’t use Facebook to keep in touch with friends now.

      1. I just never saw any appeal or use for a smartphone (or so-called “social-media” for that matter) from the beginning. When Jobs introduced his gadget in 2007 – I took a look at it like I do all new tech. What I saw was Apple’s failed Newton PDA grafted onto a cell phone. Ok – that probably makes some sense if you want/need a PDA and use a cell phone. Since I completely bypassed the entire PDA craze, I figured “Not for me, I don’t need that” (never mind the obscene cost), and forgot all about it. Fast forward to about 2016 or so, and suddenly everybody has a smartphone and has a comment if you don’t. Its yet another stupid societal expectation. I still have no need, want, use, or desire for one – and I keep living my life the way I always have; a smartphone is a needless gadget that is substandard in every respect to the devices it replaces. I’d call it a “Luxury”, but for the fact that its such a crippled and sub-par gadget to start with, that calling it such would be an insult to real Luxuries!

  4. I remember back in the early 2000’s when we used the internet to escape the grip of our daily lives. Now it seems we’re fighting to escape the grip of the internet. I did this through my smartphone.

    I’ve had a smartphone, switched to a dumbphone, switched back to a smartphone, and now I’m switching back again to a dumbphone. Why? Well, I had underestimated the power of Google Maps and how convenient it was for me, especially being that I travel A LOT. But I also found myself GLUED to my phone and my willpower is short lived. I also learned that I would go through these bouts of memory loss when I owned a smartphone. This would happen A LOT but being that it’s so normalized in todays culture, people wouldn’t even notice the effect it’s having unless they got rid of it for at least a month straight.

    in short, i was able to read, focus, and remember things on a much quicker and broader scale without having to deal with brain fog or feeling ‘numb’. I hope one day people will see the value of not always escaping boredom, having actual conversations with your neighbors, and learning to think without being bombarded with updates and dozens of notifications.

    1. “Now it seems we’re fighting to escape the grip of the internet.” So true, Brandyn. I have concerns about the memory thing myself too. It’s great you were able to restore your mind to a better function when you pulled back on your technology use. I hope more people will have a sense of wonder with the little things in life that you mentioned. So much of it we just overlook and fail to appreciate.

  5. How good to know that I’m not the only one! I do have an ordinary cellphone (mobile), but in practice I hardly use half a dozen times a year. I only need it when travelling through Europe by train and have to let a hotel where I’ve booked a room know that I’ll be arriving late – otherwise they’ll cancel the booking, on the assumption that everyone has a phone…. This is all I ever use it for, so when I’m not travelling it lives in my sock drawer. I sometimes worry that the provider will cut me off because I don’t use it ‘enough’.

    I can’t stand to see people out together in a restaurant or bar and all looking at their screens rather than interacting personally. Why bother to go out together at all?

    I never took photographs anyway, so no need for a device that can do it for me. And downloading music remains theft of intellectual property as far as I’m concerned – I’m a translator, and depend on intellectual property to earn a living.

    I do have a laptop (to do my work), so I’m not completely offline – but I’ve made sure not to have an internet connection at home, so I’m only online during the day, and mainly when I’m working. It’s bliss to come home at the end of the day and know I’m not reachable.

    If I want to communicate with my handful of friends, I meet them face to face. I have no surviving family, and never had much contact with them anyway – so there’s no-one that needs to contact me urgently. So why would I need a mobile, let alone a smartphone?

    1. Yeah, I’ll never understand why people focus on their phones more than people when they’re out either. Sounds like you live quite a simple and relaxing life, Kevin. It’s admirable you’re able to live a large portion of your time disconnected from technology. I hope to be able to be disconnected most of the time someday too.

  6. Melissa Remi says:

    I am 40 and have never used a smartphone. I got my first flip phone, a Star Tec, when I was 20 and have honestly never felt the need for more. I actually bought a smartphone like 2 years ago and never hooked it up. I bought it to use in the car if I get lost since I drive an awesome 20 year old sports car with no technology. Once I turned the smartphone on, I knew it was simply not for me.
    My line of work does not require a smartphone but if I change lines of work, one may be needed and the whole world seems to require scanning of this and downloading of that so who knows. All I do know is too much technology is destroying the human brain and I would like to opt out as much as possible to keep my sanity, my health and my focus on more important things.

    1. Hi Melissa. I completely agree. I think it’s underestimated how much all of our technology usage is slowly diminishing our mental and physical well-being. I long for the day when I’ll be able to not even be on my laptop as much anymore. The only thing I enjoyed about my smartphone was the convenience of ride-sharing apps if one doesn’t own or is unable to use a car. Though I much prefer the convenience of being able to drive myself places.

  7. My husband and I have a small home-based hospitality business in the wilderness. We do not have a landline, but satellite TV and internet. We share one Smartphone (an 8 year old Blackberry with no Apps) with unlimited talk and text but no data. We do have 2 IPads and we share 25GB of data, which we need for business, online shopping, email, FaceTime , online banking and some surfing. We do have a second very simple Alcatel prepaid Smartphone ($10 per month) where we get 400 min talk and 400 texts per year, which is used if one of us goes out. It can be connected to Wifi anywhere so we can stay in touch if one of us is in Europe or abroad somewhere . This eliminates the need to take (and possibly lose!) the IPad…
    We use FaceTime to stay in touch with our aged parents and some relatives in Europe, and I use WhatsApp on the Alcatel to communicate with my sister who does not have an Apple device. We consider a small degree of technology a blessing, but like everything in life, it can be overused. Technology is neutral. Our few friends call or text us or just drop by in person. We don’t do Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. I recognize that we have to go with the time, but like to keep it simple, straight and easy. I grew up without a phone and we got our first TV when I was 4 years old. Got my first Smartphone with 45 and was perfectly happy before that!
    A friend of ours tried to not use his IPhone but realized he cannot go anywhere without it, guess depends on where you go. I take my Smartphone with me when I go but it is on airplane mode most of the time😌. In case that my car breaks down I can call for help. Happy to see that we are not alone, cheers to all of you!

  8. Luke Shepherd says:

    I love this article Eric. I have struggled with smartphone addiction for I’d say 8 years now, it’s had me in its iron grip for so long. I am about to begin a new life without my smartphone altogether. I have brought a Nokia brick phone £15 it cost me and have a new contract for just texts and calls and the smallest amount of data I could buy as my new phone is 2g, my contract costs £6 per month for unlimited minutes and texts. This is compared to my old phone £999 to huy and £42 contract per month and a £300 smartwatch utter madness. I’m 27 and a dad to 3 kids and I want my time to be well spent, I don’t want my kids to see me on my smartphone all the time rather than spend it with them. I am also a senior manager at morrisons and I want to prove to everyone that you can still be in that kind of position and be good in it without a smartphone as I know all me fellow managers feel they can’t do this job without a smartphone.

    Life is too short and I plan to make the most of it, I’m doing that by losing my smartphone, I have a laptop that works so if I ever do really need to go online I can do it that way. It will be so challenging moving from a mostly online life to a mostly offline life and not all my friends and family will go on this journey with me but those that do I feel I will build much stronger relationships with.

    Can I make a suggestion though, you had mentioned eventually having to get a smartphone. I don’t think you should, it is a slippery slope to do this from personal experience. You can go through life without one I’m sure and I plan to do so, you already achieved that so don’t give in.

  9. Maryanne Christiano-Mistretta says:

    I briefly had a smart phone and got rid of it.
    I hate them. They are intrusive and unnecessary.
    I am a self-employed person who can get by with a lap top and a flip phone (for emergencies).
    When I dine with friends and they whip out the Smart Phone, I whip out a book.
    That said, your article is so appreciated. It’s nice to read the comments from others too and know that I’m not alone.

  10. I am a flip phone user because I don’t have a pressing need, yet, for a smart phone. My flip costs $30 a month and I can access Google and Maps and YouTube, along with calling and texting. I work at home with a laptop so I can access things online when needed, like hotel reservations, e-mail, etc. I don’t need Uber(I know how to take a bus and I can walk to get most things I need) and I’m just not the type who wants to stare at a phone when sitting at a bar. The only issue I have at the moment is that I’m about to start attending events that have mobile ticketing. I used printed tickets for a long time but now one has to use one’s phone as a ticket, and I’ll have to figure out if a new phone will be necessary for me.

  11. I’m not in the least interested in owning a smartphone, I just have a standard old mobile phone just calls and text, the only big reason I now have it is if I have an emergency with my car, I have an iPad but it is not internet enabled only at home, I have a desktop computer with a big screen as I am a photographer, one annoying thing that is popping up is having to pay parking fees with an app on your phone, two weeks ago I travelled some distance to see a band, you could only park your car with a smartphone app, I went back home, I wasn’t the only one, I know my neighbours on either side of me don’t have smartphones and don’t want one, I am 82 and my neighbours are older generation too, we are being pushed out.

  12. Got A Biggen says:

    I am all in on not having a smart phone. I have one, but only because my company provides it. Even then, the thing pretty much stays in my truck and I rarely use it even for business. I’m a flip guy and always will be until those go away (something I don’t see happening anytime soon). I had a smart phone of my own once. Damn thing rebooted on me while on a call directing fire and rescue to an airplane crash site. Three people died. Was it the couple minutes lost because of my phone rebooting? We’ll never know, but I have to believe the delay contributed at least a little to their deaths. So much for ‘smart phone’.

    In addition to my hatred of smart phones for the above reason, the things are contributing to a society where no one talks to each other, looks at each other and in general walks around with their head in their phone all day (akin to head up their ass all day).

    Everywhere I go parents are no longer involved with their kids at parks, events, sports practices and games, etc. Their kids are out there doing great things on the field, court, mat or wherever and the parents are completely unaware. And then they wonder why their kids don’t respect them. Idiots!

    Then there is the side where kids walk around with these things and trying to get a kid to pay attention to you or other things around them is like convincing a cat they shouldn’t chase a mouse. It’s infuriating and the reason I would never give my kid anything more than a phone locked down so they couldn’t do anything except call me or emergency numbers.

    Lastly, for you parents that hand your young kids a phone or tablet everywhere you go so you don’t have to be a parent and engage with your kids, shame on you!!! And don’t come crying to me when you wake up someday and realize you don’t really know that grown up you’ve had living with you since birth.

  13. Rayne Nutmeg H. says:

    I haven’t got a smart phone either. There’s no need for it anyway, because I already have a computer laptop at home, I have a normal phone that I’ve owned since Christmas 2022, and it does everything but isn’t a smart phone. People seem to think they’re better off with a smart phone, which is an illusion. The owners of smartphones never invented or physically created them, they just press buttons and stare at it all day. People have become like zombies. Most of them were unable to use a proper computer in the past, because it was too technical for them. I have a certificate in IT and have been making web pages and computer graphics for years. I know that smartphones are an easy “baby’s toy” for the majority of people. Just before smartphones came out, the government wanted everybody to use the internet but most people didn’t because they were not able to understand this. I know smartphones is a tool for the masses to be connected online easily, which is why I don’t have one. I also find the idea of being tracked uncomfortable which is the other downside to smartphones.

  14. I don’t use a smartphone, and have never owned one. I never want to own one. I remember swiping away in the Orange phone shop when the original iphone was a new thing. I remember thinking that though revolutionary, it was pointless. Since then I’ve seen how smartphone culture has created a hideous warp on human relationships. It’s my opinion that the saddest, most depressing thing, is swiping through a never ending catalogue of perfectly enhanced pictures looking for a hook up. I’m in shock at how the embodied and rich experience of meeting a new romantic partner in real life seems to have been replaced by Tinder. Then there’s the cancer of social media, and it being in your palm from sunrise to sunset.

    I place extraordinary value on simplicity. There’s beauty in simplicity. So I use dumb phones, my latest being an Alcatel that’s about 3 years old and going strong. It costs £7 for unlimited texts and calls per month. I use a laptop powered by Linux mint, a beautifully simple operating system.

    I feel that people never question society’s factory settings, one of which is obligatory ownership of a smartphone. There are many things I feel are so wrong about these devices. For example, I’m horrified by the smartphone’s role in shaping and contributing to mass surveillance. As a child in the 80s I remember feeling a sense of indignance when my dad pointed to a device at the side of the road and told me it photographs you if you’re speeding, and you get a fine in the post. I’ve since then detested all things surveillance. Not because I believe they are looking at me, but more the fact they can, and trying to stop them would be a full time job that’s made as obstructive as possible. Fast forward almost 40 years, and look at us now. Just look at how smartphones spy on us and harvest that data for purposes we don’t fully understand, and would probably be horrified by, and averse to. We consent to that with every app we download and install. I feel that digital technology is one of the worst things to happen to humanity, and I think smartphones bear much of that responsibility. I think the phrase “digital gulag” is one which has more pertinence than most people realise. Orwell was correct, there is a video camera in every home. Most disturbingly is that we’ve willingly put them there.

    I could write pages and pages. But one last reason I dislike smartphones is how they seem to plug the moments where we could just sit and reflect, taking in the peace or the surroundings. For example, I was recently in a toilet cubicle. It was silent, and for me the silence was almost meditative. It was a few minutes of much needed peace. But somebody walked into the cubicle next to me, unzipped, and sat down. About 5 seconds of silence passed by, and then I heard the inevitable awful music video playing on Youtube with the sound obviously at maximum. Even worse are the ones who watch Youtube videos whilst peeing into the urinal.

    I will NEVER own one of these devices, and would rather adapt to the hardships that might come my way by consequence. My soul would be more satisfied that way. And that’s the most important thing in life.

  15. I had to get a new smartphone this past year because of verizon cutting off 3g and forcing 5g. I got an iphone mini of some sort, although it’s larger than my 4s I had for the past decade, has no center button, and has a worse keyboard layout, so I’m defitely not the happiest. I still refuse to make an apple id, so I have no aps, nor do I want them. I just can’t stand these things, they’re the epitome of jack of all trades master of none. They can do many things, but I already have machines that do what they do but better. I have a laptop which is a more customizeable way to compute rather than the leapfrog ui you get with apple and android, I have gaming consoles that actually have controllers and better games (or even gameboy, gba, ds, 3ds, or psp if needed on the go), I have a garmin which I never use, and I rarely use social media (my facebook has sat unused for about 2.5 years other than one instance to pull up a picture someone wanted to see while at work. The one thing I can see that is better is the camera, so I don’t carry around a digital camera anymore. So far I’ve only run into one issue where my hatred has stopped me from doing something: ordering tickets for a Birthday Massacre show. Digital only tickets. Yeah I’m not going to do that. If you can’t get a paper ticket or print one from home, I’m just not going to go. So long concerts, hello more vinyl purchases and mp3 downloads.

  16. What I’m thinking of now is that they only make me busy in the most futile sense. Not making me more productive, not removing obstacles, plus asking for lots of money….