Not Quite Dumb Phone

I have been interested in the “dumb phone revolution” for a while now but I don’t quite have the conviction to go through with switching to one. It’s not, I think, because I would struggle. It’s because it would inconvenience other people in my life too much.

I like the idea of my phone returning to the same priority in my life as it was ten years ago. A time when I would have left the house without it and not given it a thought. Now, although I do frequently leave the house without my phone, it feels like a rebellious act.

As a compromise in the past I have switched my phone to grayscale and and made my smartphone “dumb” I even switched to a budget Android phone for a while.

There were advantages to all those things, but there was still something compelling about the phone. I wouldn’t say I was addicted (it has been years since I’ve used social media or played games on it) but phones hold a level of importance in my life that I’m not happy with.

I have been using a work phone for the last six months but as I start to take on more freelance work, I have been looking at getting a personal one again. I didn’t want to spend much money. So I ordered a second hand iPhone SE and received it yesterday.

I noticed the difference immediately. Not in the sense that the phone was slower or worse in any way (it will be years before the minimal number of things that I use a phone for are too much for the device). It is a well made phone and, considering it’s second hand, remarkably well maintained. No, the big difference I noticed was the size of the screen.

The iPhone 8 has a 4.7 inch screen and the iPhone SE has a 4 inch screen. It is amazing how much difference 0.7 inches makes.

The screen is more than big enough for me to do everything I need to use it for. Which is mainly sending iMessages and making phone calls, but also includes listening to audiobooks and sometimes music. But it’s just a little bit too small to browse the web. Or most of the other things that would have caused me a problem in the past. At a stretch I could use it to watch videos, but I almost never do that.

The SE is smaller than my work issued iPhone 8 so I barely notice when I’ve got it in my pocket. It is robust enough that I don’t feel the need to use a case and it has a headphone socket, which I was surprised to find I missed on the iPhone 8. Although I don’t expect to use it as often as I was using the 8, for many reasons, I prefer the SE.

Before I wrote this I did a quick Google search to see if there is any documented relationship between phone screen size and phone use, but nothing came up. I suspect it would be difficult to prove any causation because the size of phones increased alongside other things. Speaking from personal experience, however, it looks like there must be a connection.

I still have all the same restrictions on the SE: no web browser and no app store, no social media or news sites. It’s already a cut down experience, but it is the perfect balance for me between smartphone and dumbphone. I have access to the apps that I want and none of the distractions. My only niggling concern is that there might not be another phone this size produced and that one day my phone will break. If / when that day comes I guess I’ll have to look at dumbphones again.

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