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BLOG: My week without a smartphone

Galen Gruman | Oct. 3, 2012
When contemplating whether to upgrade my iPhone, it hit me: Maybe I don't really need one at all

On Sunday, we ran some nonstandard errands, so I missed the ability to get directions through my iPhone (using Navigon, not Apple Maps!). Bit we had something called a printed map that kept us largely on track. In one case, there was a place we needed to find that we forget to map out ahead of time. Here's where my iPhone-in-iPod-Touch mode saved the day: The hardware store we parked across from happened to have public Wi-Fi access, as did the café we visited later, so we could look up the directions for the place we missed. Remember when printed maps were the norm and finding Wi-Fi was an unexpected surprise? That Sunday, it became the norm again.

For the weekdays that followed, I wasn't able to tweet to and from the office as I usually do -- but that's free work on my dime for my company, so I didn't shed any tears for that loss. Nor did I mourn the lack of email -- most of which is junk or irrelevant -- during the commute. I did make sure I had downloaded the latest issue of the Economist; between that and a new David Brin book automatically downloaded into iBooks, I could read on the train while also listening to music. Again, I'd done the same when I used an iPod Touch and regular cellphone. It was nice to not tweet and check email, but instead simply read for that hour.

I did miss the fact that my iPhone's voicemail doesn't show the data on missed calls and messages that you get when cellular data is enabled -- dialing into voicemail to see if I had any message felt like a very quaint activity. And I missed the ability to iMessage my partner en route home to coordinate dinner plans, as we usually do, but using SMS (a service we avoid due to its unconscionably high fees) would have solved that issue on a regular cellphone.

On Saturday morning, I turned the iPhone's cellular data back on. I've tried very hard to not get caught up in the always-tweeting mode and always-email mode in the week since. I've been pretty successful so far.

If I were frequently on the road, such as for sales or onsite repairs, my experience without the "smart" part of the smartphone might have been impossibly frustrating -- or not. After all, when I travel, my iPad is my primary data access device, with my iPhone serving more as a music player and, when I'm in frenetic mode, the quick access to email while the plane is taxiing or I'm taking the shuttle to the car rental -- that is, when the iPad is out of reach. Seriously, the email can wait during those 10 to 15 minutes.

 

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