abandoning my smartphone after 10 years


hi friends, today i wanted to share a slightly more lighthearted blog about my experience the past couple weeks switching out my iphone SE for my old sony ericsson w595. this is still an important part of my journey to having a healthier relationship to digital devices so i still keep it real. i hope u enjoy :o)

table of contents

my phone history | why ive switched | how ive found it | what i found on the phone

my phone history

photographed above are all the phones ive ever had over the past fourteen years. the first phone i had was my mother's samsung e330 flip phone to take with me on my journeys to secondary school at age eleven as i had to make a long journey. i remember having lots of fun playing with the ringtones and making prank calls, though it hasnt worked for many years so i cant remember much else.

around a year later, i got a sony ericsson w595. my beloved, LEGENDARY PIECE OF SHIT. i loved this phone so much. it actually had a lot of features, such as video editing, and of course it was a walkman so i enjoyed being able to take my music on the bus. i filled the 2GB M2 card with over 1200 photos, videos, and all sorts of other rubbish we can explore later. it is very, very well loved - its missing buttons, is covered in scratches, and has a small smiley face engraving on the back. this is the phone i ended up switching to.

another year later, i then got a blackberry bold curve. i dont remember much of this phone apart from BBM and how annoying it was. in year 10, at age fourteen, i got my first iphone 4 - and since then, ive had the iphone 4S, 5S, and my last in 2017, the SE. i sort of realised at that time it was pointless to keep getting new models of iphones just because vodafone told me i could and the fact apple churned out a NEW!!!SHINY model around every year. i also would always get comments about how small it was, and that i should just upgrade. this phone still works, and so do the other three iphones.

ive also included in this picture a photo of my ipod touch, which i got for christmas in 2009 - it functioned the same as an iphone, just without the access to texts, calls, and 4G.

why ive switched

among small reasons such as the iphones abysmal battery life (i would need to charge the phone multiple times per day, and always carry portable chargers and wires around if im out the house for more than a couple hours), my main reason is to do with my mental wellbeing and healing.

ive spoken at length numerous times across my site in my digital wellbeing page and the blogs that reside there about my relationship to all my digital devices and the effects growing up alongside smartphones have had on my development as a teenager, so i shant repeat too much - plus, if you own a smartphone, i feel you kind of already know what i would say. lots of people i talk to in my life wish they could do away with their smartphone for good. perhaps you have a similar experience to me in that my teenage years were spent waking up, grabbing my phone, and scrolling through tumblr/twitter/instagram for hours, and accessibility to 4G and wifi meant i did this at school, on the bus, waiting in line, with my family and friends, etc etc. i do feel upset at how much time i spent doing this and the effects im having to deal with now. alas - in 2017 i began to recognise this problem and have done many things to try and improve this relationship, but ive been fooling myself into thinking i could have a "healthy" relationship with a smartphone, at least at this time. in the same way its hard to avoid eating junk food if you keep it in the house, i needed to remove the smartphone.

following my last post in digital thoughts (dated: 29/01/22), these past few weeks id grown increasingly full of despair around how much i was still using my smartphone despite the deleting and blocking of apps and sites id done. there are no social media apps on this phone apart from messenger - due to the access to the internet, however, i was still racking up over an hour of screen time daily. in my desperation i charged up my old w595 intending to use it as a buffer until i purchased a feature phone, and put my sim card inside. ive found, however, ive not really needed to buy a new phone at all.

its taken me a long time to make this change, and its something ive been mulling over for at least a few years now. for me, i weighed up how much i really needed a smartphone and its capabilities and benefits against the reasons above and for me, healing my mind is just far more important. there were a few major things that were keeping me from making the switch for a long time - photos, transport updates, maps, and the strange feeling of "i need it for emergencies". i had to confront all of these over the past few weeks.

how ive found it

many of the problems i mentioned i had to sit myself down and say "woman up, this kind of convenience is the enemy, you dont need half this shit..." and so far, i havent. i do think FOMO and lack of communication is a general worry - im the kind of person people already know not to expect immediate replies, even when i was glued to an iphone 24/7 - but i already knew from deleting social media that those who care and are truly important will show themselves, and those who dont wont. my friends are scattered across the physical and online world and our relationships thankfully are strengthened by our face-to-face interactions, and not a facade created by likes online.

my biggest fear was having to navigate without maps. id never learnt how to navigate, and anywhere new i went i would be following the directions given to me by apple maps on my phone. id quickly adjusted to the commute to work, and i even went to visit my fellow smartphone-less friend a few towns over. id also tried and failed but then succeedded in figuring out a route for walking where i live that id been shown by my brother a couple times but could never retrace it, so that gave me a little confidence boost.

coincidentally, a couple weeks after switching to the w595, i had a solo weekend away booked in brighton to see a show which was cancelled due to covid. i decided to go anyway, as my only visit there was fleeting and in poor company, so i was excited to explore on my own terms. in addition, it is an important research point for my current project....;o)

before leaving, i printed off a shitty map (and i mean shitty - i later realised it didnt have many road names and i had barely any ink left so it all sort of blended together) and marked places i wanted to go. i jotted down all my reference numbers and train times and set off with just myself, my LEGENDARY PIECE OF SHIT w595, sketchbook, book to read, my digital camera, and a pair of dr martens which i really shouldnt have worn because my ankles got shredded going down some of those hills...

...and in proper me style, i got fucking lost everywhere and turned around and spent lots of time stretching my brain standing on street corners staring at my map trying to remember street names and landmarks and sounds - but it was an important excercise in navigation, and the need to pay good attention to the environment around me. i hope the signposts and city maps felt well loved by my eyes. the sea was of course an important part of the navigation for me. i got to do everything i wanted and discovered i also discovered a lot of cool things whilst there, which ill probably write about in links. i brought my digital camera which id actually won a few years ago but never used and ive filled it with cool things, references, and stuff i want to remember. on sunday morning, i spent an hour running around at 7am chasing the sunrise across the pier while drinking hotel tea. suck it, my D in GCSE geography.

it was nice not to have my experience interrupted by whatever bullshit was happening on my phone, even in spaces like the hotel or train, or when i went to restaurants by myself. in general, this has helped to strengthen the things i talked about in my blog about solitude, which is what i sort of predicted would happen. its nice to have this effect in the morning too, im not exposed to the doom and gloom of the world or my emails or anything for at least a couple hours after i wake, and it doesnt penetrate my mind while commuting daily or with friends.

my iphone still finds a bit of use at home, as i use it to film timelapses and take occasional photos - it has kind of turned itself into the tool that i always wished i would be able to use it as, as opposed to an additional limb. there are a couple tracking apps as well such as duolingo which i used daily, which im deciding on how to move forward with these habits at the moment, as they can probably be tracked in other ways.

with this phone being so old, i have experienced a couple of troubles. if i were to have bought a feature phone new, it probably wouldve come with 4G. this phone is only capable of 3G, and i think when it was initially released this was probs pushed as an important part of its usage as theres a lot of links to websites littered across it. the only page i can get it to load is google (of course google trying to fuck with people with phones from 2009). not even this humble site can be loaded...:o( the email function i am still figuring out. in brighton, a place i had reserved a table for breakfast texted me asking me to follow a link to reconfirm the booking, but of course the link did not work. i ended up marching to the place after i checked into the hotel and reconfirming in person, which seemed to baffle the staff a bit - but i think they understood when i pulled out my LEGENDARY PIECE OF SHIT to show them the text. ill also probably want to change up my SIM contract as 4G has no use to me at this point, and im always up for saving xtra pennies.

ive also not figured out how to/if i can block certain numbers, as numbers of people sending spam id forgotten id blocked have been coming through again!! ffs.

the original specs for the w595 suggested approx sixteen days of battery life on standby. id say it is only capable of around six days, but this is of course miles better than battery of my iphone. also, i can remove the battery and get a new one for it if i really need to! it is also nice to be able to remove the M2 memory card and use my computer to look at files. taking photos off my iphone was always such a hassle. you could plug it in, but you could only remove files.

what i found on the phone

skip to final thoughts

the phone was exactly how i left it in 2011. it was a very raw documentation of my life as a twelve/thirteen year old. it made me feel happy to see myself filming fun videos of my friends and the way i took photos of things i loved. for other reasons, it made me feel very uneasy to see so much detail of a life i can barely remember here. as i mentioned, there were thousands of pictures and videos among text messages, notes, and voice recordings. not short ones either, mind you - many vids+clips were around fifteen minutes long! of just...kids messing about, filming at school, running around fields, screaming for no reason, playing, tours of my room, pics of my drawings, commentary of the first eight minutes of the chamber of secrets. i put myself through the frankly uncomfortable ordeal of sorting through these files. it was very difficult to do as there were lots of memories of people ive not seen in years and years. i chose to keep anything that made me happy or laugh, taking a konmari approach. i intend to make the remaining videos into a personal memory video for myself, but theres some interesting things i might share here one day too. there were a lot of random files which id gotten via bluetooth which was a fun aspect of phones back then. this video was on there, which used to get passed around like fucking oxygen...

...there was also this remix simply titled "the woo tune", which ive found on youtube in the most 2006 video ever...it bangs ngl...

...there were a lot of strange parody songs about the london underground and being drunk, and also ringtones like that one of the babies laughing but as a remix or the rubber duck one iykyk.

in true 2010s fashion i had downloaded the UGLIEST themes known to mankind and i was in despair for a while thinking i would have to choose between which horrible set of colours, animations, and graphic design i would have to suffer through daily if i continued using the phone...

...but i found a website where you can actually download themes and put them onto the M2 card! holy fuck! i found a nice black and red one to match the exterior of the phone, and set my wallpaper to be a pic of my and my friends :o) its also a lovely coincidence my model is the black+red vodafone one as there were lots of other colour options, but black+red are a couple of my fav colours and now my phone matches my clothes lol. i also want to try and find some cool charms to have on the phone as of course there is a little hole to put them in - i did have one of giratina on there but one of the wings broke off in brighton so i think ill put giratina back on the shelf. RIP

this was also my screensaver and im pretty sure was my desktop wallpaper at one point as well. i thought it was the most genius thing on the planet

heres some more dumb shit i found

final thoughts

though its pretty early days, im very glad i decided to make this decision. life is SHOCKINGLY the same - just perhaps with a tiny little more planning and inconvenience. i certainly do find myself with more moments of freetime, focus, and solitude, which i value very much. im sure i will write a follow up in time if i notice any sort of long-term effects of this switch. if youre someone who is contemplating making this switch, then i would recommend giving it a try, even with an older phone. as i mentioned, five out of seven of all my phones still actually work, and its a shame to think many people have even more than this but the way phone contracts work and consumerism around phones tricks us into thinking we should just get new ones, all the time. im debating what to do with them - recycling is an option, but i want to make sure they go somewhere that will ACTUALLY recycle them. ive not touched on it here, but in addition to removing the temptation of mindless scrolling anywhere you are, it also aleviates a number of privacy concerns around smartphones too, such as location tracking and advertisement.

thanks for reading, and until next time friends..........

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