Are you planning to replace your smartphone with a dumb phone? That could turn out to be a sensible move. But if you don’t plan ahead, it could also lead to quite a bit of unexpected stress.
To avoid that, we recommend that you first give some serious thought to the most useful apps you’ll be losing. Consider if you’re ready for it, and have smartphone-free alternatives to those vital apps ready to go. Start with the app examples in the list below.
While it’s possible to use WhatsApp on a computer, it’s not nice and easy without an internet-enabled smartphone. Minus the smartphone, your best options are:
WhatsApp on BlueStacks
You can install WhatsApp without a phone by using an Android emulator like BlueStacks. You’ll still need a phone number to complete the verification process, but you don’t need a smartphone for it.
The BlueStacks setup is not foolproof, and you might face technical problems at times. Real time conversations also take a hit. When plans change, as they often do in WhatsApp groups, you might end up clueless about those changes if you don’t have access to your computer.
Multiple Communication Channels
You can split your communication across emails, phone calls, SMSes, Skype and similar services. Remember this:
- Go where most of your contacts are.
- Try to limit the number of channels you use for communication to 2-3.
For chatting from your desktop, the Signal app is a secure option. But good luck trying to get people to sign up for it when there’s a convenient alternative like WhatsApp available. You’re better off getting an account with Chatstep. It allows you to create multiple private chat rooms and have users join them without signing up.
If the majority of your friends and family are all on the same platform, say, Google Hangouts, iMessage, and FaceTime, you have a definite advantage. Chatting, video calling, sharing files—all of it is simple even without a smartphone.
2. Uber and Other Ridesharing Apps
When it comes to transport, being able to step out of the door and into a waiting cab at any time of the day is as stress free as it gets for car-free people. And apps like Uber and Lyft have made it possible. No wonder they seem indispensable.
You’ll have to learn to do without the convenience of Uber if you give up your smartphone. Not completely though, because Uber has added a few useful features for non-smartphone users. Thanks to them you can:
- Book a cab from your desktop or basic phone
- Ask a friend to book an Uber for you
- Direct Alexa to call a cab for you
Uber is also introducing a call-to-book feature in some countries. Keep an eye out for it.
3. YouTube and Other Video/Audio Apps
You don’t need a smartphone to make the best of YouTube. You can get your dose of entertainment on your computer with ease.
But when it comes to activities like learning, you’ll rue the lack of a smartphone. That’s because video tutorials, online courses, and the like are super useful to have when you’re out and about, especially when you’re commuting.
Also, it’s nice when you can listen to binaural beats for relaxation and meditation playlists in bed. And it’s tedious to get back to your computer every time to control such media. At least, you can move the audio files to a portable media player or to the microSD card on your phone. For music on demand, you can also turn to the FM radio built into your dumbphone.
4. Mobile Banking App
Want to pay a forgotten bill at the last minute? You can do that from anywhere with a smartphone. Want to loan money to a friend in an emergency? You can do that too.
Having the ability to move your money around on the go is handy in many situations. But without a smartphone, you lose a big chunk of that convenience. With some planning and scheduling, you’ll get used to it.
Besides, dumbphones can be quite versatile. They also support certain basic financial transactions thanks to the SMS banking facility that’s available with many banks. All you need is a bit of research and communication with your bank to start using it.
5. Google Maps
No place in the world seems inaccessible or difficult to get out of when you have the power of Google Maps at your fingertips.
Whether you’re on foot, in a car, or taking public transport, Maps is there to tell you if you’re headed in the right direction. It’ll also tell you how far you’re from your destination and what’s the estimated time of arrival. With Maps you get to see which routes are busy and which ones will save you time, and you can change direction accordingly.
Now imagine if you didn’t have any of that information. It’d be somewhat like… it was a few years ago before smartphones came into the picture. In short, normal and nothing to worry about.
But you won’t think so, now that you’ve had Maps holding your hand for so long, especially when you’re lost, in unknown territory, or a long way from home.
Are you willing to go back to Google Maps on the desktop, paper atlases, and asking strangers for directions? Can you handle printed maps, handwritten ones, and serendipity? If so, then go right ahead and kick that smartphone out of your life. And while you’re at it, arm yourself with these five skills for the outdoors.
You might also want to consider investing in a handheld GPS device and/or an in-car Sat Nav system to replace Google Maps.
Is Your Phone Dumb Yet?
When I switched from a smartphone to a dumbphone, it was like I’d released a big mental breath that I didn’t know I was holding. Now I don’t want to go back to a smartphone. Once you ditch yours, you probably won’t want to either. But you might, for the sheer convenience of it. Unless:
- You have another portable smart device like an iPod Touch or a smartwatch. Using that will probably defeat the purpose of giving up an addictive and intrusive gadget like your smartphone.
- You start relying on your computer for everything once again and forget that you had a smartphone in the first place.
- You’re determined to go the “dumb” route in a world that’s increasingly “smart”.
Note that we’ve previously explored what it was like to not own a smartphone in the modern era, and it was enlightening. There’s nothing wrong with doing that as long as you know what you’re giving up and willing to live with it.
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