4 Days with a Dumb Phone
buzzed, B&W
hairylunch

Lots of thoughts after 4 days using this phone.  Let's talk about the phone first:
nokia_3310_3G-hero.png


  • The upper-left and upper-right keys are confusing.  Those two key caps actually cover two buttons each, with the top of the key being different from the bottom of the key.  This took me 3.5 days to figure out as I was wondering why sometimes I'd be going back in a menu vs. turning the phone off, struggled with hanging up on calls, navigating menus, etc.

  • The middle-button and directional-pad are hard to use. They make me really miss the Blackberry Curve and it's wonderful trackball.  The middle-button isn't recessed enough or the edges of the directional-pad are not raised enough, to the point where I end up misnavigating and mis-selecting all the time, often having to resort to using a nail to use the menu

  • It's crazy that there are not physical volume up and down buttons.  This was one of the best part about these old school flip and candy bar phones, that you could easily switch the ringer volume or turn on vibrate or whatever.  To switch the volume on this phone, I have to:
    • Press the middle button to power on the display
    • Press the middle button again to select Unlock
    • Press * to confirm the unlock
    • Press the down arrow three times to navigate to the settings icon
    • Press the middle button
    • Press the upper portion of the upper-left key
    • Press left or right to change the volume


  • The phone only has ~32 MB of storage available (out of 128 MB total).  I thought I was going to copy some music on to it before I realized this.  It does have a microSD card slot, but I haven't gotten around to trying it.

  • Battery life is good.  I haven't charge this thing since I got it, and it's still showing what looks like 1/3 the battery.  Unfortunately, I think the battery display only has 3 segments, so it's not really clear how much battery I have left.

  • The shame of the phone encourages me to fiddle with it.  Not quite a fidget spinner, but I do find myself turning it in my hand, running my fingertips over the keys, etc, and am reminded of first year design students in my undergrad having to shape pieces of wood to be emblematic objects.

So, what have I learned about my phone usage/behavior?  I'm still carrying my iPhone, using it for:

  • podcasts - this is mainly as I walk around town

  • pedometer (and location tracking) - I really like the data Moves gathers

  • Checking in - While I'm not checking in anywhere near as often as I did before, I do find myself checking if there's wifi and checking in via Swarm

After the first day or so, I realized the biggest difference for me was the lack of notifications.  I'm pretty sure when I go back to my iPhone, I'll be turning off most of the notifications, probably keeping only a selective few.  I still find myself reaching in my pocket and pulling out the dump phone, checking if there's any text messages or anything, as well as wanting something to fiddle with. 

I did finally figure out how to turn on predictve text, so that's helping, but it's amazing how hard it is to type out text messages.  I've found myself falling back to the iPhone and iMessage when I'm having longer conversations with Leia.  In fact, typing on the phone was so hard that I ended up actually just picking up the phone and calling Aimee when she was trying to text with me.

I do find myself a lot less distracted, but I also find moments of boredom.  I tend to eat out alone somewhat frequently, and it's amazing how long those time gaps between sitting down, ordering, and receiving your food can feel.  On the other hand, the shorter periods of time, like that ride on the elevator when I would have checked my phone for messages or what not, are much more relaxed with not having a smart phone to distract me, and I definitely find myself much more present.  When I went out for drinks earlier this week, I wasn't texting or checking my phone to see what was happening on Twitter or what not.  It's also made me much more aware of when other people are doing this.

I'm also having to improve my mental map of Portland.  When we went to ZooLights earlier this week, it was definitely nice that Leia had her phone and was able to use it for navigation.  I think I could have managed without it, but the traffic data and alternate routes was a definite nice to have.
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