Opinion

The 'Dumb' Phone Isn't Dead Yet

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The 'Dumb' Phone Isn't Dead Yet
The current era of the smartphone really began in 2007, when Apple introduced the first iPhone to the world. This was a device that changed conventions and proved exactly what a small handheld device could be capable of. Phones stopped being about features, and started being more about what you could do with them. Late 2008 saw Google enter the smartphone game with Android, and the use of smartphones has only grown since then. Today, it's possible to get a decent smartphone for under Rs. 5,000. Unfortunately, smartphones have also brought about their fair share of problems.

While smartphones are objectively better than the "dumb" phones of the past, there are some good reasons to stick with the old standards even today. If you're sometimes feeling overwhelmed by your smartphone, then you might agree with these reasons to downgrade to a dumbphone.

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Advantage #1: Size
The biggest advantage that dumbphones have over smartphones is size. The whole premise of the smartphone almost entirely depends on large touchscreens, which is why it's no longer possible to have a truly compact smartphone that's worth its weight. The dumbphone lets you go back to small phones that fit in your pocket comfortably.

Advantage #2: Durability
Smartphones have this notorious habit of often shattering and becoming non-functional after being dropped from six inches off the ground. Dumbphones may also stop functioning when dropped from heights and treated poorly, but the likelihood of this happening is much lower. Thanks to the lack of expensive and fragile components, dumbphones are built to take much more physical punishment. And even in the unlikely event of your dumbphone dying on you, its low cost will ensure that you don't really feel the pinch.

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Advantage #3: Price
Smartphone prices are gradually increasing to the point where you can expect to have to shell out nearly one lakh rupees for a top-spec flagship smartphone. You can get a smartphone for a lot less, but you really should not. Dumbphones, on the other hand, are unlikely to set you back more than a couple of thousand rupees. You still have the ability to call and text people, plus your little dumbphone will likely have a few basic but useful functions such as a flashlight, calculator, world clock, currency converter, calendar, and radio. And if you break it or lose it, it doesn't break your heart and hurt your wallet so much.

(Also see: Would You Pay Rs. 22,000 for a 'Dumb' Phone? This Company Thinks So)

Advantage #4: Battery life
If you're lucky, your smartphone's battery will last a day, and charging overnight has become a fact of life. If you forget to plug in, you'll find yourself walking around with a paperweight. These days, you're often charging your phone twice daily. Dumbphones on the other hand, can go for days without charging, because of the lack of power-draining hardware inside. Everything from the screen to the low-powered processor is basic, and designed to give you hours, if not days, of standby and talk time. You can turn your daily recharge cycle into a weekly affair.

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Advantage #5: Design
Do you remember when phones looked good? We had some iconic designs in the dumbphone age, including the rather stunning Motorola Razr V3, the legendary Nokia 3310 and the incredulous Nokia N-Gage. Smartphones today do innovate on design, but there isn't much you can do when you have to have a large touchscreen that occupies 70 percent of the front of the device. And there's no denying that using a flip phone makes you a little bit cooler than you already are.

(Also see: Sony Executives on Xperia Z5 Design and the Dragon in the Room)

Advantage #6: Security
The disadvantage of being continuously connected is that your phone often has a lot of personal information about you, as well as details about your finances, credit and debit cards, and pictures of you and your loved ones. These details can be hacked or collected by malware, and it is common knowledge that various websites and services track you and collect your information without your explicit knowledge, but with your unknowing permission. Many dumbphones lack connectivity or apps, making them the perfect way to be completely hidden and away from security threats. Furthermore, if your dumbphone is misplaced or stolen, there's a lot less to worry about, and thieves are more likely to target people with more expensive smartphones rather than risk getting caught stealing a phone that isn't worth much anyway.

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Advantage #7: Off the grid
One of the biggest problems with smartphones is the fact that they have a knack for distracting you. People today are constant texting or accessing social media using their phones, apart from taking pictures or playing games. The constant access to the Internet also means that people always have something to do on their smartphones. Dumbphones, with their lack of connectivity and basic functionality, make it so much easier for you to concentrate on real life. What more, people actually have to call you if they want to get in touch, making conversations more intimate and meaningful.

Considering we have computers and tablets that keep us permanently connected, perhaps replacing your smartphone with a dumb one will be a lot easier than you think. You can have your online identity intact when you're at home or at work, and be a lot more social when you aren't. What are your thoughts on this? Let us know via the comments.

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Ali Pardiwala Resident audiophile. Spoilt South Bombay brat. Would rather be on a beach somewhere, but needs the money and likes writing. More
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