My unusual phone, and why I use it

By dkl9, written 2023-157, revised 2023-171 (1 revisions)

I use a Nokia feature phone. It's what some people mistakenly call a "flip phone", having roughly the same capabilities as some flip phones. But it is clearly not a flip phone, as it has no hinge or separation by which to flip. The phone is 12 by 5 by 1 centimetres in size — half of it taken up by a 21-button physical keypad, for the screen is not touch-sensitive — and has a headphone jack, a micro-USB port, and a 480x640-pixel camera. I cannot install apps, and just three of those 24 preinstalled access the internet.

Why do I use such an archaic phone in 2023? My reasons do not include two common guesses: that it's a secondary alternative and I have another, more "normal" phone, or that it's all my parents would have allowed me to have. The Nokia is my only phone, and I asked for it.

Current smartphones tend to run software designed to be attention-consuming — often by addiction and/or an induced temptation to frequently check — and not necessarily of real value to the user. See e.g. most social media and video games. The most attention-draining programs on the Nokia phone I have are a few simple games (which I never play), Facebook (which I never use), the web browser (which, by its slow, cumbersome interface, is hard to get addicted to), and texting (which is finite and involves direct communication). By using a more limited phone, I get most of what I would really want from a phone (calls, texts, deliberate reminders, photography, occasional web access) without introducing a source of continual worthless distractions.

A phone like mine is also significantly cheaper than most smartphones. If you get all you need with the cheaper option, why bother paying more? (The obvious answer to that is "wealth signalling", with which I don't want to bother.)

There are some direct hardware advantages of feature phones like mine. By having about half the size of common smartphones, it fits into pockets more easily. By using much less power, the battery charge lasts (with my usage) for several days.

Durability did not factor into my choice. Contrary to popular belief, Nokia phones are not indestructible. The reputation comes from a particular model (the 3310), which is not my phone. My current phone is my second one, for the previous one — identical to it — broke from a seemingly-ordinary drop on the floor.