I don’t own a Smartphone.

Currently deader than a doornail. Where's my charger again?

I don’t own a Smartphone.

What I have is an old school flip-style phone that is usually not charged, that I’ve forgotten how to access the voice mail for (my apologies if you’ve left me a message there…oh…ever), and that is adorned by jewel stickers courtesy of my daughter. I also rarely text (we’re talking maybe 1-2 texts per month, total). If you’re looking for a savvy phone user, I am not your girl.

This may come as a bit of a surprise, but it’s true. You’d think that since I’m a busy blogger on the go, well, that’d I’d NEED one. That I couldn’t manage life without one. Funny, but here are just a few of the things I’ve done in spite of my lack of a fancy phone:

  • Had a conversation over the phone. (Yes, we’re talking landline, baby.)
  • Found directions to a new address. (Thank you very much, Mapquest.)
  • Kept up to date on my friends’ doings.
  • Managed and grown my blog and social media pages.
  • Taken pictures.

Admittedly, there are times I feel like an odd duck. For instance, last week I was at a lunch with several other bloggers. There was this distinct moment after we’d eaten when I look up and no one is talking – everyone is on their phones. Everyone, that is, except me. Because I’m sitting there, watching everyone on their phones. There was also the time last month when I had to explain to the kind folks at Safeway that I couldn’t add their new Just4U app to my phone, and that I’d need to print a hard copy of my shopping list instead. (Thank goodness they have that functionality!)

It’s so easy when we don’t have something to make its absence our focus. I don’t have this, I don’t have that,…. But here’s the funny thing. I am content to NOT have a fancy phone. When I’m off the computer, I’m fully there for my kids, for my husband. They don’t have to talk to the side of my face when we’re at a restaurant, they get my eyes. I have enough of an Internet addiction that I fear I would never “unplug” if I had 24/7 access in my purse. I’m not sure how I could handle that temptation. I’m also not so sure I like the idea of being so easily accessible – my time is my most precious commodity these days. That’s not to say that I will never ever get a Smartphone; I suppose there is always a possibility things could change. (My husband does have an iPhone and has threatened to gift it to me when they come out with the new one – I’m trying to convince him to find a different owner!) I just don’t have the need, desire, or want. I kind of like living my life without one…in spite of the occasional awkward moment. I can deal with that. Maybe one day people with uncharged flip phones will be “cool” again. It could happen.

I’m sure if you thought about it, there’s something you don’t have, either. I’d like to encourage you with this tonight: try to find something positive about not having that item! Yes, that might sound entirely counter-intuitive, but consider. With more stuff, comes more responsibility, and sometimes more money and time involved.

Is there something you’ve made a purposeful decision to do without? Why? I’d love to hear stories too!


  1. Krista says

    AMEN! I just had this exact conversation with my DH last week and it’s so refreshing to hear my thoughts/feelings echoed.

  2. says

    I do not have a smart phone either.

    I have a 30.00 phone that I load with minutes every couple of months.

    I don’t have a smart phone partly for the reasons you have said, and also because I know I would spend half the day looking for it, and that time is already taken up by looking for my keys.

    Let me know when the support group meets! Just don’t text me….

  3. Ginean says

    Well you are not alone… say hello to your “flip phone sister!” Though I do keep mine charged and I text. However, my phone is pay as you go… so I limit my text, and my friends know this and respect it! My husband just asked me two nights ago to remind why I did not want to get tod of the land line. The reasons are numerous… safety, etc… But truly I don’t want to accessible all of the time. I want that freedom to miss a call made to my home and
    deal with matter when I am truly available. Plus, I might get hooked… no thanks, I’ll keep my archaic cell phone and land line

  4. Julie says

    This isn’t huge, at least not in my mind, but we don’t have a TV in our bedroom. We have one in the family room but that’s the only one we have in our house. I love that our bedroom is free from TVs, computers, etc.

    A bigger deal for us was recently when we decided not to give our son a bunch of presents for his birthday and we continued with our tradition of asking his friends not to bring gifts for him to his birthday party. We redid his room to include a wicked cool bunk bed with secret hideaway fort and even a slide from the top bunk and when we did that, we also took most of his toys away. It wasn’t a punishment, it was a decision to simplify. He has 8 million books but only a handful of toys which all encourage creativity and imaginative play or music. We’re all happier for it. Now I just have to get us invited to a bunch of birthday parties so I can unload all the cool stuff I bought at the Target clearance sale in January. 😉

    • arussell says

      Julie, funny you mention the TV. When we were first married, we did keep a small TV in our bedroom. We moved to this house about 7 years ago now and we just never bothered to put one in there! (more of a fluke than anything) We keep talking about getting one, but you know, sometimes you can get used to doing without something? Just seems like there are sooo many things I’d rather do with the money. When we do want to watch a movie up there, I’ll bring my laptop and put it up on a TV tray. Classy, eh? 😉

      Thank you for also sharing about your son. I think these are important lessons to teach early on!

  5. Ginean says

    P.S. I did get the Kindle Fire… so I can be on the Internet while chilling in my meeting room, my hiding spot, my place of refuge… my bathroom!!

    • arussell says

      HA!! I do own a Kindle Touch, which I adore! I can only be on the Internet to buy books when I’m somewhere with WiFi though.

  6. says

    I went completely cell phone less for a year. It was great. I did not have anyone calling me when I was driving, or at the grocery store. I really liked not being so easily accessible. However, once our land line went past the promotional period, it made more sense to go with a pay as you go cell phone. I opted for a smart phone at that point – and guess what. It still sits around without a charge most of the time, and I often times forget it when I am out – drives the family crazy. I think you are developing some good habits that will transition well into the world of smart phones should you ever decide to go that route (or NOT!):)

    • arussell says

      Sia, I sure hope so! I don’t want to say I’m never ever getting one…because stuff happens, things change, I get that. So I appreciate hearing your story – it’s encouraging! Be bigger than the phone, be bigger than the phone…. 😉

  7. Dsperin says

    I don’t have a cell phone at all. People at work are SO surprised/shocked that I am able to function without one. The worst part about not having one is that I have nothing to do when everyone else in the breakroom is checking their FB status or whatever. Everyone–heads down.

    It really tells you something when the main pasttime of your fellow coworkers is TV and other techno gadgets. I don’t even have cable–another shocker to my coworkers!

    • Karen says

      I too do not own a cell phone at all. We only recently switched over from dial up internet to DSL. Right before we got the dial up we had metered phone service on the landline and not too much before that we were one of the last ones to still have a party-line phone with 2 of the neighbors. Not a big phone person.

      We still have cable although we downgraded to the lowest package we could get while still getting the Mariner BB games. I wish the cable in the U.S. was ‘pick the channels you want’ like in other countries. We have chosen not to have a DVR as we dont want any more monthly charges.

      I also miss the plan we had on the electric bill for lower rates if you didnt use it during peak hours but they dropped that. And I wish they would encourage people to recycle their yard waste and food scraps by making that pick up free or cheaper and raising the price on tradition garbage that can’t be recycled.

  8. wen says

    I used to have a iPhone on service plan but not any more. $30 data fee is quite $$ to maintain. I picked up an old faction phone and $10 fee monthly. Now if I need internet so bad, I take my iPhone and sit wherever has the FREE wifi to get current. IPhone is an additional I could not give up, it is timer for my kids, my reminder for all events going on in life plus more.

  9. says

    When my old flip phone died (really REALLY died like the screen died and I could call out only by magically knowing the correct sequence of buttons to hit), I broke down and bought a smart phone. Mostly because I had recently opened a small service business where I go to people’s homes and the ability to have navigation, email on the go, and eventually banking/charging capabilities seemed like the direction to go. What do I use it’s “smart” capabilities for most of all? Checking coupon blogs while at the grocery stores to clarify/make sure I didn’t miss something, and running my youtube video playlists while on the treadmill at the gym! I HATE the touchscreen and miss my flip phone that I could easily hold against my ear with my shoulder.

    The thing that I do without and don’t even miss is cable. It was a big *gulp* moment to cancel it as I am a huge TV addict but it was one of the best decisions I have made! I watch all the shows I actually follow on hulu or netflix or amazon. I watch redbox movies. I save a ton of money and I don’t waste time or electricity mindlessly watching the myriad of junk on cable TV just because it’s there.

  10. Ginean says

    Sorry for all the typos in my first message… maybe typing on the kindle while in my office isn’t a good thing afterall. Julie…we have one TV to in the living room and no cable. Simplify and mostly save a buck or two is what motivates me.

  11. Alicia says

    I do not own a smart phone either. And its for mostly the reasons you said! But cost being a huge factor…

    I do think technology can be a blessing, but in this day and age everyone is expected to be reachable at all times, whether by phone, text, email, Facebook, etc. And if you’re not, than by societiy’s standards, something is not right! On top of that, what happened to face to face socializing and interaction? It is sad and scary…

  12. Mandi says

    I broke down and got an iPhone. I was so anti-Apple for so long and now I’m in love. I. Can. Print. Coupons. From. My. Phone. Download the coupons.com app and you can print their coupons as long as you have a wireless HP printer. I bought one of those years ago. It has truly been a blessing to have an extra set of some coupons. I’m sure that it hasn’t saved me thousands of dollars but I think that it has been hundreds.

  13. tiff (scoopyloo) says

    I love this! I had a smart phone for a week last year – I turned it in for a basic phone. I had issues with the fact that I couldn’t really use it for what it was supposed to be: a phone! Answering and “dialing” (on the touch screen) was ridiculous! I missed more calls on that phone than I had in my life. I do use the text feature on my new phone, (I swore I never would) but only for a few things when absolutely necessary (contacting my husband at work – no phone calls, no emails at work but he can text from his personal cell phone. And when clients text me I either call or text them back, depending on which they prefer. I prefer to speak to someone in person or on the phone (voice). I prefer to look around at my surroundings than play angry birds. The apps sound fun but do I really need them? no. I loved your part about mapquest! I use it often! I don’t even use the camera on my phone. I have a camera for that. I don’t watch movies (mine doesn’t do that but I wouldn’t anyway). I have a television for that and I rarely watch the television.

    I don’t know if I’m getting old or if I’m a voice of reason but we really are too smart phone oriented. It really bothers me and makes me sad to see people of all ages out in public, staring at that stupid phone all the time. Do they even know where they are? Do they even see anything around them?

    I know I’m on a rant but I could go on and on about this! While handy sometimes, it’s out of hand in my opinion. And another thing that is making me crazy these days is chargers and cords! They are all over the house, and also in my car! AAAAA! Makes me want to go camping for a year :)

  14. Christan says

    Oh! Hang on while I go download the coupons.com app…lol!
    I love my smartphone but totally respect others who don’t. There are always good and bad things about our current technology. My trade off is I don’t watch ANY tv. Useless junk in my opinion. We all have our different likes.

    • arussell says

      Oh! Hang on while I pause House Hunters international! 😉

      In all seriousness, I totally agree with you…which is why I ended this post the way I did. In the end, maybe it’s not so much about having a phone or not having one, but learning to be content with what we have. Thanks for weighing in.

  15. Kassi says

    My husband and I share one cell phone and we don’t have a land line. It is a iPhone though. We only have one tv and no cable. People think we are crazy for not having cable but we have Netflix and watch watch stuff online. Works for us!

  16. says

    I finally got a cell phone — a basic, flip phone similar to yours but without the fancy jewels — when my son started school last fall. I think I’ve used it maybe ten times. While I’m amazed and impressed at all the things you can do with a smart phone, I just don’t need one. I do feel left behind, technologically speaking, but I know I either wouldn’t use it or I’d become addicted to playing with it.
    It’s so nice to know I’m not alone.

  17. Gwen says

    No smart phone here! Great post. Nice to know I’m not alone. I don’t text either and actually had it removed from my phone because I would get a text and it would cost .20! Friends would think it was funny that I told them not to text me because it cost .20 so they would text me anyway and give me a quarter :). So, I called Verizon and they just took the ability to text off my phone. Much better. One day when my boys are grown I will eventually text I’m sure but for now, I’m saving a bunch of $$$ and time because I don’t have the texting and data plan on my phone.

  18. CJ says

    It is so nice to hear that other people are like minded. I hardly know anyone who like us don’t have fancy phones, Facebook, cable, or TV in their homes. We made the decision when we got married to only use our TV to watch movies, when the TV died and we moved we just didn’t get a new one have have been TV free for 2 years. we do watch a few shows on Hulu, but that is free and we can watch them when we want and our time is not controlled by when it is playing on TV. When we had a baby we decided he would have NO screen time. That means we have the computer on or watch anything when he is awake. My husband does slip on this and I often threaten to throw out the computer. I feel we are much more present in our lives without the distractions. We have a few friends and family members who communicate strictly by phone/computer and although it is sad, I refuse to get sucked in. We also keep our land-line and a family email because I feel it is important for people to be able to contact us as a FAMILY/COUPLE. I can really see every day how all these gadgets get in the way of relationships and I am sad that children will grow up in a world where that is the norm. Angela, your comment about the lunch with everyone on their phones and not talking is exactly what we desperately want to avoid. so not only do we do it to keep out the distractions, but also because I can’t believe how much all of that costs!

  19. N says

    Nice post, thanks!

    Yeah, this economy is hitting everyone. We gave up our cell phone service and my husband uses an old flip phone pay by minute that he barely knows how to work and I make free calls and texts on wifi on my iphone. Thank god for couponing because our house is about $8,000 behind (he lost his job for about 3 months and I haven’t been able to find a job for almost 2 years – last job i applied for that i was highly qualified for i found out had 97 applicants and i got passed over for the 8 that they interviewed – my industry is saturated right now and jobs are scarce). To top it off, we have no running water right now – we had a leak that cost $4,000 to fix and our water bill got to be $1400 and they won’t take payments so they shut it off on us. All this and It’s seriously hillarious because I’ve actually never been happier, I feel like I’m in an episode of frontier house. I’m finding creative ways to make up for no water – showers at the gym, rainwater for flushing, rainbarrels, and using our stockpiles. unfortunately we have to buy the 2.5 gallon jugs right now, but this will all soon be over. The best thing about all of it is I have my hub’s attention, he’s not burried in his smartphone, he actually appreciates wasting water now – he used to let the shower run 10 minutes EVERY DAY and I couldn’t get him to stop no matter how much I begged. He appreciates not eating out and wasting money on junk – he got down to no money at all during 3 months of unemp and sometimes didn’t know where he was going to get his next meal when he was away – aha and now he really appreciates the fact that we have a HUGE stockpile (well it’s actually quite small compared to what i’ve seen, but it’s huge to me) and a freezer chest full of specialty meats – steak, lobster, organic chicken, lamb, free pork chops etc etc from all the extra money we had when couponing I would buy a bunch of meat and freeze it. If it wasn’t for couponing we literally would be starving. I’ve only ALMOST ran out of one thing – pasta sauce : ) Yeah, stuff is just stuff, but family is KING!

  20. kristi gallimore says

    Amen “it is true”. I have a phone that can do some of those things smart phones do, but we don’t pay for that function. my husband just gave back one of those “gifted” phones that someone had after they upgraded. My parents come to visit…. and they sit around in the evning on thier phones (unless my kids are playing games on them.)

  21. says

    I am right there with ya! Only I have an i-touch that I use all the time in free wi-fii hot spots, and my phone is not a flip but an actual keyboard style. However, I cannot figure out how to change the very quiet beep that it gives for a text, so when I put down my purse, and don’t get out of my house for a few days, well when I pick it up again and then charge it, I find I have several out of date texts on it. Finally my friends have given (at least those closest to me) and they just facebook me instead, or they call the land line! yes we have one of those too!

  22. Stephanie Vargas says

    My cultural opt out is Facebook. I get asked at least monthly to join, usually by someone who has just been complaining about it for the last half hour ! =) Like you, I realize that I may eventually change my mind, but for now it’s good to have all the hours I would have spent on FB to do other things. For everything else I try hard to stay in the driver’s seat and manage my media instead of the other way around. We have no landline and I keep the ringer off on my phone most of the time. People leave a VM and I get back to them when I am free. I check my e-mail first thing in the morning and then I try (not always successfully) to leave it alone for the rest of the day. If the DVR is empty and what’s on live is so/so I just turn it off and read. I am either on twitter a lot, or have no time for it at all. People who don’t like that unfollow me and I accept that as one of the consequences of my choices. For me it’s a good balance, but it definitely annoys some people that I am not accessible whenever they want me to be and that I won’t join FB.

  23. Juergen says

    Not owning a smart phone is one of the most liberating things I can think of. I used to own one (it was given to me by a friend who works for a phone company and had a few demo models laying around).

    The bad thing about smart phones is that people just intantly react to any beep. I remember the days when I was just sitting around the house and the smart phone would beep and I’d be running to it only to find out I had received some spam email or a Facebook update frome someone I hardly know… This would happen at least five times a day. When the contract expired, I was so fed up with this routine that I went back to a simple Nokia bar style phone with a 10 euro monthly fee for making calls and texting.

    These days, my phone is again what it was invented for; a tool to reach someone if you have to discuss some matter, a tool you only use when needed and can forget about when not.


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