5 Reasons to Trade Your Smartphone for an Old-School Flip Phone, According to People Who Have Done It

published Nov 20, 2021
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Credit: Joe Lingeman

If there’s one thing you think you can’t live without, it’s probably your smartphone. After all, it can do everything from waking you up to giving you directions, reminding you of appointments, and a seemingly endless list of other tasks. Yet there are also plenty of reasons to glance at your phone during downtime too.

And if you dread the notification that gives you a weekly summary of your screen time, you may wonder how on earth you spent several hours a day on your phone. However, you’re not alone: A recent study showed that smartphone users check their devices an average of 63 times and spend 5.4 hours on their phones daily. The reality of these numbers is starting to turn people back to humble cell phone roots. Here are five reasons to trade your smartphone for an old-school flip phone and never look back, according to people who have done it.

It’s easier to limit disruptions.

Even if you turn on your phone’s “do not disturb” function and tried using grayscale, you may still face the temptation to check for missed incoming calls or glance at social media. Unfortunately, those seemingly innocent, momentary prompts can turn into minutes of extra screen time — and as Victoria Mendoza, a tech expert and the CEO at MediaPeanut, found when she made the switch, a flip phone cuts back on that distraction almost by default. 

“I’ve found that by personally using a flip phone, I am significantly less distracted during my core work hours,” she tells Apartment Therapy. “It’s amazing how much more productive I am at work.” Mendoza’s company also surveyed its website users who traded their smartphones for mobile flip phones as their primary device, and 34 percent of respondents said they did so because it provided a distraction-free environment.

You can practice self-sufficiency.

It’s easy to block out your surroundings when you’re looking at your smartphone, including people and scenery. Ryan Takemiya, the founder of the Asian-American creative community RAMA, swapped once his job no longer required that he use an iPhone. “I found myself becoming addicted to the constant access to the internet,” he says, adding that he noticed that his eyesight began to blur, and he wasn’t sleeping as well. “I felt like I was becoming so reliant on it that I couldn’t live without it, and I didn’t like that feeling,” says Takemiya.

His current flip phone helps him feel more present and alert. “My memory has improved significantly now that I am forced to remember everything when I am away from the house, including my schedule, my plans, and how to get around town,” Takemiya says. He also notes paying more attention to detail and feeling more connected with the outside world.

Although there are many reasons to ditch your smartphone, you may experience a few setbacks. For example, sudden location changes can leave Takemiya scrambling, and he finds it a bit inconvenient when he goes out with friends and can’t rideshare with a service like Uber or Lyft. “If they happen to change plans at the last minute, they will have to give me directions to the new location,” he says. 

You can limit the amount of information you keep on your phone (so hackers can’t target it).

As a techie and crypto entrepreneur, Stefan Ateljevic loved smartphones from the moment of their inception. Still, he was using it as a time filler, so he downgraded to a phone with fewer functions. “I switched to a flip phone about two years ago and haven’t looked back,” he says. “In an effort to get more out of my day, I had to cut out using a smartphone entirely, and my family is thankful.” Although he wanted to reclaim his time, he says that a potential lack of security was the nail in the coffin for his smartphone. 

“For all the incredible features you can find on a smartphone, such as contactless payment and one-click transactions, they also present the perfect opportunity for a hacker to steal your personal and financial info,” says Ateljevic. “Cybersecurity is crucial in this day and age… you have to take precautions because no one else will.” In addition to banking, smartphones can also track your habits, such as which websites you visit and how many times you rewatch your cousin’s Instagram reel.

To secure your banking information, it can be helpful to keep financial apps off your phone altogether, and do your banking in person or on your computer. Doing so can help keep your information secure, especially if someone happens to take your phone or spots you logging in with your bank codes.

You can use your phone as… a phone.

Whether you rely on your device to check work emails or keep up with family on social media, you may spend a minority of time actually using your phone as a phone. Henry Davis, the CEO of Adept Golf, ditched his smartphone when he discovered that he wasn’t using its full functions. “I am not a person who uses a mobile phone very much, so I happily traded my smartphone for an old-school flip phone,” he says.

Davis now enjoys using his phone for its original intent. “Using an old-school phone gives me a sense of simplicity as I can do text messages and phone calls only,” he says. 

Likewise, Ateljevic agrees that making the switch allowed him to tap into communicating in a straightforward way. “Ditching the smartphone was a no-brainer, and now I can just talk to people on the phone,” he says. 

You may experience a bit of nostalgia.

According to the MediaPeanut survey, some people are switching back to simple phones because they want to experience a sense of nostalgia. As a result, flip phone usage is starting to trend, especially with users in their 30s and 40s. “A lot of users are enjoying the nostalgia from their old Razr flip phones of the early 2000s,” says Mendoza.

Not only is there a sense of reclaiming the past, but there are always folks who enjoy bucking mainstream ideals. “There will always be a percentage of people who find divergent behavior trendy,” adds Mendoza. “In this case, it’s the fact [that] simply not having a smartphone like everyone is appealing.”