Back to Life without an iPhone

Back in 2011 I went for 87 days without an iPhone which was a challenge but has stuck with me and always made me more aware of how much time I spend glued to my tiny screen.

Well anyway, i’m running the same experiment again, but this time it’s not through choice, it’s because the battery in my 26 month old iPhone7 is broken and needs to be replaced. Apple did run a programme for a while to replace batteries for £25, but that now seems to be over and it’s a cost of nearly £57 for a new battery.

So it’s back out with the trusty Nokia 6300, that still works, despite being in a drawer for the last eight years. I charged it up and it worked first time. It’s been on my desk all day with a few calls made and received and it’s still showing 100% battery.

The camera on it is useless. It claims to deliver a 1600×1200 image size at the highest resolution. It won’t connect to my mac via bluetooth and when you send an image via multimedia, it scales it to 640×480. So it’s basically a standalone phone with little connectivity.

So one day in, what have I missed?

Not much to be honest.

  1. Whatsapp – but only because we have a little group that goes for a walk on a Monday night and I have missed out on the organisation of that, so I hope they don’t forget me.
  2. Coinbase – to see how my truly dreadful investment in Crypto is doing – but i’m sure I could check online anyway
  3. Fitbit – I have been a bit obsessed with steps and heart rate for a few years and whilst my actual fitbit measures it, I can’t see the weekly figures.

And what positives have I noticed already?

  1. There is NO DOUBT I am less distracted and have freed up more time to work
  2. You work in a more linear fashion where you complete a job and then go onto the next one. I have genuinely only checked for new emails when I have finished what I’m doing, rather than as soon as they arrive. Very few emails need instantaneous feedback and most can wait a little while, for a better response
  3. You don’t really need Google Maps for 99% of your journeys – But I always seemed to have it on, justifying it in my head by saying I needed to know about traffic.

Apple have said 5-7 working days for the return of the iPhone, so I’ll see how I get on. That’s not exactly a speedy service for a phone I use for work. The cynic in me would say they are trying to trick you into a getting a new phone. In truth, I almost fell for it too, but thought this would be more valuable to see how life without an iPhone goes again.

It went off this morning and is due back by the middle of next week.

Let’s see if I can cope.


The End

87 days after the experiment started, it has ended.

Quite suddenly.

I was speaking to a friend yesterday (hello Simon) and I was getting complaints that he couldn’t hear me and that I sounded like I was mumbling. I came to the sad conclusion that my old Nokia had seen its best days and was now effectively scrap. So the iPhone came back out again.

But what have a I learnt?

1. Push email is a total pain. I would rather wait until I got back to my computer and dealt with the emails properly. When I was away on holiday last week, I left with no emails in my inbox. As it stands today, there are now seven. That is a huge improvement from my position at the start of the experiment. I have become more efficient.

2. There was very little I missed on the iPhone. Most of the apps are nice to haves. Almost none are need to haves.

3. I saw a new sale board for our client Royston and Lund. This was the first one we had done where each property has a unique QR code to allow you to view the property details for each house they list. I did feel a bit left out not being able to jump out of the car and grab the code to start browsing. I think this will become increasingly important over the coming years.

4. The amount of extra thinking and reading time I have gained has been amazing. I will vow to keep off the apps and on my reading. I have watched almost no TV since I left the iPhone at home and feel better and brighter for it.

That’s it, the end. It’s been a blast.

Life without an iPhone day 66

I am now 66 days into this experiment and still going strong. My old Nokia is working well i’m getting very few complaints about people not being able to hear me. And guess what, it doesn’t randomly reset itself, run out of battery or burn my ear like the iPhone did.

I have used the iPhone a few times, but only as a speed camera detector as I have done so many miles over the last few weeks/months.

I did think I would have gone back to it by now, but even though I am getting loads of pressure to hand over the phone to the kids for their own personal use, i’m still carrying the iPhone just in case.

Any new lessons?

1. It’s actually quite liberating driving around listening to the radio.

2. I haven’t had any crashes or hit any wildlife because i’ve been checking my emails.

3. Apple are advertising quite hard again, which means they must be reaching a plateau in sales. Many people seem to be buying things a bit like an iPhone, like an HTC or other Android Phone.

4. Others have tried it too. But I can’t find many who have stuck to it.

Maybe I am odd after all?

Living without an iPhone – a social and business experiment – Day 31

Okay a full month has passed and I am still off my iPhone 4. What have I learnt so far?

1. I get more work done

2. I am far more able to work in a linear fashion and do the job I have in front of me before being distracted by the next job that appears via my email inbox.

3. I have spent more time talking on the phone as my crappy old three year old Nokia 6300 is a better phone than the iPhone 4 and it doesn’t hurt my ear when I use it.

4. The battery life of an iPhone 4 is amazing if you never use it. It just sits there on standby in my bag in case I ever need it. I’m sure i’ve only charged it two or three times in the whole month.

5. My kids are absolutely disgusted with me and think they should have first dabs on the iPhone.

6. I almost lost my bottle at the weekend and brought it with me as we were going shopping for Duke of Edinburgh gear for my daughter and felt a bit exposed by not being able to price check what we bought. In the end, we just went to Sports Direct where everything was cheaper anyway. Their Field and Trek instore section is remarkable value with a brilliant Karrimor sleeping bag reduced to £18 from £50.

7. When and if I do switch back, I will not switch push email back on.

8. The reason I will keep with my Nokia is more to do with the weakness of the phone element of the iPhone than any of the features and apps that I have barely missed at all.

9. The reason I will probably switch back at some point is the quality of the camera on the iPhone 4, which is excellent compared to the 3g and my crappy Nokia.

The experiment continues.

Living without an iPhone – a social and business experiment – Day 7

The first week is done and for me, it’s been a genuine success. I seem to have been far more efficient with my emails. At the end of Friday I went home with 29 in the inbox, compared to 74 the week before.

I am not ‘grazing’ information I don’t need and without doubt moving more logically from one job to the next. I am not being distracted as much as usual.

I have also had a surprisingly positive reaction with Rosie McArtney being genuinely supportive and believing that more people will switch their own iPhone/Blackberry/Smartphone off. It may not be a coincidence that she lost hers earlier in the year and has been working with a nrmal phone for some time now too.

I’m spending more time on the phone speaking to customers and suppliers – again this has to be a good thing. That’s okay now as I’m using a phone that was designed a phone (Nokia 6300) and the battery life is awesome. It hasn’t needed charging since I switched it on, on Wednesday.

So am I going back now my week is up?

No. Not for now.

I’ll live week by week and see whether I drift into the same lazy habits I had fallen into before I underwent this experiment.

Living without an iPhone – a social and business experiment – Day 4

I’m starting to quite like this. I am definitely spending less time with emails and more time actually doing work. For me this is a huge progression. But firstly a few confessions.

1. The phone I bought was crap – I had a few people complaining that they couldn’t hear me. It may be that they were trying to prove a point and were taking the mickey, but I suspect you get what you pay for and as a casual user it would be a fie phone, but for a business user, it is a little weedy. If yu know of any kids or deserving causes that want it, let me know and i’ll donate it.

I have now had my much older Nokia 6300 unlocked and taped the micro sim in place as the adapter still hasn’t arrived. The iPhone still functions as a wifi device, but no longer as a phone. I have to confess to feeling a little more comfortable with it as a piece of technology. A phone that works as a phone is a good start.

2. I have used the iPhone a bit – Mainly to make outgoing calls as I burnt the credit on my £10 sim in about ten minutes flat. That is now over as I am back on my normal number.

3. I have even accessed an email – I know, I know. I was in the car (parked) and trying to get the number of a supplier. The easiest way was to look at an old email and ring them from that. It was a quick in and out. Honest. But I did immediately go and look at Sky Sports App ad a few others.

It made me feel slightly dirty and not in the spirit of my experiment. Sorry.

And now onto the positives

1. I am working in a more linear way – Dealing with requests once and getting tasks completed and filed.

2. I have more time – I am definitely spending less time worrying about emails and more time doing actual work.

3. I am a safer driver – I have not even touched my phone, checked an email or read a text whilst i’m driving. Car kit or no car kit.

An early conclusion?

I am not wanting to cut my nose off to spite my face, but I do feel it is making me change my (dirty) iPhone habits. I may go back to the iPhone at some point in the future, but I am pretty sure the default position will be to have the email push switched off. If this has only taught me that much, it’s been worth it.

My worry of living without it, is already overpaying for Christmas.

Living without an iPhone – a social and business experiment – Day 2

Okay, not very scientific but the first business day is done and it’s been a bit of a success.

Only ten email messages in my inbox and lots of the things on my written list already completed.

I did get a lot of Twitter activity today and a friend Ben Afia recommended I look up the book ‘David Allen’s Getting Things Done‘. So I have and it is on its way from Amazon. ben then told me afterwards that it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, so i’ll probably hate it.

Battery life is still completely full on my cheapo phone and at 50% on the iPhone 4 which I have been carrying about in my laptop case on standby.

Looking easy so far. maybe i’m getting cocky too early.

We’ll see.

Living without an iPhone – a social and business experiment – Day 1

Okay. the first day of my new era. Life without an iPhone 4 and it all seems pretty smooth so far. Sadly I haven’t got my phone number sorted yet so can’t receive texts, but have managed to redirect all phone calls from the old number to the new. A clever feature of iPhones. Hmm.

I’ve already had to learn how to use predictive text again that I had forgotten. That was easy enough.

So what am I hoping to get out of this?

A few things spring to mind immediately. I’ll try and keep a track of what else appears through the week.

1. The ability to work in a more linear fashion – Rather than being constantly distracted by all the attractions of the Internet and every email that arrives, i’m hoping to be able to deal with them properly first time and then archive them.

A friend of mine sent me a link to this, so i’m clearly not the only person to be thinking along the same lines.

2. More time to read – I am convinced that I will create more thinking time by being away from my iPhone. Hopefully i’ll use this for extra reading and thinking.

3. Not being tied to my charger – The battery on an iPhone 4 is much better than on my previous iPhone 3g, but it’s still crap and has to be plugged in for power at least once a day.

What am I missing about it so far?

The camera.

Sky Sports App

Shazam (but that is one of the main distractions)

iTorch app

Quick access to the timer/countdown timer.

Not sure how important they are yet.

Number of emails in my inbox – 74

Living without an iPhone – a social and business experiment – Day -1

Probably not the best start to the day when I discovered that I have managed to lose the micro sim converter that I bought earlier in the week in preparation for the switchover tomorrow AM. This is the little device that you need to make the iPhone 4 sim (which is essentially a cut down version of a normal sized sim) usable in normal phones.

I am actually looking forward to the thought of being on a normal phone again but one things strikes me already.

I am going to watch my boys footie team this afternoon and it will be the last day I will be able to ‘watch’ the scores of the other matches on Sky Sports App. Actually it is a bit like watching it on teletext anyway – like we used to do, so maybe i’ll be able to concentrate on the kids match rather than what is going on at Oxford v. Hereford.

Okay, so i’m off into town to by a replacement micro sim adapter. iPhone at home on divert to the new number.

Not nervous yet.


That was a wasted trip. The man in Victoria market didn’t have one, the man in the little mobile unit didn’t have one and neither did the Apple Centre. Hmm. I’ll have to order another one on Ebay. It is maybe another sign that Apple are trying to control their customers a little by forcing them to use a unique sim card in order to make it harder to move away from them. Maybe they’re not the cuddly giant we once thought.

Not an efficient start. But I did get my first call on the new phone diverted from the iPhone.

Living without an iPhone – a social and business experiment

We all have too much stuff in our life. Too many possessions, too many media choices and too many ways of accessing any piece of available information from anywhere in the world.

And I’ve had enough, so i’m making a change to the way I run my life and the first stand will be against my beloved iPhone.

I am on 24/7. always checking mail, checking share prices, checking scores and checking things I don’t really need to know.

A book I read many years ago by Isaac Asimov called Azazel, stuck in my mind. I’ve blogged about it here before.

By being so on all the time, i’ve lost my downtime, my time to think, my time to learn and understand. People expect an instant response, but instant isn’t always best, it’s often quite glib, so I want to change.

For an initial one week, my iPhone is staying at home, switched off. I’ll check my emails when I am in front of my computer and i’ll try and deal with them first time.

I’m going to spend tomorrow getting rid of all the emails in my inbox. Currently 70 in number – Most of which need some sort of action. On Sunday, i’ll be into the new regime.

I’ve been a bought a new phone today. The simplest and cheapest they had in the shop. A Samsung GT-E2121b at only £9.45. A bargain from Phones 4U. Sold to me by a young lady called Adele, who thought I was a bit simple when I told her my plan.

Adele from Phones 4U Nottingham Victoria branch - Complete with perfect sign above her head
Adele from Phones 4U Nottingham Victoria branch - Complete with perfect sign above her head - That's the bloody point - I don't want emails on the go!

I’ll try and update the blog every day to let you know how I get on with it.