‹ Sid Verma

Dumb smartphone is the best smartphone.

Jan 04, 2018

Quick recap: I dropped my Oneplus 3 six months ago - didn’t get it repaired for a month. Instead, carried this $10 phone with me for a while.

My interimn phone

My interimn phone

Eventually, I did go back to the smartphone - to order cabs, read important emails, and take photographs.

But this really made me miss the bliss of not owning a smartphone. In the previous month, I used to look at the tiny screen for a maximum of 5 minutes every day. Now when I’m back on the smartphone, the screen-time is also back to a few hours - Reddit, Twitter, Telegram, Whatsapp, Instagram, Facebook, Kindle, Google Chrome.

Also came with it, a lot of micro-interruptions throughout the day in the form of notifications - IMs, promotions, emails, etc. An average of 15 notifications every day.

I have read accounts of people who don’t use a smartphone, or even a phone anymore. Unfortunately, that is not the way for me, at least right now. I recognize, and enjoy some of the features my Android phone gives me. I have a relatively short memory, and a notes app is essential to my life. I can’t drive, so I usually move around by walking, or through Uber. Also, I like charting the sky with the help of Stellarium.


  • Uninstall social networks. Except for Instagram, which I post on once a few weeks - all social networks were uninstalled. Those which were not installed, were removed from the homescreen at the very least.

  • Next, remove the browser from the homescreen itself.

Phone homescreens - then and now

Phone homescreens - then and now

  • Disable notifications for all of the IM apps I use - SMS, Telegram, Whatsapp, Signal, Messenger, Hangouts, Personal E-mail. This changed my consumption of messages from a push-based mechanism to a pull-based. Emails are checked every morning and evening. If any IM is important, people would find an alternate way to reach me, or just call me.

  • Over the next few days, continue to disable notifications for any app which ever sent a promotional notification - Amazon, Google maps, Flipkart, Myntra, Amazon Go, Grofers, Uber, Ola, Bookmyshow…

  • Start wearing a watch - I compulsively check the time whenever I get the chance to. This stops me from taking the phone out when I’m away from the computer.

Status, now.

I’ve been using this setup for the past 6 months now. On an average, I stare at my phone for 15-45 minutes every day. 10 of those minutes would be on the shitter, where I am browsing reddit.com, and the 30 could be in commute, where I’d read some book or comic, or just listen to a podcast.

The only notifications I’ve received in the past 6 months are work emails, meeting reminders, and reminders which I set myself. Every other weekend or so, I’d check one of the IM apps and see if I missed anything important. Luckily, nothing as of yet.

I chat with people over slack and facebook messenger - exclusively on the desktop.

If I do need to check a social post some people are talking about, I open the browser after and check it out there.

My browser habits have changed too - I’ve stopped using tabs on phone. As a heavy tab user, this limit on multitasking really makes me not use the browser anymore than absolutely necessary.