All of our devices are getting smarter and more connected. Our refrigerators, our lamps, our cars, and more are all connected to each other and to our phones. Our phones also increasingly connect us to huge audiences of people, from social networks to chatting apps and more productivity apps than we know what to do with. All this connectedness can become easily overwhelming and deprive us of sleep, relaxation, and mental respite from work and the hustle of keeping up appearances.
Whereas many of us have chosen, whether actively or passively, to keep up with the fast pace of smart technology, some have halted it all and returned to something way more simple: A basic phone.
In this day and age, how could someone survive without being totally connected, you may ask. It’s a different lifestyle than the one we’ve all found ourselves living, but for the sake of their sanity and solitude, they have chosen to purposefully disconnect from the Internet of Things. And if you can believe this, there are some tech companies who are creating phones explicitly designed to reduce the amount of time spent on them.
Businesses have a stake in the game when it comes to making sure you spend lots of time on your mobile devices. Cell phone carriers can charge you more for data. Social apps can display more advertising to you. E-commerce apps and platforms want you to linger so that they can convince you to make a purchase. Big data aggregators want to collect as much information about your travels, whereabouts, habits, and decision-making processes as they can to learn about humanity, society, and how to best market to certain groups.
To that end, it’s been in the best interest of most businesses to make sure you spend lots of time on your phone, and many features work to ensure this. Most apps, for example, have a blue interface, which is known to hold your attention for longer and make it more difficult to sleep. Frequent updates fix bugs and adapt to changing desires in the user experience. Apps will often work together to keep you hooked in a loop of toggling among them.
However, there are two particular disruptors who are designing phones designed to help people use their phones less. The first is Nokia, which has long been hailed as an extremely utilitarian and unbreakable device. Their new basic phone, the Nokia 3310, offers a more modern design but with little more than the basic calling and texting functions. Between the multi-day battery life, low cost of minutes, and the relief from the constant binging of app notifications, the new Nokia stands to provide welcome respite from the social network fatigue.
The other device is still in development. Siempo is a smartphone that allows users to simplify their notifications and encourages users to spend less time on it. For example, the phone has options that lock it for a certain amount of time after you wake up so that your first moments up involve exercise, meditation, or reading, not mindless scrolling. The phone also lacks a front-facing camera to cut down on the selfie urge and includes a lot of controls for how often you receive notifications.
Many are rethinking their phone usage and looking for ways to return to a more balanced lifestyle. Perhaps the kinds of phones they chose to use, be it a very simple “dumb” phone, a smartphone with a different purpose, or a total 180 to a house phone, will help users find an equilibrium between constant internet connection and real-world connections.