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"Welcome to the 21st Century": A Luddite's First Week With a Smartphone

Posted August 24, 2017 12:00 AM by Hannes
Pathfinder Tags: dumbphone luddite smartphone

Last week, I finally dragged myself to the Verizon store and upgraded to a smartphone. In my wife’s estimation I’m about five years late with this decision, and to my knowledge I’m the second-to-last person at the office to give up a dumbphone. As the salesperson handed me my new phone and my old “paperweight” (his words) he quipped, “Welcome to the 21st century.” Indeed, the post I’m about to write could’ve easily been published in 2010 or even further back.

Previous blog posts attest to the fact that I’m not a fan of smartphones. The Oracle of Delphi supposedly advises knowing thyself, and I know myself to be distractible, impulsive, self-indulgent and having a near-clinical addiction to information of all sorts. Figuring these traits to be incompatible with a pocket-sized computer, I held out for as long as I possibly could.

Granted, smartphones can be unbelievably useful tools. I can now find my parked car without triggering its horn five times and following the sound. My GPS app helps me get around traffic issues, although trusting it with an alternate commute one day added about 10 minutes to my drive when it was supposed to save 15. My wife and I can sync our calendars and never miscommunicate about kid events again. And best (and maybe worst) of all are the infinite distractions, to be accessed at a moment’s notice. Idle boredom seems a thing of the past.

After a week, here are the pros and cons of the smartphone vs. the paperweight:

CON: Battery life. This is a common complaint of smartphone users. Even if I only remembered to plug my dumbphone into its car charger a few times per week, it generally never died of low battery. I’ve gone on three-day trips without a charger and had no issues whatsoever. My iPhone, on the other hand, experiences a low charge every 24 hours or so. So into the wall charger it goes (if I remember).

PRO: Social shame. Never again will I hear “Wow, you work for a tech company and THAT’S YOUR PHONE???”

CON: Distractibility. I find it ironic that my new phone has a Bedtime app that tries to help me stick with a sleep schedule, because every other one of its apps seems to work against that. I’ve found it incredibly easy to become “lost” in the phone, only to look up and see that it’s nearly 11 PM. Plus, my job requires me to stare at a computer screen all day, so I’m finding that using the phone after work hours is tough on the eyes.

PRO: Emojis and message encoding. During the last months of dumbphone use, I was getting totally garbled texts from smartphone users, and emojis would show up as a series of tiny rectangles. It was becoming clear that receiving texts from smartphone users (the overwhelming majority of adults, in my estimation) was becoming more difficult.

CON: Value. I’ve never, ever had to be fearful of losing my phone until now. Who would steal a $75 phone, after all? Cracked screens were a non-issue as well.

PRO: The camera. This was probably the #1 aspect I was missing. My phone’s camera is much better than my family’s digital camera, to say nothing of the grainy pixelated photos the dumbphone took.

During the past two years or so, major telecom manufacturers like Nokia have introduced hybrid dumbphones with simple, smartphone-like apps, and flip-phones are becoming popular again in Japan. Maybe in the future people will use both, like families owning both a practical and a souped-up car. Or maybe we’re just bored of smartphones already. In my case, I’ll soak up the novelty for as long as possible.

Image credit: CC BY-NC-SA 2.5 CA

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#1

Re: "Welcome to the 21st Century": A Luddite's First Week With a Smartphone

08/24/2017 2:30 AM

Using up your battery in a 24hr period? clearly you are still in the honeymoon period of technological parity...and I might remind you that your phone can be charged by the computer you're sitting at all day, so there's that....charging ports, like smartphones are ubiquitous....I think you'll like it here in the future....now don't you have a text to make? .... I have to go, the delivery man is here with a bag of chips I ordered from the Walmart....

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#2
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Re: "Welcome to the 21st Century": A Luddite's First Week With a Smartphone

08/24/2017 9:01 AM

"and I might remind you that your phone can be charged by the computer you're sitting at all day"

Most companies have a policy against doing that today, due to virus security issues.

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#10
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Re: "Welcome to the 21st Century": A Luddite's First Week With a Smartphone

08/25/2017 12:55 AM

Using or having a phone, smart dumb or otherwise, at your work place is taboo.
You're paid to work;

Security issues;

Camera at work = jail or sack or both;

Smuggling one through security = jail or sack or both;

Caught with photo's = jail or sack or both;.....

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#11
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Re: "Welcome to the 21st Century": A Luddite's First Week With a Smartphone

08/25/2017 1:17 AM

I would never work for you!

Many people use their cell phone for their livelihood, at work!

I took many work related photos every day.

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#16
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Re: "Welcome to the 21st Century": A Luddite's First Week With a Smartphone

08/25/2017 10:59 AM

Right!

In fact at a facility of any significant size, it is the best way to find people and respond to their questions. ...much better than having repeated calls over a loud PA system.

I commonly use the camera to to take photos of machine labels that are in awkward positions, poor light, worn, or just too small to read without magnification.

I have several apps that are used mostly, or exclusively, for work, such as the one for my FLIR-One IR camera attachment.

I commonly work from home, and Facetime™ allows me to see whatever it is that they need help with...

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#17
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Re: "Welcome to the 21st Century": A Luddite's First Week With a Smartphone

08/25/2017 11:38 AM

Before I retired, I dealt with a large city's many, many departments, each one having areas of responsibility that sometimes overlapped. Solid waste, transportation, facility maintenance, etc. Part of my job was to report problems to the responsible departments, which was time consuming.

About a year before I left, the city got an app that literally made my job unnecessary. I could see a problem, open the app and take a photo. The app geo-located my phone's precise location, the photo showed exactly what the problem was and it was automatically routed to the responsible department. It greatly helped with graffiti eradication as the crew knew precisely where it was and what it looked like.

Private citizens can use this app as well to report problems like street lights out or graffiti, etc.

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#30
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Re: "Welcome to the 21st Century": A Luddite's First Week With a Smartphone

08/30/2017 9:12 AM

Agreed. I have more work related pictures on my phone than of my kids, which is sad in itself.

Quality issue? Take a picture. No note pad? Take a picture. Need process improvement? Take a video. Not to mention Notes, email, calling vendors, etc., etc., etc. A smart phone is a remarkable tool to help with an ever-growning work load.

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#33
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Re: "Welcome to the 21st Century": A Luddite's First Week With a Smartphone

09/06/2017 1:36 AM

Having / using a smart phone, knowing "Aaaall" its capabilities, is not restricted in my country nor at my workplace, not even frown about, thus it is not a taboo by all means. When acting professionally and responsibly, I guarantee you will be : JAIL Free.

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#29
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Re: "Welcome to the 21st Century": A Luddite's First Week With a Smartphone

08/30/2017 4:03 AM

Actually this is not an issue, my company has the said policy where only the power feature of the USB port is enabled, while the Data feature is disabled (except for few Trusted / Privileged employees).

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#3

Re: "Welcome to the 21st Century": A Luddite's First Week With a Smartphone

08/24/2017 10:37 AM

Since I sit at a computer all day (when I'm not out in the 'field'), I don't feel the need to carry one around in my pocket. My Kyocera phlip-fone takes excellent pictures, but of course they don't look very good on a 2.25 in. dia. screen. It is rugged and water-proof to six foot submersion. It easily fits in my front pocket and I charge it once a week whether it needs it or not.

My phlip-fone works for me, not the other way around. As for what other people think about my choice of portable communications, quite frankly my dear . . . .

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#12
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Re: "Welcome to the 21st Century": A Luddite's First Week With a Smartphone

08/25/2017 2:09 AM

Thank you! I use my cell phone a lot and I have to charge it every night. It's the worst phone I've every owned (LG LGA 380). Super slow, loses Bluetooth connection nearly once a day and locks up frequently. There have been many times I've wanted to throw it our my car window!

My last one was a Motorola ROKR, but it was 2G, so it won't work on the AT&T network. Prior to that, I had a Motorola V9X RAZR - the best cell phone I've owned.

I tried to go the Smartphone route a few years ago, but the Moto G had a meltdown and it erased the IMEI code - Motorola still can't tell me how it happened. I lost 4 days of emails, missed call list, etc. That's too much money to lose, so I'm staying with the tried and true - a flip phone.

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#4

Re: "Welcome to the 21st Century": A Luddite's First Week With a Smartphone

08/24/2017 11:11 AM

Back in my younger years, for a hobby, I used to design and build interfaces to a homebuilt computer. Now I have a phone I can carry around in my pocket with a built in computer and all kinds of interfaces and free apps to access them.

I guess that I consider myself lucky that I started early when it had to be done the hard way in that it was a great learning experience.

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#6
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Re: "Welcome to the 21st Century": A Luddite's First Week With a Smartphone

08/24/2017 5:45 PM

Only those that have been through things like this can truly appreciate the advances in technology we have today.

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#5

Re: "Welcome to the 21st Century": A Luddite's First Week With a Smartphone

08/24/2017 12:33 PM

"CON: Battery life." - Get yourself a car charger, and I can see from my desk that you have (like me) two outlets readily available for a charger. As already pointed out, keep it charging while you're here all day. And as also already pointed out, once the honeymoon ends, you'll be going to bed with it around 20% if not more every night. Plugging it into the charger at night becomes second nature - especially if it's your alarm clock.

"PRO: Social shame. Never again will I hear “Wow, you work for a tech company and THAT’S YOUR PHONE???”" - Anyone who said this to you should be the ones feeling ashamed.

"CON: Distractibility." - I'm not you (thank goodness) - but if you've had the self discipline to keep yourself from buying a shiny new smartphone up till now, I'm sure you still have the determination to keep you from becoming the type of person who has to be staring at it all the time. To me, having basically the sum knowledge of humanity in your pocket at all times is a huge counterbalance to being tempted to look at it too much.

"CON: Value. I’ve never, ever had to be fearful of losing my phone until now. Who would steal a $75 phone, after all? Cracked screens were a non-issue as well." - I hope you got apple care, and if not it's probably not too late or outside the window to still get it. Or if you don't, I can fix any cracked screens for you, man. :) Also, with iCloud locking, it makes it near impossible for people to successfully flip stolen iphones. Nobody wants to buy a phone that is still iCloud locked or has an id that's been reported lost/stolen. Not to say that any of that should completely alleviate any worry about loss/theft - but it should help. Also when you're ready to upgrade you can usually sell yours for a hundred or two, if not more. So that's a PRO :)

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#7

Re: "Welcome to the 21st Century": A Luddite's First Week With a Smartphone

08/24/2017 10:34 PM

Battery life

First thing to learn is how to turn off all the power hungry stuff you don't need.

Turn off wi-fi, gps and bluetooth unless you need them. If you're not expecting any calls put the phone in airplane mode.

I only turn this stuff on my phone if I need them and immediately turn them off when I'm done. The battery on my LG lasts 7-10 days using this regimen.

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#9
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Re: "Welcome to the 21st Century": A Luddite's First Week With a Smartphone

08/25/2017 12:33 AM

"First thing to learn is how to turn off all the power hungry stuff you don't need."

Correct! The one that takes my iPhone (6S+) battery down is the Maps App. When I'm not using that, I commonly go 2 or 3 days without charging.

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#8

Re: "Welcome to the 21st Century": A Luddite's First Week With a Smartphone

08/24/2017 11:07 PM

Out of habit, from years of working, my phone is never off and plugged in every night when I go to bed.

Manage your apps and your battery will reward you.

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#13

Re: "Welcome to the 21st Century": A Luddite's First Week With a Smartphone

08/25/2017 2:24 AM

"PRO: Social shame. Never again will I hear “Wow, you work for a tech company and THAT’S YOUR PHONE???”"

I look at this another way. I use the novelty of a flip phone as a way to open a conversation. I purposefully tell my clients about my flip phone. I joke about my "dinosaur" phone, but I also tell them one or more of the following, which are all true:

1. My cell phone is a communication tool. I need the phone to work and not to have a dead battery, so I choose to have a flip phone.

2. I only use my phone for talking and texting. If I need to look up something or use an ap, I use my tablet. That way, my phone battery doesn't get drained.

3. I drop my phone all the time - today it exploded again, but I gathered the battery, phone and cover and put it back together in a few seconds. If I had a smart phone, I'd have to keep it in a huge Otterbox or the screen would need constant repair.

4 It fits in my pocket.

5. Too often, I'm at the Home Depot store and I get fixated on the item I'm' trying to buy, so I leave my phone on the shelf too often. When I get home and realize I left it at the store, I can leisurely go back and retrieve it - usually it's where I left it or a couple times someone turned it into the lost and found.

6. I have my phone with me when I'm working on projects. It gets dusty, sometimes gets dropped in water or it gets sweat on it. If I wreck it and need a new one, it's less than $100 or so. And it's more durable than a smart phone and it can take quite a bit of abuse.

7. I have enough trouble answering all my phone calls or sending text messages. I don't have time to use the "other" features of the phone so it's just a waste of money and battery life for me.

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#14
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Re: "Welcome to the 21st Century": A Luddite's First Week With a Smartphone

08/25/2017 8:37 AM

All very true, and it has been a conversation-starter several times. And I admit that the "THAT'S YOUR PHONE" comment was said more in disbelief than judgment most of the time.

I sometimes see news stories about famous people--mostly athletes--who refuse to upgrade to a smartphone. They probably figure the apps will distract from their laser focus on being the best at their craft.

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#15

Re: "Welcome to the 21st Century": A Luddite's First Week With a Smartphone

08/25/2017 9:48 AM

A. Battery life: this could start a whole new routine for you. Get home, put keys and wallet on high boy, plug in phone charger, take shower, eat dinner, watch TV , go to bed,,

B. Social shame : ya, I work for a tech company, I didn't say it was high tech, then they won't bug you or try to pump you for information.

C. Distractibility: when that obnoxious person bothers you again, you can say, " I need to check this app " , then when they get bored and walk away, you can go back to what you were previously doing before they interrupted you.

D. Emojis: notice how spell check always wants to correct your spelling ? If hieroglyphics and emojis could replace words, then you could send your messages this way and let the receiver try and figure out what your talking about and that would drive them crazy.

E. Value: have you ever seen the nickel glued to the floor with super glue ? There will always be somebody who will try and pick it up.

F. The camera : when everyone else whips out their tiny cell phone cameras, you whip out your cannon eos 77d, then they will see that your a serious photographer, not just some schmuck looking to take another " selfie ".

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#18

Re: "Welcome to the 21st Century": A Luddite's First Week With a Smartphone

08/25/2017 5:55 PM

Two years ago, off to Sprint to sign up for an iPhone6 to replace my Motorola flip phone of 6-7 years service.

Much razzle-dazzle, a decent entry price, a couple weeks of getting up to speed before there was no going back. Many accessory widgets offered, but my little guiding guru accompanying me had all the answers with where I could save bucks on batteries to charge batteries, bullet proof covers, etc. (Actually,it was a non-Sprint competing outfit that had all this stuff on sale to bring in customers, but an overall deal that was not impressive.)

We get home with the iPhone in its box and the bag of accessory goodies. I was chomping to do Facetime. We are sitting on the patio steps. I had already inserted the charger in the wall outlet near the steps, but slapping on the protective cover was the first order of business. As I lifted the cover on the iPhone box, a plastic tab on the packing under the phone hung up on the lid, lifting the phone as I lifted the lid.

The phone fell all of about 10 inches between my legs on to the concrete steps just as the lid was clearing the box; it impacted on a corner, shattering the glass on the iPhone. Back to Sprint the next day. ''But sir, for your insurance to be valid, it states right here that you need to have your protective cover (yep, one of several in the Sprint store) on the phone, and you just told me that you had no cover on it at all. Sorry, there is nothing we can do.''

Now, the iPhone is a paperweight, even though it still seems to work...for now. After sweating the guys at a distant Mac store, I have converted it to a handy-dandy GPS gadget/calculator/alarm clock, etc. that has a really great battery life in my brief case with the battery to charge my battery hooked up. My old phone dropped dozens of times, including several times into water, goes biking, up ladders, on dance floors, etc. with me. From my engineering perspective the iPhone is a piece of garbage, a techno-burp. Meanwhile no Facetime, but back to Skype on my WiFi tablet and desktop. Sayonara to the phone part of iPhone. It is just not ready for prime time in the world of wireless cell phone style communication.

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#19
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Re: "Welcome to the 21st Century": A Luddite's First Week With a Smartphone

08/26/2017 3:54 AM

My sister in law had her iPhone fall over and the glass broke. It was just leaning against something, but it slid out and the phone fell on a small pebble!

I can't think of one person I know who hasn't had their screen break. Even my better half just lost the screen on her phone. She was using one of those Otter Box cases (very safe but big). Someone gave her the brilliant idea to use one of those small cases and a "tempered glass" screen saver. The screen saver and her screen are now broken.

So ... I'll stick to my dinosaur, with the hope that I can get a better dinosaur, because the LG phone is terrible.

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#20
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Re: "Welcome to the 21st Century": A Luddite's First Week With a Smartphone

08/26/2017 11:24 AM

I'm on my third iPhone (3, 5, 6S+), have dropped each a few times, and never had a screen break. I have always had a plastic screen protector installed at purchase time, and always insist on a high-friction (rubbery) case, so it does not easily fall out of my shirt pocket (which is where I nearly always carry it).

I wish they would put a high-friction spray on the original case, so a separate one would not be needed, and it would be a tiny bit smaller.

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#21
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Re: "Welcome to the 21st Century": A Luddite's First Week With a Smartphone

08/26/2017 5:53 PM

If they used a nice rubbery paint on the phone, then they wouldn't make money selling parts or repairing the phone screens.

My flip phone has fallen off the roof of the house and it comes apart (battery and cover fly apart). I just put it back together, reset the time and date and I'm good to go.

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#22
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Re: "Welcome to the 21st Century": A Luddite's First Week With a Smartphone

08/27/2017 11:22 AM

The failure of Apple in the iPhone design of a mobile, go everywhere consumer product should make every engineer apoplectic. Even the box design, where the tab can become bent the wrong way by a salesperson in the showroom, leading to my shattering experience is beyond design failure...and I bet they knew about the tab problem long before my disaster.

But to not include a basic impact design, like most who came before them in mobile phonery, with options for buyer upgrades to survive events like being thrown against a wall instead of the phone hitting the targeted husband, to even more advanced models actually designed and tested with stated 360 degree G impacts, is contrary to the value of Apple's stock that I own. One does not just send a buyer into the world with a device for which the buyer depends entirely on generic, maybe tested, third party stuff to give his or her iPhone a chance for impact survival.

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#23
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Re: "Welcome to the 21st Century": A Luddite's First Week With a Smartphone

08/27/2017 2:28 PM

The first thing the plumber did was lower his phone/camera below the floor of my pier and beam house. Bad water leak from 1950's era galvanized pipe. He made up the connections he needed and went under only one time.....So yeah,,the phone saved a

buch of time/work.

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Re: "Welcome to the 21st Century": A Luddite's First Week With a Smartphone

08/28/2017 5:53 AM

That's a great use for a smart phone, however my LG cell phone can also take videos. And if the water hit my phone, I'd be out $100 vs a more expensive smart phone. Or, the plumber could've used the right tool for the job -

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#27
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Re: "Welcome to the 21st Century": A Luddite's First Week With a Smartphone

08/29/2017 8:46 AM

I find autocorrect to be an interesting side effect of poor design. Even with relatively thin fingers, the letter buttons on my phone are so small that I constantly hit the wrong ones, but the phone's trained to correct it (most of the time correctly). I used to think autocorrect was for lazy or grammatically challenged people, but after having a smartphone for a month or so I now see that it's a necessary compensation for a keypad that's way too tiny.

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#28
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Re: "Welcome to the 21st Century": A Luddite's First Week With a Smartphone

08/29/2017 3:14 PM

"I used to think autocorrect was for lazy or grammatically challenged people, but after having a smartphone for a month or so I now see that it's a necessary compensation for a keypad that's way too tiny."

Except when the autocorrect constantly MIS-corrects the words into something you had no intention of typing. In other words, you haven't used autocorrect long enough to hate it yet.

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#34
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Re: "Welcome to the 21st Century": A Luddite's First Week With a Smartphone

09/13/2017 1:28 AM

I'll admit that the Google swipe feature is pretty neat. I use it for my tablet and it makes texting/emailing much faster.

Though I always check what I wrote to make sure it makes sense!

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#26
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Re: "Welcome to the 21st Century": A Luddite's First Week With a Smartphone

08/29/2017 7:42 AM

I have kept my smart phones in my shirt pocket since before they were phones (palm pilot original). I used to have a slip case with a strip of Velcro hooks on the back, and, I used to sew a strip of Velcro loops into the pockets of all my shirts; the "slip" case was tight enough to stop the device from falling or bouncing out.

Then when I bought my first Palm which was also a phone I got another "belt" type slip case; cut off the attachment, and, glued some bits of tie wrap in place:-

I know it doesn't look very pretty, but, it's hidden in my pocket.

I just have to replace the rubber bands holding the tips together about once a year.

When I bought my next smart phone I was really lucky: it's much thinner and wider: so it fits perfectly in the same shirt pocket holder.

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Good Answers: 70
#25

Re: "Welcome to the 21st Century": A Luddite's First Week With a Smartphone

08/28/2017 9:20 PM

Quad-core 1.3GHz processor with 2GB of RAM

Delivers outstanding overall performance for opening and running applications, flipping through menus, running home screens and more.

Android 6.0 Marshmallow OS

Smart battery usage and simple fingerprint recognition — all in a familiar layout. Google Now on Tap takes what's already on your screen and provides intuitive shortcuts to relevant info.

Compatible with GSM carriers, including AT&T and T-Mobile

Also compatible with GSM SIM Kits, including Cricket Wireless, Tracfone, Net10, H2O, GoPhone and Simple Mobile.

4G LTE speed

Provides fast Web connection for downloading apps, streaming content and staying connected with social media.

6" IPS touch screen

Extra-large screen is matched with a slim body to comfortably fit in your hand. Offers 16:9 cinema-like screen ratio that's perfect for viewing of videos, photos and games.

13.0MP camera

Capture images while you're out and about.

16GB internal memory plus microSD slot

Provides plenty of storage space for your contacts, music, photos, apps and more. Expand storage up to 64GB by adding a microSD card (sold separately).

Use your smartphone as a mobile hotspot

Share your 4G data connection with other compatible wireless devices.*

Dual SIM Card Design

Two SIM card slots allow you to combine two numbers and networks on the same phone. Great for traveling abroad, separating personal and business contacts, or switching to a stronger network based on your location.

Listen to music and news with the included FM radio app

Scan for new stations, store your favorites and record audio directly from the radio.

Access to Google Play

Browse and download apps, magazines, books, movies, and television programs directly to your phone.

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Sure this phone is a brick compared to the $400 and up and up and UP phones out there, but it's a decent all around performer. But what do I care when it's under $150 with tax!? out the door. now that's smart

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but really.. check out this incredible mapping system being implemented in Chicago and other cities. Now you know the future!

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#31

Re: "Welcome to the 21st Century": A Luddite's First Week With a Smartphone

08/31/2017 2:10 PM

I plan on being the last person at the office to give up the dumbphone as my daily use device. To be honest I am still somewhat bitter that I have a cell phone at all. With a cell phone the expectation is that you are reachable all the time which I am not a fan of. I do however have an older non activated smartphone I got for free that I use various apps on such as reading OBDII info on my car and for video and audio recording.

As a side note I remember seeing a late version of the PDQ phone/palm pilot at a CTIA wireless show in New Orleans. At the time articles called it the swiss arm knife of phones but it wasn't very popular. The conclusion of the articles was people just didn't want a phone that did everything, how times have changed.

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Guru

Join Date: Aug 2012
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#35
In reply to #31

Re: "Welcome to the 21st Century": A Luddite's First Week With a Smartphone

09/13/2017 1:37 AM

I'm currently the last person in my office who doesn't have a smart phone. Add to that, my school board, town council (as of Feb) and nearly everyone I know.

I noticed the same thing about cell phones. People expect me to answer before work, anytime during the day and after work. They also want me to text and email all the time too!

It may not be very popular, but I rarely text after I leave the office. Ditto for email too. When I get home, I usually leave my cell phone on my office desk and don't pick it up, unless I'm expecting a call.

When I retire, my cell phone is going to be off most of the time. I'm using as a tool to keep in contact with people, when I want to. I'll initiate most calls and if I'm expecting someone to call, I'll keep it on. Other than that, it's off and no more calls from solar companies, home repair contractors and charities!

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Join Date: Dec 2016
Location: Baytown Tx. USA where you get your gasoline,chemicals,plastics and floods
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#32

Re: "Welcome to the 21st Century": A Luddite's First Week With a Smartphone

09/05/2017 1:42 PM

Technology huh? I ride my Ninja 650 with my phone on GPS ,handlebar mounted, and have a Bluetooth helmet so I can answer calls while riding. Also a GoPro which is recording on a loop.

If I get creamed at least people will know why.

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