Replacing the phone


I’m still on an iPhone 8, and hopefully will be for a long time. Newer or competitor phones, besides their better cameras and batteries that actually hold sufficient charge for a day, don’t offer anything more for me than what this one does. And in some ways it’s better: it doesn’t have a screen inclusion, it has an LCD instead of an OLED, and it’s smaller.

This isn’t an argument against consumerism; a far better one could be made. For me it’s the fact I’ve come to resent this device, and therefore don’t want to spend money on it. It demands my attention with notifications, it’s a constant source of negative reinforcement, it’s a distraction, it’s invasive. It’s a delivery mechanism for unpalatable things.

For all my arguments about minimalism, decluttering, and Alton Brown multi-toolism, I’m thinking I need to decouple functions from this if I want to return a sense of joy to my day. This will invariably require me to carry more things, but I think I’ll be healthier for it.

Here are a few ideas:

  • Learning that my day doesn’t need constant distractions and electronic stimuli in the first place. I’m not there yet.

  • My Kindle for books, everywhere. I use it to read in bed, but maybe my morning commute would be less stressful if I had a purpose built device that can’t have notifications slide over the text I’m reading. Like a real book, only lighter and easier to hold on peak hour trains.

  • A fun, portable camera with Wi-Fi that’s always with me. The phone is decent, but I need to replace the short dopamine hit of adding to Instagram with longer-term album creation and curation. I’ve got a few self-hosted ideas for Clara and I to start using which I think could be fun. This is why I’m leaning towards the Ricoh GR III.

  • Desktop computers for websites and services that have crept into the phone over the years. I don’t need to check how my ETFs are performing this second, or push notifications for my personal email.

  • I used to listen to podcasts on an old iPod, but I’ve become enamoured with being able to download them on the phone as they come out. This might stick on the phone for now.

  • My favourite Fate/Grand Order mobile game is equally tricky, because it needs connectivity and either iOS or Android. I envy people who’s favourite games are tied to a Nintendo Switch or something. Maybe it needs its own dedicated iPod Touch or something.

Having collated those, I’m starting to think a better question would be what the phone is essential for, rather than trying to start with everything and peel stuff off.

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Ruben Schade is a technical writer and infrastructure architect in Sydney, Australia who refers to himself in the third person. Hi!

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