My coming out: I love dumbphones
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My coming out: I love dumbphones

David Lee
Zurich, on 19.09.2017
Translation: Eva Francis
I’m testing the Nokia 3310 at the moment. I know this is unusual and I feel obliged to explain myself, as I might be the only tech editor out there who’d chose a dumbphone over a smart one any day.

Today’s the day that to let the world know: I’m asophophonophile (pseudo-Greek for asophos «unwise, foolish», phone «telephone» and philia «friendship»). I’m not attracted to smart, intelligent phones, but to dumb, primitive ones. I first realised this a while back and I haven’t been converted since, despite all the well-intended efforts from those around me. Please accept me the way I am.

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Dumbphone pornography

My asophophonophily

Over the years, I came up with many excuses why right then wasn’t the best time to get a smartphone. Initially, this was easy, as smartphones used to cost a small fortune and didn’t have a lot of functionality. The first ever iPhone wasn’t even available in Switzerland for over a year and it didn’t feature 3G. Other smartphones weren’t doing any better; they ran on Windows Mobile 6.1 and the screen only reacted if you pushed your finger into it as hard as you could. It was awful. But the good thing was that I could happily be with my dumbphone without attracting attention, even around techies.

Then it all changed. By 2010 at the latest, even Android smartphones were decent devices. But they left me unaffected. When Samsung launched the Galaxy S, they held a gigantic show in the Hallenstadion in Zurich and showed us all how this smartphone was going to be their our one and only companion in any life situation. I remember standing there, staring blankly at the screen and thinking that wasn’t the kind of life I’d ever want to live. Turns out that I – possibly joined by a handful of stick-in-the-mud grandpas – was alone with this thought.

And then the impossible happened: Smartphones didn’t only become usable, but also affordable. This left me with less, but still more than enough good reasons not to get on: They collect personal data, their batter life is crap, the screen is fragile and worst of all, they’re addictive. There are more than enough junkies out there who can’t even put their phone away to get off the train, who’d rather be run over by a bus than missing what’s happening on their screen and who don’t know what’s happening or how to react if a real person in the real life talks to them in a real voice. Welcome to the Dark Side!

I tried, but it just felt wrong

It was in the year 2015 that I gave in and bought a smartphone. Not even a cheap one; I got myself a Yotaphone 2. I swear I tried to live up to society’s expectations, but it just didn’t work out. After a few weeks of torture, I sold my smartphone and returned to my Nokia. You can’t imagine how relieved I was. I knew the Nokia era was coming to an end ever since they were bought up by Microsoft. But I was prepared: The truth is, I didn’t have one Nokia, I had three. «Till death us do part», I thought. This was how I became a prepper, gearing up for the telecommunication apocalypse.

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The supply bottleneck of Nokia phones was foreseeable – and I was prepared.

If there’s no other way, it will work out

But it wasn’t meant to be. By that time, I was surrounded with heavy addicts. And you know what junkies are like: They can’t stop even though they know it’s not doing them any good. Smartphones are the cause of all evil: Secret services are spying on everyone and tapping right into major data suppliers, innocent citizen’s flats are stormed in the middle of the night and people are kept at airports and questioned for hours only because of a silly joke they made on Twitter. But my junkie friends couldn’t care less. They were still nagging at me and urging me to sign up to WhatsApp. “With WhatsApp, you can arrange dates”, they said. As if human race had been unable to do so before WhatsApp. There was and still is e-mail, SMS, Doodle and even encrypted messengers, but my friends insisted on WhatsApp. I had the choice: Either give in or lose all my friends.

So, I gave in. I bought a Samsung Galaxy A3, the previous year’s model, for 199.–. I got along better with this thing than I did with my first smartphone. What helped me a lot was a setting called “Ultra power saving mode”, which turned it into a dumbphone at the touch of a button. I also put it in a case, to make sure the screen wouldn’t break. This way, even I can live with a smartphone.

The Nokia 3310 – at last I can be my true self

It took me a while to come to terms with the idea that I’d never have a dumbphone again, but I got used to this though. What was when I was asked to test the Nokia 3310. The new edition. It’s not exactly as the original, but it appears to be a pure dumbphone: It’s small, pretty, honest, reliable and uncomplicated. I’ll write about the results of my test in about a week’s time, so check out this space if you’d like to know whether my first impression of the Nokia 3310 is true.

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Isn’t it just beautiful?

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3310 (0.02GB, Dark Blue, 2.40", Dual SIM + SD, 2Mpx, 2G)
Nokia 3310 (0.02GB, Dark Blue, 2.40", Dual SIM + SD, 2Mpx, 2G)

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David Lee
David Lee
Senior Editor, Zurich
My interest in IT and writing landed me in tech journalism early on (2000). I want to know how we can use technology without being used. Outside of the office, I’m a keen musician who makes up for lacking talent with excessive enthusiasm.

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