Project Offline: No Smartphone for a Month & Lived to Tell The Tale!

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Hey, what’s up guys? My name is Saif and I create videos for A few months ago, something magical happened — the most massive realization I’ve ever had since I got engulfed into mobile technology almost a decade ago. This is my experience of not being connected to the internet 24×7 and living without a smartphone!

For me, it’s been about 10 years of owning latest and greatest smartphones. I have owned it all — be it the Nokia N-Series or the Samsung GALAXYies or even the mighty Apple iPhones… all of these until 2013. Somehow the Samsung Galaxy SIII stuck with me for the longest period, which is about 8 months. One fact I loved about Samsung was easy availability of parts and quick repairs. I had changed my USB port twice, my display once, among other minor repairs. I also realized Samsung had the crappiest hardware. I was just about to sell it and had it on charging. It fell from the bed while it was still on charging. When I inspected my device it was blazing hot, the screen flickered and then went wonky! It might surprise you, but I still managed to get some petty cash out of the dead-display phone. The only smartphone that I had was now dead.

Soon after it was gone, my search for a new smartphone kicked off. I looked at every brand that offered a stock android experience along with a good camera. And I found none!

Meanwhile I had a trusty Nokia 105 as my backup device (because my SIII would keep going for repairs often). At first, without a smartphone I felt handicapped. I had no notifications about my work schedule, my emails or my messages. I was used to checking my phone every 3 mins and it always had a bunch of notifications waiting, I’d adapted to the constant beeping. And it was exactly what everybody around me are doing, checking their phones all the time. My Facebook usage went down drastically because the desktop experience was no where near to what my mobile had offered. I just had a Facebook account because I had my company page to handle.

I haven’t used WhatsApp for two months, which is good. I enjoy not having annoying forwards filled with an unnecessarily high amount of emojis. It was too awkward to talk to clients on calls because I was used to chatting with them over WhatsApp. I didn’t have Facebook notifying me that it was my friend’s birthday, I remembered it myself AND also called him instead of messaging. With the “seen” feature, life was even more difficult. I had to reply or I was considered a snob. SMSes are just delivered, no hassle of it being ‘seen’ or *ignored*. Also, people think twice before SMSing. Thank god it’s a paid service since no one fools around when you have to pay a rupee per message.


Being without a smartphone started to change me. I feel I am in control of my life now and that technology is not controlling me! Today when I wake up, I don’t check on my phone, which used to be the first thing to do in morning. I don’t have the access to a waterfall of social streams like Twitter or Facebook. I am not engrossed in my phone when I am having dinner with my family and trust me, my family is pretty happy that I am physically and mentally present with them. I don’t have work emails when I was commuting back home or relaxing after a day of hectic work. It felt that the world is muted and it’s like going back to the 90’s where human interaction was valued. And soon enough, it became a way of living.

Workarounds? Yes I had a few. I have all my schedule on my laptop and I have to check it because my major work is done on it. The computer gives an immersive experience allowing me to do more than my phone and at a faster pace too. Plus, I can’t be hooked to a laptop the entire day. I use paper notes instead of Google Keep. I use my DSLR more which gives me more time to learn photography instead of taking grainy shots using the phone’s camera. I don’t navigate via Google Maps, rather the conventional way of talking to rickshaw-walas and people on the street still works great.

Eventually, I will still buy a smartphone which satisfies my requirements, but I won’t let it control my life. There won’t be WhatsApp, no push notifications (hopefully Priority Mode on Android Lollipop will help me here).

It felt good to be more connected to the people that matter, instead of spending that time communicating with the world. I urge you to think about it. It is a nicer life when you’re looking at your near and dear ones instead of a smartphone display that you’re probably staring into right now.

Opening Image Credit:

Saif Khan

Saif is an autodidact techie and ninja photo-video guy who works for PriceBaba and rhythmic focus. He loves to jolt down his views about tech occasionally. Say Hi to him at @SwizzleKhan on Twitter!

One Comment

    • Kartik Raichura
    • January 12, 2015

    Its a good read but I do think having a smartphone is a must for your work-life balance. I do not care about last seen or about being labelled a snob for the wrong reasons. A smartphone keeps me connected on the go. I read a lot on mobile, it keeps me updated. If I’m on my laptop, I wouldn’t click because I don’t want too many browser tabs open. It makes me lose focus. However on a phone I wouldn’t think. Everything loads a lot quicker on a cellphone and is takes less time per interaction.

    If I were to get on a call, there’s so much to do. Open address book, find the name, make the call, wait for him to pick up. I’d rather text / sms for most tasks and also ask my contacts to do the same. It takes less time. Its more productive. Its one way communication. I like it that way, and I think so does our PM.

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