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David Zax

A View from David Zax

Is It Time to Go Back to My Flip Phone?

If I get a tablet, maybe I could shake my smartphone addiction.

  • August 24, 2012

Back in 2006, I had a really cool phone. It was a Motorola Razr. It made calls and got texts, and did little else. It was thin and lightweight. It made a pleasing sound as it snapped open and shut. “Ooh, a Razr,” people would say, causing me to blush.

Of course, we all know now how abysmally uncool my Razr was about to become. With the rise of the iPhone, so-called “flip” phones or “feature” phones or even “dumb” phones were about to go the way of the dodo. When a friend pulled out a flip phone recently, I asked her if she found it at an archaeological dig.

Now, I bite my tongue. Because for a while, I’ve been secretly hating my iPhone just about as much as I love it. My iPhone does everything for me: it connects me to the world and helps me navigate it. But that power comes with a price: I am forever connected, forever tethered to the vast, teeming, cacophonous internet. Sometimes I want to disconnect–while still leaving open the old-fashioned option of placing a phone call, and only a phone call. (See “Making ‘Dumb’ Phones Smarter and Faster.”)

An intriguing piece by Cnet’s Jessica Dolcourt posits that I’m not alone. Flip phones do not just remain the province of the elderly and the clueless. Increasingly, young, tech-savvy people may be wanting flip or feature phones, as a low-tech (and low-cost) option among their suite of devices. Specifically, tablets may be driving this trend, if indeed a trend it is. Writes Dolcourt: “As tablets take off, there’s a growing number of people who are interested in a tablet’s larger screen, but who don’t feel the need to duplicate their apps and tools on two separate devices.”

This makes perfect sense to me, and yet had never occurred to me before. I’ve spent so much time telling people that I didn’t see the sense in buying an iPad when I already had an iPhone. What I didn’t see is that buying an iPad might finally free me from my iPhone.

Will my next phone, then, be not the iPhone 5, but rather the $20 Samsung t159? I’m feeling a real nostalgia for what feels like the pre-history of 2006, and the pleasing feel of a sleek, simple phone in my pocket.

What do you think? What is the perfect combination of devices to have in your portfolio? If you’ve bought a tablet, do you find your smartphone less essential? 

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