An opinion piece by James Ormiston

This is an idea of what could be… I’ve still to decide.

Dumbing down, or more to the point, moving away from the smartphone and all its distractions.

  • Have you found yourself at some point, lost when you looked up from your mobile phone due to having your head buried in what’s on the screen?
  • Have you walked into a lamppost while walking, reading something on the screen?
  • Have you almost ended up under a bus or lorry due to the above?

If you answered yes to any of those questions then you’re not alone and, fortunately, you have lived to be here today, some have not.

Everywhere you go, most folk have their heads in a world that’s in front of them on a 6” screen and do not see what’s around them, which can, in certain circumstances, be very unsafe as they are not truly aware; but that’s taking it to the extreme in most cases.
But we do spend too much time looking at a screen rather looking up and out at the world around us.
Moments in time pass us bye that will never repeat ever again, things like the beautiful sunrise that we saw last week ( I write this in a cafe on the 20th October), yes similar sunrises will happen again and again: but not that one.

Here’s another question, what is the first thing you do when you meet up with friends when you go out on the town? most will take their mobile phone out of their pocket, and place it on the table and spend the night fiddling with it during the conversations going on checking emails, Facebook, Twitter, Slack: the list goes on.
I’m just as guilty of that too, we all are, and it is something that has got me thinking, “Could I live without a smart phone?”

I have on occasions, looked at the various products that have appeared on the market offering the user a way to break free from the constant, and instant access to the World Wide Web and the instant communication of email and text. We’ve seen mobiles that are as small as a credit card, e.g. The Light Phone which have limited functions, or others that allow a little bit more functionality but they didn’t give me the choice I needed to break free from my iPhone 7 Plus.

Until now that is… with the launch of the Punkt MP02 which replaces the older 2G Punkt MP01. This mobile now offers me the chance to get away from the constant want for my attention that most mobile phones have, but also offers the option to connect a computer, iPod or tablet to access the WWW, email and social media via 4G LTE through tethering to keep up with life, just in a more restricted way (I have a SIM contract that works fine for that change, 100GB data 4G).

So what would I gain?

First of all, I’d lose the constant chatter of email and social media, no browsing the web to pass the time of day and see more of the world that is outside of the window as I travel about.

What would I lose?

The inability to keep up with email, news, chattering on social media (for me that would mean Slack as I do not do Facebook or Ttwitter) and maps, and a camera in my pocket.
There are solutions to the negative side of going ‘dumber’ though as I already own, and carry, items that are in some way a duplication of what the iPhone provides.
I own a very nice and compact camera. This is the Fujifilm XF10 and it beats the iPhone camera hands down for image quality, as it has a much larger sensor than any mobile phone out there.
I also have an iPad Pro 9” that normally gets taken with me 80% of the time so again, this beats the iPhone on screen size too.
But what would be missing is the means to play podcasts which the MP02 doesn’t do. Again, there is a solution to that and that is the iPhone’s older cousin, the iPod Touch. Yes, this is a device that is now a little long in the tooth and will probably ‘die’ soon and I wouldn’t expect Apple to replace it now, but the way around is to use my iPad Pro for that purpose, even if it’s a bit more inconvenient.

I suspect I would have a hard time adjusting to the MP02 due to the inability to browse the web, or instantly access emails and social media. Over time I think I might grow to appreciate the losses and watch the world go by, resulting in my seeing more, andhaving more time to think, or to have the camera in hand ready to capture the image that I’d have missed if I had been looking at that all singing all dancing device called the smartphone.
Maybe I’d read more dead trees too, and get through all those books I’ve bought over the years that went straight to the book shelf at home, or actually read the newspaper I buy each day that currently just gets a cursory read through (sometimes not even read). I hear you crying out, ‘but you’ll have to carry more in your man-bag to do what your iPhone does!’ Well, not really, as I have said already, I carry an iPhone, an iPad and a camera in my bag, plus all the cables and battery boosters to keep these devices powered up so it wouldn’t change much.
Alternatively I could stick a book in a pocket, and the MP02 in the other, and carry the camera in a small camera case around my neck and be free of the ‘baggage’ I normally now carry.

So all I need to do is think hard about taking this giant leap into the smartphone-free world, by selling the iPhone, buying an iPod Touch and breaking away from the world of the bigger, better, all singing, all dancing, and more expensive iPhone (or other expensive smartphone of your preference – this isn’t an Apple related problem!)

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