I started 2016 with an iPhone 5s, and I will end the year with a Microsoft Lumia 650. Here’s what happened:
At the start of 2016 I started having random problems with my iPhone. It would shut down and remain off at random times. I would try to switch it back on and it would switch itself back off again, resolving itself after I had left it plugged in charging for a while.
The first time it happened was August 2015 when the phone was about a year old. When I was abroad with my wife I spent a decent amount of time running, and I used my phone to track my running on Strava. I had this same issue when running, missing half a run one time when looking for a map. I put it down to the heat and the humidity, but when I got back to the UK, it would still happen.
One week in October the phone died and wouldn’t switch back on. I don’t use the phone a lot for calls, so I emailed my wife to let her know. Most immediately and most annoying, I didn’t have a Strava device and couldn’t record my training. I started thinking about a new phone; the iPhone 7 had just come out, but I was more interested in the SE.
I went to the Apple Store and asked about my broken iPhone, and they said that it sounded like the logic board was failing and that it would cost about £200 to set right. Money best put to an upgrade, said the genius. I agreed, but it didn’t mean I had to buy an iPhone.
The old me wouldn’t have blinked. But as a minimalist, I asked myself:
Why do I have a phone?
What is it for?
What does it add to my life and what does it take away?
I started thinking about getting a dumb phone. For the uninitiated, a dumb phone is one that just takes calls and texts. They are coming back into fashion as smart phones are considered a distraction. I had already removed Facebook from my iPhone to avoid the mindless scrolling.
Then I thought of the odd occasion that I have really needed email on my phone. I remember one time when I was at an airport and I had too look up an email as there had been an issue with my flights. It was solved quickly because I had email on my phone.
In addition to that, a lot of the communication I have with friends typically goes through Whatsapp. And then I thought about the pictures I take of my son and share with my family goes through Whatsapp. And to take the pictures I would need a camera phone, so eventually I decided that I would “need” a smartphone of some sort.
So what did I need a phone for? In terms of need, not very much. There is very, very little that we actually need! What did I want a phone for? What would I like a phone for?
I need to be able to be contacted in case of emergency.
I want to be able to take and share pictures of my son with his grandparents relatively quickly and easily.
I’d like email, and if possible I’d like it to have Instagram as I like taking and sharing pictures. And I’d like it to have Strava.
Well smartphone options these days are basically three operating systems. iOS, Android, and Windows Phone. One of the most important things I needed, being a GTD devotee, was a calendar that syncs, and a list app. I was using omnifocus, which I absolutely love, and which synced across iPhone, iPad and Mac. So I was going to have to move system if I didn’t get an iPhone, as I wanted it to sync across all devices.
From listening to a podcast, I knew about Wunderlist, and I had trialled it before when trying to sync systems with my wife, who uses Windows but has an iPhone. Wunderlist had recently been bought by Microsoft, so I figured there would have to be a windows phone app for it, and I could sync that across the iPad, etc.
Once I knew my options, I had to put a monetary value on my problems. As an example of what I mean by monetary value on problems: I’ve considered buying an Apple Watch, because it would solve the problem of when I start a bike ride, I have to take my phone out, open the app, press start, etc. This is particularly uncomfortable if it is very cold out and I have to take my gloves off to get the phone working. If I bought an Apple Watch to solve that problem, then I am basically saying that the problem is worth £250 (or however much an Apple Watch costs).
So I was between two phones for a while. I looked at some cheap Android phones, around about the £100 mark, but was un impressed. Then I looked at Windows phones, and I was impressed by the spec. I actually ended up buying the Lumia 650 because of the better camera, but would have preferred something the size of the Lumia 550.
On a side note, I dusted off my old laptop as I thought that syncing the devices would be useful but the syncing options from laptop to phone are pretty terrible and were of no real benefit, so I’ve gone back to my Mac, which I’m quite pleased about as I love my Mac.
Do I miss my old phone? In a word yes. I loved the minimalist design, and was used to iOS. There was a learning curve to using the Windows phone operating system, but it isn’t overly steep, and there seems to be overlaps between the operating systems. It always takes a little time as it is a learning process to use a device seamlessly and quickly.
I was disappointed that there is no Strava app for Windows Phone. I managed to find and download Whatsapp, Instagram, Wunderlist. I had to delete a couple of apps straight off the bat, I am not a Daily Mail reader and I don’t want to be able to buy from Amazon from my phone, so those apps I was happy to find can be quickly deleted. My wife had a Kindle Fire HD which was a portal for adverts. I would rather pay for an iPad than have adverts constantly beamed at me. For a little while I thought I wouldn’t be able to delete these apps, and I would have got rid of the phone if that had been the case. I really, really don’t like adverts, and avoid them as much as I can.
But there are benefits. With a phone I paid £100 for, I feel a lot less attached to it. I feel like if I left it somewhere it wouldn’t cause me a great panic. I’d just buy another one and start again.
Also, I’ve stopped feeling like an Apple fanboy.