Thinking of going phone-free


in Daily updates, Economics, Psychology, Rants

My three-year iPhone contract ends in February, and I am thinking about selling the phone. I am tempted to go entirely phone-free, but there are times when having a phone is necessary to get information (like when things are available for pickup) or for coordinating meetings.

Part of my reluctance to continue with smartphones is the cost. My monthly bills were consistently over $100 until I called Fido to try to cancel and they switched me onto a $60 ‘retention’ plan, which provided more than my previous $100 plan.

Another major motivation is distraction. One part of that is the annoyingly intrusive character of all phones. They allow anybody to demand your immediate attention at any time. Mine is usually on ‘airplane mode’ or off, but that doesn’t entirely eliminate the anxiety, since there is always a nagging sense in my mind that someone might be setting down a batch of missed calls.

A bigger distraction issue comes from just having a smartphone with you. Ordinarily, that means getting periodically interrupted by texts and emails. More subtly, there is the constant temptation to take a peek at the news, have a glance at Twitter, and the like. It takes a person out of the present moment, which makes relatively unpleasant tasks like comp prep more difficult and makes relatively pleasant tasks like walking on a cool fall afternoon less immersive.

The constant tracking and NSA / CSEC paranoia is another cause for skepticism about cell phones.

Going phone-free is probably a bridge too far. I would go with that option if I had someone who could take the occasional message for me and pass it on by email, but I don’t want to burden anyone with that, at least until I get an unpaid intern or two. More plausibly, I will get a very small, very cheap pay-as-you go phone for very occasional use.

It’s hard to say whether three years with the iPhone has provided good value for money. It’s certainly a capable device – especially when traveling – and I have made extensive use of the camera, email functionality, tethering capability, Google Maps connectivity, and web access. At $100 per month for most of the span, the total cost to date has been over $3500 – as much as a 5D Mark III (before battery grip and other necessary extras), or a couple of Fuji X100S cameras (one of which would be a gratuitous 30th-birthday-gift-to-self if I had the funds).

Once my contract ends, I think I can shift to paying month-by-month. As a trial, I may try cancelling it for 2-3 months without selling the phone and testing my experience with the pay-as-you-go option. At that point, I can re-evaluate.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Milan October 7, 2013 at 11:03 am
. October 7, 2013 at 11:12 am

Be prepared to live and travel as cheaply as possible: for my first four years as a freelancer I lived on an average of five thousand pounds a year. In seven years working in the poor world, I managed to keep my expenses down to three thousand pounds a year. This is a good discipline for any freelancer, however well you’re doing. If you can live on five thousand pounds a year, you are six times as secure as someone who needs thirty thousand to get by. In Britain, however, the possibilities of thrifty living have now been clouded somewhat by student loans: many people looking for work are already burdened by debt.

. October 7, 2013 at 11:06 pm
72@86 November 30, 2013 at 1:45 am



. May 31, 2016 at 11:36 am

Consumers turn to booming black market for cheap cellphone deals

Dealers offer $48/month phone plans that cost around $90 from major carriers in many provinces

. May 31, 2016 at 11:37 am

At last search, online ad site Kijiji in Toronto was crawling with advertisements for a bargain Koodo or Fido phone plan — just $48 a month for unlimited Canada-wide calling, texting and a big 5GB data package when you buy through a third party.

Telus actually charges almost double the price — $90 a month — for that Koodo plan in Ontario as well as most provinces.

Rogers’ Fido offers the same phone deal for more — $95 a month in most provinces.

But both companies charge only $48 a month for the same cellphone package in Saskatchewan and Manitoba, where the telecoms face more competition.

The theory is, somehow these third-party dealers secure the cheaper phone plan out of Saskatchewan or Manitoba and then switch over a customer’s phone number from another province.

As compensation, dealers ask for a one-time set-up fee ranging from $40 to $150.

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