My name is Eddie Hold, and I’m a smartphone addict. On average, I look at my smartphone more than 100 times a day with activities ranging from checking the time, to email, games, music, and more. It’s the first thing I do in the morning and pretty much the last thing I do before going to bed. One hundred or more “touches” per day is roughly once every 10 to 11 minutes while I’m awake.
Of course I’m in good company. My bet is that if you are reading this, then you too have at least one smartphone in your hand or pocket right now: 56 percent of the US population has a smartphone and based on observational data alone, many have similar – or perhaps even worse – habits. And the 100 touches per day is pretty much the average for US smartphone users, not the exception. People even walk slower these days as the physical need to get from A to B plays second-fiddle to the immediate need to be virtually “in-the-moment” at all times. The world often goes on around us while we remain somewhat oblivious (unless there’s a tweet covering near field activity).
To put this all into context, smartphones (ignoring some of the early attempts) have only really been around since the iPhone launched in 2007. Just eight years ago, the state-of-the-art device was the iconic Motorola RAZR (aka, a flip phone). How quickly we’ve evolved as a phone-toting nation. We expect the always-on, always-connected functionality that smartphones bring, even as we acknowledge that perhaps these smartphones, in some ways, complicate our lives more. Don’t get me wrong, I do not have a new-found dislike for my phone; I still crave the accessibility it provides, not to mention the ability to always look busy and the sense of connect-ness that they bring. But can I survive without it all?
To answer the question, I’m stepping back eight years and am dusting off the RAZR that I was once so proud to carry. At the time of its launch, the RAZR was super-cool, even though the operating system was ugly and dysfunctional from day one (ah, the days when hardware alone ruled!). It boasted a color external screen and a VGA camera – bleeding edge indeed – and commanded a serious, premium price ($500) when it launched, even with a two-year contract. Even today, eight years on, the device sells for between $50 and $100 on eBay. To put that into context, far more recent devices such as Nokia’s Lumia 900 and the Samsung Galaxy SII sell for around $100. Not bad Motorola, not bad at all!
As an experiment it is hardly groundbreaking: some people – far braver than myself – have experimented with a total disconnect from the Web. Not me. I plan to lose my smartphone, not my living and I’ll still have the Web on my laptop, and even on my phone, if you can remember what that experience was like pre-smartphone. At the same time, when I say I will put away the smartphone, I’m also including mobile broadband, and tablets (arguably a giant smartphone anyway).
My initial theory is that the lack of email will be the greatest issue. We’re all so used to work following us wherever we go, and when I say that I check my phone at the beginning and end of each day, the main reason is the first, and final, check of this email. But I doubt email will be the only item missing.
Welcome to retro week.