My week without a smartphone

When contemplating whether to upgrade my iPhone, it hit me: Maybe I don't really need one at all

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For the weekdays that followed, I wasn't able to tweet to and from the office as I usually do -- but that's free work on my dime for my company, so I didn't shed any tears for that loss. Nor did I mourn the lack of email -- most of which is junk or irrelevant -- during the commute. I did make sure I had downloaded the latest issue of the Economist; between that and a new David Brin book automatically downloaded into iBooks, I could read on the train while also listening to music. Again, I'd done the same when I used an iPod Touch and regular cellphone. It was nice to not tweet and check email, but instead simply read for that hour.

I did miss the fact that my iPhone's voicemail doesn't show the data on missed calls and messages that you get when cellular data is enabled -- dialing into voicemail to see if I had any message felt like a very quaint activity. And I missed the ability to iMessage my partner en route home to coordinate dinner plans, as we usually do, but using SMS (a service we avoid due to its unconscionably high fees) would have solved that issue on a regular cellphone.

On Saturday morning, I turned the iPhone's cellular data back on. I've tried very hard to not get caught up in the always-tweeting mode and always-email mode in the week since. I've been pretty successful so far.

If I were frequently on the road, such as for sales or onsite repairs, my experience without the "smart" part of the smartphone might have been impossibly frustrating -- or not. After all, when I travel, my iPad is my primary data access device, with my iPhone serving more as a music player and, when I'm in frenetic mode, the quick access to email while the plane is taxiing or I'm taking the shuttle to the car rental -- that is, when the iPad is out of reach. Seriously, the email can wait during those 10 to 15 minutes.

I'm not suggesting that everyone could as easily give up the "smart" in their smartphone -- and I doubt many people could give up the "smart" altogether by also forgoing Wi-Fi devices such as an iPod Touch or iPad. But I did realize that the $30 per month on cellular data is a convenience, not a necessity. And under the new breed of data plans, you're likely paying much more than that.

At the end of this week, my current cellular contract expires. I still don't know what I will do. I don't see any urgency in getting a new smartphone -- the iPhone 4 works just fine, thank you -- and committing to two more years. I'm not willing to opt for a pay-as-you-go provider with sketchy service quality, especially as it requires you to pay full freight for a new smartphone that won't work on other networks.

I'll probably just convert to month to month using my existing iPhone 4. One thing I do know: I won't pay more for data than I'm paying now. At my average 400MB per month of data usage, I'm already forking over too much for the convenience.

This article, "My week without a smartphone," was originally published at Read more of Galen Gruman's Mobile Edge blog and follow the latest developments in mobile technology at Follow Galen's mobile musings on Twitter at MobileGalen. For the latest business technology news, follow on Twitter.

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