A new phone came into my life

The other day I was meeting a friend in Salvador, who I had not seen since our initial time as students in Finland, about three years ago. We met near a beach, close to where I currently stay, after I had spent some times jumping around on some of the rocks, like a crazy Belgian that jumps around rocks.

All was well, and we settled at the side of the road to enjoy the sunset together. That is when it happened. Just as I was about to take some picture to capture the moment, I felt weird sensations coming from my black leg. Wait a second, black leg?!

Ants are everywhere in brazil, and a few thousand of them were trying to take over my leg, as I started to realize, slowly but sure. I jumped around like a crazy person, again, hitting my leg, but this time not on rocks. As it turns out, jumping on pavement is possible as well. Sadly I dropped my smartphone in the process, resulting in a One Plus One with a broken screen that was not made to be touched any longer.

Taking things into perspective

Would this have happened in the past, I might have been pretty upset about breaking my smartphone. But now that I am a minimalist, it feels not that bad. In the end, the One Plus One was part of a previous life, and had drifted into my new life as a memory of what once was. It was way to expensive to travel with.

So rather than being upset I saw this as an opportunity. An opportunity to try to buy a phone as cheap as possible, with minimal research. I did however have some conditions:

  • It had to be Android, as iOS is way to expensive and Windows, no;
  • It needed to be very cheap, as that was the main target;
  • It should be able to run WhatsApp, Google Maps and Spotify;

At the moment I live close to a giant shopping center (one of many) with plenty of stores that sell devices, known by most people as smartphones. After some research I was happy to conclude that I should be able to buy a smartphone for about R$420. For that price I would be able to buy a Pixi, or whatever. I had never seen that brand before, but the reviews were acceptable enough for me to make the jump.

Qual é o seu telefone mais barato?

Usually I research for hours and days, before I decide what kind of electronic device to buy and where. In fact, I once did the same for a pair of underpants. This time I did not want any of that and about 5hours after the infamous ants incident I was already in the shopping center going from store to store. In each store I would check their displayed phones and ask on top of that if they had even cheaper phones.

Brazil, where the poor and rich live in extremes, the ones in the middle live protected in luxurious apartments and where electronics are more expensive than in the UK

As it turned out, the Oi store had an older than anticipated Pixi phone, and it was available for only R$340! Unsurprisingly still more than the $50 price on Amazon. Welcome to Brazil, where your buffet costs less than a beer, and where electronics are as overpriced as most concert tickets.

Living with a cheap phone

Meanwhile I’ve spent about 48 hours with the phone and I am happy with it. In fact I am really with it. I now even have a pocket radio, can you believe that?!

The phone is really small and lightweight compared to my One Plus One. Its 3.5" screen is however still big enough to read articles on, especially in Landscape mode. Typing was painful at first, until I realized that it is actually very do-able in landscape mode. Listening to music on my phone is also enjoyable again, as my earphones would constantly disconnect from my One Plus One, with the tinniest motion I made.

Overall it’s a very positive experience for a very reasonable price. The phone was especially cheap if you compare it to the dumb phones I saw (AKA not smartphones) which were on average still about half the price (R$180) of my Pixi 3. It also made me less paranoid about my phone possibly getting stolen, as the price is not high enough to care about it if it would happen. Sure, it is still money you could eat with for a couple of days, but you did just survive an armed robbery if you did not realize it yet.

Give it a second. It is going to space!
- Louis CK

If you do not mind a few seconds for an App to open and are not afraid to touch a plastic screen. If you can give your phone love, even though it will never be the rockstar you wanted it to be. Than buying a cheap smartphone is a choice you should definitely consider!