The #Dumbphone Manifesto

For the socially-connected, attention-challenged individual


I first wrote this back in July 2011 as a way to articulate a new experiment and the personal challenges I felt as a fully hooked addict to mobile messaging and social media.

Two and a half years on, bandwidth, apps and devices have changed a lot but our habits haven’t. I’m happy to report it still works. I’m still married and my little boy is getting all my attention.

Force be with you. Keep it dumb. Give it a go…


25.07.11

The #Dumbphone Manifesto

Reserve your main SIM exclusively for a dumbphone — one that enables voice and SMS only.

(Recommendation: Motorola W220. Dead cool.)

[Update: I’m now carrying a Samsung U800. Also cool.]

Use a 3G iPad [update: or any tablet with SIM] for as many browsing-, message- and comms-related tasks as you can. Email, IM, Twitter, Facebook, reading, etc. Carry this machine at all times when on your job or when needing the network.

If you really need a smartphone, then buy a low budget data plan SIM for it, and never use it to make calls. Never give out the number to anyone and carry it only in exceptional circumstances.

Take a horses for courses approach to device usage. Dumbphone is for calls and texts, iPad is for message checking and Social, desktop (or laptop) is for real work.

Try to match your physical location to the work at hand. Desk (and peace) for big work, sofa for personal Social, etc. Stop emailing/tweeting at the wheel.

(Create environments where the choices to connect and do things with your devices carry a well defined but simple amount of effort that encourages you to think ‘do I really need to do this now?’ or ‘can I really be bothered to do this now?’ or ‘is this the right place to be doing this now?’)

Follow the above points and never use devices in incongruous circumstances: laptops and friends at the pub don’t mix; dinner with wife and iPad is a no-go; soft play areas with your kids and a smartphone is silly. A small dumbphone is OK in all these situations.

Similarly, on no account try to hack your dumbphone for web browsing, etc: remember, WAP was always crap.

If all else fails, in those situations where you do not wish to be on the grid, just remember to pack a device that can fit in your left sock/stocking without hurting you when you walk.

…And remind yourself that trying to do serious things that require sensible thinking on a 3.5 inch screen is INSANE.

How urgent can it be? Send a short, polite text instead.


Roger is founder at Felix, helping content publishers to break their dependencies on social media so that they can become a destination again.

Original source post (May 2011) can be found here.


NB: the above used to be on dumbphone.co.uk. This was before the days of Medium. Plus I forgot to renew the hosting agreement. So it’ll rest here now.