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Why You Can Stick With Your “Dumb” Phone

Posted: March 25th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Debatable, General | 4 Comments »

This is the second post in a series on Smart vs Dumb phones. Yesterday was the first post, “Get Smart – Why your next phone should be Smart“. Today’s is a guest post from Micah Tanis on why you can stick with a “Dumb” phone (or without a data plan).”

Subtitled: How you can survive without an iPhone

If you are like me and have not taken the plunge into the world of iPhones, Android’s or BlackBerries, you’ll be happy to know it is possible to survive in this big, bad world without such extravagancies.

First, a little history of my own cell phone usage: I did not have my own cell phone until I had graduated college (yes, you read that correctly – and I’m only 27). My parents had a two-phone plan where they shared a phone with the brothers at college (so in some ways I did have access to a cell phone). We switched to a 5-phone plan after I graduated college. As our family’s phone usage grew and we were strategically placing numbers on our “Circle of Friends” we discovered a new way to spend our money – Texting!  Look out world! My own plunge into texting came through the interest of a cute blonde named Ranae. She had texting, and I knew I wanted to be chatting with her as much as humanly possible, so I convinced my parents to add texting to our plan.

Necessities: Cell Phone Plan & Texting

If you are content with a simple phone call to a friend or family and don’t want to mess with texting, then you are entitled to keep it that way. I will warn you, once you decide to add texting, you’ll probably never go back. I am in no way implying that texting is bad, but once you discover the ease of use and the multitude of times that you can shoot someone a note before forgetting it – you’ll be hooked.

In the early days of texting, carriers would suggest several plans of 50/100/500 texts per month. Most carriers today just offer an Unlimited Text Plan because it’s so easy to go over whatever limit you think you’ll be at. Here are two graphs from my last 3 months of texting and calling.

One of the biggest questions used to be: “How can you survive without a cell phone?”  It is pretty hard to accomplish a normal person’s errands without at least a cell phone these days. It used to be normal not to contact someone for hours or days, but we have become so accustomed to the instant connection between family and friends that it would be harsh to stop that altogether.  A trip to the grocery store never used to involve a phone call to ask if we forgot anything, and if Johnny forgot to tell you that he didn’t have soccer practice today he would be waiting for a couple hours for you to arrive (happened way too many times to me).

Alternatives to owning a SmartPhone.

I currently use the LG Cosmos. [To be fair this is techically a “Feature Phone” and not  “Dumb Phone” but it’s more fun to say it that way.] It was the free phone @ Wal-Mart when we renewed our contract and it works great. My wife (the previously mentioned Ranae) and I really like these phones because of the full keyboard that flips out for easier texting. To stay connected to game scores and even to ‘google’ things, I’m able to do that right from my phone without a separate “Data Plan” other than texting. The information may not be as instantly accessible, but I’ve come to appreciate these services.


I have used ChaCha (242-242) ever since it launched. Here’s what they have to say:

ChaCha is like having a smart friend you can call or text for answers on your cell phone anytime for free! ChaCha works with virtually every provider and allows people with any mobile phone device – from basic flip phones to advanced smart phones – to ask any question in conversational English and receive an accurate answer as a text message in just a few minutes.
What’s your question?
Simply text your question to 242242 (spells ‘ChaCha’) or call 1-800-2ChaCha (800-224-2242) from your mobile phone to ask any question. What are you waiting for? Ask away!

This service can help you find out where the closest Apple Store is, or tell you when the Packers play their next game. It’s pretty simple to use and I use it regularly. 


Bing 411

Bing 411 is a complete phone directory at your finger tips, or in this instance at the sound of your voice. Just call this number and tell the computer what town you’re in and what business you’re looking for, and it will read back your options just as if you were searching for it on the computer.
4-Info is an incredibly useful service for keeping up-to-date on Sports Scores and News Updates. From your phone, text your favorite sports team (i.e. Minnesota Twins) and 4-Info will send you the latest scores and news from your team. If you’d only like to know the final score, you can customize it exactly how often you want to know updates. I currently have 4-Info (or as I have renamed it on my contacts “ESPN”) set to send “Twins” updates at the end of every game. During the playoffs last season, I had it set to update me at the end of every inning and whenever the Twins scored. Now that’s pretty cool.
You can also visit to customize your teams and manage when you want to receive alerts.

Facebook and Twitter

Facebook and Twitter both allow for updates from cell phones as well, which is really handy.

iPod Touch

I also carry my iPod Touch (8GB, 2nd Gen) everywhere I go, which allows me to look at spreadsheets and documents through DocumentsToGo. If I am in a coffee shop I’m able to get everything that a SmartPhone would be able to, and a planned route on Google Maps works pretty well even after leaving WiFi.


If you are waiting to take the plunge of a SmartPhone, hopefully this will give you some free options to save you some time and money. Truth-be-told I will soon (tonight to be exact) be taking the plunge into the SmartPhone market as I just bought a Palm Pixi Plus that will allow WiFi Tethering to my laptop and/or iPad (hey, I can wish).
Micah Tanis is a M.Div student at Central Seminary in Plymouth MN and serves as a Pastoral Intern at First Baptist Church and Athletic Director at Saint Francis Christian School in St. Francis MN.



4 Comments on “Why You Can Stick With Your “Dumb” Phone”

  1. 1 Jared said at 9:55 am on March 25th, 2011:

    Good article…I’m sure if I had never taken the smartphone plunge a few years back that I would not necessarily feel the need to have one. But since I got one its become like crack, going back to a dumb phone just seems unconscionable…whether thats good or bad I can’t be sure…

  2. 2 David said at 11:07 am on March 25th, 2011:

    haha, “…and your parents, anxious to see you off and married, quickly added unlimited texting to your plan.” 😉

  3. 3 mjtanis said at 12:14 pm on March 25th, 2011:

    @David – you know it!

  4. 4 Andy said at 1:09 pm on March 25th, 2011:

    Interesting post. I just added a few more contacts to my phone, keeping me from the data plan plunge. Thanks, Bro!

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