Cell phones are not what they used to be. Once upon a time, your “cell” was a clunky device you used to make expensive phone calls on the go. These days, your cell phone is your personal GPS, word processor, dictionary, television, video camera and more.

Over the years, cell phones turned to smartphones. With super-fast processors and Internet connectivity, smartphones have become capable of doing so much more than they used to. We rely on them every day to accomplish even the most basic tasks like getting to work or checking the weather outside.

According to a 2015 study, we are becoming physically addicted to our smartphones. When we have to go a day without our cell phones, we perform worse on tests and exhibit higher heart rates and blood pressure. Clearly, something is wrong. We are developing a functional dependency by having our phones by our sides at all times.

Given how frequently we check our phones these days, many of us feel nostalgic for the early days of cell phones. In the 1990s and most of the 2000s, cell phones had one purpose: to make phones calls. That kind of simplicity felt genuinely liberating. Instead, today’s phones can feel over-encumbering and overly complicated.

If you feel like you might be developing a dependency on your cell phone, you might be on to something. It might be a good idea to address the problem before it develops into something worse.

But did you know that your older cell phones could help you break the dependency? Read on to discover how your old cell phone can replace your over-powered smartphone. Although you might miss all the luxuries of modern phones, you will find the simplicity and ease to provide much-needed relief. 

Cell Phones: Then and Now

In the early days of the cell phone were dark times indeed. The first generation of commercial cell phones were released in the 1980s. The popular units of the day, such as the Motorola DynaTAC 8000X were enormous in size and usually weighed several pounds. The cell phones of the eighties were known collectively as first-generation (1G) systems.

In the 1990s, the second-generation (2G) line of digital cell phones were released. These phones featured new cellular technology that could transfer data at a speed of 50 Kbit/s. This was a significant improvement compared to older cell phones. However, these phones were only capable of making basic phone calls.

By the time the early 2000s rolled around, the third-generation (3G) cell phone systems were released. These phones operated on a much faster network that provided wireless broadband access. During this time, the “flip phone” and the BlackBerry rose to prominence. These phones featured basic applications such as email browsers and video games.

The "Sidekick" Revolution

The T-Mobile Sidekick phone was the bridge between the “old school” and new era of cell phones. First released in 2002, the T-Mobile Sidekick was the first mass-produced phone to feature a QWERTY slide-out keyboard. With every new Sidekick release, the ability to “text” other phone users became more and more central to the phone itself.

The Sidekick transformed the cell phone from a basic one-purpose device into a multipurpose device. Without the Sidekick, it is questionable whether the modern smartphone ever would have developed into what it is today. A new variant of the Sidekick was released every year until the final 4G version was released in April 2011.

The Smartphone

A smartphone is a portable computer that has integrated mobile broadband network access and a touchscreen. While still called a “cell phone”, making cell phone calls is only one small aspect of what they do. The smartphone first gained popularity in the early 2000s in Japan. By the late 2000s, they spread to Europe and North America with the advent of the iPhone.

The smartphone revolutionized the form factor of the cell phone. Whereas most older cell phones were shaped in a clamshell form, these new phones were in the shape of a flat slate. Their high definition (HD) screens allowed for video content to be streamed directly onto the device via cellular networks.

With the success of the iPhone and its many subsequent variations, the smartphone took over the cell phone market by 2013. Today, most cell phones sold in stores are smartphones. Those phones that only feature text message and calling capability as known as “feature phones” or “dumbphones”.

Problematic Use of Cell Phones

These days, our phones are becoming a problem. This is because many of us are entirely dependent on our phones just to get by. From driving to work, to cooking dinner—without being able to ask our phones for help, some of us cannot perform even basic tasks.

In recent years, scientific research has been conducted to discover the extent of the problem. Numerous studies have used a self-report scale known as the “Problematic Use of Mobile Phones” (PUMP) scale. The PUMP scale measures how people feel about their phone use, and to what extent their usage might be a sign of dependency.

According to studies that employ the PUMP scale, 10% of British adolescents are addicted to their smartphones. Similarly, approximately 40% of Indian teens are addicted to their smartphones. Some research has even pointed to the fact that women are more likely to develop problematic phone usage than men.

Reclaiming the "Dumbphone"

Many of us could benefit from making the switch back to a “dumbphone”. By limiting ourselves to only texting and calling, we can break free from the compulsion to constantly check our phones. Since our social lives are now increasingly digital, by switching to older technology we can once again ground ourselves in reality.

Nokia 3310

Source: Nokia

In the 2000s, Nokia released a line of ultra-durable cell phones that could last years without flaw. Unfortunately, these phones were replaced by the less-than-durable smartphones. However, Nokia is back at it again. In 2017, they announced that they were re-releasing the Nokia 3310 “basic phone”.

The Nokia 3310 is a basic handset that does not have any of the extra features of modern smartphones. Essentially, this is a pocket watch that can make phone calls. And we wouldn’t have it any other way. We recommend picking up this phone if you want to simplify your life. Or, you know, if you want a phone battery that can last a whole month.

ZTE Z432

Source: The Informr

With cellular service provided by AT&T, the ZTE Z432 is an ultra-lightweight alternative to the modern smartphone. Sure, it features a rear-facing camera, but aside from that it resembles your basic feature phone from the 2000s. To make texting easier, it has a full QWERTY keyboard similar in appearance to that of the original BlackBerry.

At an industry-low price, the ZTE Z432 is a fantastic budget phone. We recommend giving this phone a shot if you need a replacement for your iPhone or latest Samsung Galaxy. This phone is super easy to use and has never given us a hassle.

LG Exalt 2

Source: Verizon

The LG Exalt 2 uses the Verizon Wireless network to bring us together in a simple and no-nonsense kind of way. This is a flip phone done right. It is super slim and so lightweight that you can hardly feel it in your pocket. Plus, the operating system requires hardly any power, which means that a single charge can last up to 15 hours.

If you want a stylish and durable phone option, the LG Exalt 2 is an excellent choice. Not only is it a modern spin on an old cell phone style, but it features modern hardware to. The Exalt 2 is loaded with a contemporary Li-ion battery and CPU to make it extremely speedy and intuitive to use.

Samsung Convoy 3

Source: Samsung

Good things come in threes, and the third iteration of the Samsung Convoy is no exception. This phone is the ultimate in durability. Although it is built like a brick, it has the ruggedness of a brick too. The Samsung Convoy is famous for its ability to take a beating but still function reliability, even after countless drops.

If you’re like me and are prone to dropping your phone on the ground, I recommend checking out the Samsung Convoy 3. Its rubber padding provides an extra layer of cushion so that no amount of abuse will be too much for it.

LG Xpression 2

Source: CNET.com

Lastly, the LG Xpression 2 is a good compromise between the smartphone and the dumbphone. The Xpression 2 is a compact cell phone that features a slide-out keyboard for easy texting and emailing. While this phone can run some basic applications and can even browse the internet on 3G/4G networks, it is far from a smartphone.

Since it can’t run iOS or Android apps, you won’t be tempted to clog it with social media apps or any other time-wasters. Instead, you will be left with a speedy and durable phone that does everything you need: calling, texting, and emailing. Just like the good ol’ days.

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