Remember back in the 20th century when you successfully lived without a phone on your person 24/7? You successfully met people for lunch, picked up friends at the airport, and functioned like a successful adult even with what now feels like an insurmountable handicap: No smartphone. But now, you sometimes wonder how you managed it. What were once trivial, everyday tasks seem unmanageable thanks to the advent of our new computer/phones. But are they really that necessary to our day-to-day living?
1. Smartphones Are Expensive
We're talking "more than you spent on your laptop" expensive. You might just not be aware of exactly how expensive because most providers will let you buy a smartphone in an installment plan that conceals how much you're really paying. Here's a look at the prices of some of the most current models today:
• Apple iPhoneX — $1,149.99
• Samsung Galaxy 9 — $914.99
• Google Pixel 2 XL — $849.99
• HP Elite X3 — $449.99
And all of those prices are before you buy the protective case, Bluetooth headset, battery pack, chargers, and other accessories you'll somehow leave the store convinced you "need" to get full value out of your new purchase.
Look at it this way, consumers upgrade their phones in just under 2 years on average, and at $1,200 for a phone and all of its accessories, that's a payment of $50 per month. Every month. For the rest of your life. Think about what else you could do with $600 per year!
2. The Plan is Even Pricier
The cost of the actual hardware is just the start of the cost for your smart phone. Let's look at the raw numbers for the Big Four carriers, on average, according to their own websites:
• T-Mobile: Individual plan $70, Family Plan $160
• Verizon: Individual Plan $75, Family Plan $160
• AT&T: Individual Plan $60, Family Plan $160
• Sprint: Individual Plan $60, Family Plan $160
Sure, those prices are for the unlimited plans for each of the providers, and you can reduce the fee by taking limited usage data options or by shopping with discount service companies, but those can be just as expensive if you get hit for going over-limit or otherwise working outside the restrictions of the plan.
Run the numbers. On average, you'll spend $840 a year on your phone plan. That's a full car insurance payment or the price of a nice weekend with your significant other or 1,690 packets of ramen soup.
3. Screen Addiction Is a Thing
You already have a friend (at least a friend) who doesn't talk to you anymore. Sure, she shows up for lunch or drinks from time to time, but for the whole conversation, she's also checking her phone. This happens with friends, at work, and between parents and children. So much so that the mental health community is beginning to treat it as a serious concern and diagnosing it as "screen addiction."
Add to that texting while driving, online shopping addictions, and binge-watching streaming video options like Netflix and Hulu, and a smartphone is an extremely expensive route to ruining your quality of life. For some people, it's best to stick with a regular "dumb phone" and be able to stay focused on the things right there in the room with you.
4. You Can Lose Sleep
Two facts for you to consider:
• A Bank of America survey found that 71% of Americans who own smartphones sleep within arm's reach of those smartphones.
• Research at Pennsylvania State University on sleep hygiene found that people should stop interacting with electronic devices at least one hour before they try going to sleep.
The combination of these two facts doesn't bode well for people who like to sleep and who own smartphones. The temptation to check texts and social media, play video games, or watch programs can be enough to keep you up well past your smartest "bedtime" — leading to screen-induced insomnia, which can harm your health, your job performance, and your relationships.
5. The E-Waste Issue
Smart phones are less durable than regular cellular phones and contain far more toxic materials. Unfortunately, both kinds of phone are far more likely to be thrown away than properly recycled, meaning that toxicity leaches directly into our soil and groundwater. And you'll be disposing of a smartphone more frequently.
The issue doesn't end there either. Not only are smartphones made of materials that pollute where they're thrown away, but mining those materials is extremely hard on the environment. We're not saying regular cell phones don't have this same issue, but they do have the issue in far lesser amounts.
Listen, we get it. Smart phones are popular for good reasons. They make many daily tasks easier, provide instant access to information, help us schedule our lives and live more fully by having things more easily provided to us thanks to the technology. They can even save us money by automating processes that used to take a lot of time or that need to be done manually and by helping us take advantage of coupons and similar savings.
But they come at a surprisingly high cost. You don't have to go along with the crowd on this trend if you don't want to. In fact, there are plenty of reasons to go against the grain. The final decision is up to you.
Do you really need that smartphone?