The Featurephone Experiment


Jr and I have spent the last year paring down our smartphone usage. This last December, we found we were using the phones about 30 minutes a day. When I realized last month that Jr’s phone would stop getting security patches in August of this year, I was not looking forward to dropping another $500-$800 on a phone that we’re trying our best to not use.

So I moved to a featurephone.

I have a few basic needs:

Nokia 2780

Initially, I tried the Nokia 2780. This is a flip phone, running KaiOS, a browser-based mobile operating system.


Other neat features:


Jr wound up taking this device, and seems to be fairly happy with it. For me, it was pretty good, but I felt like it could be better.

Light Phone 2

This is actually running Android with a custom front-end for displaying on a small e-ink screen. You can hack it to run any Android app, apparently. I’m going to try hard not to do this.


Other neat features:


Where Things Stand

Jr has the Nokia 2780 and so far likes it. I suspected this would happen: it feels more “fun” somehow, and the camera is a big deal.

I’m enjoying the Light Phone 2. It checks all my boxes, and… that’s about all there is. $300 feels like a lot, but if I can keep it for 2 years, I’ll be spending the same amount per year as I did on smartphones. If I can keep it for 5 years, it will be much cheaper.

I’ve also started tossing an old digital point-and-shoot camera in my bag if I think I might want to take photos. It turns out I don’t take many photos these days, now that Jr is off at college.

More interesting to me is that I still need a smartphone. Or at least, I still need something that can run Android apps. Specifically, for:

That’s actually all: everything else I need, I can run in a web browser. But they won’t let me deposit checks with a browser.

I can run Android apps on a Chromebook, so that’s what I’m doing. I’m switching over to my kid’s Chromebook, which has a better camera than the 8-year-old one I’ve been using: this will help with video calls. It’s also smaller, lighter, and has a newer battery, so it’s a bit of an upgrade. It can still run Linux, too.

While I was messing around, I set up the Plex app, so I have some stuff to watch on my next train trip.

Will this stick? I guess only time will tell!