My friend, Kathleen Ndongmo, wrote an interesting lifestyle piece about why she recently ditched smartphones for featurephones. She used to own a BlackBerry, but replaced

Long live dumbphones?

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A dumbphone

My friend, Kathleen Ndongmo, wrote an interesting lifestyle piece about why she recently ditched smartphones for featurephones. She used to own a BlackBerry, but replaced it with a lowly Nokia 6303i. Her reasons include freedom from nursing a smartphone, portability, and security/privacy issues. You should read her piece titled “Long live Dumbphones!

I will not be addressing her reasons for crossing over to the dark side. Those will be for other articles. In this article, I am exploring why I would consider using a dumbphone today. I do not see myself dumping smartphones entirely like she has done, but I do know that in recent times, I have considered using a feature phone as my primary mobile phone. Come with me as I paint the picture.

I have a tablet device, the BlackBerry PlayBook, that does a good job of giving me all smartphone functionality minus voice calls and SMS. It also does a fairly good job of replacing my laptop for most tasks. I also carry a BlackBerry smartphone which is a perfect companion to the PlayBook. I am able to share my BlackBerry internet subscription with the PlayBook, among other benefits. My BlackBerry is not my primary mobile, so I do not use it for calls and SMS.

My primary mobile at the moment is a Samsung Galaxy S II, and for the most part apart from voice calls and SMS, it is just generally lying idle. I barely touch it anymore. Get the picture? I can easilly replace the S II with say a Nokia Asha 302 without missing anything, afterall, my primary phone is required for only voice calls and SMS. I very well intend to. Nokia only needs to implement Mail for Exchange as promised, so that I can sync my contacts and calendars with the device, and I am good to go.

Between my BlackBerry and PlayBook, my mobile office and entertainment needs are met. For voice and SMS, I really do not need more than a dumbphone. Of course, I also want to use a dumbphone as an everyday phone, so as to have some more insight into what roughly 90% of Nigerian mobile subscribers use every day.

Back to Kathy though, I wonder how well and for how long she can cope with the more limited experience of a dumbphone without another smarphone to fall back on. Twitter? Facebook? WhatsApp? Without multi-tasking, switching between those tasks will be a bit frustrating and of course slower than what she is used to. Also, the regular phone keypad would just kill me immediately. Any feature phone that I use must have a hardware QWERTY keyboard. It is why I am eyeing the Asha 302.

For different reasons, and from different perspectives, both Kathleen and I say, Long live dumbphones!

How about you? Would you dump your smartphone for a feature phone under any circumstances?


  1. You may be amazed by my comment but i hate QWERTY keyboard. Since inception of predictive text input i’ve alws used it and have outshone any one that dares me for a competition using the regular phone keyboard. I type so fast that sometimes i just do my pc typing on my phone and transfer it via blue tooth to my pc…lol. For me i think the market should drive the product. Since feature phones are the most commonly used in this part of the world, i wonder why advancement on it’s interface and productivity has not been made to make it match a smart phone, . Any way…. Long live the dumb phones.

  2. I would not even consider the thought of dumping my smartphone totally for a feature phone. That would be suicidal for the kind of work I’m involved in. I have a blackberry smartphone and a galaxy tab 10.1 and I work from both as occassion demands especially since I’m not always in the office. I don’t receive calls on my blackberry rather I have a samsung galaxy y pro duos that handles that function. The key thing is, what you are involved will probably determine whether you can afford to do that or not but frankly I can’t and I will never.

  3. This is a truly interesting thought – dumping the smartphone for a dumbphone. The advantages enumerated are definitely unimpeachable. The workabiliuty – for me – is what I doubt.

    The question would be, would a tablet be able to perform ALL the roles of a smartphone, therefore allowing us to downgrade a smartphone for a dumbphone?

    The answer to that, I believe, is found in each individual’s lifestyle.

    If you basically stay/work indoors , you can definitely survive a tablet/ dumbphone combination. However, if you move about a lot (have an active lifestyle), a dumbphone may not be able to fit into the smartphone’s role.

    In situations where we need the computing/processing power of a smartphone, and a tablet can not be taken to such a place (BECAUSE OF SIZE), a dumbphone would NOT be adequate.

    For me, I would say the highlighted advantages of the dumbphone are not enough to justify dumping a smartphone for it.

    That is why I love the multi_sized strategy of Samsung DEVICES, making it possible for a single device to almost do it all. There is an appropriate size for every lifestyle !

  4. An interesting thought- would you climb an Okada clutching a tablet (even CEOs have to climb Okada during MAD traffic in the city).

    Would you take your tablet to a stadium to watch a boxing match?,
    Would you walk down a crummy neighborhood, clutching a tablet under your armpit?

    If you have to leave your tablet behind, how would that dumbphone rise up to more upscale demand?

  5. I have friends and family who refuse to buy smartphones, even though they can afford them. Their feature phones do exactly what they want them to do, so why get a fancy device with facilities they will hardly use?

  6. dumb phones or feature phones aren’t hapless in the way their names suggest you can be as productive as you can be on your smartphone.
    They have got tons of apps just like the smartphones and just hamper by certain limitations.
    With a Nokia S40 device you can have realtime access to your email, facebook and twitter same as a blackberry device would afford you.
    As for multitasking you can look towards sony ericsson devices.
    To me the defining factor is the end user, while I was still in the university I owned various Nokia devices some being smartphones and other featurephones and I was still able to research my papers on both, type term papers on them, my final year seminar was written entirely on a Nokia 6220 classic and parts of my project was done on it too (i owned a laptop computer then).
    It just depends on the owner, some people dumb down their smartphones to just handling calls & sms (that includes instant messaging services too), IMO I think the classification of phones as either smart or dumb should be based on what it is being used as.

  7. pls am sorry 4 been off topic, hi keweno,or anybody with the knowledge of samsung galaxy y pro duos? Is the phone ok 4 an android beginner? Pls i want 2 get it 2day, help pls don’t want regrets…… God bless

  8. Afewgoodmen, reading in context is important. Here is what I wrote:

    Twitter? Facebook? WhatsApp? Without multi-tasking, switching between those tasks will be a bit frustrating and of course slower than what she is used to.

    I didn’t say that WhatsApp or any of those apps/services are not available on Nokia feature phones.

  9. My friend bought a BB probably because of the trend in Nigeria now, but uses it only for browsing, chatting, calls and sms. I just told him that he’s under using his phone. With a feature phone, you can browse, chat, install IM applications for yahoo messenger, facebook, google talk, download, email, etc etc. The only thing missing is word processing and multi tasking which some makes are trying to modify now to include. So my point is, if you dont need a smart phone, then dont buy one.

  10. It depends on individuals,
    The last phone I used before switching over to smartphone was the Nokia 3110c and it served me very well for basic tasks.
    Some months back it was always on the monthly top 3 list on the mobility blog.

  11. Dumpphones only, no way.

    A friend once told me he will not buy a smartphone again, but the guy has a Windows PC and iPad which he takes every where. I hope this case is different. Cos if you have a PC and Tablet, you can easily do without a Smartphone.

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