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Recently, my almost five-year-old flip phone started acting up on me, and it became clear that it would need to be replaced. I went to my cell phone carrier’s web site, to see what my options were. Here is what I discovered:

#1: There are very few flip phones left (even if you include things like the Jitterbug phone, which I wasn’t because I do use my phone for talking – shocking, I know – quite a bit, and it was more economical to keep my current plan).

#2: There has been almost no innovation in flip phone design and flip phone interfaces in the past five year.

#3: Very little or possibly no time has been put into making flip phones aesthetically pleasing.

As an addendum to this list, I should point out that when I went into the retail location, there were a grand total of three flip phones that were not set aside as phones for the prepaid/pay-as-you go plan. Three. The smart phones covered the better part of rather long wall.

For reasons not worth going into, I was unable to purchase a new phone that day. Afterward, in explaining my frustrations to my family, some of them suggested I consider a smart phone. It turned out that I would be able to get an older smart phone for less than $50 dollars, so cost would not be prohibitive in that case.

I pondered it. I pestered all family members with smart phones with questions about said devices. Finally, I decided that I could try a smart phone. I had 14 days to try it out, so if I didn’t like it I could take it back.

I decided on an iPhone. Some of my family has iPhones, and it seemed that an iPhone was the least complicated smartphone out there. I still did not really want a smart phone, but I thought that smart phones were the way the world was going, and that it would be better if I just bit the bullet and started getting used to them now.

As you may guess, this was not a good line of reasoning to take.

I started freaking out about it while in the middle of making the purchase. Fortunately I was freaking out in my head, so no one was alarmed, but it was very unpleasant. I convinced myself that I should at least complete the purchase and take it home, because maybe I would feel better about it in the morning, or in a couple of hours or something.

After I got home, I ended up using Skype to chat with my mother because I was too freaked out to actually use the new cell phone. I then babbled in a nervous and panicked fashion to some other people about it, and decided I would take it back after work the next day.

In the end, I kept the phone for a little over a week, and I was able to put aside my freaked out feelings and give it a fair trial. What it boiled down to was this: I just didn’t want a smart phone, and the idea of being that connected to the world bothered me. I didn’t want to be potentially available by email and by phone at all times. I didn’t want to have the opportunity to access the internet any time I came across a wifi signal or any time there was a 3G network. Really, I wanted my phone to allow me to make phone calls, and have a voicemail so people could leave me messages. Also, I mainly use my cell phone when I am out walking around or am on the bus. In-the-ear earbuds don’t work for me, and so I need to be able to hold the phone to my ear. The iPhone is rather heavy and is not designed to be comfortable to hold to the side of one’s head for a long time.

I returned it, and got a $40 flip phone. I’m very happy with it.

~Agatha Viola

Curmudgeon at Heart

P.S. My new flip phone has three programmable buttons, separate from the number pad, and it allows you to choose from a list of seven pre-selected options for your three buttons. One of them is a pill reminder.