# Getting on without a smartphone

Feb 16, 2021

There's one thing that hurts productivity, mental health and privacy at the same time - smartphones. In this article I want to describe how I approach those now.

I used to use the phone quite often but recently I changed my mind to stay away from those as possible.

## Endless notifications

This one is quite disturbing. When something happens, you immediately get a push notification. And while it sits on the phone, it's almost impossible to get rid of it without losing focus from what I was working on. And sometimes you dig too deep and get lost for hours doing nothing productive.

On the desktop, first of notifications are broken for some reason ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ and secondly, I have a convenient keybinding `Super + d` to dismiss all pending notifications. I don't think you can do that on Android.

## Privacy troubles

Cell network does a lot of tracking by itself but also every phone vendor and app is hungry for your data. And I'm one of those people who have a Xiaomi device (don't buy those unless you get a custom ROM).

I was actually quite surprised when I saw network logs on how system apps (and not only) phoned home almost every second. This is unacceptable so I installed in the first second.

And of course, I have all system apps replaced with Simple Mobile Tools.

=> TrackerControl

=> Simple Mobile Tools

## I hate phone keyboards!

I use OpenBoard which is based on AOSP but it's still buggy as nothing else. I frequently hang out on #simple-web IRC channel and sometimes this keyboard makes me go insane because of the stupid typos and random bugs.

On desktop this will never happen as physical keyboards are much more stable than virtual ones.

## (Not) Always online

Phones provide one super cool feature: you can be always online: turn on mobile data, run your app in the background, get notifications. I decided to get rid of that.

And it feels alright, I sometimes can miss the conversations for hours but it's still fine. If someone needs to say something urgent to me, they would just call me.

## Dumbing it down

At this point, I didn't want social media, chats (mostly) or all those other things on the phone. I got rid of Tusky, NewPipe and Revolution IRC. So only things left are: Web browser (I use Bromite and Fennec), WhatsApp and system apps.

Update 2021-03-06: Got rid of Revolution IRC and Termux, too.

## Why not throw it away?

After all I've said earlier, the question arises: did you throw away that monster?

And the answer is: Not yet.

Main blocker is school which requires to be on WhatsApp and there's no good way of getting WA to work without a phone. Otherwise, I could have just downgraded to a decent dumb phone.

In the end, I think that phones could be somewhat useful if designed properly and more as a mini-laptop that you connect to a screen and use like a PC and not as a tracking gadget that records your movements 24/7.