Tech

Why I'm Ready for a Flip Phone Again

Published On 06/06/2016 Published On 06/06/2016

Ten years ago I was a clueless college kid strutting around with my silver Motorola RAZR, convinced it was the pinnacle of technological advancements. It let me text, call, and take freaking photos, everything I'd ever possibly need to do with my phone. I mean, what else was there?!

Here I am a decade later, a veteran of four different smartphones, and capable of doing pretty much everything short of teleporting to the moon via a mini computer in my pocket. And don't get me wrong, I love my iPhone -- it goes with me literally everywhere, and I break out in a cold sweat if I ever dare leave home without it -- but just because I can check my email anytime, anywhere doesn't mean I should feel on-call 24/7. I'm ready for a break.

As it just so happens, the answer to my present conundrum might just be that flip phone from a past life. What's old is new, what's out is in (kids these days, am I right?), and flip phones are having a moment -- even Rihanna uses one! Motorola released a nostalgia-laden teaser video a few weeks back, setting off rumors that an Android revamp of the old-school RAZR will be revealed today at Lenovo Tech World. Whether it's true or not, it got me thinking -- maybe a flip phone would be the perfect iPhone substitute. As for my blessed iPhone, what if I treated it like something else entirely? 

Motorola Mobility/YouTube

There's nothing new or novel about the desire to break free from the anxiety of feeling so connected all the time: I just checked and there are 663,000 Google search results for "smartphone detox." But the backlash against constant connectivity is more vocalized than ever before. Last month, France ushered into law a "right to disconnect" which empowers citizens to straight-up ignore any work-related emails at night or over the weekend, in an effort to protect the country's workers from feeling burned out.

Even in the States, smartphone sales are slowing for the first time since 2008, and Apple Watch sales continue to be dismally disappointing. Maybe people are slowly backing away from being so intimately connected with their devices all day, every day. Interestingly, Americans bought nearly 24 million "dumb" phones last year, which is up nearly 2 million from just two years ago. Even Rihanna's famed flip-phone use -- arguably a fashion statement more than anything else -- may prophesy our collective readiness to slow down a bit. 

Wikimedia/OptoScalpel

Now, to be clear, I'm not arguing against the use of smartphones. I think they're incredibly useful, and have improved our quality of life far more than they've derailed it. But actually making a call on an iPhone is annoyingly tedious -- they're so much more convenient for scrolling through Instagram or getting weird on Snapchat, listening to music and podcasts on the train, or navigating through unfamiliar cities and neighborhoods. And could someone please explain to me what the point of an iPad is these days? It's bulky and redundant -- if you want to type up a Word doc or watch Netflix on the go, get a damn laptop.

If I had it my way, my iPhone would function as my de facto tablet -- a super-powerful device I keep stashed in my backpack that I'm not nervously checking 15 times an hour, or accidentally dropping on the sidewalk and shattering into 50 pieces. And in my pocket? A sturdy, sexy flip phone that keeps me connected and doesn't run out of battery in half a day.

If you take the good ole Motorola RAZR from the days of yore and throw in a dash of today's technological prowess, what do you get? A phone that does everything you need it to do -- call, text, and take great photos. If they can find a way to pack it with enough storage for some music or podcasts, or have it connect to the cloud, I'd be golden. I would not, however, be a slave to mobile email any longer, and rather than keep my nose down staring at a screen to check Instagram or Twitter every five minutes, I might actually notice the world around me a bit more. 

So whether or not Motorola's big RAZR rerelease is a marketing stunt, I, for one, am totally on board. Who's with me?

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Joe McGauley is a senior writer for Thrillist and would honestly miss having immediate access to most of these apps.

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