Life with a Flip Phone

My flip phone arrived, and just like that, I'm transported back to a different time. ๐Ÿ˜Œ

I love retro tech, but for a phone, I knew I needed something practical. So I was excited when I learned about the Sunbeam Horizon, a more modern flip phone with a touchscreen, weather, and offline navigation. The company was founded by Mennonites, interestingly enough, folks who have a healthy skepticism around technology and its impact on our lives.

Setup went smoothly, but it's been difficult to re-establish communication with my iPhone having friends. Messages appear to go to me, but they never arrive. I've had to proactively message friends and family, tell them that things aren't coming through, and troubleshoot. Usually, deleting the prior text thread and starting over will fix the problem, but it's been a real hassle. I doubt I'll ever use iMessage again, even if I go back to an iPhone.

My new phone was expensive, so I hope it lasts.

Patrick has named it โ€œFlippy.โ€ ๐Ÿ˜ Here are some notes from the transition:

Smell the Flowers

We head out for a cup of coffee and I slip Flippy into my front jeans pocket. While P and I are chatting, I think of something I want to look up online, and I reach for my iPhone, but it's not there. Right. It occurs to me that it's not that important. By the time I get home, I've forgotten what my question was. But I do remember the pink roses on the cafe table. Scraps of overheard conversation. The damp chill of the morning air.

Later, I am working. An indicator light on top of my phone is glowing green. It looks like a tiny envelope. A missed text message? By the time I check my phone, there are two messages waiting. I hold down the text button and speak into my microphone to reply to one of them. The voice-to-text service punctuates the sentence correctly, including commas. Neato, I think.


I wake up and get out of bed. Flippy's outer screen is dark. No calls or texts came in during the night. Unsurprising. Before I get dressed, I flip the phone open and enter my pin. Two quick key presses later, I'm looking at live weather information. It's windy outside. I'll wear my warm hat, I think. I snap the phone closed. I like the snapping. POW. It feels like shutting a door. Like closing a book after you've looked up the information you need.

We're on the go, and we want to buy a squeegee for the shower. What time does the hardware store open? I open the Here Navigation app and search for 'Hardware.' The results are a simple text list, sorted by proximity. It's nothing fancy, but the store hours are right there. The hardware store isn't open yet, so we walk to Target. I close the cover. POW.

Neither Apple nor Google have any information about my location or what I've searched for. If my cell provider wants to know where I am, they'd have to triangulate my position off the towers.

I am a free agent today. It feels good.


I'm having a colonoscopy in a few hours, and I've been up since 2:30am drinking the devil's lemonade. I've memorized my health plan number, but I put it in the โ€œnotesโ€ section of my flip phone in case I have a brain fart. I suspect there will be a great deal of farting today, regardless.

I throw my iPhone in my purse as backup. It has a cheap data plan on it ($39/yr) so I can use it for things like ride share or downloading e-tickets. P will call us a taxi later, so I probably won't need it, but it feels good to have the option on a stressful day.

The Good with the Bad

I take a photo of a menu posted outside a restaurant. The camera is a potato maker. The picture, blurry and small. I knew this going in, but it belatedly occurs to me that I've become immune to QR codes. My phone can't even read them, and it has no web browser. Not even a crummy one.

One sandwich spot downtown asks you to go to a website on your phone to input your table number after you sit down. The seats are like 10 feet from the counter, but walking a sandwich across the room requires a web 3.0 solution, apparently. I imagine holding up my flip phone like a sacred relic, watching faces melt like the bad guys in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.


We're at a coffee shop and the line is long. I eavesdrop on the gaggle of firemen waiting for their drinks. They've ordered foo-foo espressos, and this amuses me for some reason. I feel self conscious looking around, probably because everyone else is either talking to someone or staring at their phone. Who is this freak with her head up, curious about the world?

The coffee is good. Hot and foamy. I take a small paper notebook and pencil out of my back pocket to jot down a grocery list as P and I talk about what we need. It's surprisingly fast to work this way. No unlocking, swiping, opening, backspacing around. By the time we get to the store, I don't need the list. It's in my brain, but I check it anyway, not trusting myself.

Memory Returning

Is it just me, or is my brain starting to hold information more tightly? I'm more aware of the day of the week, when my next appointment is, and so on. My calendar is on my laptop, so when I look at it, I take note of the next few days. And I guess it's easier to remember things when you know there's a need to? I'm working on memorizing my library card number. My credit card number. Heck, my debit card pin. I'm always forgetting it.

It's a small thing, to not be so reliant on reminders. But I like it.

Feeling It

I am across town, waiting, and a sad song is playing. I'm thinking of my father. He was a music nerd, and I'm sure he would have loved this song. We never reconciled before he died, and I feel that old familiar ache. I feel sad, I think. But it's okay. The music brings him back to me, despite everything, and I find that I don't mind. It's been a while.

Later, I'm thinking about the places my mind goes when I'm not shoveling stimulus in front of it. The mind observes, and it wanders, and sometimes it takes me places I didn't expect. So too does my heart roam around, revealing an inner landscape. This is what I've been missing out on, I think.


The voice-to-text feature is so fast and easy that I've been using it to send texts. Only I keep reflexively saying โ€œbyeโ€ at the end, then I have to go in and backspace over the word, because no one ends their texts with bye. P finds this hilarious. Now, I say โ€œbyeโ€ and โ€œdammit!โ€ and end up backspacing over both words. I have no more emojis, and I miss my emojis, but you'll have to pry my flip phone out of my cold, dead hands.

Anyway, thanks for reading my blog post. I'm headed back into my novel, but I suppose I should check my email too, as I'm no longer notified of anything. New habits! I can't complain. This is all pretty fantastic.

Bye! Dammit.