Illustration by Harry Vincent

One year without any phone

10 Things I learned

5 min readApr 16, 2023


Note: This article is from my archive, it is actually 7 years old. But I decided to share it as it is still relevant and could be interesting for some readers.

As a mobile technology enthusiast, I was initially enamored with the smartphone when it first came onto the scene. After losing my phone, and realizing how different life without one was, I decided to take a break from my device. What started as a short hiatus turned into a year-long experiment of living without a smartphone. During that time, I discovered several unexpected benefits of being disconnected from the digital world. In this article, I will share ten things I learned during my year without a phone, including both the positive and negative aspects of living without one.

I used to love smartphones. I was a latecomer to the game, having used a cheap Alcatel phone for years before being offered an iPhone by my employer in 2011. I quickly became enamored with the device, exploring new apps and features, and eventually building a career around mobile technology. However, I had an epiphany after creating an app for my son and realizing that I didn’t like seeing him spend extended periods of time in front of a screen. After losing my phone in Barcelona some day, I decided to take a break from smartphones and have discovered several benefits to living without one. I have found increased focus and attention, better communication, and a renewed appreciation for the value of waiting. While there are certainly drawbacks to living without a smartphone, I encourage everyone to try taking a break from their device and discovering what they might be missing out on. Ultimately, it is up to each individual to decide how to manage their relationship with technology and ensure that it enriches rather than detracts from their lives.

Given the pathos of transparency that pervades today’s society, it is necessary to practice the pathos of distance. Distance and shame cannot be integrated into the accelerated circuits of capital, information, and communication. Thus, all discrete retreat spaces are eliminated in the name of transparency. They are illuminated and exploited. The world becomes more shameless and naked as a result.

Byung-Chul Han from ‘Transparenzgesellschaft’

While there are certainly challenges to disconnecting from technology, I believe that taking a break from our devices can provide valuable insights and help us develop a healthier relationship with technology.

Here are five things you could learn living without a smartphone:

  1. The value of patience and waiting: Without a smartphone, you might find yourself waiting more often, whether it’s for a friend who is running late or for a bus to arrive. Learning to wait patiently can help you develop resilience and reduce stress in your daily life.
  2. Increased focus and attention: Living without a smartphone can help you be more present in the moment and focus on the task at hand. With fewer distractions, you can give your full attention to the people and activities around you.
  3. The art of communication: Without the convenience of instant messaging and social media, you might find yourself communicating more deliberately and thoughtfully. You might also develop better listening skills and learn to express yourself more clearly in face-to-face conversations.
  4. Creative problem-solving: Without the immediate answers and solutions provided by a smartphone, you might need to think more creatively to solve problems or find information. This can help you develop your problem-solving skills and boost your creativity.
  5. Self-reliance and resourcefulness: Living without a smartphone can teach you to rely on yourself and your own abilities to navigate the world. You might need to use maps, ask for directions, or figure things out on your own without the help of technology. This can help you build confidence and independence.

To be fair I also want to highlight the difficulties and pain-points living without a smartphone.

  1. Decreased accessibility: Without a smartphone, you might have limited access to the internet, social media, and messaging platforms. This could make it difficult to stay connected with friends and family, as well as to access information or services on the go.
  2. Limited convenience: A smartphone is a convenient tool that can help you manage your schedule, organize your tasks, and keep track of important information. Living without a smartphone might require you to use other tools, such as a paper planner or notebook, which could be less convenient.
  3. Reduced productivity: A smartphone can be a powerful productivity tool that allows you to work on the go and stay connected with colleagues and clients. Living without a smartphone could reduce your productivity, particularly if you work in a job that requires frequent communication or access to information.
  4. Social isolation: Without a smartphone, you might find it harder to stay connected with your social network, particularly if your friends and family rely heavily on social media or messaging apps. This could lead to feelings of loneliness or social isolation.
  5. Safety concerns: A smartphone can provide a sense of security and safety when traveling or navigating unfamiliar areas. Living without a smartphone could make it more difficult to access emergency services or to communicate with others in the event of an emergency.


In conclusion, living without a smartphone can have both positive and negative impacts on one’s life. While it can lead to increased focus, attention, and self-reliance, it can also result in decreased accessibility, convenience, and productivity, as well as potential social isolation and safety concerns. It is up to each individual to decide how to manage their relationship with technology and strike a balance between its benefits and drawbacks. Ultimately, taking a break from technology can provide a fresh perspective and offer opportunities for personal growth and self-discovery. As we continue to navigate the ever-evolving landscape of technology, it is important to stay mindful of its impact on our lives and to take intentional steps towards a healthy and fulfilling relationship with it.




Ben is a product strategist and designer experienced working with company builders and venture studios. He's based in Berlin.