Dumbphone is the new Smartphone. Especially for traveling


On the left: the “new” Nokia cell phone. On the right: why they may be a HUGE commercial success.

Dumbphone is the new Smartphone. Especially for traveling /img/dumbphone-is-the-smartest-phone.png

The phone on the left is a reboot of the Nokia 3310 model, “the most reliable phone ever made”. That article calls it “dumbphone” because… it should be, as its direct ancestor, a real, serious mobile phone. A mobile phone, that is, that:

  • receives and makes phone calls, SMS and nothing more
  • should be “nearly indestructible” (compared to modern “smartphones”, at least)
  • wouldn’t know what to do with a Wi-Fi signal, no matter how strong
  • but…
    • has a battery that will last one month on one charge
    • will connect even from the bottom of a cave, if there is a base station in a radius of 2 KM…
  • costs only 59 Euros

The screenshots on the right outline the excellent reasons why many people may want to buy that phone, or one like that, as soon as possible: switch to a phone like that and you will be able to hand over your phone without problems to any border guard, anywhere. Heck, they may not have the right equipment to drain data out of it… Besides, you may even relax, and discover that email, social networks, instant messaging and so on… are even better if you don’t force them on yourself every second you’re alive.

Seriously, now: years ago, the mobile phone took a wrong turn. Today, it may go back on the right track. Do NOT call phones like that “dumbphones”. Phones like that were already smart because of the reasons above. Now they’ll become even smarter because:

  • it’s almost impossible to not turn a “modern smartphone” into a portable “history of everything you’ve everything you’ve ever done”. But..
  • “all the security in the world can’t save you if someone has physical possession of your phone or laptop, and can intimidate you into giving up your password”
  • Many borders are (compared to the rest of their countries, that is) relatively LAWLESS limbos: “It’s totally legal for a US Customs and Border Patrol officer to ask you to unlock your phone and hand it over to them. And they can detain you indefinitely if you don’t.” Ditto for other countries *“anyone can be grabbed on their way through customs and forced to hand over the full contents of their digital life”.
    • if you ever “took a photo at a protest, bought a controversial book on Amazon, or vented about an encounter with a police officer to a loved one” with your phone, and the phone is data are taken at the border, that information is now part of your permanent record”
    • you want to be able to “never, ever lie to border officials. Lots of privacy tools include plausible deniability partitions and similar ruses to allow you to login to what appears to be all the data on your device, but using these to attempt to deceive border guards is radioactively illegal and fantastically stupid… the penalties for lying at the border are generally significantly worse than whatever you’re trying to keep to yourself…
  • [Therefore] make sure that you do not possess, and cannot access, your data at a border

The most convenient way to do the above, while remaining somehow connected to the rest of the world, is to travel with a “dumbphone”. Try it. After the initial shock, the worst thing that could happen, is that you like being “disconnected” enough to only use that “dumbphone” also when you’re back home. Besiding not exposing your whole life when you cross a border, that is.

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