Using a Dumb Phone in a Smart Phone World

Using a Dumb Phone in a Smart Phone World


Although I no longer have a smart phone with data, I still have text messaging. By using text alerts, I can still receive vital information like subway construction updates, sports scores, and bank notifications. There are numerous alerts you can set-up without having on-the-go access to apps and the Internet.

Subway Alerts

Just like highways, the nyc subway system has it’s share of incidents causing delays. The MTA (mass transit authority) website provides the status of current train service. However, even without Internet access they still provide this via Text Alerts.

You can choose the train lines to be notified about and your time of day preference to receive the alerts. This is great because when I am at work, I can just check the website. However, when I’m out and about, I can still get updates of the subway schedule and know if I should avoid a certain line.

Sports Score Alerts

Because having up-to-the-minute information on a sports game is just as important as traffic delays (humor me here), ESPN provides Score Alerts. This is a cheaper alternative to having a sports app sending you push alerts on your smart phone.

They give you all sorts of options of notifications: Season or single-game scores of any major sport, breaking news/top stories, updates for specific major events, and fantasy team updates.

I use this during college football & basketball to receive half-time & final scores of every Michigan State game. Even within each game ESPN gives you a whole slew of actions you can be notified about like every time the score changes or at the end of each quarter. This way you can still stay updated on your current teams wherever you are, even without a smart phone.

Bank Alerts

USAA, along with most major banks, provide customers with Account Alerts.

These include customizable notifications for deposits, withdrawals, and balances. A whole app isn’t needed for something as simple as seeing when the rent check was cashed or when your balance is low.

Let Me Google That For You

Many Google services are accessible via sms!

Simply text message “google” (466-453) with a query and it will send back results. It’s no yelp, but you can text “pizza 11218” or “sushi church ave brooklyn” and you will receive 1-3 texts based on Google’s search results. This is particularly useful if you forget the exact address of a place but know it’s “around here somewhere.”

Here are all the functions available by texting “google” (466-453):

  • Local listings: “car wash 11218”
  • Weather: “weather 11218”
  • Movie showtimes: “movies 11218”
  • Flights: “ua405”
  • Sports information: “atl falcons”
  • Stocks: “goog”
  • Define: “define esoteric”
  • Products: “price iphone”

Don’t get me wrong, this is not the most efficient way to get some of this information but for a weather report or address look-up, it is pretty convenient at those times you’re not near a computer. Flight information in particular will be useful when traveling since that is what I was most worried about when dropping my smart phone.

For those of you without smart phones, what other tips do you have?


4 Replies to “Using a Dumb Phone in a Smart Phone World”

  1. My dumb phone works fine for texting and making phone calls. That’s about it. We use a Garmin GPS in the car for directions, but not traffic updates. I’m tempted every so often to get a smart phone, but it’s the monthly fee that stops me every time. If the monthly fee were $50 or less I’d consider it. I still hate the idea of $50 though!

    I know some people would rather pay for a smart phone even if it means they don’t have a car. I’m not to that point yet!

  2. I use a Samsung dumb phone too. It’s not as flashy as my friend’s smart phones, but I think it still looks really sleek. Besides calling and texting, the biggest use I’ve found for my phone is using it as an alarm clock :0) I tried texting Google but they didn’t reply yet :0( maybe it doesn’t work in Canada >_<

  3. Since I’ve never had a smart phone, I’ve never had to learn to live without it. I’m rarely far enough away from an Internet connection to need to check the weather or an address on my phone. The 7 days we were without Internet at home weren’t even all that bad. I think it really comes down to learning what conveniences you can live without and learning to plan ahead. (But I can also understand how different needs are depending on where you live. I don’t need public transportation alerts on my phone because I drive a car, but if I lived in NYC, this service would be invaluable.)

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