Twenty-Four Hours Without My iPhone | iLounge Backstage


Twenty-Four Hours Without My iPhone

Some people may be amused by the very idea of this Backstage article; others will instantly know exactly why I’m bothering to write it at all.

Yesterday was the first completely iPhone-free day I’ve had in the past 1.75 years.

In the past, Apple pointed to customer satisfaction surveys that established how much love its early adopters had for the original iPhone. Not surprisingly, the percentages were crazy high, arguably quite like the people who stood in lines to pay $500 or $600 for their 4GB and 8GB devices. Given everything that has happened with the iPhone and iPhone 3G since then, however, the numbers would likely be very similar if the survey was conducted today.

But put aside general “satisfaction” for a moment. What hasn’t been publicized as much is the iPhone addiction factor—the “you couldn’t pry this thing out of my hands without a gun” survey question—which will be the key to understanding whether, as a key Palm investor claimed last week, the first wave of iPhone users are itching to be free of their two-year contracts come July and ready to won over to Sprint, or rather, that they’re just waiting for the next big iPhone release in order to make another Apple purchase.

My gut feeling is that, absent some really big screw-up by Apple come late June, there will be no tidal wave of departures from the iPhone’s existing userbase—at least, to smartphones at similar price points. As part of my job, and because so many friends and family members have unexpectedly purchased them over the past nearly two years, I spend a lot of time talking with people with iPhones, on iPhones, and around iPhones. There are two in my personal office and three in my home, as well as a land line and computer in my office, and a land line and computer in my home. Strictly speaking, I have no specific need for my iPhone except when I’m in the car, traveling, or at work, the latter only when I’m reviewing accessories and software. Instead, under most circumstances, I could be listening to music on an iPod or a computer, making calls on a conventional phone, or accessing the Internet through a full-fledged notebook or desktop machine. Often times, I do.

Yet from (a) my wedding day to (b) the birth of my daughter to (c) the day when I went from the original iPhone to the iPhone 3G, an iPhone hasn’t left my side—or been out of use—for any significant length of time since the original day of release. It has become something close to indispensable for keeping in touch with people, pretty good for music and movies, and even more of a draw since the launch of the App Store. Now, between Facebook, Urbanspoon and Yelp, whatever games I’m playing, and occasional instant messaging, it’s hard to imagine going a whole day without using it at least a little.

Yesterday wouldn’t have been any different, except for one thing: the night before, I forgot to put the iPhone 3G on its charger, which—ugh—meant that by morning, the battery was dead. This broke my typical cycle of use just enough to inspire me to try an experiment: I dropped it in a dock to charge, and planned to leave it there all day. And all night. Would I, or could I, go without using it at all?

The answer turned out to be yes, but for only one reason—unlike every other Sunday I can recall for the past two years, I spent the entire day at home relaxing, and didn’t need to carry a phone around with me. I made phone calls only from our land line. Used my computer for all my Internet and music needs, relying on web pages and iTunes to do what the iPhone’s apps have been handling. And amazingly, the iPhone didn’t ring once, alert me that a text message had come in, or in any other way demand my attention. It was a nice day.

But even so, there were times when I asked myself whether I needed to be without the iPhone, such as when I wanted to call a friend whose phone number was stored in my Contacts, but not my brain. Rather than just picking up the iPhone and pressing three buttons, I decided to go through the trouble of finding his contact information on my computer and then dialing on my land line. A few simple pictures of my daughter that I could have taken with the iPhone and sent immediately to family through e-mail instead were taken with a different camera, imported onto the computer, and e-mailed out there. They looked better than the iPhone’s, but took a lot longer to process. Thus, I went out of my way a couple of times not to use the iPhone, and though I succeeded, my life wasn’t necessarily better or more convenient for having done so. Had I left the house, I would never have gone without the iPhone thanks to its Phone, Maps and Mail apps; the experiment would have ended right then and there.

What the Palms, Samsungs, Microsofts and others either don’t understand or don’t want to believe about the iPhone is that it is effectively doing what Windows 95 started and XP continued, cementing its users in an “I’m satisfied, quite possibly dependent, so why change?” mentality that will likely take years—and similarly Microsoftian stumbles by Apple—to erode. The only difference in potential between the iPhone today and the PC back in 1995 is the comparatively small size of Apple’s iPhone userbase. Every sign I see is that this number, aided by the iPod touch and possibly other devices, is going to continue to grow. I don’t want to spend another 24 hours without my iPhone, and frankly, I don’t know anyone else who would, either. After this weekend, it’s going to take a lot more than a Palm Pre or similar wannabe to make me voluntarily go iPhone-free for anything more than a day.

« So Last Year’s iPod shuffle Rumor Was True (Partially): iPod shuffle 3G

LaCie’s iamaKey: An Almost Completely Sensible Pocket Storage Solution »

Related Stories



A day without the iPhone?  That’s crazy talk!

Posted by Galley in Greenville, SC on March 9, 2009 at 11:05 AM (CDT)


Wow, sounds a lot like my own experience, even though I’ve now been with iphone for just under 2 months. Good to know it doesn’t wear off. P.s. I am only one of 7 friends with iphones (3 of whom are die hard windows users).

Posted by alicia on March 9, 2009 at 11:24 AM (CDT)


I second that motion. When my contract is over the only thing I’m running out for is the new iPhone. Did the 5 hr long lines at Apple 3G release teach Pre/sprint ANYthing?! Their dream will never come true. Some ppl need a reality check!

Posted by Trish on March 9, 2009 at 11:47 AM (CDT)


Erasing all traces of this article so my wife does not see it.
She says I’m addicted to my iPhone.
I’m not.
Well, I could be.
OK, yes I am.

Posted by Mario on March 9, 2009 at 11:52 AM (CDT)


I agree. I’m totally addicted to my iPhone. I’ve had one(first gen, then 3G) since March 2008, and I’m as smitten with it now as when I first got it.
The honeymoon period for new gadgets usually lasts only a couple of months or two, before I get bored with them - not this thing.
Even when I’m not using it, I find myself just playing with it - unlocking it, scrolling through contacts, artists, etc.
I can’t explain it.
Palm may be starting to ‘get it’ with regard to user experience with Pre, but it took an ex-Apple exec to start their ball rolling. Even so, I doubt there will be significant lines at the Sprint stores, on launch day.

Posted by Gregz0r on March 9, 2009 at 12:40 PM (CDT)


I’ve been addicted for 16 months now.  I’ve been addicted to a WM PDA before (but never a WM phone), but never like this.  Instead of wearing off, little things just keep making it better- like the new free Kindle app where I can download free Kindle classics (ok mostly stuff from the 18th and 19th centuries) like Charles Dickens.  (I’ve never owned nor even wanted a Kindle, but the Kindle App may finally sell me some Kindle books - when I get bored of reading all the free stuff that’s out there, that is.)

Posted by Dyvim on March 9, 2009 at 1:33 PM (CDT)


My iPhone was stolen last month, and can’t afford a new one. So I’ve just been doing without. My friend gave me her Sony Ericsson K610i, a completely bland, awful feature-phone, and I’ve been using that ever since.  I still have the unlimited data plan, so I’ve been milking that thing for everything it’s got. I’m running TinyTwitter (Twitteriffic, but for feature-phones), GMail and Google Maps. I run them all in the background, simultaneously (yes, you can do that on the k610i, but not on the iPhone). Even though I’ve gotten used to life without my iPhone, I still miss it dearly. The k610i has 3G, but it’s got a standard (read: awful) feature-phone browser. It has a camera (2mpx, along with a front-mounted VGA), and multimedia capabilities, but you need a memory stick for that, and I won’t shell out for that. I really miss the iPhone, and I’ll get one soon, but I was frankly surprised at what I could do with a feature-phone and unlimited data.

Posted by Ringer on March 9, 2009 at 4:43 PM (CDT)


Yes, Jeremy I understand how you feel about your iPhone. I feel absolutely the same way despite the issues that I have with it which I wrote about in an earlier Backstage article comment. I treat my iPhone like I treat my house and car keys: I never let it out of my sight.

Posted by Michael on March 10, 2009 at 10:23 PM (CDT)


Try Opera Mini. It’s no Safari but it’s better than the built-in browser by a lot.

Posted by TheJoshdude on March 11, 2009 at 1:09 PM (CDT)


Hi Everyone,
My name is Michael and I’m an iPhoneaholic.  I haven’t been free of the device since purchased over a year ago. I’m glad to know I am not alone and that we all understand each other. 

Thank you for writing the article. Our addiction could not have been articulated much better.

Posted by Cereal from Okinawa, Japan on March 12, 2009 at 1:54 AM (CDT)


Hi Everyone

I’m glad to read that I’m not alone - I think I’m actually in love with my iPhone - I think about it when I’m not with it and when I see it sitting on the sideboard I get a warm and happy feeling. 

I feel as excited about it as when I heard that someone had invented a bit of software that could translate dog barks into English. That, unsurprisingly was an April Fool, how fortunate we are that the iPhone 3G is not! It’s real!

Posted by Kate on March 19, 2009 at 9:34 AM (CDT)


I am working on a new iPhone app, inCharge, that will help epople spend less time on their iPhone without keeping it away for 24 hours.
More details can be found at

Posted by Ariel Shtul on November 24, 2011 at 6:19 AM (CST)

If you have a comment, news tip, advertising inquiry, or coverage request, a question about iPods or accessories, or if you sell or market products, read iLounge's Comments + Questions policies before posting, and fully identify yourself if you do. We will delete comments containing advertising, astroturfing, trolling, personal attacks, offensive language, or other objectionable content, then ban and/or publicly identify violators. Wondering why we're talking about something other than iPods? Check the Archives: Backstage has been here and kicking it since 2004.

Commenting is not available in this channel entry.
iLounge Weekly

Recent News

Recent Reviews

Recent Articles

Sign up for the iLounge Weekly Newsletter

iLounge is an independent resource for all things iPod, iPhone, iPad, and beyond.
iPod, iPhone, iPad, iTunes, Apple TV, Mac, and the Apple logo are trademarks of Apple Inc.
iLounge is © 2001 - 2019 iLounge, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Terms of Use | Privacy Policy