In a world where smartphones have become an integral part of our lives, it’s hard to imagine functioning without them. However, I found myself in a unique situation where my (Samsung S20+) smartphone’s screen broke completely, rendering it unusable in the traditional sense. This happened because I proceeded to replace the battery on my own and I didn’t let the alcohol dry before connecting it all back up. This could have been a disaster, but instead, it turned into an enlightening experience that challenged my perception of smartphone dependency. This blog post will explore how I managed to navigate my digital life using my smartwatch (Galaxy Watch 4) and an iPad, highlighting the potential for an alternative to the smartphone paradigm.
The Broken Screen Experience
When my smartphone screen simply turned off completely, shortly after I had successfully replaced the battery, I initially thought my device was unusable due to a known issue. This was not the case, however, as the phone was still “working” music was still playing and the touchscreen was still responsive. I could connect it to my external monitor and DEX would start up as normal. Furthermore, I also found that I could still access most of its main features through my smartwatch, a Galaxy Watch 4. This smartwatch, paired with my broken smartphone, and the Galaxy Buds + I had, became a surprisingly effective substitute for a fully functioning phone.
Making and Answering Calls, and SMS
One of the most basic functions of a smartphone is making and receiving calls. Despite the broken screen, I found that I could still perform these tasks seamlessly with my smartwatch. The Galaxy Watch 4, like many other smartwatches, has the capability to make and receive calls, which allows me to stay connected without needing to replace my smartphone immediately. I could also answer WhatsApp calls, just not initiating them from the watch. Furthermore, sending and receiving text messages worked just like before and as I got more and more used to using voice dictation, I found it to be the perfect substitute for the tiny built-in keyboard on the watch.
Using WhatsApp and Other Apps
WhatsApp is a crucial communication tool for many of us here in Europe, and I was able to continue using it, albeit on a much smaller screen. The experience was different, but it was still functional. images still show fine and I can listen as well as send voice messages straight from the watch app. Other apps, like music and podcast apps, could also be controlled either with Google Assistant or directly from the watch. I should add that one app, in particular, was key to being able to control some functions of my phone: Simple Wear. With this app, I have better media controls as well as the ability to launch phone apps.
Luckily for me, the excellent cameras on my smartphone still worked. This meant I could still take pictures, even though I couldn’t see them immediately. I could use the remote camera app from my watch to ensure I wasn’t taking a picture of my face instead of what I was pointing at. This brought back the anticipation I used to feel with analogue cameras, where I’d have to wait to see how the pictures turned out. As I use Google Photos and OneDrive Camera upload, I could only see the pictures after they’d sync. I felt somehow liberated to just point and shoot (and hope for the best) when taking pictures. Double press the power button and the camera opens, then I’d use the volume up button to snap, and the haptic feedback confirms a picture was indeed taken. Shooting videos, however, is something that I can do also but I have no control over the settings.
Wi-Fi Hotspot and Other Features
Despite the broken screen, I could still turn on/off the Wi-Fi hotspot when I needed to use my iPad or laptop on the go. This was a crucial feature that allowed me to maintain my digital activities without significant disruption.
The Role of the iPad
While my smartwatch took over many of the smartphone’s functions, there were still some apps that required a screen. For these, I used my iPad. This included some social media and banking apps. It’s important to note that this experience was only possible because I had the privilege of owning an iPad, which could take over some of the apps I had on my phone. I can’t stress this enough: without the iPad, I would have severely needed to replace my phone because some apps only exist for mobile devices.
The Samsung DEX Feature
The DEX feature built into my Samsung S20+ was particularly handy. It resolved issues of accessing some apps that I had no choice but to interact with. This feature further reinforced the idea that a broken screen doesn’t necessarily render a smartphone useless.
This journey of navigating my digital life without a fully functional smartphone has been a revelation. It has challenged my preconceived notions about smartphone dependency and opened my eyes to the potential of alternative digital ecosystems. Six months into this experiment, I’ve discovered that I don’t need a smartphone in the traditional sense. Instead, I need a device that can run smartphone apps, be easily controlled from my smartwatch, and occasionally require a display for certain tasks.
My vision for the future is a single device that acts as a hub, communicating with a smartwatch and wireless headphones when I’m on the move, and connecting to a display when I need a screen, either at home or on the go, all wirelessly. Imagine a world where we carry a foldable display only when we really need it, and for everything else, we use voice commands, similar to the META Raybans glasses. This hub device would operate like a smartphone without actually being one.
This experience has not only shown me an alternative to the smartphone paradigm but also highlighted the potential for a more flexible and adaptable digital lifestyle. It’s a testament to the power of innovation and adaptability, and a glimpse into a future where our digital lives are not tied to a single device but spread across multiple interconnected devices that adapt to our needs and circumstances.
Now, I invite you to reflect on your own digital habits. Could you imagine a life without a traditional smartphone? What alternative digital ecosystems could work for you? I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences.
In the coming weeks, I’ll be exploring more about this topic, diving deeper into the potential of smartwatches, foldable displays, and voice-command devices. Maybe I’ll write about it.
For those interested in exploring this topic further, I recommend reading the following articles:
- “5 Ways to Access Android Phone with Broken Screen Like A Pro” by Wondershare Dr.Fone
- “Can a Smartwatch Replace a Phone?” by CCS Insight
- “Smartwatch That Can Call And Text” on Amazon.com
These articles provide additional insights into the potential of smartwatches as smartphone substitutes and offer practical advice for those who find themselves in a similar situation.
I also recommend reading “The End of the Smartphone Era” by Tom Goodwin and “The Future of Wearable Tech” by Paul Armstrong. These books provide a comprehensive look at the potential future of our digital lives beyond smartphones. Happy reading!