2018 Smartphone Buyers Guide

It’s a tough decision, deciding how one forfeits their privacy, so I thought I would provide a guide to buying a smartphone in 2018.

We all live in a house on fire, no fire department to call; no way out, just the upstairs window to look out of while the fire burns the house down with us trapped, locked in it.

Tennessee Williams The Milk Train Doesn’t Stop Here Anymore (1963)

LG Xpression 2

While clearly not a smartphone, I believe using a phone like this is smarter than opting into the bullshit ecosystem of Apple, Amazon or Google in 2018. Every piece of technology is a tradeoff for convenience, but somehow people forgot that and just assume it’s necessary to carry around one of these things. After being free of any smartphone for about a year now, the illusion of their necessity has vanished. I do feel like carrying a cell phone daily is still worth the tradeoff for me, I don’t have a land line and have to be reachable while at work. Ideally I wouldn’t use one or at the very least, not carry it around with me.

As to which model you get, it really doesn’t matter. This phone worked for me but YMMV. Find something cheap and expendable that you can get a signal with. As of this writing, AT&T didn’t even offer plans without some data surcharge. You could opt for pay as you go which I may do in the future.

Garmin Drive 50

I still find it useful to have GPS for when I’m driving somewhere new or in a congested area. There are several Garmin models to choose from, but most of the new ones offer some sort of app integration which is superfluous. This particular model seems fine. The map update feature requires you to plug it into a PC with USB and run an application which has been a little flakey. It gets the job done and is as accurate as the directions on my last iPhone.

MP3 Player

There are still models that you can get new, or you may have one lying around. If you were in Apple hell you can opt to do what I did since I already had most of my music library in iTunes and use an old iPod Nano. What was remarkable to me is that I can manually manage music on an iPod from multiple computers! What a novel concept that was removed from the iPhone? The OS hasn’t had any updates in a very long time and so I’m sure it’s vulnerable if I had Bluetooth enabled. The nice thing about that is the worst case scenario is losing some mp3s that I have elsewhere. I’d like to try out a non-Apple MP3 player when this iPod inevitably dies, but no sense in buying another one yet.

Field Notes

You don’t need to buy this particular brand, but I’ve found having a small notebook I can carry around in my pocket has served adequately for note taking. They come with the added benefit of being cheap and requiring no updates. I’ve bought a few packs and have enough to last me for years to come.


I’ve found after selling my last iPhone in 2017 and using these devices, I have made the minimum tradeoffs for all of the convenience I had previously. This comes with the added benefit that I don’t have to worry about security updates walled behind some designer’s shit ideas of how I need to do things I’ve managed to do just fine for years. Try it out, you might be surprised. And you know the thing they have in common? They’re cheap.