Can you remember life before your smartphone?
27th April 2017
It’s easy to take our smartphones for granted in 2017. With the entire connected world at our fingertips in just a few clicks, we can soon forget that, in the not too distant past, things were very different.
Affectionately remembered as ‘bricks’, the mobile phones of the late ‘90s and early-2000s were a world away from the pocket rockets we have today. Anyone of a certain age had one at some point – you likely still do buried in a draw somewhere – and they didn’t do much more than call or text.
But would we choose to go back to those times?
Probably not. Not now.
Not after so many years of Google Maps and Deliveroo and Candy Crush.
Whether you’re an iPhone, Android or Windows user, you have everything you need right at your fingertips – and going back now would NOT be a smooth transition!
And that got us thinking. Just how different was life before 4G and Uber and Tinder and Whatsapp? Have we just… forgotten?
We asked around, and this is what life was like before we all had smartphones. Apparently.
1) People got lost. A lot.
With the entire globe literally mapped out in your pocket thanks to Google or Apple Maps, there’s very little reason to actually remember where anything is nowadays. But just a handful of years ago, we used to – get this – print out directions from our desktops if we needed to get anywhere, and carry them around with us all day. And if you got truly lost, you had to actually ask a stranger for directions. Insane!
l i recall trying to get around Paris with the maps from a Lonely Planet before google maps was a thing. Needless to say I got lost repeatedly— Dan Waterfield (@danwaterfield) 7 April 2017
2) Treating yourself to a takeaway? You actually had to do stuff.
Back in pre-smartphone life, if you wanted pizza, you called the number on that flyer the pizza place posted through your letterbox (and no, we don’t know why they’re still doing that, either). And you’ll never believe this, but loads of places didn’t even deliver – so you’d have to actually go into the restaurant, order your meal, and then sit around waiting for them to cook it! And you didn’t even have Netflix to pass the time.
3) Getting a taxi was basically impossible.
Needed a taxi on New Year’s Eve? You leaned out into a busy road for an hour, waving frantically at every taxi that passed. And if you eventually managed to get one, then you had to pay for it IN CASH. Sure, you could call a taxi rank, but good luck directing them to “erm, outside a chicken shop” at 3am!
4) Dating apps didn’t exist, so you somehow had to meet people IRL.
It only takes a few swipes these days but back then, this is what went down: if you saw someone you liked, you’d have to think of something vaguely interesting to say, pluck up an insane amount of courage, and then go up and actually attempt to say something WITHOUT coming across as super-creepy! It takes years to master, and even then, it never gets any easier.
How did people actually date before dating apps & the Internet? Like I never even meet people out and about that I fancy - HOW DID IT WORK?!— Lorna (@miss_lde) 3 September 2016
5) Snapping pics of your dessert? You needed an actual camera!
Now that we have high-res cameras built into most mobiles, there’s not really any need to lug an actual camera around anymore. But before smartphones, that was the only way to snap a night out, or a holiday, or your cat. You either had to fork out for a digital camera, or pick up a disposable one – and even then, in order to see your ‘Friday-night-out-shots’, you’d have to get them printed at an actual shop. Only at that point, a week-or-so later, would you eventually realise your eyes were closed in EVERY picture!
6) You kinda had to be on time for stuff.
How many times have you sent that message “sorry, just running a few minutes late!” It’s hard to believe there was a time when quite a lot of people didn’t have a mobile phone at all. So if you were meeting someone at 4 outside the station, you sort of just had to meet them at 4 outside the station. Crazy, huh!?
how did people make plans before phones and internet, no running late texts or asking where to meet. i'm struggling after a day— Alex Stuart (@ohheystuarty) 9 February 2015
7) Phones were far from smart back then.
The mobiles of yesteryear certainly had their quirks. For example: you used to have character limits on text messages. And when you had a ‘really great story’ to share with someone that went over one text’s worth of characters, your phone would break it up into separate messages.
Sometimes, one of those messages didn’t go through, for reasons that have still never been explained, and your recipient would only get half of the tantalising story; sometimes it would be the first half, sometimes the second. To be fair, it made for some great IRL cliffhangers.
8) You weren’t always connected.
With 4G in more places than any other network, and public WiFi hotspots all across the UK, the only way of really ‘going offline’ if you’re an EE customer is to turn your phone to airplane mode. Our network engineers are going further than ever before to deliver 4G where you need it most. From drones to signal-boosting helium balloons; it’s not the future, it’s happening right now.
EE’s 4G coverage is getting bigger all the time, especially in rural areas, and we’re the first UK network to show you our 4G geographic coverage. By 2020, our ambition is to deliver superfast 4G coverage to 95% of the UK landmass.