How to Turn Your Smartphone Into a Wisephone

How to Turn Your Smartphone Into a Wisephone

I love my iPhone. I can’t imagine not having it in my pocket. It makes my life so much easier. It saves me so much time.

Only 10 years ago, I was printing off directions before driving somewhere new and carrying a mobile phone, an MP3 player and a digital camera wherever I went.

By no means am I anti-technology. In fact, I spend most of my day running online businesses on my laptop. However, I’ve realised that…

My smartphone isn’t very good at helping me be smart

Constantly receiving emails and Facebook messages makes it virtually impossible to get any work done.

Scrolling through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for hours on end doesn’t feel like a particularly wise use of my time.

Watching YouTube videos and Netflix shows whenever I find a spare moment removes any possibility for peace and quiet from my day.

Even Safari, the humble web browser, either distracts me from engaging with the people in front of me, or causes me to feel overwhelmed due to all the tabs I’ve got open that I really want to read at some point.

And don’t get me started on the addictive games!

I seriously considered getting rid of my smartphone altogether. I even bought an old Nokia 3310 off eBay. A “dumbphone” – as they’re now sometimes called. My wife, Katie, convinced me that was a dumb idea.

The problem is, I’ve deleted the Facebook, Twitter and Instagram apps quite a few times before. But it never lasts long. A week later they’re back and I’m wasting an evening liking every #tabletennis photo on Instagram in a desperate attempt to get more followers.

I needed a more drastic approach.

What is a wisephone?

Don’t search for “wisephone” on Google. All you’ll find is a random phone for old people and that’s not how I’m using the term. Here’s my definition…

A wisephone is a minimalist smartphone, full of the apps you need but devoid of the apps you want.

Where you draw the line between the “needs” and the “wants” is, of course, up to you. Here are the apps I’ve got on my iPhone 7s;

  1. BBC Weather
  2. Bible
  3. Calculator
  4. Calendar
  5. Camera
  6. Clock
  7. Evernote
  8. Foursquare
  9. Google Drive (purely for work reasons)
  10. Google Maps
  11. iBooks
  12. iZettle
  13. Kindle (my actual Kindle broke recently)
  14. Mail (secret account)
  15. Messages
  16. Notes
  17. Phone
  18. Photos
  19. Podcasts
  20. Reminders
  21. Settings
  22. Sleep Cycle
  23. Spotify
  24. StrongLifts
  25. VSCO
  26. Whatsapp (with group chats muted)

That still looks like quite a lot, but I can assure you my phone looks very empty when compared to any of my friends’.

I still have access to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Skype, and everything else on my laptop. And yes, sometimes I do end up walking around the house carrying my laptop like it’s a phone because I’m looking at something. But most of the time, I’m perfectly content checking those sites once or twice a day and leaving it at that.

How to create your own wisephone

Are you intrigued? Do you want to give it a go? Here’s everything you need to know…

Turn on restrictions

You will be tempted to reinstall all of your favourite apps and willpower alone is unlikely to win that battle. The only way to stop yourself is to use the restrictions option inside your phone’s settings. Turn all the “wants” off and then get your partner (or someone else you trust) to set up a password.

There are other ways to access the browser

Removing Safari (if you choose to do so) doesn’t stop you from being able to access the web through other apps. Search for the Google HQ on Google Maps, click the link to their website (, and all your good work has come to nothing. I couldn’t figure out how to turn this off for ages and then I realised it’s also inside restrictions. You just need to block all websites.

Beware of the boring apps

I’m talking about apps like Rightmove, or Deliveroo, or Trainline. Apps that you downloaded when you first got the phone and have only used once or twice. You’ll be surprised how interesting these appear if you’re addicted to your smartphone and have got rid of everything else. I started checking Rightmove multiple times a day to fill the void left by social media!

Create a secret phone email account

Sometimes you do actually “need” to access an email on your phone. I use Gmail for my emails but I’ve created an iCloud email account that’s just for me. Nobody ever emails it, but if I’m sent travel insurance documents to my Gmail, I can very quickly forward the email to my secret iCloud account and then I know I’ve got it in my pocket.

Download “Desktop for Instagram”

Instagram is the only app that you can’t really use properly on your computer. I use the “Desktop for Instagram” Chrome browser plugin to allow me to post photos to Instagram from my laptop.

Why not give it a go?

The fact that you’ve got this far must mean there’s some part of you that likes the idea of turning your smartphone into a wisephone. Why not try it out for a week?

It does feel a bit weird at first, to have a smartphone in your pocket but not to be able to do anything “fun” on it. But then you get used to it.

I’ve had a wisephone for about six months now and I have no desire to restore it to a smartphone, ever!