My iPhone Became My Wallet

Years ago, I carried an iPod touch and a feature phone until I finally replaced them with just an iPhone. Weeks ago, it hit me: why am I carrying my iPhone and my wallet separately yet often together inside my jacket pocket? That’s when I decided to try a wallet case.


Two To One

Besides keys, just about everyone always loads their pockets with a wallet and a phone . A force of good habit, I always do a mental check before I head out somewhere; I’ll even pat my pockets while I do it, you know, to avoid a panic later if either is missing. 1

For years, I carried my wallet in my back pocket, phone in the front. My wallet always held several types of cards, and these days very little cash if any. But I realized that most of the stuff in my billfold was neither needed nor used like 99% of the time. All I really need is my driver’s license, debit card, and maybe a little cash. That’s it. Carrying both a wallet and a phone struck me as totally redundant or unnecessary.

I checked online for iPhone wallet cases to find the one that would work for me. But I didn’t want to open my current wallet too much – ha! – to buy one . So it had to be functional and affordable. And how about cool looking?


A Snakehive

It doesn’t sound inviting, but the wallet case I chose is very attractive. The premium aesthetic of the case is what caught my eye. It has a two-tone look and feel; I opted for black suede with brown leather. The inside is also exquisite; all the stitching is top-notch. The case appears to be put together very well. And it is.

I’ve been using my Snakehive wallet case for two weeks now, and it is already “breaking in.” The material where it folds is looser, the card slots are less tight, and the leather on the outside looks good with some minor scuffs.

I dropped my new phone wallet a few times and am glad the outer flap covers the screen. The part that holds the phone in place is a flexible rubbery plastic that is the right balance of stiffness and softness. It feels nice to have the entire phone wrapped in protection.

So as I expected, the case looks good, feels good, and is quality craftsmanship. And it only set me back $30 – that’s a good deal! But there are some things I did not expect in switching to a wallet case.


It Feels Different

One of the first things I noticed right away were quick moments of minor panic and relief. In these first two weeks, every time I’d head out and do my mental check, I’d notice my wallet missing from my back pocket! Oh no! A second later, my brain would recall my wallet is my phone, or my phone is my wallet now, and I do have it. It’s in my front pocket. Ok, safe!

The other unexpected thing I noticed is how nice it really feels to have one less little bulky thing to carry around on me and keep up with. Simplicity is an underrated virtue that I find a lot of value in. Cliche it may be, but so what, it’s so true: less is more. I’m a little bit freer now than I was before since going from two loaded full pockets to one.2

And the thing I was most unsure about has, so far, turned out to be not a problem. I was concerned about actually being able to use my phone while it is stuck in a flappy covered case. Worst case scenario: I would get frustrated from fiddling with the phone and chuck the case across the room. But that hasn’t happened!

I figured that if the case was a slight encumbrance or hindrance, then that would cause me to use my iPhone less. And that would be a good thing, like using Screen Time to help you break your phone addiction. So I was mentally prepared for some case woes, but like I said, I’ve found no problem with it.

In fact, I’ve adjusted already to how to use the phone while it’s snug in its leather confine. And I’ve found that the middling awkwardness is outweighed by the simplicity and utility of this type of wallet case.


Snake Versus Bison

There’s another animal emobossed wallet case on the market that, honestly, I think I’d like even better than the Snakehive. It’s the Carson Wallet Case by Burkley – and it’s got a Buffalo! 3

Besides the cool animal, the big advantage of the Burkley case is that the phone part is magnetic. This lets you remove the phone from your wallet, as easily as slipping out a $20 bill, so you can handle your phone normally without the flappy case attached.

Otherwise, the Burkley is the same as the Snakehive except for the extra cost of that one ideal feature. But it costs over twice as much. That’s more than I wanted to pay this time.


Bonus Feature

Here’s a handy tip for the Snakehive wallet case. If you sometimes need to tote around a headphone adapter, the super strong magnetic clasp easily secures the tiny cable to your phone.

If you’re looking for a new phone case and have wondered about one that doubles as a wallet, I don’t hesitate to recommend the Snakehive to you.


What kind of phone case do you like? Or do you go all natural with a naked phone? Comment below or write to me. Thanks for reading.

  1. I’m not sure what would be worse, missing my iPhone or missing my wallet. Seriously, they’re both very valuable with personal or private info contained in them. I suppose my wallet would be the greatest asset to fall into the wrong hands, given it has my debit card. What if I just put my debit card in the Wallet app in my iPhone, protected behind TouchID? That would require two things: my bank supporting the Wallet app, and Apple Pay being available everywhere. At least I think that’s how it works.
  2. Not counting my keys.
  3. I do prefer bison over snake.

Nothing But A Smartphone

Not long ago I wrote about pros and cons of devices designed to do only one thing well versus others that can do many things. Of course, the smartphone is the multi-use magic gadget with the chops to function as the be-all end-all device.

That in mind, here’s a thought experiment: can the iPhone replace all other devices?


Tablet

First, the iPad (or other tablet). Can it be ditched in favor of minimizing device overload, to simplify your daily life? It is basically the same as the iPhone, only bigger. So you would lose the large screen. To mitigate that, you could just buy one of the big screen iPhones. You know, a phablet.

Also, many people who have an iPad do not have the LTE version, whereas the iPhone always has a cellular connection. So although the iPhone is smaller, it does have built-in cellular internet, which is a plus.

If you’re willing or able to live without the larger screen of the iPad, you really don’t need it. Your iPhone, though maybe less than ideal in some scenarios, is enough.


Camera

Next, your point-n-shoot camera; can it go away? Chances are, if you still have one, you have not used it in forever. Your smartphone camera is with you 100% of the time; it’s all you use anymore. OK, that one was easy. Moving on. Seriously, unless you’re an enthusiast photographer, or if you only used a DSLR on auto, then your iPhone camera is enough.


TV

Now for the giant HDTV in the living room. Let’s see if we can toss that out the window. And let’s also chuck your subwoofer and little speakers or soundbar that go along with it. While we’re at it, say good-bye to the Bluray player, the game console, the Apple TV, your Roku, and any other streaming box you have. That’s a lot of electronic entertainment gear!

But so what? Your smartphone has an excellent screen, with super high-resolution, wide viewing angles, dynamic range, etc. It’s just smaller than your jumbo-tron! But then again, you sit only inches from it instead of feet, so what’s the big difference really? Want to zoom in on what you watch on your iPhone? Hold it closer to your face.

Yeah but what about the big bass sound lost? No big deal. There are many affordable headphones you can wear that deliver exceptional bass and stereo sound, even ones that mimic surround sound. Best of all, you can watch and listen to your shows anywhere; you’re not stuck to the living room.

Wait, what of the games? The streaming stuff? I will grant you that nothing beats a good controller with tactile buttons for gaming. That said, in the virtue of simplicity, one can enjoy a great gaming experience on a smartphone these days. There would be some sacrifice, sure, like not having the latest Zelda game (ouch).

Instead of dwelling on what’s lost, you can focus on what’s gained: the many other great games to play, the overall lower cost of playing, and being able to play those games everywhere, not just the living room.

As for media content, you know these days just about anything you want to watch or listen to is available online or in your smartphone’s app store, music store, games store, whatever. The supply of entertainment is virtually endless and still growing constantly. In fact, there’s too much!

Okay, your living room entertainment center has now been replaced by your smartphone. When you think about it, your phone is probably the center of your entertainment universe already! What else do you need?


Computer

Last and not least, your computer. That big box and monitor with a slow hard drive. Or your trusty clamshell laptop whose battery only lasts a few hours these days. No thanks. How much do you really use those things? What apps or programs on them must you use that cannot be found on your phone?

Most folks just use the web browser. And most major websites and services have apps on the iPhone. When it comes to the PC, the smartphone is the most personal computer on the planet! It’s always in your pocket! Plus, the processor inside your modern phone is likely as powerful as your traditional computer for 99% of the tasks you do.

So we can safely kick your computer to the curb. The phone in your pocket is more portable than your laptop and as powerful as your desktop. It can even do things your desktop can’t do, like double as a camera, scan barcodes, and be the GPS on your car’s dash.


If you prioritize and utilize your smartphone above all else, you can sell off the many other electronics in your house and use the funds to invest in a top of the line smartphone with a protection plan for it, a case, and peripherals or accessories for it like wireless headphones, a bluetooth keyboard, extra charging cables around the house, or an extra battery case.

Of course there are caveats to this kind of over-simplistic all-your-eggs-in-one-basket approach. For example, if your phone is lost or stolen, or even if just the battery dies, you have nothing else to use for backup. You’d feel like you’re in a black-out where you get that eerie quiet feeling that life is on pause until the electricity comes back on.

One way to help your mind think about this is to imagine you’re going to sell your home and live in an RV to travel the country. The RV can only contain so much. Could you relax comfortably in it with just a big smartphone and a few choice accessories?

Run this thought experiment through your own household and see what things your smartphone could replace. You might be surprised to find what you can live without. And you may discover a new level of simplicity and minimalism, reducing clutter in your home and in your mind. There could be so much less stuff to manage.

Just a phone, that could be all you need.

One little glass rectangle.

Nothing more.


What do you think about this idea? Is your smartphone the most indispensable thing you use? Sound off below, or contact me! Good to hear from you; thanks for reading.

Single Versus Multi Purpose Tech

A Swiss Army knife is known for being this one thing you can stick in your pocket and have all the tools you need at your disposal. Knife? Of course. Scissors? You bet. Toothpick? Radical! But is a multi-purpose device always best?

Likewise, an iPhone is known for being the one digital device you can pocket and do all the cool things with. Phone? Obviously. iPod? Now you’re talking. Wireless internet communicator? Yes! These three things were shown to be one device when Steve Jobs unveiled the iPhone in a 2007 keynote. 3-in-1; what could be better?

That question comes to my mind sometimes, especially now reading Digital Minimalism by Cal Newport. Being into tech, a sorta gadget geek, I tend to welcome shiny whiz-bang devices into my life. Maybe too many. So why have multiple devices when you can have one multi-purpose device to rule them all?

The smartphone, for many, has replaced several single-purpose devices: the Flip video camera, the flip-phone, the point-n-shoot camera, the Garmin or Tom-Tom GPS, the MP3 player, the pocket calculator, the modern PC, hand-held game console, ereader, and more.

But I often think that a single function gizmo, while an extra thing to carry around, is the best tool for the job. A smartphone may be all you really need these days, but in some cases the old cliche may apply: jack of all trades but master of none.

So I want to explore just three specific ways the smartphone may not be as good as some dedicated devices it has replaced.

Camera

I really like photography, and my iPhone is the only camera I use anymore. But I can say there are still ways a dedicated camera is better, especially when it comes to creative picture making.

One advantage is the long zoom range of most cameras. Another is the ergonomic grip built into the camera body. Even the neck strap can be a big plus. Also, dedicated physical buttons and dials for quick easy access to features such as switching modes or setting exposure.

These are real benefits to creative photography that the beloved iPhone still can’t replace. But for casual use, and given the unique advantages of advanced smartphone photography, there is not a clear winner. You must pick the best tool for the job.

Hand-Held Game Machine

Remember the Gameboy? Now the cool new hotness is the Nintendo 3DS XL, or maybe a PS Vita. For me, Nintendo’s dedicated portable game gadgets are still the best in some regards for good’ol gaming on the go.

For this category of device, both hardware and software are key pros over the smartphone. Nintendo makes some good games now for Android and iOS. But they’re casual games, more-or-less. For full-fledged Nintendo goodness, you still need their machine. Like Apple, Nintendo still makes the “whole widget” when it comes to video gaming.

In other words, if you want a real Mario game or Zelda, you won’t find it on iPhone.

And Nintendo has always been great at innovating and implementing game play mechanics via physical hardware buttons, which the iPhone eschews. Like dedicated cameras with a myriad of control knobs, the latest 2DS XL is loaded like a pro game controller with a built-in screen.

You can see the game on-screen without fat fingers in the way, there’s no oil from your skin fogging the view, and also omitted is the thumb-slippage that’s prone on glass touch screens that try to mimic fake analog control sticks. Smartphones just don’t have enough tactile feedback for hardcore or long-form gaming.

Ereader

I once read Steve Jobs’ entire biography on my iPad. And I’ve read an entire fiction novel on my iPod touch back in the day. But when it comes to ereading, while tablets can get the job done, nothing beats the experience of a dedicated ereader. And of course I mean the kindle.

I love my kindle paperwhite. It’s front-light is better than a tablet’s backlight which fatigues your eyes. It’s eink screen has just about zero glare in full sun, but a tablet looks like a mirror. And being able to go days to weeks without charging your ereader, unlike a smartphone or tablet, is a bigger benefit than you might think. You can always count on reading your ebook very much like a paper book.

The kindle ereader becomes the very book you’re currently reading, while the smartphone is just a fancy distracting device that happens to also let you read words on a screen. Pick it up to read a book and you’re way more likely to check Facebook or text someone instead.

I also like the fact that when my face is glued to my kindle screen, my kids at least know instantly that I’m reading a book, not just scrolling some feed.

Hands down, ereaders for the win.


As much as I like certain single-purpose gadgets over my iPhone, there is still that elusive allure of The One Device to rule all.

Years ago, before I could afford an iPhone, I carried to work everyday my flip-phone and my iPod touch. These two devices sat on my desk doing their things. One was for texting. One was for music and apps. But I longed for the time when the two could merge. Then I would be done keeping up with two things. (Note- I still carry two devices to work everyday: iPhone and iPad. So, yeah…)

So simplicity…having just one device is attractive. But since it’s really multiple devices in one, it’s not that simple. That small blank rectangle of glass without buttons is many gadgets in disguise. It does so much that it becomes all-encompassing and engrossing. It can be distracting or overwhelming.

When you use a single-purpose device for a single task, you are focused and your device is focused. This lets you concentrate on your task at hand. And instead of being consumed by your device, you’re engrossed in the one thing you’re doing. There’s something to be said about the mental overhead that comes with a multi-device like an iPhone versus the mental clarity and simplicity in a gadget that just does one thing. Call it focused functionality.

Yet the coin can be flipped again. There’s also something about a dedicated gadget festering with buttons and dials that scares people off. They don’t want to grapple with a camera’s numerous controls, for example.

That’s what was so cool about the iPhone. When Steve Jobs announced it, he expressed disgust with feature-phones of the time, littered with so many buttons. He even deplored a simple stylus, saying your finger was best.


There must be some balance. A plethora of devices, one for every single task you have, is too much. One single device that claims to do it all is not always best or realistic.

I guess you must, as always, pick the best tool or tools for the job(s).

There are several other categories of devices that the smartphone replaced. For you, what has it replaced, or what single-function gadgets do you still tenaciously cling to?

Thoughts On Digital Minimalism

Two months ago to the day, I posted thoughts on social media. It was a general look at my social media use at the time and a point of scaling back from Facebook in particular. My conclusion was apt:

“Minimalism is a good final point on my current thoughts on Social Media. I don’t want to delete altogether but minimize use or exposure, and thereby mitigate any negative effects. I hope the net results will be positive!”

I also shared that I had pre-ordered Cal Newport’s new book Digital Minimalism. It finally came out a few days ago and appeared on my kindle immediately!

So far, Cal’s new book is great! I’m about half-way through reading it; here are some of my thoughts.


This is the first book I’ve read by Mr. Newport. I’m kinda jealous because, man, he can write well! His ability to clearly present arguments and definitions of concepts with real-world examples is noteworthy. The writing is concise, and the logical flow from one thought to the next is silky smooth. Regardless of the content, the reading is a pleasure.

But of course, I love the content! My expectation leading up to the book’s release was that Cal’s Digital Declutter (not so much detox) was going to be too challenging for me personally, like when I was young and had to eat my broccoli. Good, but hard, to do.

Does decluttering mean I will have to give up my smartphone? No, not necessarily. In fact, Cal presents surprising findings from a close look at the Amish and Mennonite cultures known, inaccurately, for eschewing technology altogether.

Yet I’m finding, through Cal’s simple and compelling reasoning, backed by much research, studies, life-examples, and works by others, that the Digital Declutter is so necessary and valuable that I’d be somewhat of a fool to not jump in headlong with conviction of a good outcome. Like I can’t wait to benefit from it! It’s better than broccoli smothered in cheddar cheese!

I’m carefully considering the weight of Cal’s words and his own life as a testimony to living a better life more in control of technology than being controlled by tech.

Our smartphones, for example, promised to give us new capabilities, to enable us. Instead, they enslave us, exploiting our vulnerabilities.

Digital Minimalism begins by defining what it is and why it’s important. I was generally convinced of this matter beforehand, but after reading Cal’s first few chapters, my understanding is better and, if locked-in before, the key has now been tossed into the abyss.

The book’s outset also explains the value and method of the Digital Declutter. While I’ve not yet embarked on this 30-day task, I have already begun to pare down my phone’s apps plus online services I use.

Some of the most valuable stuff I’ve gained so far is the in-depth promotion of solitude, walking, and other practical ways to declutter from device domination.

I also appreciated that Cal expounded on a distinction between connection and conversation and applied it to what he terms conversation-centric communication. Basically, the argument is well made that real-life face-to-face socializing can never be replaced by social media and digital “likes.”

The reason this is worth reading is because, even though many people would agree that the argument’s conclusion is common sense, Cal reasons how and why and shows that our common sense can be undermined by the technology and our own psychological weaknesses.

For now, I’ll end with a quote that I loved enough to, ironically, share on Twitter (needing to turn on my kindle’s wi-fi to do so):


“…humans are not wired to be constantly wired.”

Cal Newport – Digital Minimalism

I’m still soaking up this good read, but I’ll go ahead and highly recommend you buy it and consume it for yourself!

Thoughts On Social Media

Some of my thoughts lately have dwelled on Social Media like Facebook. I often re-think my personal use of it, and I also ponder general ideas about the pros and cons of social networks in our culture. These kinds of thoughts are also prevalent in the news and other publications, which fuel my thoughts more.

I deleted several of my social media accounts before for various reasons. And then I’ve rejoined for other reasons. But I’m not contemplating quitting again. I think I may just be reconsidering how much I use Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, you know, just keeping it in check.

Besides social media, I recently deleted a couple apps from my devices: Apple News and Flickr. The apps and services are very good. But I simply found that I have not used them in a long time. I’m too busy enjoying other things like WordPress and Twitter.

Limited Attention Span

My puny 3 pound human brain can only handle so much input and output; it is not a multi-tasking computer like some mistakenly seem to believe. Much of my brain’s processing power is spent at work doing my job of Civil and Structural design. Then it’s managing a daily work/home/life schedule, keeping it all in balance.

Anyways, as I do periodically, I scale back the number of apps on my smartphone and tablet. I step back. I re-evaluate. Re-assess the situation. Slow down. Regroup. Stuff like that. I just get tired from it all, even the enjoyable bits.

So, of course, moderation is good here. Technology in general enables us with so many options for productivity and creativity. One must choose to use tech tools wisely.

And I think most of this is common sense. But it’s easy, and subtle, for common sense to get overlooked because we’re so easily distracted by all the whiz-bang coolness of apps and social media.

Yeah, I know this is nothing new. The thing that is new, however, is how it seems social media problems have become more pronounced and written about in our culture. I’ll point to one article in particular from Cal Newport about Social Media Reform here.

Let me also point out Cal’s new book due to arrive in February called, “Digital Minimalism.” I’ve already pre-ordered my Kindle version!

Minimalism is a good final point on my current thoughts on Social Media. I don’t want to delete altogether but minimize use or exposure, and thereby mitigate any negative effects. I hope the net results will be positive!

What are your thoughts on Social Media? Thanks.

-Jason