How to ‘Dumb Down’ Your Phone: These Apps Want You to Be Less Glued to Its Small Screen

Our smartphones grab all our attention, but there are methods to render them more monotonous, basic, and uninteresting.

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We constantly have our phones with us, and they often keep us glued to the screen for long periods of time. Perhaps longer than is advisable. In light of this man-mind problem, developers have created specific apps designed to help us break free from this digital trap.

The goal isn’t to cure our phone addiction by going back to using basic cell phones adapted to modern times. While some brands, such as Nokia, have explored this alternative, there are even more unconventional concepts.

Take this idea: To deal with our digital addiction, we're going to use apps and settings to transform our flashy smartphones into less appealing, more monotonous devices. While the phone's functionality will remain the same, the aim is to reduce their visual appeal.

Smartphone 0 The iPhone’s accessibility settings allow you to apply color filters and use a monochrome screen. This is a drastic decision, but one that certainly makes its display less appealing.

So, how can you make your phone more boring? For iPhone users, software engineer Harrison Broadbent has provided useful tips on his website in a blog post specifically titled: “how to turn your iPhone into a dumb phone.” He outlines simple steps that can also be applied to Android phones.

Minimalist Launcher

The first thing we see on our phones is the home screen, so the idea is to make it more minimalistic and simple. On iOS, this can be achieved with Dumbify, a paid launcher (although there are alternatives like Blank Spaces or On Point) that transforms your phone so it shows you a list of apps on a plain background, eliminating colorful (and tempting) icons.

Smartphone 1

On Android, alternatives like Olauncher and Indistract, among others, do the same thing. No icons, just plain and simple text that doesn’t grab too much attention. While these apps can be combined with attractive wallpapers, the goal is to avoid distractions, which leads us to our second recommendation.

Plain Wallpaper

Using attractive photos as wallpapers is great. However, they can also be distracting and lead to excessive screen time.

Smartphone 2

Using neutral flat backgrounds, such as dark gray or very light gray, can help minimize this distraction. It’s also recommended to disable automatic light/dark modes on iPhone or Android, as these adjustments can affect the color of the dock.

Monochrome Display

For a more drastic approach, you can remove color from your iPhone or Android phone to create a monochrome display, which some studies claim reduces mobile anxiety. On iOS, this can be done through the accessibility settings using color filters.

Smartphone 3 On Nothing Phones, you don’t even have to do anything to use a black-and-white display: The interface itself is designed for that (although you can customize it, of course).

On Android, you can achieve this through the Digital Wellbeing options. However, the method may vary for different mobile devices. It’s interesting to note that the Nothing Phone (see image above), for example, is known for its monochromatic interface.

Notifications, Go Away

To avoid being constantly distracted by your phone, it’s also a good idea to delete as many notifications as possible. For example, you can turn off notifications on social media to reduce the temptation to constantly check your phone.

Both iOS and Android make it easy to disable notifications in their settings. You can choose to turn off all notifications or customize them to only receive the ones that are truly important to you. Remember, the fewer notifications you have, the less distracted you’ll be.

Image | Harrison Broadbent

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