Technology Won’t Solve Your Problems – Why I Regret Buying The Galaxy Note 2

Yeah, I can multi-task on my Galaxy Note 2. But why would I?

A screenshot of multi-tasking on my Galaxy Note 2. The top part is the internet browser and the bottom part is the note/doodling app. Doodle is a funny word.

The features for the Galaxy Note 2 were compelling. Five and a half inch screen! Wow! A Quad core processor? Unbelievable! A smart stylus pen for notes and drawing? Pentastic.

I had big plans for my big new phone:

  • My old phone was too small and inadequate for taking notes. That’s why I was disorganized.
  • My old phone didn’t have a stylus. That’s why I never brainstormed or sketched ideas.
  • My old phone was slow at times. That’s why I hesitated to do productive things on it.
  • My old phone screen was too small. That’s why I never read books on it.

The Galaxy Note 2 would change everything. I would use it for all of my ideas and notes, I would read books on it (at least one a week), and my productivity would soar.

Not All Stories Are True

I worked out a deal and used my parent’s upgrade to get the contract price for the phone. I spent $300. I believe in making strategic investments, and this seemed like a winner. The Galaxy Note 2 arrived in the mail in late November.

It’s March now, three months later. Not a single one of my theories about organization, brainstorming, or reading was correct. I use this phone exactly like I used my old one. Sure, at first I made a few sketches and even read a book, but then I reverted back to how I always use phones.

Doh! I thought buying a phone would change me. I thought that the new features would draw me in and make me more productive. That’s the story Samsung told me and I believed it.

Every piece of technology is a tool, and we are the operators. But just because a tool does something, does not mean the operator will use it effectively (or at all). Anyone who sells anything tells us the same story – this purchase will improve your life. Everything from pizza (true story every time, highly recommended) to a new house comes with this message of satisfaction.

Results, Regret, And Minimalism

I bought the phone, thinking it would solve a problem, but the problem was inside me. I don’t need a new gadget, I need to focus better and form healthier habits. In many ways, having a distracting phone makes those goals more difficult.

Each time I catch these purchase mistakes, some random choir sings the minimalism song. It’s a beautiful song. I don’t need this phone, and it’s too big. Seriously, this thing is a monster. People don’t believe me when I say it fits in my pocket.

Minimalism is deeper than having less stuff. It’s deeper than the freedom of being able to move anywhere in minutes. Minimalism directs your precious cash towards better purchases.

What do you spend money on if you’re a minimalist? Information products (digital, of course), traveling, quality food, getting a mole removed, skydiving, and three copies of every Deep Existence product (still working on the first one :-P). When you don’t buy stuff, you invest in yourself and others. It’s a much better use of money because the returns are greater.

What if I used that $300 to attend a life-changing seminar? What if I used it to purchase speed reading lessons? What if I used it to pay for professional voice acting for the product I’m working on? What if I used it to buy Rosetta Stone software to learn Italian before I go to Rome in May?

I’d be happier with those decisions. But instead, I have a fancy phone. Maybe I’ll downgrade to a dumb phone. That would save me $360 a year.

I’m not bashing all gadgets; I’m pointing out the problem with superflous, unnecessary purchases. For some, the Galaxy Note 2 is a very useful device. I personally don’t need it and should not have paid so much to get one.

One technology purchase I am very happy with is my Kindle, because it has replaced all of my physical books and it is a pleasure to read on. It improves my quality of life and lets me own zero physical books. At $69, it’s not a huge investment either. I tried using my Note 2 as an e-reader, and sold my Kindle, but I strongly preferred the e-ink on the Kindle (which looks just like real ink on paper), so I bought it again.

Don’t be fooled into splurging for the latest technology (I’m looking at you, Google Glasses). It probably won’t be as useful or life-changing as you first think, and there are a lot of incredible non-material alternatives to spend money on. If you want to buy it because you think it will make you happier, resist the temptation and buy a pizza.

I really want pizza right now. I’m afraid it bled through in my writing.

Can you relate? What has been your best material purchase? And your worst?

About the Author

I'm lazy, but you can call me Stephen. When you're as lazy as I am, you need superior strategies to live well. My strategies are so effective that I'm productive every single day. As the world tries to figure out how to always stay motivated, I create strategies that don't require it.


For me it is books.

With technology I am happy for the early adopters to pay the price of de-bugging and sorting out what works for me.

Amazon helps with sorting which books to buy. But there are still a few I regret.

Stephen Guise

I look at Amazon reviews before I buy most things (and I buy most things from Amazon). I think there is some review rigging these days, especially with books, so that’s something to watch out for. But generally, I’ve found Amazon reviews to be accurate.

Early adopters get the worst of it. I remember the days when LCD TVs were thousands of dollars even for a smaller set.


I just hate technology. Call me an old timer. Or a grump. Whatever. I don’t understand it, I can’t use it, I actually think it’s out to get me.

Honestly, I didn’t even know what a Galaxy Note 2 was . . . or that there was even a Note 1. I get a bit isolated here in my barn without any TV to keep me in the loop.

I do have an iphone. But it doesn’t like me very much. I only use it as a phone. Well, at least 90% of the time. I got it when I got my job because I was led to believe that without it I would be completely disorganized and likely fired after 3 months.

Just over a year later and I still have a job and I stll don’t use my phone for work. I actually power the damn thing off when I’m there so it doesn’t keep buzzing me with calender reminders. I hate that.

I hope you are eventually able to get more use out of your phone than I get out of mine.


Stephen Guise

Technology is just another set of tools. If you don’t like them or need them, I don’t see a problem with shunning them in favor of an awesome barn life! A lot of people secretly (or not secretly) desire the old fashioned lifestyle of personal interaction instead of texting/phones/email.

I miss it.

I grew up just before (or as) this stuff took over the world, so I’ve seen both sides, and I miss the old way.

It’s fantastic that you get along without your phone. I very well may downgrade to a “dumbphone” sometime. I’ll have to think some more about it.


I definitely miss the “old way” of calling friends on the phone at home, or making plans beforehand and sticking to them, instead of changing things last minute via text/etc. Memorizing phone numbers and certain key info I feel was valuable to do. Now we remember how to get the information we need, which is also helpful, but not when the power goes out or the internet is down.

My best recent purchases have been my smartphone (Galaxy S2) and Macbook which I’ve learned to make part of my day to day life by integrating my calendar and reminder software to work with both. I forget less important stuff. Things don’t slip through the cracks. I keep in better touch with people I’ve met and do most of the things I say I’m going to do.

BUT… none of this was easy. It took a huge shift and focus to create the new habits to always check my calendar and ‘trust the system’ I created. It’s still new to me but has been worth it. If I wasn’t trying to do so many technical things that require technology I’d be just as happy with a dumb phone and paper calendar. The minimalistic lifestyle really benefits from storing things digitally too. I’m going to say my worst purchases have also been my phone and laptop because if used for evil and not good I can easily waste a LOT of time.

Ultimately, it’s all about habits and focus. That’s what’s going to really make the difference. Just tools like you said. If you don’t NEED it… you probably shouldn’t have it.


I’m definitely a huge gadget fan. I love making videos and so I’m always looking at new cameras and equipment! (Granted, I generally don’t buy them… it’s just fun to look.) I do have an iPod touch, though. I use it for everything. I have book apps and article reading apps (so I can save Deep Existence articles to read for later when I don’t have time!) I know, however, that it is really easy for me to fall into the trap of getting gadgets for their own sake. It’s something I have to constantly guard against. Ironically enough the gadget that I regret buying is a Kindle Fire because anything that it can do my iPod can do better and smoother. The only advantage is the screen size. Live and learn, right?

Stephen Guise

Trusting the system is so important. If you don’t trust it, it’s useless.

One of my best purchases technology-wise was my Macbook Air, because for the first time, I have a truly portable laptop! The Mac OSX is nice too.

Agreed about habits and focus. The mistake I made was not realizing that and buying a device thinking it would fix my bad habits by offering slick functionality.

I’m going all digital. I own no CDs, DVDs, or books. It’s great!

Stephen Guise

Saving Deep Existence articles for later – brilliant idea! 😀

Buying gadgets for their own sake is really what this article is about. It’s a waste of money to do that.

I felt the same way when I bought an iPad. It was a weird transitional piece between my smartphone and laptop, but it didn’t add anything I needed because my Macbook Air is already so portable.

I don’t like the Kindle Fire, for the record. I think it’s a second rate tablet that loses the e-ink appeal of the regular Kindle. I do love Amazon though, so I see the appeal of having a device for amazon videos, books, etc.

Yeah, live and learn. 🙂

Joyce Cerroni

Thanks for this article. I was seriously thinking of upgrading to the Samsung note. However, like you, I probably wouldn’t use all the features. Since I wasn’t ready to upgrade and didn’t want to spend the money (more like $600 for me) I decided to wait and in the meantime did come to the same realization. I would rather just upgrade to the Samsung IV with the Lightning for speed rather than have all the gadgets. As a rule, I don’t use lots of apps (don’t play games or read on my phone). Don’t see that changing. I also love my Kindle and am considering upgrading that for better internet connectivity as mine is rather cumbersome and slow. Never really considered the iPad as I figured with email and internet on my phone and my laptop, it was just another thing I would have to carry around. Sometimes, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing!

Stephen Guise

Joyce, it sounds like we have the same technology taste buds (weird phrase?). I’d like a fast phone without many extra features too.

Which generation Kindle do you have? I have the newest standard Kindle and it’s plenty fast with a good wifi connection. Are you talking about the 3G being slow?

Too much of a good thing definitely exists! Long live minimalism. 🙂

Jimmy Burnett

I’m more productive when I focus on one task. Knock it out and move on.

Jimmy Burnett

This is a great post. Working at nTelos as an LTE/3G/MMS engineer I get to play with a lot of toys. I feel the same about phones as I did before I worked here. These gadgets really don’t make me more productive. I recently (spring of 2012) became an Apple user and thus got an iphone. It sync my google calendars, work calendars, lets me check my email and takes great family photos. Perfect for me, does everything I want.

I guess my point is, sometimes keeping it simple is the way to go. You can get a nice Android or iPhone for 1cent now with a contract. Think of where the money spent on these toys COULD go!

Stephen Guise

Thanks Jimmy.

You bring up a great point. Phones can be very useful and life-enriching as in your example, but it’s best to decide the features you need beforehand instead of going for the newest, shiniest object (like I did). That said, I am very happy with the quality photos (and video) my phone takes – that’s been a great upgrade for me.

Part of my regret is that I didn’t get the iphone. I just got a Macbook air, so I liked the synching/connectivity between the two, and the iphone is such a quality product. But I wanted a jumbo screen. I didn’t need it, but I wanted it. Lesson learned!

Jimmy Burnett

Oh man I do that all the time too. Well at least you got to test a new toy!


That’s the story Samsung told me and I believed it.


Sylvia Rytarowska

Hey, I teach speed reading 🙂
It’s easier than you think and one 15$ book is enough but you need to do some drills every day.
I don’t use Samsung,but I have an iphone 4 and was thinking of buying a 5c or s.
You got me thinking there 🙂
Maybe I’ll go for a nice weekend instead. Cheers.

Comments are closed