Intuitively Intentional: The Value of a Minimalistic Smartphone Experience

Omar Zahran
6 min readOct 21, 2022

In a mobile landscape filled with distraction and doomscrolling, perhaps a simple approach is what we all need

The idea of minimalism is enticing. The idea of living life with intentionality and purpose, only buying things that serve a need, and cutting away the fat of life can be appealing. But in practice, it is difficult. As someone that has leaned more and more into minimalism as I have aged, I can attest to the fact that it is hard to stop accumulating things, to stop collecting items that don’t have a defined purpose. We have seen minimalism creep its way into the design of our technology in recent years. More companies have gone for simpler designs, with an emphasis on removing unnecessary features. iPhone fans’ favorite tagline of “it just works” is heavily rooted in minimalism for instance. The nature of smartphones is to grab our attention constantly, which flies in the face of intentionality. But what if you wanted to change that? What would a minimalist phone experience look like? And is it worth trying?

Less is More

Think for a moment when you are setting up your new iPhone or Android device. As you install apps from the App Store or Play Store, the new icons are littered across multiple home screens creating an endless loop of passive scrolling. Then when opening these apps they will often prompt you with a few questions about accessing permissions, which most people tend to accept blindly. Shortly after that, the app will ask you if you want to turn on notifications. Again this is something that most people allow as well.

What happens from here is that these apps will constantly send you updates and notifications trying to get your attention to engage with the app as much as possible. We see this a lot from social media and news apps, constantly sending a new update all in the hopes that the user will open the app and begin doomscrolling. When this happens there is no intentionality, there is just increased screen usage and time wasted.