Company Rewards Someone for Switching from Smartphone to Flip Phone

Category: Lifestyle/Entertainment


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. downgrade / ˈdaʊnˌgreɪd / (v) – to cause something to become of lower quality

    She intends to downgrade her lifestyle by exchanging her car for a bike.

  2. old-school / oʊld-skul / (adj) – old-fashioned or not modern

    The young students cannot relate to their teacher because she has old-school ideas.

  3. dependent / dɪˈpɛn dənt / (adj) – relying on something or someone

    Many students are dependent on the Internet for their homework.

  4. on top of (something) / ɒn tɒp əv / (idiom) – to be updated about something

    She always watches the news, so she is on top of political issues.

  5. stipulate / ˈstɪp yəˌleɪt / (v) – to require as part of a contract or agreement

    The contract stipulates that only US citizens can join the contest.


Read the text below.

A US-based telecommunications company started a contest to find someone to downgrade from a smartphone to an old-school flip phone in exchange for $1,000.

The company, Frontier Communications, invited people to join its contest to survive a week without a smartphone. US residents who are smartphone-dependent, are always on top of the latest tech news, and are active on social media were encouraged to apply.

A winner was chosen and rewarded with $1,000 last July 8. In addition to the prize money, the winner received a kit containing objects that serve as alternatives to smartphone apps. The kit included a map, a phone book, a pen and notebook, and music CDs.

The contest has a contract stipulating that the winner should not use smartphones and tablets for seven days. However, in case the Internet is needed for work, a laptop or computer could be used.

Apart from using a flip phone, the winner also has to document the whole experience, including how long it takes to text and check e-mails. Changes in productivity and sleep hours during the week also need to be noted. Also, the winner has to report how many times he or she wished to check something online.

According to Javier Mendoza, a Frontier Communications executive, the contest was created as part of a social experiment meant to understand how technology is used in the modern age. The experiment’s main goal is to find someone who uses a smartphone a lot and to observe how that person survives challenges without it.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• If you were qualified, would you join the contest? Why or why not?
• Do you think the social experiment would achieve its goal? Why or why not?

Discussion B

• How has technology changed since you were young? Discuss.
• Do you think these changes were good or bad? Explain.