- It’s not just members of the public who are switching off their mobile for good
- Here’s 10 celebrities who got rid of their smartphones – or never even owned one
- READ MORE: I went on a digital detox and it was the ‘hardest’ thing I’ve ever done
Leaving the house without our mobile may seem unthinkable for many of us – but some of the world’s biggest celebrities do it every day.
The likes of Elton John, Ed Sheeran, Tom Cruise, Sarah Jessica Parker and Damon Albarn have all admitted to not owning a smartphone.
Studies show the benefits of putting down the handheld gadget, such as reducing anxiety, feeling more satisfied with life and being more likely to exercise.
Meanwhile, the dangers of smartphone addiction include sleep disruption, fatigue and negative personality traits such as self-absorption.
Here are nine celebrities who for various reasons embraced the digital detox and got rid of their smartphones – or never owned one at all.
READ MORE: Ditching my phone for the weekend was the ‘hardest thing’
One of the world’s biggest pop stars, Ed Sheeran used to own a smartphone until 2015, but he got rid of it for good shortly after a huge tour.
Speaking to the Collector’s Edition podcast, the star said he used to find it stressful being expected to reply to phone messages immediately, although he still sends emails on a computer.
‘Every few days, I’ll sit down and open up my laptop and I’ll answer 10 emails at a time and I’ll send them off and I’ll close my laptop, and that’ll be it,’ he said.
‘And then I’ll go back to living life and I don’t feel overwhelmed by it.’
Sheeran said it was as if ‘a veil just lifted’ when he got rid of his smartphone, although he didn’t so much ‘cut contact with people’ as ‘limit contact with people’.
In 2021, Sheeran revealed he bought Nokia’s revamped 3310 so that the NHS track and trace scheme could get hold of him when he was travelling.
However, the £59.99 phone is not a smartphone – and it’s so basic that it can’t even download apps like Instagram or WhatsApp.
It’s an example of a feature phone – one with press-buttons rather than a touchscreen display, as well as very limited internet capabilities.
READ MORE: Two weeks with a Nokia feature phone
Sir Elton John revealed on the Jimmy Kimmel Live! show that he’s phoneless, although he has an iPad so he can Skype his sons when they’re not with them.
When asked by the host during his appearance in 2016, ‘You can afford a phone, right?’ the Rocket Man singer replied, ‘I just don’t want one’.
He also described himself as a ‘luddite’ as he gets his husband David Furnish to run his Instagram page and his staff to run his Twitter account.
The legendary star has also said he ‘hates’ mobile phones as they mean he no longer has any privacy when out in public.
Although neither own a mobile, Ed Sheeran said his good friend Elton frequently gives him a ring to check in on him.
Speaking to the NZ Herald in 2021, Sheeran said: ‘He used to ring me about once a month – well, we do it on FaceTime via iPad because neither of us has a phone.
‘Then when [my daughter] Lyra was born it became more like weekly – he’s a dad as well and he’d check in.’
READ MORE: Experts list the top 10 tips to fight smartphone addition
Another musician to shun the mobile is Damon Albarn, the Blur and Gorillaz frontman.
‘I don’t have a phone,’ he told Radio X in March. ‘A lot of autonomy comes out of not having a phone.’
He also told the Evening Standard in 2015 that he ‘occasionally’ uses a tablet to email his daughter but doesn’t have anything to do with social media.
Although Albarn has an official Twitter account, it’s believed his staff run it on his behalf.
Albarn said his daughter has a social media obsession that inspired his score for the 2015 musical Wonder.land – a reimagining of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, updated for the internet age.
‘With my daughter it felt like she had got on a cruise liner to the other side of the world via her phone so I was pretty upset,’ he said.
‘She was completely self-absorbed and I think you can see that reflected in this play.’
Blur’s 2015 album, ‘The Magic Whip’, also had its origins in demos that Albarn had recorded straight onto his iPad.
Despite being a maker of futuristic films, English director Christopher Nolan doesn’t own a smartphone and is even reluctant to use email.
The 50-year-old director of such films as Inception, Interstellar and The Dark Knight said in 2020 that he shies away from such devices as he’s ‘easily distractible’.
‘It’s true that I don’t have a smartphone,’ he told People.
‘I have a little flip phone that I take with me from time to time. I’m easily distractible so I don’t really want to have access to the internet every time when I’m bored.’
Nolan also said he has no interest in email and would rather communicate over the phone and that phones have become ‘a huge distraction’ for actors on-set.
Justin Bieber has confessed to not owning a smartphone, which he said has helped him to set ‘boundaries’ in his life.
Talking to Billboard in 2021, he said: ‘I definitely learned how to have boundaries, and I just don’t feel like I owe anybody anything.
‘That has helped me to be able to just say no and just be firm in it and know that my heart [wants] to help people, but I can’t do everything. I want to sometimes, but it’s just not sustainable.’
Bieber is not totally adverse to technology; instead of a smartphone he does his communications through an iPad, according to Billboard.
Photos showing Bieber talking into a phone from 2020 suggests he used to embrace the technology.
Hollywood star Tom Cruise said in 2007: ‘I have no iPhone, no mobile, no email address, no watch, no jewelry, no wallet.’
He told the Daily Star: ‘I simply want to be with my children and make movies.
‘My values for children never change: love, responsibility, curiosity at the wonder of life.’
Admittedly, 2007 was a long time ago, when smartphones were nowhere near as ubiquitous as they are now, so Cruise’s stance may have changed.
Cruise is a prominent member of the Church of Scientology, which reportedly permits phones and internet discourages members from googling ‘Scientology’.
SARAH JESSICA PARKER
Sex in the City star Sarah Jessica Parker said back in 2013 that she’s phoneless, although likewise it’s unclear how her habits have changed since then.
She told E!: ‘I don’t [own a phone] because I don’t like being behind in both phone calls and emails.
‘So I chose emails because when you’re on a set you can carefully and sneakily check a BlackBerry, but you can’t return a phone call.
‘Hearing “Your voicemail is full” is horrifying to me.’
During Covid, Simon Cowell told ET that he hadn’t used a smartphone for three years and instead keeps in touch with loved ones through Zoom.
‘It means you don’t wake up to, like, 50 text messages you can’t reply to,’ the Britain’s Got Talent judge said.
‘And that’s what happened one morning – I woke up and I’ve got 52 unread messages.
‘And I thought, even if I reply to every one of those, I’m going to get another replying back, and then I’m going to get more that day.
‘And I realised it was actually stopping me from working or living properly, so I just turned it off and I went a month, three months, then a year, then two years, then three years – and I love it.’
He also told The Mail on Sunday in 2007 not long after he quit: ‘The difference it made was that I became more aware of the people around me and way more focused.’
The international star added that it has ‘been so good for my mental health and has ‘absolutely made me happier’.
‘Superbad’ actor Michael Cera recently admitted in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter that he doesn’t have a smartphone and has ‘a bit of fear’ about the idea of owning one.
‘That is a conscious choice, because I feel a bit of fear about it honestly like I’d really lose control of my waking life,’ he said.
His decision goes back to when smartphones were in their infancy, when the BlackBerry phone was popular.
Last year, the BlackBerry phone was discontinued, 22 years after the device first hit the market.
‘Right when people started having smartphones, when it was BlackBerries, I had lunch with a friend of mine who was my best friend at the time,’ Cera said.
‘He’d just gotten a Blackberry, and for the whole meal he was typing emails, and I was sat there lonely and bored, so I had an early aversion to them.’
Cera also said he doesn’t have a presence on social media because ‘it’s just not interesting to me’.
Put down your devices and let your mind wander: People underestimate how enjoyable it is to just sit and think, study finds
If you spend too much time on your smartphone, a new study shows it really might be more enjoyable to put your device down and just ‘let your mind wander’.
Researchers in Japan tasked volunteers with sitting in a room without any distractions – such as a smartphone – for up to 20 minutes.
Over several different scenarios, participants underestimated how enjoyable it would be to sit and think without anything to distract them.
The results are important in our modern era of ‘information overload’ and constant access to distractions, the experts say, including pervasive forms of technology.