Glad you asked! It is a fortune that I live exactly in such a country (named “Russia”). There are some cases in which you just don’t have any other option than using the phone, and there are cases when it is hell hard to do something if you are not a happy phone owner, though formally there are options.
First of all, it is worth noting (to explain the points below), that our law requires any SIM card vendor to request a buyer’s passport and store the passport data associated with card’s IMSI. This way every SIM card is associated with a real and validated person. In other words, there is no legal way to purchase and use a SIM card staying anonymous or providing fake personal identifying information, so phone-based (e.g. via SMS) authentication is a favorite tool of our government:
That’s what about “go and buy a phone for your own money”. Law does not care if you have only a laptop. If you want to use social networks, messengers or public Internet access - go and buy a phone and a SIM card.
- getting a banking card while not having a phone is at least a pain (I don’t even sure that this is possible now - most of the banks will just refuse to issue a card if you don’t provide and verify the phone number via SMS). The reason are the regulations imposing some obligations on banks, which are easy to comply only if the bank has your phone number and can contact you at any time. While, again, this is not a direct enforcement of having a phone, it is close to impossible to obtain a banking card without a phone;
- during early pandemics in Moscow, our government did its best to make people hostages of their phones: mandatory digital passes for everyone leaving home for any reason and mandatory crazy social monitoring app for those who are suspected in having COVID emerged in early April. To be fair, after some social resonance government started providing smartphones for those who claim not having one, but this was not since the beginning of all this track-em-all crap. As to digital passes, there were different ways of obtaining them, but none of them were suitable for people who don’t use any devices at all.
In general, not having a phone here means not being able to do some basic things which in no way relate to cell phones per se. These restrictions are artificial and, efficiently, show that nothing prevents our lawmakers from issuing one more crazy law, requiring people to use a phone as a “covid passport” (we already had one mandatory app during the peak of COVID panic, so why not have another one?).