/ Technology

I can’t live without my smartphone

Woman operating smartphone

Getting a smartphone will change your life for the better even if, like me, you thought you never needed one. But now I’ve got apps in my life there’s no going back to my old mobile ways.

My colleague Christopher would have us believe that smartphones are unnecessary gadgets to weigh down your pocket. After all, the main purpose of a mobile phone is to be just that – a phone. Right?

Until recently, I agreed with him. I’d even been known to refer to smartphone owners as ‘smartphone sheep’. That’s until my old – and very unsmart – phone started playing up just as a friend upgraded to Apple’s iPhone 4. He offered me his iPhone 3GS and – being too cash-poor to buy a new handset – I reluctantly accepted.

I rapidly had to eat my scathing words. Within a matter of days (possibly even hours) I was hooked. Since then, my smartphone love affair has only grown stronger.

Never get lost again

In my pre-smartphone days, going somewhere unfamiliar – by car or foot – involved printing off reams of directions and maps in advance. Otherwise I was pretty much guaranteed to get hopelessly lost.

My iPhone completely does away with the need for guerrilla-level advance preparation. Like the vast majority of smartphones, the iPhone comes with built-in GPS so at any given moment I know exactly where I am and can plot the best route to where I want to go. This feature alone has already saved me hours of frustrated wandering.

Appealing apps and first-rate functionality

Coined by Apple to promote its App store, the phrase ‘there’s an app for that’ has been widely adopted by journalists and joke-tellers alike.

From step-by-step recipes to GPS-based exercise trackers, I’ve yet to draw a blank when searching for an app. And, slightly alarmingly, I’ve even found National Rail’s train times app to be more up-to-date than the information given at stations themselves.

In his rant against smartphones, Christopher calls smartphones ‘Jacks of all trades, masters of none’, but I have to stand up for their functionality. Which? lab tests prove that most smartphones work just as well for calls and texts as their lower-spec alternatives, and the quality and ease of use of the iPhone’s MP3 player equal those of the iPod.

Plus, mobile phone cameras have come on leaps and bounds since their early days. Some – such as the Sony Ericsson Satio – even offer 8Mp or higher resolution and proper flashes.

I’m happy to sacrifice a little ease of use and a few features for the convenience of having access to a camera, music player and the internet whenever and wherever I want to use them.

So if you’re thinking of upgrading your mobile, but don’t think you need a smartphone, perhaps you should think again. Once you get apps, you’ll never go back.

What side of the smartphone debate are you on?

I agree with Ceri - smartphones rock (64%, 178 Votes)

I agree with Christopher - smartphones suck (36%, 99 Votes)

Total Voters: 277

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Somewhat like Ceri, i am a recent convert to smartphones.
However there is an irony within this as I have had smartphones for the last few years but have been unimpressed … until I purchased an iPhone 4.
Previously they had been essentials to my life but certainly not a pleasure whereas the iPhone 4 has been an absolute pleasure.
I *only* made the transition to iPhone for the camera capabilities and potential of the app’s for that. I certainly didn’t anticipate liking the phone in general… Talk about having to eat my hat.
The camera & app’s are indeed excellent; have exceeded my expectations beyond words but it is the functionality of the phone overall which makes me grin at my change of heart.
After years of being baffled by people talking of their iPhones so adoringly, I now find myself sheepishly joining those very ranks…

Roger Turner says:
22 October 2010

Smart phones are a very practical business tool. My wife bought a Nokia C6 (with touch screen and querty keypad) recently and it is brilliant. To be able to send texts and emails using the querty keypad rather than pressing buttons 3 or 4 times to get one letter is very time saving with less mistakes being made. It also comes with free satnav which we have used a couple of times and is very easy to use. To also be able to access the internet from anywhere is also very useful. My advice would be to buy one and then go on one of the very competitive Tesco monthly rolling contracts which use the O2 network. You will save a lot of money. How could anyone possibly go back to using just a standard phone again?

I admit to being a gadget nut having had various Palm Pilots and recently a Palm Treo 680 but have now progressed to a HTC Desire. I have watched the pace at which phones have improved from the basic mobile. I have been amazed as to how the quality and size of phones have improved. The Desire is considerably cheaper than the Iphone and I have found it to be superb, besides being a great phone. Comments about smart phones having poor battery life and costly network charges I feel are overstated. I only use network and Internet when I need them and turn them off when not in use and have found battery life to be quite acceptable but have the flexibility of all features when I need them.

I had a TMobile G1 which I thought was fantastic… until it decided to stop working after 15 months into my 18 month contract. I’ve heard so many people say the same has happened to them. I now use a Samsung Monte which isn’t nearly as good. Do I miss my smart phone? Yes! But I’m much more sociable without it than ever I was with it as I was forever checking my email etc. The real downside, as someone else has mentioned, is the battery life, which is abysmal.

iPhone versus iPad. Well, I use an iPhone4, having upgraded from an iPhone3, and the 4 is a great improvement. However, I also have an iPad and now tend to use that rather more than the iPhone. Most of the apps downloaded for the 3 and 4 also run on the iPad (WiFi version). I think that it is more a matter of what you want to use these devices for and this will tend to differ from people to people. The iPad cannot currently totally replace the iPhone but for my use supplements it. I have to deal with a lot of documents attached to E-mails and the iPad is superior in that one can easily read a page at a time rather than having to scroll so it forms a very good e-Book type Reader. The battery life of the iPad is much better than the iPhone4. While the iPad has a virtual keyboard plugging into the physical keyboard is much more satisfactory if one is inputting a lot of text and making corrections.

Mike Wray says:
23 October 2010

I find my new Samsung Wave very good in most respects but I miss the simple spped-dial system of my old Nokia N95 where I only had to slide the phone open and press one button to call any of my selected favourite numbers. Now I have to click on ‘contacts’ and the ‘favourites’ and then scroll to the desired number. There ought to be some way to have a spped-dial system on a smart phone.

Nige says:
24 October 2010

I loved my N80 by Nokia and kept it for years, turning down upgrades to newer, non-mart phones. Recently got a Nokia Express Music 5800 and really disappointed. Promised so much but delivers it poorly. Please do lots of research before you decide on which one you get! Potentially they are a way of life, get a bad one and you’ll be frustrated and won’t get any enjoyment or benefit from the available functions and apps.

Martin Rayner says:
25 October 2010

For too long I have put up with a phone that doesn’t work as well as expected. The computer industry hype things up. I believe Apple deliver what they promise. With iPhone, iPad and Macbook I have been impressed for the first time rather than depressed. iPhone is expensive to buy, and expensive to run, but it beats the compettition hands down, you discover more each day you can use it for. Only just now on this email from Which, I was bemoaning the amount of paper I have to carry in my car with Michelin guides, Good Food Guides, Off the Motorway etc.. Now I find I buy a Good Food Guide app. Marvellous. Now I’m just hoping it uses the built in GPS to guide me to the restaurant.
Martin Rayner

Antony says:
26 October 2010

I’ve been using an Iphone for the past 1 year, and I have to say its excellent. I can set up appointments on my mac (oh yes, I liked it so much I brought a mac to go with it!), and these are then available on my Iphone. I can then update my calendar no matter where I am. I have my to do list on my iphone and this is synced with my mac, so I can easily plan my days activities. In meetings I can use the voice recorder, no having to take a dictaphone with me. I can save documents to the cloud, and read them on the move, and when I’m sitting in a hospital waiting room, I can read a novel. At home I use it to control my music system. I see it more as a hand held computer with a phone on it.
Yours – Antony

Many years ago, I started using a Psion 3, then a Psion 5, then a Compaq 9350 PDA. All sufferred from one disadvantage – no phone included, so I had to carry a phone as well. Then came the smartphone, with all my sync-able PDA functions, plus phone, and now GPS. Last purchase was nearly 2 years ago, an HTC Touch HD, great at the time, still functions perfectly, but unable to take advantage of some of the latest apps, etc. I use spreadsheets on my phone, a lot, for storing details that I can readily syc to my PC. I see that a lot of my spreadsheet uses are now covered by apps, so not too interested in those, but the added functionality of direct linkage to phone numbers and locations, maps, etc from within apps would be a benefit to me. So next time I upgrade, will it be Windows Mobile, Android or iPhone? I haven’t decided yet, but it WILL be a smartphone, again.

I’ve been searching for the perfect all-in-one device for years and only this year are smartphones starting to get to that point. I got the HTC Desire in June and really is a revelation over previous smartphones I have had, but it does have niggles, the main one being battery life.
I had started to get a bit jaded about the Desire until I had to send it off to get somethign fixed under warranty (I’m the only one of 6 people I know with the phone to have any problems). I have now been without the Desire for a week and had to switch back to an older, not-so-smart, phone and it is driving me up the wall.
I’m back to carry both a phone and and iPod which is a real pain and I’ve realised just how much I use the smart features on the phone. I use maps, interenet, twitter, facebook, work email, private email, watch video, listen to music, check my route, track my workouts and now I don’t have it I’m lost. It feels liek every ten minutes I check my pocket to try and do something and realise I actually can’t. Very frustrating.
Now I admit, I am an early adopter of technology, but this week has really shown me there is now way that I could ever go back to not having a smartphone in my pocket all of the time.
And remember, at the rate that technology moves at the moment, these phones are really going to be incredible in 10 years time.

Now let me see, I have a ‘smart phone’ that was abandoned by a daughter when she ‘upgraded’ which I use only for calls from one relation. The phone has to be charged every day, (I even replaced the battery thinking that it was faulty), it makes it dead easy to select some chargeable thing that I do not want and very hard to remove the internet access to kill off that problem. Would I use a map function on it,?NO! I cannot always stop everywhere to use a phone, I try to look up the route first, memorise the map and if I need to check something, stop in a car park and look at the paper for the next 60~90 miles of the journey, funny thing, the battery on paper never needs changing or charging.
Now just run this past me again, why would I want to review or delete spam e-mail while on the move?

Jaki says:
31 October 2010

Yes, with the poor battery life, you do need to install chargers in all the key places around your life – your home, even. Yes, using touch screens is rather different, although this is not exclusively/necessarily a smart phone issue. Yes, it is a computer and it does mean having a phone that occasionally shares some of the temperamental issues with PCs.

As far as I’m concerned, 2 really critical and overwhelming pluses, though:
– fairly obviously, being able to check things on the web anywhere and any time (even more so, because of not having to fire up a PC first);
– most importantly, mobile e-mail, not just being really able to keep on top of your personal e-mail without mixing it with work but use it to replace SMS texting (using the invaluable ‘reply all’ function texting lacks to enable group conversations, especially when co-ordinating group activities and gatherings on-the-move)

MOST IMPORTANTLY: that the iPhone is not the only smart phone, furthermore it is also not even the best smartphone, or even a particularly good smartphone.