Entries in what is a smartphone (1)

Thursday
Apr262012

How Smart is Your Phone?

I do so much on my phone these days that I often forget not everyone has a smartphone. But then I’m already well into my second one, and planning for the next. So I’ve had a few years for this type of phone to really become an intrinsic part of my everyday life.

I started digging a little on the difference between phones, only to quickly discover there is no industry standard definition of what a smartphone is. We used to simply say someone had a “dumb” phone or a smartphone. But rapid technological evolution has led to rather muddy categories, and there’s overlap between them. But here are what I consider the basic categories:

DUMBPHONE
AKA "basic" cell phone - you can make calls on it: pizza, police. The usual stuff. That’s pretty much all early cell phones could do. But most have cameras now. And basic text/mms capability. (MMS, or multimedia messaging service, lets you also send graphics, video or sound files over your network – have to be able to share those photos somehow!).

FEATURE PHONE
We’re already into gray area here. Feature phones are more advanced than your basic dumb phone. You could argue that even having a camera makes a basic phone a feature phone, but “features” have quickly evolved to also include things like touchscreens, GPS navigation, media player capabilities and calendars/scheduling/reminders. Today’s feature phones would have been considered smartphones not too long ago.

SMARTPHONE
Take all your regular goodies and add direct internet access and the integration of application programming interfaces (APIs) – translation: app’s! You’re walking around with nothing short of a mini-computer. Access your email, video chat (for phones with two cameras), and create and send documents and files. Shoot, edit and post video to YouTube. Do your holiday shopping or some online banking. Watch a movie. And with some phones, you can even share your internet access with others – my own HTC phone gives me a private mobile hotspot for up to five other devices.

SOME STATS
Check out the links included below for even more interesting info:

 - Nielsen reports that as of February 2012, almost half of U.S. mobile subscribers now own smartphones.

 - PewInternet estimates a similar figure (46%), and further shares “smartphone owners are now more prevalent within the overall population than owners of more basic mobile phones.”

 - From a handy blog I ran across (Communities Dominate Brands – blog of the book), here’s a tidbit to make you think: “we have now celebrated the first full year when smartphones have sold more than all types of personal computers (including tablet PCs like the iPad) combined.”

 - From Marketing Land: More than 27% of emails are opened on mobile devices (phones accounting for 20.6% of that number).

MY PHONE
My phone has slowly edged out some of my other devices and resources over time. I made a list of things I use my phone for – a few include:

  • An alarm clock
  • A calendar and birthday-reminder
  • Internet access (on my phone and for my laptop)
  • Digital Camera and Hi Def Video capture
  • Email for multiple accounts
  • Twitter and Facebook for multiple accounts
  • Games (and I’ve made online friends - there’s seasoned fireman in Texas who regularly beats me with words like “za” in a Scrabble™-like game)
  • Endless shopping lists and memos (movies to see, bands to explore)
  • Weather forecast (no more “local on the 8’s” for me!)
  • Music player
  • GPS Navigation (and a compass, too!)
  • Calculator
  • Stock Ticker

And I can’t forget another one – I baked my first turkey this past Thanksgiving. Thought I had everything covered until I read I was supposed to “brine” the turkey. What the heck?!?! A quick search and I had a YouTube video up and playing that walked me through what to do. (and the turkey turned out GREAT, btw). Crisis averted.

I hope relying so much on smartphones doesn’t result in making US dumber over time.

 (Shaun Amanda Herrmann)