Am I Dumb for not Owning a Smartphone?

It seemed like just yesterday when, in the late 80’s, I rode home from a soccer game with a teammate whose dad had a car-phone – I was in awe. When he stopped to use the ATM, I naturally called my mom (I was a little kid!) to tell her about it. I imagined I was James Bond. It was breathtaking. I admit it – I’m the least “techie” employee to ever darken the doorways of a Newegg office. I’m just an editor. They hired me because of my penchant for catching and correcting grammatical mistakes, not a preternatural knowledge of advancements in technology.

So I’ve always been a little slow to catch up with technology. And I’m fine with that – for some of us, that’s normal. So here are a few reasons why I am the last person in the world to acquire a smartphone. Heck, it’s surprising sometimes that I even have a dumbphone “basic phone” at all!  So I’m calling on your advice, readers – tell me why I need a smartphone!

Let me say first, that yes, there have been times when I wished I had a smartphone. On those unsuccessful shopping endeavors – when I searched for three hours for something I could buy online in 30 seconds. Also, watching my 1 ½ year old son climb into the bath with all his clothes on makes me wish I always had a hi-def video camera like most smartphones have. And yes, of course, for every App there’s a reason to get a smartphone. But I’ve yet to be fully convinced I *need* one. Here are my reasons why.

  1. Screen size – The big companies advertise all the great things you can do on your smartphone – watch movies, read books, play games, and so on – but even the biggest phone screens are too small for comfortable, long-term use. And the bigger the phone gets the more it looks like my mini tablet and less like it could go anywhere in a pocket of my jeans.
  2. GPS – “Not all who wander are lost.” I often think it’s fun to get lost. I can always use my Bluetooth to call someone at my destination and ask for directions. People have been arriving fashionably late for thousands of years. Besides, even knowing how to get directly where you are going doesn’t guarantee your husband/wife/domestic partner will be ready to leave on time. (I don’t mean you, Honey!)
  3. Smartphone addiction – I know people who can’t put them down. How do you unplug?
  4. Hobbies – I recently had a couple extra bucks in my bank account when my service provider let me know of my eligibility to upgrade to a smartphone. I’d get the phone for free, too – after, of course, agreeing to pay the sales tax, fees, and higher bills each month for it. I also love to play guitar. But, since I can only afford one thing, I bought a new electric guitar. Should I have chosen a smartphone?
  5. Everybody else has one – Including my wife. I’ve called her when I needed traffic updates or when I needed her to Google something for me.
  6. Privacy & security – With a smartphone, there are exponentially more ways to exploit your data. There’s more to hack, more at stake if it’s lost, and therefore, more of a precious commodity – too much so. So should I keep data elsewhere, in the cloud? But then it’s not just my phone that’s vulnerable, and we go back to the beginning of this one. Our devices are never invulnerable. In fact, just this week the news reported that a smartphone-connected baby monitor was hacked and the baby was terrorized by some crazy dude. Nobody wants that.
  7. Human interaction – If curiosity killed the cat, does high tech convenience kill community? I lamented in an earlier post that we’re all becoming a little like Bespin’s Lobot. I like talking to strangers sometimes, whether it’s to ask for help or not.

So, those are my fears and reservations. Am I just a technophobe, or is there anything legit in this list? Convince me.

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  • T. Y. says:

    You might not “need” one now, but you will in the future.

    Smartphones are the way of the future. Just look at the PC market: desktops are a thing of the past, and laptops are rapidly going away as well. The new trend is tablets and all-in-ones… and if anyone can tell the the difference between a touchscreen all-in-one and a very large tablet, I’d like to hear it. On the other side, we’re already seeing tables that look a lot like smartphones, and smartphones that look a lot like tablets. I don’t know which one will win, but those technologies will merge in the near future.

    What this means is, someday soon your smartphone will replace your home PC. Your laptop, tablet, and phone will all be one device. The technological assumption will be that you have a smartphone, just like everyone assumes you have a computer with internet now. In fact, it’s already happening.

    Like any new technology, holding out if you can afford it doesn’t help you. If the market is mature, you can be reasonably certain that you’ll get a good product, there’s no real risk. And the sooner you adopt it, the sooner you can move forward with the ever-changing pace of technology.

  • Jason Michael says:

    Although I am typing this on an iPad, I have to say I see myself a great deal in your article. And for many of the same reasons. I would also add I don’t want to pay for Internet access twice, once for home Internet, and once for a wallet sized screen with micro-mini keyboard. I couldnt agree more about the need to unplug, and don’t see much in the way of unwinding in America these days. Keep fighting it, I say!

  • phil says:

    here’s a thought – computers are becoming more tablet like, and smartphones are basically mini tablets. So what about a dumb phone and a tablet? I have my first smartphone and I actually don’t like it. It’s distracting, has terrible battery life (especially if I actually want to use any of its smartphone functions) and I always feel like I have to baby it. I’d rather have a tablet (camera, gps, email, banking, music, etc) I could sometimes bring along, but a cheap, durable, tiny, long battery life, reliable dumb phone to always have with me.

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