Why Smartphones of All Kinds Might Just Suck
I am mostly content with my iPhone 4S, but there are certain things that bug me about it. The services Apple provide are not often "first class" and iOS devices lie about wifi coverage like no other, if you need some examples. I could probably switch to a new operating system and get all those new fancy Live Tile Widgets with Face-unlocking Rooms Multitasking in the Kids Corner, but there are inherent with the smartphone entity that I would like to address.
Smartphones are too power/data/money-hungry: Remember way back in the day when you didn't have to worry about how much battery was remaining every single night? No? It's cool, it has been a while after all. The fact that a phone lasting all day on a single charge is a measure for good battery life is telling enough. The solution now seems to be to just make the batteries bigger, but that just leads to it feeling like a I'm carrying a brick in my pocket (especially when I'm wearing light clothing). I would think that this is a problem that should be solved before we enter "wow, this phone is desperately crying for full 1080p HD" mode, but that's where the data part comes in.
The smartphone as an entity almost demands that we stay connected whenever possible to anything that happens in the most awesome way possible. Is it really necessary? Of course not. A crappy twitter app isn't the meaning of life and death, but we as consumers get this urge to check our Facebook every 15 minutes, which just means more data. Got an HD Screen? You need more data to stream that YouTube video or it'll look like crap, and watching a video with a crappy resolution is just oh so beneath you. Don't get that 2GB data plan, you KNOW you're gonna be on Twitter more than that! It'll be handy when you need those maps directions for the few nights you go out. All of a sudden, you're paying $90 a month for calls, data, and texts in an era when you spend most of your day around wifi anyway.
Essentially, here we are with golden bricks for phones that are too big to fit in your pocket trying to act like the screen is everything because it has everything to tell you. No, the screen is not everything. In fact, in many ways, it trying to get my attention too much... and seldom being qualified for the challenge.
The Screen is Too Small for Doing Most Things: Grand theft auto? Forget about it. Even simple games like temple run can be hampered by fingers getting in the way of what you’re supposed to be looking at, and while I find reading generally better on smaller screens, a 4.7" screen is well below the threshold for what most people consider a "comfortable reading experience." Manufacturers certainly know this, which leads to "the next flagship device" being nearly synonymous with "the one with the more ridiculous screen." Based on my experience, it seems like the 7 inch screen size is the real "do it all in the smallest package" ideal, but a smartphone screen at that size isn't a phone at all.
The Common Complaint of Smartphones Taking Precedence Over The Physical World For Many: This statement kind of bothers me when it is directed towards because me having a smartphone has absolutely nothing to do with my lack of socialization, so I won't bother delve into this.
I could go on, but I have a point to make; pretty much any problems I can bring up can be addressed with one simple statement. The smartphone is trying too much to be like the portable PC. From the way they look to the way we utilize them, we want our ideal phone to reflect (albeit only somewhat) what our early 2000's computer experience was, and because is can fit in our pockets, we want the same experience on the go. As a result, it has become a terrible excuse of a computer. If not for the iPad being released after the iPhone, I’m sure people would look at a smartphone and say "it's basically like a tablet, except worse in almost every way." I would be lying if I said I hadn't been thinking about going back to a feature phone... a feature phone once I started using a tablet, because the phone app is the only thing that isn't 200x better with a screen twice or even thrice as large.
The iPhone brought revolutionary changes to the phone industry and the biggest change is that, like the high school nerd who became popular and no longer associates with the same people, the phone has lost touch with what it really is. It's not even a phone anymore, when you really think about it. There are at least 20 apps on my iPhone that I use before calling someone, or rather, someone calling me.
Ultimately, what I want is to revert the phone back to what it was meant to be focused on, communication. I want that to be priority number one, so it can learn about being really good at it, rather than learning how to be really bad at being something else. I want it to be a powerful utility, but I don’t want it to cry for attention. I want the phone... to be good again.