Are Smartphones Underutilized?

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I was just reading an article the other day over on Consumerist that linked to an article over on The Washington Post where they reported on a Gallup poll that 62% of Americans own smartphones  but less than 5% really utilize them to their fullest potential. What’s the point of owning a smartphone if you really don’t use all of the features? The poll also showed that 81% of smartphone users used their devices for text messages, but that’s something you can do on any phone these days, you don’t need a smartphone for that. The article also mentioned that people use their phones for taking pictures. Yes a smartphone can take pictures and they’re usually fairly decent, but even the so-called ‘dumb phones’ these days are getting better cameras in them so that’s not even an excuse to own a smartphone anymore.



If you have a smartphone, other than making phone calls, you can do all sorts of things like reading emails, sending documents, taking pictures, making to-do-list and I think every smartphone today has GPS so you can use it to get directions to where you’re going. With a smartphone, you can also enjoy entertainment like watching videos on Netflix or other streaming services, listening to music and of course playing games. Over the years, developers and manufacturers have come out with updates and new versions that not only to allow users to accomplish all possible tasks on their handheld device, but make the smartphone a truly all-in-one and just a very useful device. The majority of the phones I’ve had have been smartphones and it’s amazing how far they’ve come and what all they can really do now, and they’re just getting better and better all the time. It seems every month or so a new smartphone is coming out with improved specs and abilities, and while it’s nice to see the technical strides being made, I have to question if it’s even worth it? What I mean is, do people actually need an octo core phone for example? Do you need that much power to check your email and Tweet about your lunch? I’m a techie so it’s exciting to me, but on the other hand I have to ask what it’s good for besides bragging rights? What could you possibly do on a smartphone that requires that much processing power?




Games and Apps

Unlike traditional cellphones, a smartphone is made to install and run applications. People don’t need to configure the application as all apps are configured to work on almost all devices. Users can visit the official stores like Google Play or iTunes and the Amazon Appstore but many sites have their own apps that you can install right from the site if, of course, your device allows it. There is just a plethora of games and apps that are available for smartphones today that allow you to do most anything you ever wanted to do. Just look at the appstores, you could sit for hours browsing and installing apps and games, there’s just so many of them to choose from. I have one tablet for my kids to use and I’ve had to uninstall stuff to make more room because I filled it up with games for them. Phones are the same way, you can quickly and easily fill them up, but are you ever really going to use those apps or play those games? I’ll admit, I’ve installed games and apps that I thought looked fun or useful but then I never used them or maybe used them once or twice. Every once in awhile I’ll go through and uninstall stuff that I know I’m not using or playing, but the cycle just repeats itself over an over. I’ll install and not use or play and then uninstall, rinse and repeat. This goes for both my phone and my tablet, I do it on both all the time.  Are you really using all those apps? Are you really playing all those games?




Wi-Fi and 4G and Data

Wi-Fi and 4G capable devices have revolutionized the mobile experience I think as people do not have to worry about interruptions from their games, movies, browsing or whatever they’re doing as long as they’re in an area with wi-fi. The wi-fi feature present in today’s mobile devices has liberated users from concerns of mobility and data usage. When there isn’t a wi-fi hotspot available, you’ll be using data but thanks to upgrades in networks most smartphone today use the speedy 4G or LTE network. There are many places you can go to today that offer free wi-fi and there are apps you can install that allow you to make calls over wi-fi thus saving you from using minutes on your plan. The problem with smartphone is the data usage I think and the cost of it. Look at these companies today and what they charge for data usage, especially the overages, we all know they’re overcharging us exorbitantly but yet we just accept it. I’m grandfathered in with unlimited data on AT&T, but it’s not really unlimited its it? All these companies offer unlimited but there’s always a catch, there’s always fine print to read. Sure it’s unlimited data, but it’s not unlimited at the speed of your phone, you only get so much at that 4G speed and then it throttle down to something not really that usable. Then you have companies who advertise unlimited data but the fine print says it’s not really unlimited and you’ve only got so much to use. These companies don’t understand what unlimited means do they?

Before I got the unlimited plan I opened up my phone bill one month and it was more than double what it normally is and I almost fell over from shock. It turns out I apparently left the browser open or something like that as I don’t recall the details as it was a few years ago. Point is, that now with a smartphone, things like that can happen if you’re not careful or don’t know what you’re doing. You have to ask yourself if you really need a smartphone.

From what I’ve seen of the majority of carriers, if you have a smartphone you must have a data plan at an extra cost. Is it really worth it to be spending all that money on the phone and then the cost of the cellular plan and then have to pay for data on top of all that if you’re really not even going to use it?



Controllers and Other Accessories

For those who enjoy playing console games, there are smartphones that allow users to transform it into a controller. An added feature such as gaming attachment that is attached via Bluetooth that allows users to enjoy console-like gaming experience.  There are plenty of mobile oriented controllers on the market today from companies like Moga, Steel Series, Mad Catz, and now Samsung has just come out with their own. Yes sure I play games on my phone and tablet but I still don’t care much for on-screen controls, these controllers for me are just a great accessory to have, but from what I’ve seen none of them are really perfect yet. All of these controllers from all the different companies have flaws in them and most just seem to be more of a gimmick than anything usable. I’ve reviewed a lot of mobile accessories in my time and I honestly never use them again after the review, I usually give them away to friends and family, but there are a few that I find useful. A Bluetooth headset is one of those things, I like it primarily because I don’t like talking while driving, especially talking while holding a phone to my head.

The accessories you can get for a smartphone is one of the things I love about them really, they’ve become more versatile and fun I guess might be the correct word. Sure I don’t use all that stuff myself but I can understand and I can see how people would use them and find them useful. The iPhone is a prime example, there are companies out there that specifically make accessories just for the iPhone, and there’s just so many accessories to choose from.

When it comes to smartphone you can get just about anything for them anymore, toys, gadgets, speakers. You can get attachments to turn your smartphone phone into a universal remote control for your home theater. You can get attachments like that Belkin offers to turn your phone into a TV to get channels over the air.

Really it’s mind boggling all the things you can do with a smartphone. It’s just amazing that this little thing can do so much and people just don’t realize it or utilize it to any real extent.



Does size matter?

Is display quality and size a big issue to people? I think so, personally I love the 1080p display on my HTC One, it’s absolutely gorgeous for everything I do, games included. Are people buying smartphones because of the screen size? Personally I like the large screen, but there is a point when the screen too big I think to be a phone. I’m talking about those things that they’re calling ‘phablets’ now, and I think they’re ridiculous.

A while ago I was at this bar/restaurant place and I was getting takeout as they have good food, but this guy was apparently trying to impress these ladies with the size of his phone. I’m serious about this actually, I was close enough that I overheard part of the conversation and he obviously didn’t know these two girls before he went in there and he whips out this Galaxy Note and he’s showing it to them and they seemed kind of impressed at the size of his phone which struck me as odd. Buy, hey, who am I to judge? When he was done showing off how big it was he stuck it in his back pocket and it didn’t fit at all, it was sticking out and he really had to work at it to even get it in the pocket. To me that’s just too big. Yes my HTC One I guess has what is considered a large screen at 4.7”, but I can fit the phone in my front or back pocket comfortably or in my coat pocket just fine. The phablet this guy had was just huge and it couldn’t have been comfortable to carry in your back pocket and there’s no way it would have fit in a front pocket. I don’t think the guy could have sat down with this phone in his pocket like that. To me that’s just too big and it seemed fairly obvious that the guy only had the phone because of the size of it.

These little dumb phone or flip phones do have smalls screens and I can understand moving to a smartphone for a larger screen but is it really worth it if you’re not even utilizing the phone to even a small percentage of what it can do?



Do people even know how to use that smartphone?

It seems to me people buy smartphones for the wrong reasons, primarily because it’s popular or it’s the latest and greatest tech gadget on the market. I have to wonder how many people really need or are going to utilize that iPhone that they stood in line for hours or even days to get? Are they buying it because they’re going to use it? Or are they buying it because it’s the latest and greatest thing from Apple? I still can’t grasp the need of people to run out and buy the latest phone on the market when the phone they just got last year or six months ago still works perfectly fine.

Back to that article in The Washington Post, one of the other interesting tidbits is that this 52 year old woman got an iPhone and it took her 18 months just to figure out how to use the calendar feature. Really? Sure she says she found it to be very useful as it helps her remember things better, but 18 months to figure it out? Last I checked even ‘dumb phones’ have calendars.

Another interesting and funny mention in the article is a grandmother and she’s 69 years old with an iPhone that she just had to have and she says she uses the phone for texting, pictures and playing bingo. I mean really? She has this expensive and powerful smartphone and she plays bingo on it. Is that not a waste? Then again I guess if you have the money then why not waste it on something you don’t really need?

According to that poll 88% of people between 18 and 29 own a smartphone, but that poll also says that only 25% of phone owners over 65 years of age own a smartphone. I can understand young people owning a smartphone as we live in a social world now where FaceBook, Instagram and all the others are the popular things and it’s now part of life sadly. I have to wonder again what someone over 65 needs a smartphone for and are they really going to utilize it? Yes it’s all magical that grandma can video chat or video call the grandkids and see them, but how many actually do it? Does grandma really need an iPhone?


I’ll admit it, I do not fully utilize my smartphone or at least to its full potential but I think I do use it more than a lot of other people do who own smartphones.

There are people who use smartphones for work and these people usually need them for their specific jobs, but I have to ask how many of the smartphones out there have nothing to do with work and are just purchased because of the hype or because it’s the latest and greatest thing on the market. The smartphone has partially, I think, become a status symbol of sorts and I’m not sure if that’s a good or bad thing.


Do you really need that smartphone?




  2 comments for “Are Smartphones Underutilized?

  1. sahi sarma
    January 28, 2014 at 12:49 am

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  2. Oldmonkey
    July 12, 2014 at 6:57 pm

    Smart phone users need to be mindful of privacy. Not only is your employer spying on you and your location; retailers spy on you as you navigate their stores grabbing at very least you MAC address, and with apps on your device likely able to get directly device type, and serial number. If you have the store’s app, likely they have your personal identity. Newer Google devices it is impossible to completely turn off their GPS tracking. IOS if your preference, may or may not be better. Though Android on a rooted device offers more privacy, it still doesn’t offer enough. All of them at some level, have no heartache sharing with each other and Big Brother. More information is available about YOU than Hitler, Stalin, Mao, or Mussolini ever had.

    Criminals and terrorists buy disposable phones and minutes paying cash for them.

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