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May 29, 2012


I hate the concept of smart phones, the concept of touch screens, the ceaseless facebook updates, and people with an inability to tell cardinal directions from the position of the sun...

But I love my bloody smart phone.

If you're asking for advice? Yes, get it - it will revolutionize your life. Even at home, I have a perfectly syncronized update-device, for any and all contacts regarding my blogging. If I'm deep into writing, I simply turn it to vibrate.

*Note: I'm not anti tech, I love linux and disassembling engines, I just hate this fancy, shiny Mac tech that so prevalent.

Well worth it if you want a `internet connected micro-computer' on your hand. With all downloadable apps, you can turn it into GPS, camera, remote surveillance cameras monitors, free unlimted phone calls, ect. Whatever in your mind.

With T-Mobile value plans, adding a data plan runs about $10/month over the cost of a voice only plan. Though you pay the entire cost of the smart phone (usually around $400). No contracts, unless you lease the phone. It's been handy enough that I'd do it again, and my wife probably values it more than I do (it's her primary internet device).

I never thought so. Check the pre-paid plans on cellguru.net (a site run by an individual hobbyist, not a sales-promo site). I pay a hundred dollars a year for a thousand voice minutes on T-mobile. Suits my needs.

You should factor in the time you will waste on it and the cost of the distraction. How much is your time worth?


A thousand times YES!

Many times I've been stuck in waiting rooms, or waiting for a bus, and had nothing to read. That problem has been solved with the smart phone.

I can carry hundreds of books, in a variety of different languages. I can listen to thousands upon thousands of songs and podcasts on any number of topics, watch movies, and go to my favorite web site, all the while ignoring the huddled masses of ignoratii around me.

The smart phones have already absorbed many of the tasks of traditional personal computers, and will continue to absorb even more as time goes on and technology improves.

Half sigma, i was about to post on the thread that discussed whether a single young male could be happy in nyc on one hundred thousand a year. I think there is a lot of interesting data to discuss on this subject. Could you consider running a new thread to discuss this.

If you get one, let us know how you like it.

Buy used to mitigate the up-front cost. I got mine for $30 an it's only one generation behind. I use mine extensively for blog feed reading and email, and consider it easily worth a dollar per day. Even where a laptop performs the same functions, the smartphone is with you in many circumstances when a laptop is not.

Off topic but of note:


The west gets more and more totalitarian by the day.

Can't you get an wi-fi phone in the US that's not tied to any carrier in particular?

If you don't really need a particular piece of electronics, it might be best to save money for when Moore's law starts to significantly slow down. It will either start to slow down very soon, or not at all. This way, you can buy the phone/tablet/whatever without it being obsoleted the next year, like with the Samsung Galaxy S(x-1) or the iPhone (x-1), where x=current version.

I have a smart phone and it's definitely worth a lot to be able to send and receive e-mails when I'm out of the office.

Or to be able to look up telephone numbers and directions easily.

It's also nice to be able to surf the internet while I'm waiting in line for stuff.

Virgin Mobile will let you get an unlimited (within sensible limits) data and 300 minute voice plan on a much lower cost per month than you'll find elsewhere. You just have to pay full price for one of their Android phones. The major restriction is that they're reselling Sprint's network so you can only use Sprint towers, which is how they keep the cost down. You should ask around to see how good Virgin's coverage is where you live.

Boost Mobile is exactly the same thing, but with some differences in plan structure.

Yes, easily. I'd put the utility value of my smartphone at thousands of dollars over that period.

"I am going to be in a business meeting all day, and the wifi on the Acela back to Manhattan (regular express business class, not first class) sucks too bad to blog..." Half Sigma on May 08 2012

If you had a real phone, you could have blogged on the train without wifi.

Not worth it unless you have a specific regular use (job related) for, say, a GPS mapping/directions program, or email access, in your pocket at all times.

Personally, it's hard for me to believe that $90+ dollar per month cell phone bills are now seen as normal. Out of financial principle, I have a hard time justifying anything over $60/month for a phone.

If you are so addicted to non-work email and facebook that you need immediate access, in your pocket, at any given time, then you have a problem.

It's like remote car keys--you don't need it if you don't have it, but you'll never go back.

In Canada the situation sucks harder.

Three year contracts are the norm, and monthy plans typically run at least $50. Bare minimum you will get away with would be 600+ a year and for most people you are looking at 1000.00. Do you know anyone who has ever opened their cell phone bill and said ”wow, that's way less than I expected"?

Too rich for my blood. I'm not so important that people need to be able to contact me 24/7...(not many people are)... And for that price I can wait until I'm near a landline to call someone.

The downside is that maybe twice a year I'm standing in the supermarket and trying to remember if I was supposed to buy peppers or not, and can't call/text home. So I end up with a couple of extra peppers. Life goes on.

I work at a university and I'd say 90% of students are sporting smartphones.... And complaining about how much their student loans are.... They actually need phones without voice circuitry, they do nothing but text/email/tweet. (which is how I'd use one as well.)

(I do have a crappy flip phone for work... It racks up about two calls a year and spends most of it's time with a dead battery.... Even that's costing my employer a few hundred a year, so that's about $150/call.. but it's a lot cheaper than a blackberry)

When cellular rates are low enough that I can pick up a pair of phones for my wife and I for about what we are paying for a land line AND the call quality doesn't suck, maybe I'll think about it.

In the meantime, interesting to know there is at least one other person under 80 without a cell phone. I don't have a FaceBook account either! I am so happily out of the loop.

I often wonder whether other people are somehow getting a much better deal on smartphones than me -- especially when I see a grimy prole using one.

I'm happy with the voice-only phone that work pays for. =)

What we call a 'smartphone' is actually a small computer that also makes phone calls. If you need something besides a device to make phone calls, a smartphone may be right for you. If not, not.

If you have the cash to buy the phone up front rather than paying for it on the installment plan through a discounted-phone-contract, that's more cost effective. Most people don't.

My Droid X will not only make calls but also tell me the time (I haven't worn a watch in ten years), allow me to read and answer my email (two accounts), send and receive chat messages with my wife and friends when one or more of us is on the road, give me a map to get to someplace where I've never been (with turn-by-turn directions and traffic reports), give me the weather where I'm at based on my GPS coordinates, tell me where my wife is at based on GPS coordinates (Google Latitude), scan the UPC on a product and let me know if it's available nearby for less, allow me to call roadside assistance through both AAA and my insurance company, allow me to mail photos of a traffic accident to my insurance company on the spot, remind me of appointments through Google Calendar, and give me a way to read a book when I'm caught in a 'wait' situation through the Kindle app. All this without mentioning Twitter or Facebook, which I loathe but on which many are socially dependent. I think it's worth the money, although others might not.

Yes, it's worth it. Try one and you'll never go back. And since you work in IT, and mobile usage is growing faster than the web, it probably wouldn't hurt you to familiarize yourself with the space.

The iPod Touch is a miracle of technology at around $200. It offers most everything that an iphone does, minus the phone and contract. Of course, you need to have wifi access for web connectivity, but I spend 90% of my life in wifi hotspots so it works fine for me.

As far as a "smartphone" being worth the money, I couldn't tell you. My company pays my phone bill, so I don't know how much it costs.

You should tell your company to get a phone for you, and then you won't have to worry about silly things like the cost of data plan.

Yes. You will love it. You will never have to make awkward chit-chat with total strangers in the waiting room, queued up, at the airport, etc. again. I figure that is easily 1k of value right there.

*I have to update my Facebook* is 2012's *I have to return some video tapes*.

I couldn't really imagine going back.

Instead of paying a zillion dollars for a phone plus an exorbitant data plan, buy the phone on eBay and pop in the SIM card from your old phone (I'm assuming you have an old "dumb" cell phone to get a SIM). It'll save you some grief if the phone is unlocked for any carrier, but unlocking yourself isn't that hard if it gets you a better deal.

You don't want a "data plan." All of these gadgets function as wifi devices, so keep using your phone-only plan in the new device via the old SIM.

As to whether it's worth it, I say no. Mine was a gift, else I would never have gotten it or used it. The damn thing is always falling out of my pocket, since it's shaped like a palmtop computer instead of a phone. If I find myself unexpectedly stuck, I'd rather read on a reader (much cheaper) than a tiny little phone screen. Also, I do not feel the need for every device I own to run Angry Birds.

Even if you currently have nothing, dumb phones (e.g., a cheap TracFone) will allow you to make phone calls, text, keep a portable calendar, take pictures, record sound and video, and do almost everything else described here. You don't really need the rest.

You don't really need *any* of it, with the possible exception of the ability to make phone calls in an emergency, but some of it is truly useful. The truly useful stuff is on every mobile phone. The smart phones add only fluff. The world will not end if you are away from email and Facebook for a few hours.

It's just not that useful.

"You will never have to make awkward chit-chat with total strangers in the waiting room, queued up, at the airport, etc. again."

Well, this is the other side of things. Such technology further decreases healthy social interaction not only in public, in my experience (and therefore reduces social cohesion), but at home. It actually seems to regress social standards in humans to the belief that mindlessly typing away on a smart phone whilst in the middle of a conversing group is perfectly acceptable social behavior.

To well-mannered people, someone who does this comes off as a monkey with no social awareness nor grace. In other words, like a prole. Albeit, a 21st century prole. Young women seem to be the biggest offenders, but this behavior really is socially off-putting and it isn't a good sign of the direction that the social sphere is heading. Parents need to train their children to positively adapt their social skills to cope with modern temptations.

My wife has an iPhone, which is useful when she is driving and I'm in the passenger seat using its maps function to navigate. When I'm driving, I use a paper map.

The touchscreen on my worthless (semi-smart) LG phone died a few weeks ago, so I can only make calls from it by giving voice commands. I can't send or read text messages. When it first stopped working, I rushed in a panic to Best Buy to get a replacement, but got terrible customer service instead.

Time went by and now after a few weeks without being able to text, I keep putting off getting a new phone, because living a textless life has been so liberating.

Are you for real HS? I mean my god man. Yes, its worth it, unless you prefer being stuck in the 18th century. I thought you were smart, what's up with this kind of anachronistic backwards behavior. Snap out of it, and get a damn iPhone.

As someone who held out for a long time and got a smartphone recently, I have to give it a big 'meh'. My phone reception is much worse and the data plan is a total scam. Sure it has some nice features and minor conveniences but it's not really that big of a deal. The "change your life" BS I hear from people really astounds me. One minute without stimulation has become intolerable for the population.

I bought a used iphone off of ebay for $140, and put an ipad sim card in it. Now I pay $25 a month for data only, and use free voip and text apps to make calls and send texts. And I read all of my books on my phone, too. I'd say it's well worth the money.

Dan says
Too rich for my blood. I'm not so important that people need to be able to contact me 24/7...(not many people are)... And for that price I can wait until I'm near a landline to call someone.

I agree.
What Facebook has taught me, very clearly, is that most people's social lives aren't worth keeping track of. Not to sound anti-social but I do NOT want to know how many points you scored in mafia wars nor do I need to know your physical location in real time, and I don't give a damn what you ordered at Star bucks 5 minutes ago.
But this is exactly what cell phones are used for. Well that and to play angry birds or whatever.

Someone mentioned smart phones are worth it because they have a high "utility value". I disagree it's a time waster.

"Parents need to train their children to positively adapt their social skills to cope with modern temptations."

I just forwarded this to my sister.

For someone living in manhattan, making what I presume you're making, yes, an iPhone is definitely worth it

For a start, you might want to get an older used smartphone off-market and see if you use it. That way, if you don't, you aren't tied to a two-year contract.

I suspect that you will like it, though, and wouldn't regret the two-year commitment.

@chucho is right. The reception is worse than with a real phone (a phone that's designed to be a phone, not a small computer). My old Nokia wasn't always awesome -- it was years old, after all -- but it was still better than this near-new Samsung. If any smartphone users wanted to make actual phone calls, a dedicated phone would be much better than a smartphone.

I have no idea what kind of fools pay $800 for a Razr or even more for even hoity-toitier brands. I suppose they think the name-brand prestige is worth it. Or something.

Honey had a smartphone, as of a few years ago. When the plan expired a few months ago, Honey just let it run out. It was so useless (to someone with a life) that it just wasn't worth bothering to renew, even though we could afford it.

@Ode is right, too. Anyone who feels a so-called need to carry a hand-held entertainment and social-media device everywhere is lacking in something more fundamental. The simple truth is that nobody cares where you just checked in or what you did there. You're not updating your Facebook friends so much as annoying them.

If you're out and about so much that a portable phone is genuinely useful, and/or you want other features like calendars and alerts, a dumbphone is fine and cheap. Smartphones are toys or status objects, and they're particularly absurd for people who buy the extortionate "data plans."

There's something effete about smartphones. They're not good computers (too small and weak), and they're not good phones (poor reception, poor sound, awkward shape, dropped connection). The only things they do do well are either done equally well by dumbphones -- such as taking low-res snapshots on the spur of the moment -- or are nonsense to the core -- QR scans, games, Facebook checkins. Smartphones aren't really *good* for anything, yet many people insist that they can't live without scanning this and checking that and posting the-other every few minutes.

Anyone whose life was changed by a smartphone must not have had much of a life to begin with. I have a smartphone, and I have the silly apps that people claim are vital, but it's still really just a not-that-great phone.

"It's like remote car keys..." I'd go back to the old car keys. Put three new car keys on a ring and you have a pointy baseball-sized blob in your pocket. They are huge and ugly, like modern men's watches. Even more annoying, my car is always locking itself.

My wife got a smart phone a few months ago (droid bionic). It's occasionally useful. We've used the GPS a few times in a pinch, and googled a few times when out of the house. If her business didn't pay for it though, we would get rid of it and rarely miss it.

Answer in seconds almost any question anywhere.

At store: is this price good?
At library: what's in my Amazon reading wish list?
With friends: what was the name of that one guy?
Around town: where is that store, bus entrance exactly?

Accept CC payments from anyone immediately via Square
Check any account immediately.
Take video of hinky shit and send to right people now.
Track food eaten or other personal shizz.

End boredom.

+1 Virgin Mobile

For only $35 a month plus $150 for the phone you get unlimited data and 300 minutes (which is enough for me, if I do long phone calls to parents or customer support somewhere I call via skype). The smart phone is most useful for GPS and mapping. It's also very useful when you need to look up a piece of information very quickly - the hours or phone number of a restaurant, or finding the email to find where that meetup was supposed to be exactly, etc. Plus you can buy a cheap tethering app, and use the phone for internet when you are on the train, in a park, or in a coffeeshop without wifi.

Based on my experience in other cities with tall buildings, it's likely that the GPS function will be very unreliable in Manhattan. Check with someone who actually lives there if that's a determining factor in your decision.

To Unbearably Sane:

Some fools thought they needed a wireless phone in the house. Those people were simply not patient enough to be attached to a device with a coiled wire as they spoke.

Why would anyone need a push-button phone? Or even a modern touch-tone phone? The old rotary dial phones worked just fine!

People don't need phones. If the person with whom one wishes to speak is in town, just visit in person. Otherwise, use the postal service.

I have an HTC android smart phone. It is slightly bigger than an iPhone. I don't use it that much. It was an extravagance. It is nice to be able to take pictures of my grand kids and send them immediately to Facebook to share with the rest of the family. I like being able to send text messages to my family...helps me stay in the loop and not be an old technophobe dinasour.

. I've also used it on a number of occasions to look up reviews of products while shopping (that is, while actually standing in a store). This is handy and has saved me from buying useless gadgets such as a hot chocolate maker or a milk frother.

I've used it to browse the Internet while waiting in a line. However I don't see the point of getting it out for a short elevator ride, as I see many students do at the university I work at. I don't like typing on the tiny key pad but I am slowly getting better at it. However I'm sure I'll never be proficient enough to type with both thumbs while walking down the street, as I see many young people do. I use the gps from time to time. I don't think we even own any paper maps anymore.

But I probably get more use out of my iPad than my smart phone. You can browse the web or read ebooks in bed, or in the bathtub with an iPad by placing it inside a large ziplock bag. I suppose you could do that on a phone too, but the small screen is annoying.

Put me in the camp with RandyB, V, Dan, Ode, etc. I used to have a fancy phone that work paid for. When I went out on my own I cancelled it and got a T-mobile prepaid for emergencies but I rarely use it. Plus, as others have mentioned messing around on a phone in public is rude.

I like alex's sim card idea. I'll digress for a moment. I refuse to pay unnecessary monthly charges. So I have no satellite or cable and don't want it. I do, however, have DSL because it allowed me to get MagicJack and cancel AT&T. $20/mo for DSL and $20/yr for MJ beats what we'd been paying. Plus, it gave us free, unlimited long distance. Which ties back into alex's sim card idea.

I'm not sure how alex is doing it but MJ allows you to add a mobile to the account for free. And there's a free app for the iphone to do it. If I were to get a smart phone that's probably how I would do it. Even if you don't end up getting a smart phone, you'd do well to cancel your landline and get magicjack and save $700/yr. It's not a lot but it's better than a sharp stick in the eye. Why piss away money?

I owned a cell phone pretty early in the game and was texting WAY before it became what it is now, but over the years I became a bit of a Luddite as I watched the rise of the smartphone from the sidelines while using whatever was the cheapest model they happened to have when I went in to get a new phone...my attitude was similar to some expressed in these comments. Finally, not long ago, at the end of a two year contract, my fiancee and I broke down and each bought an iPhone 4S.

The snobby, "my time is too precious to be wasted playing with a phone" pose is just that--a pose. People with busy lives, who do stuff all day long, are more likely to find themselves in situations where they are forced to wait for short periods (cabs, lines, appointments, etc.) as opposed to people with no lives who rarely have to put up with such interference. I'm not saying these short periods MUST be filled with playing with your phone, but if you're like me, you'll be mildly shocked how many times you'll turn to your phone in those situations for relatively utilitarian purposes.

If you trade stock but sometimes don't have access to a computer during trading hours, a smartphone can be a godsend.

We had to cancel a trip we had planned just before we bought our iPhones a few months ago because the airline we booked suddenly declared bankruptcy and within a few hours, the fares for similar routes on other airlines had tripled. If we'd had our phones then, we could've had new flights booked (for not much more than we originally planned on paying) within minutes of getting the news about the bankruptcy and cancellations.

On birthdays, holidays, etc. our phones' "facetime" feature (which is basically handheld video chat) is always a huge hit. We've had parents talk to their children in the military, an uncle say hello to a niece he hasn't even met yet, etc. Everyone loves it.

Finally, you don't realize how often you wish you had this or that bit of information throughout your day until you can reach into your pocket and retrieve it at will. This works to not only your benefit but of every cell phone Luddite you're with. And I'm not just talking dumb stuff like settling bets, I'm talking about stuff like how to spell a word, if medications interact, watching the weather radar, etc.

I could go on, but you get the picture. Just forget about the fat little poor kids running around posting to facebook all day. I don't even have a facebook account. You'll love a smartphone.

Consider getting a smartphone that has wifi and putting it on a prepaid plan. I spend about $80 per year for my smartphone with prepaid service thru Page Plus Cellular. With wifi at home, work, and many other places, I get smart phone connectivity without the cost of a data plan.

Keep away from Apple. Pick a Blackberry, or better still, an android phone: some models have an actual keyboard, which is better for males over 12.
And use wifi: it´s cheaper and ubiquitous where you live, Ziggy.

I cannot image traveling for pleasure or business without a smart phone. GPS, keeping up with e-mail, using urbanspoon, finding out hours and costs, it was great.

why not get whichever smartphone is free or really discounted with a new 2 yr contract? when i finally got one it was an HTC glacier for 99c after switching to t-mobile and i loved it--im sure there was a phone that was somehow better, but i cant imagine how, it had the biggest screen and th emost megapixel camera. now i have the lg MyTouch for t-mobile, that i got for 50$ and its also great. why pay?

"I'll never be proficient enough to type with both thumbs while walking down the street, as I see many young people do."

That means a thieving NAM will never punch you in the face or snatch the phone from your hands while you're distracted, as has happened to a number of young people of my acquaintance.

My measure to get my smartphone is the measure I think you should use too.

Before I got my smartphone, I just had a regular phone. Then I got a iPod Touch. It was so useful for music and looking up things at the moment (on campus). Then it got stolen.

I found as I went by with just a regular phone that I found myself gripping of moments it could be useful (and moments smartphone have too).

The times I wanted to look up a phone number of a restaurant to check its menu, see if it is open, reviews, or something like that.

The times I go jogging and thought that it would be useful to know my times and route at a touch of a button.

The times I wanted to listen to a song that was stuck in my head.

The times when I was talking to a friend and I wanted to show something I heard/saw on the internet.

An alarm clock to can play different songs.

The times where can use GPS to drive somewhere.

Also more recently and long after I started to use my phone to keep track of appointments and other events.

All of that combined showed me I can make use of a smartphone and have utilitarian uses and not just something that waste my time. Of course, having it also mean some non-utilitarian uses (and I admit my phone's GPS have issues... don't be a first adopter of an Android phone or just buy an iPhone).

One carries an iPhone, does one not?, so that one isn't tempted to transact personal business on one's Blackberry.

To BlogRaju, who is inexperienced at using sarcasm:

I said nothing against mobile phones in general. They're a nice innovation, and I suggested two ways to get the real benefits (swapping SIMs with an older phone or using a cheap dumbphone).

Would you like to try again? You might be able to come up with some real arguments in favor of smartphones. Others have managed it.

Oh, another thing you won't find on your dumb phone: Grindr. This app is a sure sign of a society struggling under the crushing weight of both great spiritual lassitude and obscene wealth.

USA number one, baby!

One thing I think a lot of people are forgetting is pictures/video. My iphone has absurdely good picture and video quality, and it's super easy to store, send, and download that pics as I please. This is most of what people do with iphones.

People have given some legit reasons for having smartphones. Email, pictures/video, GPS, looking up addresses, directions, phone numbers, prices & store hours. It would appear that smartphones are the swiss army knife of electronics. Some features would be nice to have and could replace the map and phone book I currently keep in the car. But it wouldn't induce me to buy one.

In particular, I see texting and email as negatives. I have NEVER sent a text and deliberately limit email to twice a day - once in the morning and once in the afternoon. Otherwise, one becomes a slave to it checking it constantly. I've seen plenty of people who do that.

The more one checks their email and the more frequently they respond the more emails they get. And it becomes a big time sink. Most email isn't productive. It's the appearance of productivity. I can say that from personal experience. I used to respond to email frequently and wound up spending an unreasonable chunk of time answering it. When I cut it back to twice a day I was still able to respond to important emails in a timely fashion. But I stopped getting a lot of the unnecessary emails. So if you find yourself getting too much worthless email that's the way to end it.

I'll probably get a smartphone eventually. But I've never been a first adopter. Or a second adopter. I usually wait until something has become ubiquitous, inexpensive and necessary. Are they there yet? Not quite. Ipad's are starting to eat into laptop sales. When smartphones reach that point then I'll get one.

"It's like remote car keys--you don't need it if you don't have it, but you'll never go back."

I went the other way. I try to carry as little with me as possible. Switched to a card holder over a full size wallet, carry only my car key, building key and front door key on a simple key ring. Don't like the way key fobs and clutter break up the line of a suit or create bulges in the pockets of my chinos or jeans.

I still have a very old phone, does calls and text messaging, on a family plan with my parents and my sister, have my bill down to $40 a month with unlimited texting.

the main reason I'll have to get a smartphone is because if you're a young professional, you look like a complete loser if you don't have one.

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