Monday, February 23, 2015

Smartphone "smart"-thoughts

The rumors are true: I've bitten the bullet. Taken the leap. Given in . . . and purchased my first smartphone.

I am now a true 21st century millennial. Or something like that.

The reason behind my big move is a little underwhelming. As a late adopter of pretty much every technology, I've determined that you can ask quite a bit of people. You can ask them for directions (because your phone doesn't have Google maps). You can ask ask them to email you pictures (because photos don't register visibly on your tiny phone screen). You can ask them not to send you emoticons (because they just show up as little squares).

Eventually, however, there will be one "ask" too much. And that "ask" came a few weeks ago, when my phone stopped receiving group messages. (Long story short, the "messages" all showed up blank.) I'd been asking for a lot of special treatment from my friends and family, and generally they'd complied, but this was one thing I simply could not ask: I could not ask to receive a special individual text every time they went to send a group message. I just couldn't.

After several days of feverishly reading online reviews and agonizing to my boyfriend over what phone to get (Apple or Android? Which version? Which size? I'd have to live with this decision!), I finally decided to go with the iPhone 5s. My reasoning was that it should sync nicely with my Macbook and iPad, and I already had some experience with the device, having borrowed an iPhone for my international business travels in Canada a few months ago. Also, the size was a big factor. I wanted something that would still fit into my pocket, and female pants are not made to accommodate electronics. Or wallets. Or anything, really.

Now that I've had the phone for a few weeks, I decided it was time to publicly evaluate my decision. Honestly, I'm not sure I made the right choice. In relation to my initial reasons for getting this particular phone, I did make the right choice. I was able start using it right away to do all of the things I wanted it to do: find directions, check my email, join Instagram (because yes, I was feeling left out.) I can fit the phone into (most of) my pants pockets. And it receives photos, emoticons, and group texts flawlessly.

However, the battery life is terrible. One of my reasons for staying off the smartphone bandwagon was their terribly short battery life. Several years ago, when Hurricane Sandy hit, all of the local smartphone owners were crawling around the floors of grocery stores and delis looking for outlets, and my little slide phone was going strong--its battery lasted 4 days without recharging! So I thought that if I waited long enough, limited battery life would no longer be an issue with smartphones.

I was wrong.

On a typical day, I probably text a handful of people a few times. I might check Facebook for a grand total of two minutes, and the weather for another thirty seconds. Once or twice a week, I might talk on the phone for an hour, max, or use the maps app to locate a street. No matter how little I use my phone, though, by the end of the day my battery is eighty percent drained.

Which leaves me with my four-year-old iPod to listen to podcasts on my mile-long walk between the subway station and my office, because I'm afraid that if I try to listen to them on my iPhone, the thing might die on me. How sad!

Instead of developing an electric car, Apple should direct its resources toward improving the battery life of mobile devices. Because now that gadgets can listen to you, talk to you, and give you advice, directions, updates, and reminders all around the world, the next real hurdle is eliminating consumer paranoia that their beloved device might run out of juice and leave them stranded, alone.

If we wanted to be alone, we wouldn't have a smartphone at all. We could go live in a cave. Or underwater.

And of course, if that's too extreme, there's always the Off button.


Christina LeMaster said...

That is what happened with my Galaxy 3. I couldn't make it half a day without charging, so eventually got a back-up battery to use. I'm using a Galaxy Note 4 these days, primarily because the calendar syncs with Gmail, it has a great camera for the work I do for IG and my YouTube channel, and the stylus is a nice bonus when you just want to write yourself a quick note. Now, it *does* fit in the pocket of my giant harem pants, but I doubt it would do so in a pair of fitted jeans, hah. Even with the photo editing, I still have about 30% battery at the end of the day. But I know it won't last, so I am probably going to get a back-up battery for this one too. The struggle is real, but at least when you're using it for work, it's a tax write-off.

any how town said...

LOL. This is hilarious. Especially because outlets at school are like the new crack for students. Keeping them away from the outlets is like playing Whack-a-Mole at Chucky Cheese. If they would only spend more time studying and less time texting and IMing.... Oh the woes of cell phones.