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Is A Smartphone Really All That?

June 19, 2009
by Gwen Darling
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I have a confession to make. Thus far, I have resisted the alluring siren song of the smartphone. As a card-carrying member of the Early Adopters Club, this is almost painful to admit, because between you and me, I’ve always felt a bit of a rush being first in line when an exciting new technology is introduced.

No, currently, my cell phone is not very smart. Actually, it’s not smart at all. Now don’t get me wrong – it’s a great little phone. My Samsung Sync sports many a cool and useful feature such as a megapixel digital camera, airplane mode, Bluetooth connectivity and a hands-free speaker. Oh, and it’s red – which I am convinced makes it sound at least 57% clearer than a dull, lifeless black phone. The way I’ve always looked at it is that my phone depends on me to be the smart one. Not it. And I like that balance of power. But with all the buzz about the new Apple iPhone 3G S (“S” for speed) the pressure is on, because according to this CNET review of the best smartphones, “You're intelligent enough to know that carrying around a cell phone and a PDA is inefficient. Lighten your load by picking up an all-in-one device. Whether you use it as an organizer, an e-mail device, a cell phone, or all of the above, getting a smartphone is a smart move.”

That's just great. I’ve always thought of myself as smart. The thing is, I’m not sure I want total access to. . . well. . . everything and everyone all the time. It’s bad enough that I can no longer use the excuse, “Sorry kids, I would have said yes, but I was outside when the phone rang and so didn’t know that you wanted to invite ten of your loud, snack-guzzling, accident prone friends over for a sleepover.” Nope. That one doesn’t work because my cute little red Samsung fits nicely in any one of my pockets and tends to reside there at all times. And then there’s that dumb family rule I made about answering the phone – you know the one: “If I call you, you need to answer. I won’t call you often, but when I do, you need to answer. And I’ll do the same.” What was I thinking? And that’s just the personal side of the equation. Professionally, although I do try to be as accessible as the next guy/gal, there are times when I’ve regretted sharing my cell phone number with clients who seem to have a difficult time understanding the “normal business hours” concept.

So. If carrying a cell phone already provides moments of “you can run but you can’t hide” angst, then what level of trauma could a smartphone potentially induce? How would having uninterrupted access to email and Twitter and all those other Social Media tools I’m always crowing about figure into my “down” time? My inability to answer this question has kept me from that long, winding line at the smartphone store. And seriously. Is a smartphone really all that?

As I write this, however, a simple thought has occurred to me. Those clever marketing people who coined the phrase can call it a “smartphone,” but the only one who has the intelligence necessary to maintain a sensible work/life balance for me is…me. Wow! This is quite the epiphany. The question I really need to be asking then, is this: Am I smart enough for a smartphone?

Suddenly my cute little red Samsung is looking a bit…scuffed. And tired. And outdated. Have you seen the new iPhone 3G S? It’s gorgeous. I’m thinking the “S” stands not only for speed, but for sexy, smart, and sophisticated, as well. And then there’s the Blackberry. And the Palm Pre. And the Nokia E71x. Uh-oh, here comes the rush. . .

Final Note: I conducted an informal poll of my Twitter followers, asking which smartphone to purchase – the results were split exactly down the middle – 50% Blackberry, 50% iPhone. If you have strong feelings one way or the other, I’d love to know why before I take the plunge!

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