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The Almighty Buck News

Do You Really Need a Smart Phone? 851

Posted by timothy
from the all-depends-on-the-context dept.
Roblimo writes "My phone is as stupid as a phone can be, but you can drop it or get it wet and it will still work. My cellular cost per month is about $4, on average. I've had a cellular phone longer than most people, and I assure you that a smart phone would not improve my life one bit. You, too, might find that you are just as happy with a stupid phone as with a smart one. If nothing else, you'll save money by dumbing down your phone." I stuck with a dumb phone for a long time, but I admit to loving the versatility of my Android phone, for all its imperfections.
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Do You Really Need a Smart Phone?

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 22, 2011 @01:49PM (#38462192)

    You can not own a television [theonion.com].

  • Shocked. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AuralityKev (1356747) on Thursday December 22, 2011 @01:50PM (#38462196)
    Man who does not need bells and whistles says bells and whistles not needed. Story at 11.
    • Re:Shocked. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by PT_1 (2425848) on Thursday December 22, 2011 @01:54PM (#38462292)
      Agreed. For many people, perhaps a dumbed-down phone would save them money. However, for me, for example, the amount of time I save in being able to access email, corporate systems etc., whilst on the move means that the cost and added complexity of a smartphone is more than worth the it.
      • Re:Shocked. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by grub (11606) <slashdot@grub.net> on Thursday December 22, 2011 @02:09PM (#38462670) Homepage Journal

        Bingo.

        To add, I rarely use the actual phone part of my iPhone and my Android set has a data-only plan for VoIP. It's more accurate to say I have a portable computer which has a seldom used telephone app.
        • Re:Shocked. (Score:5, Interesting)

          by tepples (727027) <<tepples> <at> <gmail.com>> on Thursday December 22, 2011 @02:36PM (#38463194) Homepage Journal
          Which carrier offers such a plan in the United States?
          • by Zeromous (668365)

            I dont know but the big three here in Canada all offer data-only plans. All the small companies do as well.

          • Re:Shocked. (Score:5, Informative)

            by realityimpaired (1668397) on Thursday December 22, 2011 @03:30PM (#38464062)

            Which carrier offers such a plan in the United States?

            Any carrier who offers a tablet plan. Just buy the SIM and put it in your cell phone, the carrier won't know the difference.

            That said, you can also get a super-low minutes plan, which is useful if you're roaming in an area that doesn't have data coverage. I'm guessing that grub is using something like an iPhone, as there's an IM app that's very similar to SMS messaging on it. Personally, I have been known to break 500 texts/day, and wouldn't be able to do what he's doing. But you can still get a low minutes plan, and add data on top of it fairly cheaply, though, without sacrificing the added functionality... my plan (admittedly it's in Canada, but there are carriers in the US that offer similar plans) is 150 anytime minutes, 5pm evenings/weekends, unlimited domestic LD. That's $25/mo (they have one that's $15/mo for 50 anytime minutes, still has unlimited long distance). I have a $10/mo addon that gives call display, call waiting, call forwarding, and unlimited global texting. I'm on a flex data plan on top of that, which goes from $5/mo for 25MB to $30/mo for 3GB, tethering included, and has an overage charge of $0.02/MB. They're available, you just need to shop around and look at what are called MVNO's in the US (and usually called Fight Brands everywhere else in the world)

        • by rev0lt (1950662)
          Where I live (and in many places in Europe) using the data plan for VoIP is actually a violation of the operator's contract. I guess in other places it is the same, but people really don't bother reading the fine print.
        • by Pope (17780)

          Geez, here comes a "Me too!" post. Portable internet communication and texting is more important to me these days than actual phone conversations, so, yeah, while I don't "need" a smartphone, I certainly use the hell out of the one I have for all the things a dumbphone won't do.

          Plus I got it for very cheap and signed a rather decent contract thanks to the retention department, so I get way more potential out of a slight increase in my monthly bill. I don't have a land line anymore, so what's not to love?

      • Re:Shocked. (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdot@@@hackish...org> on Thursday December 22, 2011 @02:14PM (#38462764)

        To me it's sort of the opposite for the same reason: the amount of personal time I save in not being able to access email, corporate systems, etc. whilst on the move means that I'd pay extra for a non-smart phone...

        • Re:Shocked. (Score:5, Insightful)

          by raygundan (16760) on Thursday December 22, 2011 @02:31PM (#38463102) Homepage

          Every time I hear a person say this, I wonder why the person feels like they have to access all of those things against their will.

          It's your phone. Don't want calls? Don't pick up. Don't want corporate email? Don't even set it up. Don't like to ever be bothered? Only turn it on when you want to use it. I can see situations where a person has no need for the features of a smartphone, or doesn't want the expense... but I don't understand this particular philosophy-- especially if you could use and appreciate the smartphone features for yourself, but don't because you would feel compelled to answer every call from your office.

          • Re:Shocked. (Score:5, Insightful)

            by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Thursday December 22, 2011 @02:44PM (#38463336) Homepage Journal

            Every time I hear a person say this, I wonder why the person feels like they have to access all of those things against their will.

            It's not about "their will". When you put a leash on a dog, it's so someone can hold the other end. When you put an electronic leash on a person, it's so someone can tug the leash on the other end.

            You can say "just don't pick up" or "just don't set up the corporate email" but when you have the capability there is a natural tendency to use it. More important, there is a natural tendency for other people (business or personal) to develop expectations based upon your capability. The boss sees you with a smartphone, he assumes you're always on duty. Because he can. Because YOU can.

            I don't have any problem with people whose lives are enhanced by being plugged in 24/7. But I have a big problem with people who develop expectations for other people based upon decisions they have made for themselves.


          • It's your phone. Don't want calls? Don't pick up. Don't want corporate email? Don't even set it up. Don't like to ever be bothered? Only turn it on when you want to use it. I can see situations where a person has no need for the features of a smartphone, or doesn't want the expense... but I don't understand this particular philosophy-- especially if you could use and appreciate the smartphone features for yourself, but don't because you would feel compelled to answer every call from your office.

            Its called

        • Re:Shocked. (Score:4, Interesting)

          by Giant Electronic Bra (1229876) on Thursday December 22, 2011 @02:34PM (#38463160)

          LOL, I just think that about 95% of the people who have them don't need really need them. It is a luxury/toy, which is OK, but its darned expensive one when you figure you're paying an extra $100 a month probably by the time you add it all up. There's a LOT you can do with that much cash. I consult for traders and constantly have equipment that is up 24/7 and people scream if it isn't, yet I still don't need a smart phone, just something that will get an SMS. Heck, a pager would do fine if such things still existed.

          • Re:Shocked. (Score:5, Interesting)

            by 517714 (762276) on Thursday December 22, 2011 @03:44PM (#38464284)
            My smart phone replaced my cellphone, my GPS, and my PDA. My PDA replaced my calculator, acted as my MP3 player and schedule (sync'd with Exchange/Outlook) replaced a shit load of reference books (now in PDAs, spreadsheets, RTFs, and text files and fully searchable!), provided a secure place for all my passwords and gave me pocket CAS. I also use it for some basic network tasks, SMTP, ping, tracert, etc., and remote desktop access. Internet access eliminated the yellow pages directory and lots of other reference materials. My biggest concern was in putting all my eggs in one basket would I be SOL when my battery died, the phone died or was misplaced? Well it hasn't happened yet and I like being able to ask my phone to find a drugstore when I'm traveling and get an up-to-date listing as well as from the navigation program's built-in POIs. For me having all this in my shirt pocket is very convenient. The downside is that the OS is no longer available and I will have switch phones someday and do without a few of the conveniences to which I have grown accustomed, and pay for new apps to replace existing ones. Do I need a smartphone? No, but it simplifies my life greatly.
      • Needs differ. Duh. (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Dr. Manhattan (29720) <`sorceror171' `at' `gmail.com'> on Thursday December 22, 2011 @02:16PM (#38462828) Homepage
        I ride the bus to and from work every day. I could carry a dumb phone, plus an mp3 player, plus a netbook, I suppose... but instead I have an original Droid, and it gets all that done in a much smaller and more convenient package, along with GPS navigation, flash drive file transport, encrypted password wallet, and a cheap camera.
        • by VGPowerlord (621254) on Thursday December 22, 2011 @02:42PM (#38463292)

          I ride the bus to and from work every day. I could carry a dumb phone, plus an mp3 player, plus a netbook, I suppose... but instead I have an original Droid, and it gets all that done in a much smaller and more convenient package, along with GPS navigation, flash drive file transport, encrypted password wallet, and a cheap camera.

          I carry a dumb phone and have half the features you mention even on that... specifically mp3 player (yes, my dumb phone does play mp3s), flash drive file transport, and cheap camera.

          The only catch is that I need to have a Micro SD card for storage and a USB cable A normal to B mini to transfer files off.... which incidentally comes with the phone as part of its charging cable.

      • by Local ID10T (790134) <ID10T.L.USER@gmail.com> on Thursday December 22, 2011 @02:40PM (#38463250) Homepage

        Ancedote:

        My smart phone paid for itself the afternoon I accidentally misconfigured the firewall on the company's ecommerce server (which is in a colo several hours drive from me). Misconfigured as in blocked my own IP address instead of whitelisting it. I was able to download a SSH client, open a terminal session and revert the firewall settings from my phone.

        • by neonKow (1239288)

          You could have also paid for web hosting or an SSH server online and gotten the same result. Or driven to a starbucks with your laptop. Possibly even reseting your router would have worked. Sure, since you had your phone, that helped, but if you hadn't had your phone, I'm sure you would have figured something else out pretty quickly.

    • Re:Shocked. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ackthpt (218170) on Thursday December 22, 2011 @02:02PM (#38462508) Homepage Journal

      Man who does not need bells and whistles says bells and whistles not needed. Story at 11.

      Some of us not wanting the bells and whistles aren't doing it out of lack of desire for the bells and whistles, but because the costs of plans are, to our way of thinking, a sudden and large monthly expense.

      I've been observing people who make a fraction of the pay I do and they go about with these things, sucking $80/mo on up. Good for them. They don't have all the expenses or it's simply their choice to hand over that kind of money each month. Very few of these people have any genuine need for these things, i.e. not an EMT or Doctor, it's their little luxury.

      I was an early adopter of mobile phones, having one back in the 1980's (where a mobile phone had range, though wasn't tiny. After a few phones and plans I grew to despise the 2 year leech-like plans and gave up mobile phones. After a cycling injury I decided to get one again, pay as you go, no contract. It works and keeps me in touch when I want to be. Other times it's turned off to save battery. Maybe some day I'll get a smart one, but for now I'm content and watching things develop in technology and businesses.

      • Re:Shocked. (Score:4, Informative)

        by Galestar (1473827) on Thursday December 22, 2011 @02:23PM (#38462934)
        Having a smart phone != having an expensive plan. I am on a simple pay as you go plan, and have a Nexus S. It's capabilities are far and above being just a phone.
        • by ackthpt (218170) on Thursday December 22, 2011 @02:30PM (#38463080) Homepage Journal

          Having a smart phone != having an expensive plan. I am on a simple pay as you go plan, and have a Nexus S. It's capabilities are far and above being just a phone.

          PaYG plans are about the only way I'd consider going. It's not often I need the full connectivity experience. My dumb PAYG mobile has done well enough for 6+ years and saved me enough to buy a car.

      • Re:Shocked. (Score:5, Interesting)

        by DrgnDancer (137700) on Thursday December 22, 2011 @02:52PM (#38463468) Homepage

        That's fine, though I'd definitely nit pick on what you say you pay. I pay $115 a month for unlimited text and data, plus generous voice minutes on two phone lines. So if you were being frugal about minutes, text, and data you use you could doubtless pay more like $40-45 a month (maybe even as little as $35 if you shop around) for your plan. That said, in response to you and the original poster, the answer is clearly "no, I don't need a smartphone." I also don't need a dumb phone. Or cable. Or a TV. Or a computer. I could clearly exist and probably even be happy without any of these things. All of them are nice to have however, and in my opinion worth what I spend on them.

        I get a *lot* of use out of my smartphone. Of major purchases, I'd rate it below only my workstation computer and my car on the "things I use a lot" list. I play with it, keep in touch with people on it, use it to get around a my new home city, keep notes on it... I don't *need* it, but if you told me I could only keep one electronic device... I'd probably pick the phone. It *can* do everything my computer can (though often not as nicely), does lots of extra stuff like GPS, and is very portable. I wouldn't be thrilled to do away with my desktop or my TV, but I'd probably get rid of them before my phone.

    • Re:Shocked. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Idbar (1034346) on Thursday December 22, 2011 @02:06PM (#38462602)
      I'm wondering if there would be a similar story some 20+ years ago:
      Do you really need a cellphone? And all the advantages of the POTS and wired phone lines. As someone said... 640k ought to be enough for anyone. No idea why people keep upgrading their stuff.
      • by JBMcB (73720)

        I'm willing to spend a few dollars a month for the convenience of a cell phone for as little as I use it. I'm not willing to spend $80 a month on something I use, maybe, half an hour a week.

    • Re:Shocked. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by strength_of_10_men (967050) on Thursday December 22, 2011 @03:07PM (#38463698)

      Luddite here. But it's not because I don't think they'll be useful. It's quite the opposite.

      Ever go to a restaurant and look around at what people are doing? Sadly, a large % of them have their smart phones out, either laying on the table or in use. During dinner. With other people.

      I certainly can identify with the need for being "connected" all the time, but really, how much is enough?

      I'm at work all day surrounded by 3 computers. I answer calls, email, and skype with clients almost all day. The last thing I want to do when I'm out and about on my own time is be "connected". I just need a break. And for those who'll say "just don't use it then", well, I know how I am. If I have it, I'll use it.

      So personally, I've drawn my line. A dumb phone is plenty for me. For others that like their smart phones, power to 'em.

      • Re:Shocked. (Score:5, Interesting)

        by hazem (472289) on Thursday December 22, 2011 @09:57PM (#38467812) Journal

        > Ever go to a restaurant and look around at what people are doing? Sadly, a large % of them have their smart phones out

        Different people have different expectations when they go to do dinner, I suppose.

        But here's a recent example from my life. I was just out to dinner but one of my friends couldn't make it because she was sick. During the course of dinner we were talking about a movie and none of us could remember the actor we were thinking of. One of us pulled out our phone and looked it up. That was handy and added to the conversation. As dinner was wrapping up, I was able to text my sick friend to ask what she wanted us to bring to her from the restaurant. Maybe if you had looked at me at those times, you might have thought I was engrossed in my phone instead of the dinner and companionship at the table - but that wouldn't have been the case.

        But like you say, different strokes for different folks. Much better they're texting away quietly than talking loudly. I was just in a place that had a sign, "no cell phones, there's a phone booth in the back if you want to talk on your cell phone". Odd way for that "technology" to come back.

  • Slashdot... (Score:5, Funny)

    by tacarat (696339) on Thursday December 22, 2011 @01:52PM (#38462246) Journal
    News for luddites?
    • Re:Slashdot... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by durrr (1316311) on Thursday December 22, 2011 @02:09PM (#38462666)
      I wouldn't call myself a luddite but converting to smartphones weren't all the sucess and hype that some made it out to be. It's may do a lot of things with technically good performance but it's not the smooth versatile multitasking of a computer, everything is single-tracked. It doesn't produce beatuiful pictures, just technically good. Changing music is somewhat sluggish. Productive work is not possible. Games are simple at best and calling and text is well, calling and text.
      The overall experience was pretty much meh.
      • by jedidiah (1196)

        My first smartphone experience left me wondering why the device was so bad at being a phone. It's cool to be 20 other things but you should get the core features right first.

        There should be no part of the core experience that makes you want to flee to a 5 or 10 year old "dumb" phone.

  • Pointless (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 22, 2011 @01:52PM (#38462254)

    This is the most pointless post ever to appear on the /. front page.

    • It isn't pointless.

      The original author made some good points about how smart phones don't make any sense from a purely financial and rational perspective. For most people they are toys.

      Other people have made some interesting points for reasons to have one.

  • by rbowen (112459) Works for SourceForge on Thursday December 22, 2011 @01:53PM (#38462268) Homepage

    I avoided getting a smart phone for a long time, even though I'm surrounded by people with smart phones, because I knew that as soon as I had one it would become indispensable, just like my Visor did, and my Palm, and my iPod, and ... so on.

    Now, I have an iPhone, and it's indispensable. Sure, I could manage without it, but I use it all day, every day, and I feel I would be lost without it. And while I know that's an illusion, I also know how my brain works. ... which is why I don't have an iPad yet ...

    • by b0bby (201198)

      Some of my BB users are coming to the conclusion that the best setup is dumbphone + iPad 3g. Easy to read email/pdfs/etc, good call quality. The guys may still preder a smartphone, but if you're carrying a big purse anyway the iPad is pretty easy to add.

    • Don't be afraid of the iPad - it won't become indispensable. It's a convenience for a very limited array of tasks, and about the cheapest way I know to get mobile internet ($15/mo for 200MB - which is enough for just about everything but streaming content). My iPhone has replaced just about all my other gadgets, and most of my paper requirements (notes, calendar, lists). It can serve for browsing or entertainment in a pinch.

      The iPad is too big to be convenient to carry everywhere and too small and too pri

  • by Scarletdown (886459) on Thursday December 22, 2011 @01:53PM (#38462276) Journal

    This may be a sample size of only one, but I can definitely state that not only do I not need or have a smart phone, I also do not need or have a dumb cell phone.

    My landline gets little enough use as it is, and when I need to call outside of my local area, I have more minutes on this prepaid phonecard I keep around than I will ever use.

  • For some, yes (Score:5, Insightful)

    by elrous0 (869638) * on Thursday December 22, 2011 @01:54PM (#38462296)

    For others, no.

  • by gmuslera (3436) * on Thursday December 22, 2011 @01:55PM (#38462308) Homepage Journal
    My N900 portable computer have phone functionality.
  • by ackthpt (218170) on Thursday December 22, 2011 @01:55PM (#38462312) Homepage Journal

    I like the idea of a smart phone, but I have a greater like for 5 to 10 dollars a month for my mobile expenses. At some point I'll get a smart-ish phone, but only when I get the service I want at a nominal fee without some damn 2 year contract.

    • by TaoPhoenix (980487) <TaoPhoenix@yahoo.com> on Thursday December 22, 2011 @02:01PM (#38462460) Journal

      I have an iPhone - wait for it - without a contract. It's on AT&T's GoPhone style pay as you go service.

      So once you get past the initial hardware, which then comes down to a typical hardware decision, I get all the fun of a smartphone in places with wifi (work and McDonalds!) but all the low expenses of a prepaid-as-you-go plan.

      $100 in phone service lasts me about 4 months.

  • by alen (225700) on Thursday December 22, 2011 @01:55PM (#38462318)

    forgot the details but having email on the go allowed me to get some deals before others. like buying a condo/coop in NYC and getting a lot of the bidding done over email on the go

    overall i don't use it that much but i'm part of a family plan, it's only $30 a month and the device is free after i sell my old iphone/smartphone after 18-24 months

  • Me too. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Animats (122034) on Thursday December 22, 2011 @01:55PM (#38462322) Homepage

    I agree. I have a dumb 2G phone, and a subnotebook if I want to look at the Web or do email. I'm not interested in trying to do input on a dinky screen. If I want to watch a movie, I have a 42" screen at home for that.

    Amusingly, the phone I have has a web browser, but if I try to use it for anything, either Sprint's 2G network times out or the browser crashes.

  • Nope (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Veggiesama (1203068) on Thursday December 22, 2011 @01:55PM (#38462324)

    Lying in bed and reading web pages without a bulky laptop (or pants, for that matter) is too good to give up.

  • by allcoolnameswheretak (1102727) on Thursday December 22, 2011 @01:56PM (#38462342)

    As with most things, you only need a smartphone once you have it.

  • by Mean Variance (913229) <mean.variance@gmail.com> on Thursday December 22, 2011 @01:56PM (#38462344)

    There are many alternatives besides the premium plans and phones (iPhone, high end Android).

    T-Mobile via WalMart: Android phone for less than $200. 100 mins talk, unlimited data and text for $30/mo.

    Pageplus: Bring your own CDMA phone. My kid has a Palm Pixi. If you don't abuse data or use wifi for data, it's cheap.

    iPod Touch: That's the way I went. I have a cheap prepaid phone that costs less than $10/mo for my light usage of calls and texts. My iPod is in a wifi zone much of the time where I can leverage apps including free texting.

    I'm on the waiting list for Republic Wireless who is trying an iteresting business model for $20/mo. The phone has to have a home zone of wifi. When wifi is available, it uses it. Otherwise data will be used. The phone is a basic Android.

    It just takes a little effort and research.

    I'm amazed at what people will pay for iPhone plans. Some use the value, but I know plenty who still just use it to call and text mostly paying almost $100/mo.

  • Opposite (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MBGMorden (803437) on Thursday December 22, 2011 @01:57PM (#38462350)

    I'm not actually sure if I actually need a phone at all. I spend several orders of magnitude more time on my phone doing other stuff (email, listening to podcasts, general web browsing, GPS navigation, etc) then I do actually using it as a phone.

    As such, I'd lose the "phone" long before I lost the "smart".

  • by bcrowell (177657) on Thursday December 22, 2011 @01:57PM (#38462372) Homepage

    I don't feel any need to own a cell phone, smart or dumb. I have a landline at home. I have a landline at work. I don't need to talk to people on the phone when I'm in my car (and I don't want to endanger myself or others by doing it when I'm driving). I don't need to talk to people on the phone when I'm walking down the street, or shopping, or hiking or riding my bike.

  • by Firethorn (177587) on Thursday December 22, 2011 @01:57PM (#38462376) Homepage Journal

    I'm one for distinguishing between 'needs' and 'wants'. The thing to realize is that if you can afford it, fulfilling your 'wants' is a valid exercise, it's what drives like 90% of our economy today.

    I had a simple cell phone for years - now I more want a Pad type device that can also act as a phone via bluetooth. Is it a need? Heck, I technically don't need a cell phone in the first place, though a basic plan today is cheaper than the landlines, especially when you figure all my family are long distance at the moment.

  • by lightknight (213164) on Thursday December 22, 2011 @01:59PM (#38462416) Homepage

    I want to say as a programmer, yes.

    However, most of the smart-phones currently being offered are kind of frightful for programming purposes. See, it's the whole tethering aspect which appeals to me, and it's the one thing that I seem to have to most difficulty getting my smart-phone to actually do.

    Which brings me to my current project -> getting my Motorola phone to talk to my PC. I'm working on getting the cloak, sacrificial alter, and goat necessary to make this work, only it's on back order because of the holidays.

    • by bendodge (998616)

      It's quite easy: put CyanogenMod on it and you're good to go. The Motorola bootloader was this past summer, so whatever phone you have probably has a build now.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by DMUTPeregrine (612791)
      Cloak: faireware.com. High quality cloaks, hooded robes, etc. Kate's stuff stands up to all sorts of abuse.
      Altar: You need a stone block, try your local masonry supply store.
      Goat: Goats are pretty easy to get, some varieties are sold as pets. Finding a livestock dealer can be the hardest bit here.

      For actually getting a phone to talk to a PC, it's generally not very hard. Root, flash custom ROM if needed to enable tethering, plug in USB cable. Some phones support "wifi hotspot" functionality, at which p
  • by pulse2600 (625694) on Thursday December 22, 2011 @02:00PM (#38462418)
    Most people don't NEED a smartphone. However they WANT a smartphone. Most people also don't know the difference between the two. When enough people have them, the carriers will convince/dictate to you that you NEED a smartphone too. When plain old device service (PODS) is discontinued by the carriers, you will not have a choice but to have a smartphone.


    BTW, I claim patent, copyright, and trademark on that acronym. I will sue everyone and Steve Jobs' corpse for 1 Billion dollars if you do not pay my license fee for using that acronym. Even if you are quoting me, you violate the EULA for my acronym.
  • Stupid claim (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SuperKendall (25149) on Thursday December 22, 2011 @02:01PM (#38462454)

    "I assure you a smart phone would not improve my life one bit".

    Sorry, but that statement is frankly idiotic. You have NEVER needed a map? Yeah right.

    There are a thousand other little ways in which a smartphone improves your life, that's just the most obvious...

    Also, most smart phones can be dropped or even accidentally put in water with the same survival rate as your dumb phone.

    I can totally understand someone simply not wanting much of a monthly bill, but lets not get absurd about there being no tradeoff for going dumb.

  • Water? Pshaw. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Moridineas (213502) on Thursday December 22, 2011 @02:01PM (#38462458) Journal

    My phone is as stupid as a phone can be, but you can drop it or get it wet and it will still work.

    My two-year-old dropped my iPhone 3gs in the dog's water bowl. From the time I heard the *ploink*, realized what I had heard, and ran to the kitchen and pulled out the phone out, it was completely submerged in disgusting dog water for at least 15-20 seconds.

    The touch screen was so wet that I couldn't swipe to unlock in order to power down. The phone was on at least another 1-2 minutes. I finally turned it off (obviously can't pull the battery with an iPhone) and let it dry out for a couple days. On day 2, I put it in a ziploc baggie with some silica gel packets. During the drying process it would occasionally--randomly!--turn itself on with no interaction from me.

    After 2 days of drying, it was good as new. Fully functional, no visible damage, screen fine, touch response fine, etc.

    I was very impressed.

    • Re:Water? Pshaw. (Score:4, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 22, 2011 @03:15PM (#38463800)

      On day 2, I put it in a ziploc baggie with some silica gel packets. During the drying process it would occasionally--randomly!--turn itself on with no interaction from me.

      After 2 days of drying, it was good as new. Fully functional, no visible damage, screen fine, touch response fine, etc.

      I was very impressed.

      Since most people don't keep silica gel packets around (I won't judge you based the contents of your kitchen cabinet), it's worth pointing out that the same result is possible with rice.

      • Agree. I had silica gel packets from a shoebox. I used rice once before with a keyboard spill with good effect.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 22, 2011 @02:02PM (#38462482)

    Seriously. Is this what we're reduced to now? Nobody gives a shit if you don't want a phone with more features. Now fuck off.

  • by spacepimp (664856) on Thursday December 22, 2011 @02:02PM (#38462496) Homepage
    A car. I could quit my job, or bike to work and arrive a sweaty mess, or move to a city, or take mass transit for an hour vs 25 minutes of commute. A radio. Music is a luxury nothing more. A home phone. People can write letters like we used to did in my days as a kid. A TV. News is only entertainment and the entertainment isn't even entertaining. Electric lights. Candles work, and who needs to be up after dark falls? Plumbing. There's an outhouse down the block. None of these are necessities, unless you want to have a career. Personally my Job mandates I have a smartphone. (IT). So I need one, as without one, I wouldn't be able to afford food, shelter and clothing right now. Past that there is no place for a Smart Phone on Maslow's hierarchy of needs unless it helps to achieve one or more of them. A cell phone is not very useful when what you need is clean drinking water, but then again not much is.
  • by billcopc (196330) <vrillco@yahoo.com> on Thursday December 22, 2011 @02:03PM (#38462518) Homepage

    Replace "phone" with "vagina" in the summary, and bask in my glorious wisdom.

    Hey, I don't need expensive hoppy microbrews in my beer fridge, but that doesn't mean I'm going to replace my premium beer with cheap megaswill. If luddites are happy being luddites, good for THEM. Also, get the fuck off my internets.

  • by Anne_Nonymous (313852) on Thursday December 22, 2011 @02:03PM (#38462526) Homepage Journal

    How do you spend only $4 a month?

    For that price, I might actually get a cell phone.

  • by joshamania (32599) <jggramlich@noSpAM.yahoo.com> on Thursday December 22, 2011 @02:03PM (#38462536) Homepage

    I did the dumb phone thing for quite a while a couple of years back. I'm not a huge phone talker and i'd use a couple hundred minutes a month. I bought a tracphone for $20 and loaded minutes on it at the rate of about $20-30 a month. If I lost the phone...who cares?

    But when I got my current phone...Verizon/Incredible...can't go back. $120 a month easy...I'm getting murdered on that...my biggest single monthly expense. I'll still pay. I'm a sucker, but it just keeps doing way cool shit. This morning I used google navigate to get to a service call at a client i'd never visited. When I pulled into their parking lot, I look down at my phone and there's a picture of g street view of exactly what I'm looking at out the windshield of my car. It was kinda surreal. And worth every penny.

  • Best compromise: (Score:4, Interesting)

    by 140Mandak262Jamuna (970587) on Thursday December 22, 2011 @02:05PM (#38462572) Journal
    A simple android phone without a data plan is a very nice compromise.

    At home using WiFi it synchs with gmail contacts and calender. Thus even on the road all the contact info is available. Reminders and alarm clocks with multiple alarms work. Cheap 5$ apps like Co-Pilot gives you some GPS functionality, directions etc. (Co-Pilot takes a while to get find the satellite and calculate current position, after that it is not too bad). Some simple games, good storage for lots of music and photos etc.

    But the best feature is the Wi-fi calling. Most cell companies charge you air-time minutes even if you use the Wi-Fi calling. But that is home base minutes. Not roaming, not interntional. So if you are on a cruise ship or a foreign country with cyber cafe, you can save a bundle on international calls. Cruise ships typically charge 50$ for internet vs $3.95 a minute for cell phone call. International roaming is outrageous. Most foreign cyber cafes give you internet access at about 1$ per hour.

  • Need? Yup. (Score:3, Interesting)

    by miltonw (892065) on Thursday December 22, 2011 @02:07PM (#38462626)
    Major freeway tie-up when I needed to catch a plane. Smartphone got me there.
    Big problem at work and not near home or work. Smartphone to VPN, ssh and solve it quickly.
    200 passwords to keep track of. Smartphone does it.

    Dumbphone wouldn't work for any of that.
  • by bradgoodman (964302) on Thursday December 22, 2011 @02:08PM (#38462644) Homepage
    I've been using PDAs probably longer than I've been carrying around a mobile phone. For me, my phone is a PDA first, and a phone second. (Far second). I'd even catagorize it as a "communications device" far above a "telephone" - after all, I use email, web, SMS and even Facebook more than I use the voice-telephone.

    So if you want to argue that "people don't need smartphones" - I find it kind of nonsensical. If I had to give-up one major feature of my "smartphone", it would probably be the "telephone" piece. If I were to rate in order of importance what I use my iPhone for, I'd have to say:

    - Calendar (Shared and synced)

    - Notes (Everything from gift ideas, to what kind of light bulbs I have in my house. Some of my notes I've been maintaining and using for YEARS).

    - Email

    - SMS

    - GPS

    - Camera

    - Games & Entertainment (Yeah - hate to say it - but I kill a LOT of spare time with my iPhone!)

    - Facebook

    - Mobile Web (Hate to admit it, but the "experience" is still lousy on a small screen)

    - Misc. productivity apps

    Oh yea...and..

    - Telephone

  • by DMUTPeregrine (612791) on Thursday December 22, 2011 @02:11PM (#38462706) Journal
    I had a choice: Buy a $200 bagpipe tuner (the cheap chromatic tuners are all equal tempered, and thus don't work for just-tempered instruments like the great highland bagpipe), and a ~$100 GPS and a $100 ipod and a $20 metronome... or buy one android phone, install gStrings, mobile metronome and PowerAmp (under $10 total) and get more total functionality for the same overall price. That's ignoring the phone aspect, obviously. And the camera. And the e-mail. And the text messaging with a full dvorak keyboard. And the mobile web browser...
  • by Newer Guy (520108) on Thursday December 22, 2011 @02:14PM (#38462768)
    I have a 10 old retention plan from Sprint that's too good to replace. I get 2500 anytime minutes shared among 5 phones (in 4 different area codes), nights and weekends starting at 7 PM, unlimited long distance, unlimited phone to phone minutes, unlimited texting, unlimited 3G data pack, unlimited photo pack, and an Airave hot spot-all for 110 dollars a month, including all taxes and fees. To change my plan so I could use a smart phone would at least double my monthly cost, si I have the smartest dumb phone I can have, an LG Rumour Touch.
  • by alta (1263) on Thursday December 22, 2011 @02:16PM (#38462816) Homepage Journal

    No you don't need a smart phone. You also don't need a computer, car, TV, ipod.

    For that matter you don't need shoes, a toothbush, medecine or soap.... but damn if they don't make life easier.

    Now, for MY job on the other hand, I need this phone. I'm expected to carry this phone and be this 'in touch' at all times. If I'm not, they'll find someone who will. So don't tell me I can do without when responding to email on a timely basis is part of my job.

    Thanks

  • by Chang (2714) on Thursday December 22, 2011 @02:18PM (#38462848)

    I've got a blackberry :-(

  • by SuperCharlie (1068072) on Thursday December 22, 2011 @02:18PM (#38462850)
    I played the "keep up with the latest phone" game for a long time and then quit cold turkey. After the initial withdrawals.. yes there are real withdrawals, it is amazing how free you feel.. imagine the day you turned in that company beeper.. its like that freedom but 24/7. The addicted will squeel about all manners of why they need them.. For me, it was like shedding shackles.
  • by Pausanias (681077) <pausaniasx&gmail,com> on Thursday December 22, 2011 @02:18PM (#38462858)

    I can't tell you the number of times my iPhone has allowed me to take the kids to the playground while tending to work stuff. The kids can play, and I can spend 90% of the time playing with them, and 10% answering emails.

    The alternative would have been the kids stay home and don't get a workout.

    Do I *need* a smartphone? No. But has it saved time enough for everyone in my family to make it worthwhile, and improved family life? Yes. absolutely.

  • by mad flyer (589291) on Thursday December 22, 2011 @02:35PM (#38463170)

    Not anymore it seems...

  • I'm gonna say it (Score:4, Insightful)

    by CarsonChittom (2025388) on Thursday December 22, 2011 @02:36PM (#38463188) Homepage

    I'm not sure why Roblimo chose to post this story, but he's missing the point. Nobody needs a smartphone (as opposed to merely finding them useful or entertaining), and few people need a mobile phone at all. For that matter, most people don't need a computer at home. But that's unhelpful. People don't buy things because they need them; they buy them because they want them (and they may also, incidentally, need them).

  • by assertation (1255714) on Thursday December 22, 2011 @02:57PM (#38463542)

    I wonder if the anti-smart phone as an unneeded expensive expense people are people with IT careers that have peaked or not.

    Are these people cutting edge IT folk still gaining standing in their tech careers or are they older people whose careers have plateaued, at least as far as their technology learning goes?

    I mean absolutely no disrespect.

    I am an older IT professional ( > 20 years old ) myself. I also think, from a purely rational and financial perspective smart phones are a bad idea.

    That is, from a rational & financial perspective.....purely.

    A few years ago I noticed my attitudes gravitating toward the conservative/anti-innovation side of things. I was becoming old in my thinking.

    I've been working on my attitude since then.

    I've been thinking about getting an android. Not to feel a need, but to avoid becoming the old crank who lives slightly out of the loop with everyone else, going on about how he doesn't need email, phones or cars. After all the pony express still delivers letters.

    I remember those people from my youth and my vanity will not let me become one of them.

    I grew up watching Star Trek and being a sci-fi fan, so I was kind of shocked when I noticed myself not running with technological change.

    • by Culture20 (968837)

      I've been thinking about getting an android. Not to feel a need, but to avoid becoming the old crank who lives slightly out of the loop with everyone else, going on about how he doesn't need email, phones or cars. After all the pony express still delivers letters. I remember those people from my youth and my vanity will not let me become one of them.

      Don't you remember the groovy dads that would keep up with the hip lingo so that they'd be cool talking about radical and crispy stuff like skateboarding and rock and roll and sock hops?
      You get to be one or the other. I never felt sorry for the ones set in their ways; they knew what they liked and didn't bother with things they didn't want.

  • Oh for goodness sake (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Jethro (14165) on Thursday December 22, 2011 @03:15PM (#38463794) Homepage

    I got into computers when I was fairly young... well, for the time. I was 13, and Way Back Then not everyone was born already having a computer or three in the house.

    And even Way Back Then, one of the dreams, the truly grand dreams that we HOPED we'd ever see but didn't know if would happen in our lifetime, was a truly portable computer that fit in your pocket.

    AND NOW I HAVE ONE. It's in my pocket right now. It runs Linux, I can ssh into (and out of) it, it is virtually ALWAYS CONNECTED to yet another of our dreams, the now-ubiquitous Internet, I can TELL IT to search for something and 90% of the time it'll get it right, I can check my email on it, and in rare circumstances, and I mean rare... I can use it to make and receive phone calls.

    You know what you should do? STOP CALLING IT A "SMARTPHONE". It's a portable internet-connected computer that happens to be able to make phone calls, and it's AWESOME that something like this even friggin EXISTS. I can't WAIT to see what they look like in 5 years, let alone 10, but unless the thing requires brain surgery I'm sure as hell going to have one.

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