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5 ways your smartphone's 'smarts' have become more important than the 'phone'

Tony Bradley | Aug. 19, 2013
People live and die by their smartphones, but placing phone calls is not the primary function of a “smartphone”.

It's been headline news this week that smartphones outsold feature phones for the first time. Huzzah!

My first thought was, "They still sell non-smartphones?" My second thought was "Why do we even still call it a 'phone'?" I mean, a PC is basically an evolution of a calculator, but we don't get excited about whether or not PCs outsell calculators, and we don't call PCs "supercalculators."

If you think about it, making and receiving voice calls is one of the more minor functions of a smartphone. Sure, the devices we use today evolved from a basic mobile phone, and they've gotten "smarter" with new features and capabilities and a seemingly endless array of apps. But the term "smartphone" is a bit of a misnomer that doesn't accurately describe what the device is.

It's a personal communication and entertainment device (PCED). It's a mobile pocket computer (MPC). It's a personal digital assistant (PDA)—much more so than the devices that originally claimed that title. It's an invaluable tool that enables business professionals to stay connected and be productive from virtually anywhere and at any time.

The "phone" part of "smartphone" doesn't even scratch the surface of what the device is capable of. Here are five things a typical smartphone is used for more frequently than making or receiving voice calls:

1. Email
One of the greatest things about a smartphone is that it's capable of accessing and downloading email over either a Wi-Fi network or a cellular data connection. That means that your email is available in your pocket 24/7.

2. Texting/Instant Messaging
Texting or instant messaging is a nice middle-ground between email and voice calls. It's an immediate form of communication, and it's often way more convenient and courteous than a voice call.

3. Web Surfing
This point started out being called "research." Whether you need to keep up with breaking news in your industry, or you want to see how your investments or doing, the smartphone lets you surf the Web in the palm of your hand. You can compare features or research better prices while out shopping, book travel arrangements, or look up whether a narwhal is mythical creature or a real thing (Hint: it's a real animal and it should have totally been called a "sea unicorn" or a "unicorn whale").

4. GPS
Maps, and turn-by-turn directions are one of the most valuable functions of a smartphone. Whether you're driving in your car or hoofing it, your smartphone can help you get from Point A to Point B as efficiently as possible.

As a matter of fact, the "smartphone" has done just as much to make standalone GPS units and point-and-shoot cameras obsolete as it has for standalone mobile phones, so we could just as easily call it a "smartgps" or a "smartcamera." Actually, when it comes to Samsung, I guess the "smartcamera" is sort of a real thing thanks to the Galaxy Camera.


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