These are probably the most common questions I get from my friends: "Do you think I need a smartphone? Should I buy a smartphone?". Today, this question is less frequent as more and more people have already switched to a smartphone, either because they needed one or because they followed the general trend.
For me, the important part of the smartphone is the applications, or apps. Developed by many programmers around the world, these apps are adding a new dimension to the mobile world and this is the biggest advantage of a smartphone over a non-smart phone (dumb phone?), see the next paragraph.
1. Benefits of a Smartphone
a. all in one
I think this is the biggest argument. No need to have a phone, a camera, a book, a map, a game console, an agenda, a notebook, a shopping list, etc...
Everything is reduced to one device: your smartphone. It does more and more things and is almost unbeatable when you have some time to kill: you can surf on the internet, read books, play games, ...
b. some applications for everyone
There are so many available apps that you will surely find something for you.
Running a lot? There are many apps that let you know how much you ran, how fast, how many calories you burned, let you see your path on a map, share it with your friends, etc...
Traveling a lot? So many travel guide apps! Playing an instrument? You can get a tuner app or a metronome one.
If you need a particular app that is not developed yet, you can probably get in touch with some developers who will do it for you, or have the fun programming it yourself (if you can program or willing to learn how to).
c. cheaper and cheaper
Of course, if you go for the latest and best phone, it will be expensive. But there are more and more cheap phones. Chinese brands such as Huawei or ZTE are especially competitive when it comes to the price. Recently even bigger brands like Samsung or LG offer some low-cost phones.
If you are an Apple fan but don't have enough money to buy an iPhone 4S, you could even consider buying an iPhone 4. Much cheaper now that the 4S is out, not so different and still a good phone.
d. more and more Wifi zones
What costs more than the mobile phone (on the long run) is the mobile data subscription. If you want to be able to surf a lot, from everywhere and if you are always on YouTube, even on the go, then you will probably need an expensive data traffic subscription.
On the other hand, if you intend to use it in some specific areas (at home, at work, at the library, ...), chances are you will have free Wifi in these areas (check before buying). There are more and more Wifi zones and many are free. Typically, modern shopping malls, trendy cafés, busy train stations should now be offering Wifi. A new trend is even for airline companies to offer free Wifi on board their airplanes!
e. more and more customer friendly
If you still don't have a smartphone, you are probably not a new-technology enthusiast and smartphones may look scary to you. Well, with the rise of smartphone users, we have also seen a new trend: smartphones are more and more customer friendly. More stable, easier to use, more online articles/magazines/books to help you use your phone...
2. Reasons NOT to Get a Smartphone
a. risk of addiction (facebook, twitter, ...)
If you are addicted to Facebook, to other social websites or to the Internet in general, getting a smartphone is a bit scary. Being connected 24/7 may make you anti-social (always updating Facebook, always checking your emails, ...) and may disconnect you from the offline world ("look at that lovely girl over there... no, not the one on your mobile phone").
People don't look anymore, they take photos. What is the point to travel, then, if the only way to appreciate beautiful things (buildings, art, ...) is through the photos we put on Facebook (then, let's just appreciate the photos already on the internet, it will save us the plane tickets and the hotel room).
b. if you don't have an internet access
If you live in the middle of nowhere without 3G network, don't travel much and don't intend to move or if you cannot afford a 3G mobile data subscription and don't have a Wifi zone in the places you like to spend time in (your favorite café, the library of your town, ...).
A smartphone without an Internet access is not so much better than a non-smartphone. No access means no apps, no Internet surfing, ... just a phone in summary.
c. battery eater
Smartphones use much more battery than other mobile phones, especially if you use it a lot or if you don't know how to avoid battery waste (your phone needs some tuning if you want it to last longer).
If you don't want or cannot charge your phone every 2-3 days, then you may want to avoid smartphones.
d. phones dedicated to call
In the case, you are dedicating a phone for emergencies (for policemen, people on duty, ...), it can be better to have a phone as simple as possible, who will not reboot, not die out of battery so long you are a bit careful about it, will not be in the middle of an update when someone calls, etc...
e. you don't want to lose everything at once
I said earlier it was more practical to have only 1 thing with you (your phone) instead of bringing a phone and a camera and a book to kill time and a map and a ... On the other hand, if your phone dies or is stolen, you suddenly lose everything. No more camera, no more contact lists (not so many public phones anyway), no more calendars, maps, dictionary, ... It is up to you to decide: convenience or less risk?
3. Which Smartphone or Which Non-Smartphone Should You Buy?
If you decide to go for a smartphone, the next question is of course which phone you should choose. For this, the most important factor is probably which Operating System you want, Android and iOS (iPhones) being the most popular ones but Windows Phone is not bad either. The iPhone 5 is coming soon... maybe it is time to get a smartphone after all?
If you decide to go for a non-smartphone, the choice is simply about the design of the phone, the producer you like best (or trust best) and the price you want to put in the phone.
To conclude, I would say that smartphone or not, the choice is yours. There are many factors to take into consideration but I hope this article helped you understand a bit more the pros and cons of a smartphone and why you should or should not buy one.