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What are the Advantages and Disadvantages of Smartphones?

Updated on July 23, 2014
The first real smartphone (by definition), the IBM Simon.
The first real smartphone (by definition), the IBM Simon. | Source

What Exactly is a Smartphone?

So before we start delving right into the intrinsic advantages and disadvantages of smartphones and what they have to offer, let's first conjure a concept -- a sort of definition as to how they differ from bog standard mobile phones.

If we refer straight to the oxford dictionary they claim the smart phone to simply be "a mobile phone that is able to perform many of the functions of a computer ... and an operating system capable of running general-purpose applications". In other and much simpler words, it is basically a computer phone.

The first set of smart phones, people often believed are to be the Nokia 900, Palm treo & Kyocera 6035 but by the definition given above it was actually an IB Simon (see image just below) made way back in 1992. That being said, it isn't particularly clever in comparison to your modern day iPhone and Android phones.

As we know it Smart phones have never been so popular and the growing trend is in no shape or form declining, as much as 65% of United States citizens had a smart phone and over one and a half billion were in use by mid 2013 -- predicted by 2017 that there will be 1.5 billion smart phone users.

In this smartphones pros and cons essay type format, we will be referring to your modern day Smart phone with regards to the abilities it has -- and the potential drawbacks and benefits that they offer. Hence, phones like your iPhone 5S and Samsung Galaxy 5 and so on.

A smart phone offers you a whole lot more than just the means of communication.
A smart phone offers you a whole lot more than just the means of communication. | Source

Advantages of Smartphones

There are a whole range of benefits that smartphones offer and you quickly become aware as I go through the list of advantages that some criss and cross with one another. E.g. I might mention increased communication capabilities and that will go hand in hand with the fact that you can receive and send emails on the go which in turn benefits productivity.

  • Access to Information - perhaps one of the biggest revelations with Smartphones (and tablets to some extent) is the ease at which you have access to the internet and other information sources through apps at just the few simple touches of some glass. You might even be reading this very article on a smartphone (well at least you could do). You can constantly be in touch with world events through news, weather, even traffic.
  • Productivity - never before could you send emails via your phone, send pictures and images, exchange files (presentations, documents and so on), schedule meetings with reminders -- all this adds up to improved productivity and basically 'getting more done' in a 'shorter amount of time'. You would have otherwise just have to waited to get yourself on a laptop or computer, with your phone you can do it all on the tube or train to and from work. Everything is just much faster.
  • Apps. Apps. Apps - you can literally get a specialised computer application for anything these days from casual entertainment, access to music & games (I'm sure you have heard of flappy bird, angry birds, clash of clans etc.) to weight loss, health symptoms and fitness, social networking, maps, productivity and so on. These collectively probably represent the largest benefit that Smartphones can offer -- as it vastly increases the amount of 'actual' things you can do with your smart phone and what it can offer you.
  • More Communication - not only can you send SMS texts and phone calls, there are a whole other range of options of communication via phones (mostly through apps): BBM (for blackberry smartphone), facebook, whatsapp, even snapchat to some extent. The latter apps let you exchange images and photos with great ease.
  • Camcorder, Cameras & Photos - the fact that you have a 13.2 megapixel camera integrated into your phone is something that gets forgotten about. Although arguably you got cameras in non smart phones, they are vastly more powerful and of a higher quality (usually speaking in a smartphone). Newer phones have taken this aspect of being a device merger even further by being a GPS system as well, Wi-FI adapters, aloud speakers, PDA and so on. You can even pay for with your phone acting like a credit card & debit card of sorts.

This list of smartphone advantages is by no means exclusive (if you have anymore please suggest some in the comments below) & undoubtedly as technology progresses so too will the amount of benefits that Smartphones will be able to offer you.

Disadvantages of Smartphones

Now as with most things in this life, everything has both benefits and things going for it as well as a flip-side of demerits and how it is potentially damaging towards us. Again, you will find a bit of crossing in information from the points given below.

  • Source of Procrastination? - as pointed out above, yes they can indeed improve productivity, but they can also be detrimental to it. You can start off sending a few emails to clients and colleagues but before you know it you have spent the last half an hour trying to be beat level 27 of Angry Birds. They can be the ultimate source of 'not getting stuff done', particularly with children during lesson times is a deep concern. More time on their smart phones than actually concentrating on the lessons in hand.
  • Source of Social Isolation? - back in the day when communication wasn't so easy to come by, you would actually have to make an effort to get in touch with your friends either meeting up in town or going round their houses for drinks etc. These days, the effort seems to have waned in some parts and less human interaction and socializing has come about.
  • Expensive - they definitely ain't cheap -- for example if you are wanting a modern up to date iPhone with standard 32GB memory that is contract free, you are looking at a cool $750, that is by no means cheap. Compare that to a standard mobile phone, you could pick one up for about 50 bucks. That being said if you are prepared to make some sacrifices, getting an older gen model or one that's been refurbished/used then they do come a lot cheaper. This has also led to the case of more muggings and crime to steal smartphones as you will carry it about your person.
  • Information Security - as we mentioned earlier we store a lot of information on our smartphones, even the potential of credit card details and so on. This makes them more prone to hacking, as it becomes instantly more profitable to do so. So if you are surfing around the internet on a insecure WiFi network that your phone has picked up, this could make you very vulnerable. Moreover, much like your computer picks up viruses, so can your phone with potential malicious malware being downloaded without your knowledge.
  • Reliance - not everyone but certainly some individuals might have become too dependent on their phone, you might hear some people refer to their "phone is their life", surely can't be a great place to be in. You should always have interests, hobbies and activities that don't just revolve around your phone.

All the points are rather qualitative and subjective, but they certainly are existent to a certain magnitude. Again, if you have any other additional drawbacks to smart phones that I haven't mentioned please be sure to make them in the comments below.

HTC One Smart phone with a display of different apps.
HTC One Smart phone with a display of different apps. | Source

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