From the Sidekick 2 to the Note 2: Watching Smartphones Evolve
The olden days
The cell phone revolution happened for most of my friends long before it happened for me. I waited until 2003 to get my first phone, and it was bare bones (I think it had the ability to text message, but I don't think I ever sent one). Eventually I got something with a QWERTY pad (remember those? They were actually pretty awesome), and then my first true smartphone was the Sidekick 2. Holy crap, that was an amazing phone. I mean, really, truly revolutionary for its time. The SK2 was by far the best cell phone I had all the way through 2013.
Let me take a minute to explain why that is. The Sidekick 2 had a really terrific flip-out QWERTY pad that allowed you me to be able to type about 2/3 as quickly as I could on an actual keyboard, but it more than made up for it with the ability to program in words. For example, if I frequently typed the phrase "testicular aberration" dozens of times a day, I could simply program in "ta" and the SK would type this out for me in the blink of an eye.
Fast forward a few years
It wasn't until predictive text got considerably better through the magic of "narrow AI" that smartphones became even close to this in overall efficiency for typing, at least as far as I was concerned. I tried cutting edge phones over the years including the Blackberry Curve (back when it was actually all kinds of hot), the MDA (remember that thing?), and finally the Galaxy S, among others. The Galaxy S was good, and I often called it the best smartphone since the Sidekick 2.
Finally, the Note 2 came out and surpassed what I expected as far as ease of use (browsing the web is super easy, which is really important to me). Predictive text is awesome. I don't use voice-to-text too much, but when I do, it works well. Best of all- things are constantly improving, and I get to be a part of this improvement process, as real-time feedback is sent back to Google to help develop improvements.
And- even better- the screen is HUGE. It's almost a mini-tablet. I love it. My hands are big.
What's to come?
I don't know if the new paradigm in smartphones will be spearheaded by the iwatch or other wearables, or Google Glass, or simply a better version of a mini-tablet, or something completely unanticipated, but you can bet it's going to happen in the next 2 years or so. Each generation of technology has come along more rapidly than the preceding one, and cell phones are certainly no exception to this rule. I, for one, wouldn't be surprised if we're fully immersed in virtual reality within a decade, although I won't be among the very first to jump on the bandwagon (for reasons cited above). I tend to be among the early majority most of the time, and occasionally maybe among the early adopter group. On the other hand, the world needs more innovators- the earliest group to try out new products, so if you think you might be among that group and need just a little push, let me offer a few words of encouragement: you might just usher in the next great paradigm for humanity.
Update: Note 3
Update: I just lost my Note 2 at the state fair (terrible things always seem to happen at state fairs), and as a result, I was able to upgrade to a Note 3. The Note 4 comes out in a couple of weeks, so I couldn't get that, but honestly, the Note 3 is everything the Note 2 is, only faster, with more memory, and better resolution. Overall, I'm super happy with this phone, and I'd have to admit that this is now the best phone I've ever used. I'm also a bit biased, already knowing how to use the Note 2, but the 3 is awesome.