I wanted a small, light phone which could make and receive phone calls and text messages. The side benefits of being amazingly tough, having a battery life of a week or more and being a talking point also helped.
I'm a geek so I'm nearly always on a computer. When I'm away from a computer I actually enjoy the feeling of being disconnected.
For the last 3 years I worked doing IT support for small businesses, I didn't have a GPS device in my car. My co-workers didn't know how I survived. I just planned better than they did, printed out google map directions and worked on having an excellent memory.
I did cheat some what and stole the bosses wireless internet dongle so in emergencies I could just plug it into my laptop and be online from anywhere.
I'm now living in the US and have the exact same phone as Luke.
I've a Blackberry, but with no services active except for voice and text, via AT&T's GoPhone plan - pay $2 on the days you use the phone, and get unlimited text and voice on those days; pay nothing on the days you don't use it.
It's an immense savings, and I'm by no means in a low-wage job or a college student - I just look at it this way: why pay for a plan which would otherwise fund a round-trip for two to Europe, every year?
Yeah, and hitchhiking across the country can be a memorable experience too, but that doesn't mean you should always avoid flying so that you can make some memories in "'unfortunate' situations".
I do usually use my phone to check for restaurant reviews though, or product reviews if I'm in a store. Google Maps is also extremely useful. I see no reason to eat shitty food if there's a good restaurant just down the road. Unfortunately, most restaurant rating services (like Yelp) aren't too accurate these days.
The scores are, but in aggregate, I have a decent experience with Yelp reviews. As with any user-generate content, there are plenty of opinionated idiots, but I can generally quickly skim them to find out if they're an idiot or not and discount their negative/positive ratings.
It would be awesome if phones transformed into computers, sort of what Ubuntu has planned out. http://www.ubuntu.com/devices/android
If you're not in a position to pay for an expensive cell phone plan, or if you'd simply find the money better spent elsewhere, then do that. When you ask me if I "need" to use my smartphone, you sound like my mother. Don't do that.
Of course nobody needs one in the way they need oxygen or food, but if you're an average professional adult with a reasonably good job, the $100 a month is not that great an expense for a combination music player, camera, GPS, social networking, and, oh yeah, a phone too.
I went with the unlocked phone and prepaid SIM route, so it's only $50 a month. I feel like I'm beating the system.
If you're on a 2 year $100/month contract probably $30 a month goes to repay they phone cost the rest for the service insurance etc. If you don't upgrade straight away or get a big discount at the end of the contract you're effectively giving your mobile operator a massive profit jump.
I'm saying this because prepaid plans, in every other country I lived in, were absurdly expensive, if compared to the post-paid ones...
I can't wait for semi-Augmented-Reality with Google Glass and always-connected Internet with (hopefully) better carrier coverage.
Edit: The contract is too expensive though - I'm paying for tethering as well (AT&T) and with my work discount that puts me just over $80/month. I know, switch providers... (AT&T and Verizon are my only "real" options where I travel).
Edit: also worth noting, you can go the iPod Touch route and have all the wonderfully geeky benefits of a smartphone, but only when wifi is available. If you usually are in range of wifi, it could make sense... see my other comment about how a friend of mine does it.
Even worse - I have friends that have expensive smartphones with the expensive data/text plan plan and would be better-served with an old dumbphone with a keyboard (for texting) and a iPod touch!
My current thinking is to get something like a Note II to use as an always on internet device I can carry everywhere and an old bar or flip phone for making and receiving calls.
I don't tweet from it, or do Foursquare.
I did some emails on the WP8, but use my phone primarily for SMS and maps/navigation.
I very occasionally tether a laptop or tablet, usually just to fetch a file while in an airport.
What I want to do on my mobile device is software development, almost any language will do. I know it has a very small screen, but without my glasses on I have this really neat microscope-like vision.
When I get my Nexus 4, I'm thinking of putting a Linux-from-scratch type of system on it. If I can still use it as a phone, and program OpenGL ES with a keyboard, I would be happy as a lark.
Just a data point, since you asked. :-)
I felt inspired by this setup, but the truth is I do rely on using Google Maps when in unfamiliar places, and that requires a data connection. To a lesser extent, finding local business listings/reviews without wifi comes in handy, too. I don't need it all the time, but when I do, these features are crucial.
If it were possible to refine my friend's idea by using only one device (say an unlocked Nexus 4), and getting a small prepaid data plan as well (say 500MB/mo), I'd consider doing the same. Does that exist?
I have a Nokia 500, which is smart enough for my needs, and Nokia maps offers entire countries/states to download so that they are available offline. Offline landmark coverage isn't the great quality as online, but virtually any major shop/restaurant/street is present
If you can deal with very few minutes the $30 100 minutes/unlimited everything else is a great deal. Nexus 4 would work on this
Call me when smartphones reach that size so I can replace my N900 (because a camera is the only thing I miss in such a tiny phone)
It's absolutely a luxury, and I could certainly survive without one. Frankly, though, its not the first luxury I'd give up. I'd do without cable, without a television, and without a clothes dryer before giving up my smartphone.
P.S. Turn off email notifications. You don't need to be alerted every time an email comes in.
I pay $10/month for mine (including the cost of the phone).
> but my assumption is that you are like me, and constantly near a wifi hotspot
No, I'm hardly ever near one when I need to use my phone.
I like it. I don't love it, but I like it, and I definitely like the price. I've learned that it's best for me to annualize my recurring bills so I can think about them clearly, and $40/month vs. $110/month adds up pretty quickly. (I have two lines in my house, but my $110/month was on a "feature" phone, a term I can not use without using scare quotes around the word feature. A single person is looking at $20/month.)
Obviously this just addresses the price issue. I'm not talking about the other stuff.
I discuss a few options here: http://www.zappable.com/2012/07/smartphones-for-cheap-ii/
(I am also biased by the fact that in France we have unlimited call, messages and data connection for 20€ ~ 25-30$ per month)
about $200 and works on most pay as you go bands....
Bluetooth, 64 Gb storage, FM Radio, FM Transmitter, TV Out
Tethering, Infrared, Backlit Keyboard
Still miss it after 2 years of android smart phones
Were I a college student on a tight budget I might migrate to an iPod mini LTE, a bluetooth headset* and VOIP apps (Talkatone for Gvoice). You could throw an iPod touch in there or not. Assuming you went with Verizon that's $25 a month base with no contract.
* Picking the right headset seems vitally important here; some work smartly with Siri where you just tap the headset once or twice to activate voice control.
Recently I wanted to use a phone to get some Internet (for maps and WWW) when out and about. So I got a Wildfire S (it's small and cheap) and will get some kind of data plan from somewhere.
Sure you can use a tablet for this but if you want to carry a phone anyway cuts down on what you are hauling around.
I am not a big fan if pulling my laptop out on the train.
iPads are less "problematic" in this regard than Android devices although probably more "problematic" than Macs. (Have never tried an iPhone.)
(Yes, I am one of those people who hasn't upgraded to iOS6 yet. )
Is mobile internet really 100$/month in the US? I pay 10€ a month for 1GB, and there are cheaper plans available, too.
Its just progress. Like why drive a 2012 Camry when a 2001 Camry can do the same job?
And, no, $100 a month isn't nearly close to an acceptable price to mitigate random "complaints" about a possible "reply lag"
It is possible to own a smartphone, use it sparingly and gasp not have it tied to your corporate email.
Also phene you seem to be hellbanned.
Hopefully the coverage is good in your general area as it is in mine. (It used to start at $25/month if you signed up about 2 years ago like I did. I am grandfathered in on the $40/month/1200 minutes plan even though there really is no contract...)
My 2 year old LG Optimus V running Android 2.3 can do just about everything I need it to, which really isn't much. Mainly I use it for Phone, Texting, Music and Maps/GPS. Everything else is just icing.