Not rocket science, nor a discovery on the scale of Columbus’ deed. However, it came to me recently as I was haphazardly trying to e-mail my work colleague about something extremely important. Swiping through colorful tabs with flashy icons is neither enjoyable nor particularly useful. Legacy, “non-smart” mobile phones were simple devices for calling and writing text messages. Current inventions on the phone market are everything – timetable schedulers, spreadsheets, TVs, gaming consoles, etc. However, they do neither of those things well compared to full-blown equivalents. In addition, the battery often lasts a meager 2 days, opening a new economical niche for cumbersome add-on power-bank batteries. Again, solving nonexistent problems and inventing a plethora of new ones. Below, a bullet-point rundown of everything that drives my gears about the so-called “smart” phones. Yes, it’s a rant, so prepare your ears for loads of rubbish and turd!
- Overall design – mobile phones are getting bigger and bigger, while laptops smaller and smaller. Both directions are equally pointless. Doing anything on a 10″ notebook is sheer pain on the eyes, and the newest smartphones just don’t fit into a regular trouser pocket anymore. Even when they do, I look like some sort of a mechanic, always with a toolbox in his jeans. Really smooth! Moreover, for some reason smartphone designers decided it’s much easier to type on a screen than on a regular keypad. Interesting, really. I wonder whether they did a proper survey prior. None of my colleagues think it’s more convenient now. Oh, maybe I should be carrying a stylus in addition?
- The GUI – as mentioned earlier, old mobile phones had a simple, non-cluttered interface that would show only the most important features. Furthermore, each of those features was really just a click away. Menus were organized in a clear and concise manner as well. Smartphones seem to adhere to the “all you need to do is just swipe!” philosophy. That’s great, but when you want to find a specific feature pronto, hectic swiping will get you nowhere. How useful is that, really? Also, the colors… Whole books could be written about this.
- The software – nowadays most mobile phones are powered by Android (or Windows Mobile or iOS). That’s a nice unification in a world full of incompatible proprietary systems of the past. However, the vendor lock-in and bloat is considerably worse than even on Windows. By default way too many useless options are on, causing the phone to quickly eat away on the battery. Disabling features is a no-go, unfortunately. For instance, if we don’t want Google to track us, we also lose the ability to record our location in actually useful apps. Obviously, Google needs to know where we are at a given moment, because only then can it offer us highly relevant and convenient services (sarcasm). Well, if we don’t want them, we might as well just stop using smartphones altogether. That’s how it works nowadays. Finally, apps from the Google Store often require access to information they should not need in the first place. Case in point, why would an offline game need my phone book?
Obviously, there are other things wrong with smartphones, though one would have to write a book to cover all of them. Thankfully, there is a bit of a resurgence right now. I’m not the only one tired of being chained by a company due to a passing fad. Many stores and retailers offer legacy phones for geezers just like me. Also, they’re often dirt cheap, new (pulled from a warehouse) and the battery lasts a whopping week. Can’t say “no” to that!