David Papp Blog

We no longer use the phone in our smartphones

Ahh, smart phones: the modern human’s weapon of choice in braving today’s hyper-connected digital world. Have you ever wondered why they’re still called phones nowadays? More than anything, the functionality of our so-called smart phones has transcended their original purpose. They’re now devices jam-packed with applications that let you do almost anything, and they have become less of a traditional phone in every sense of the word.

All in one device
When shopping for a new mobile phone device, do you even consider it’s “phone-ness”? You’re more likely to think about your dream phone’s camera capabilities. How powerful are its sensors? Does it use advanced optics? (The days where megapixels were used as the yardstick are gone.) You’re probably focusing more on your camera’s operating system. Are you going to go for an Android Phone, a Windows Phone or an iPhone? …. Or a BlackBerry?

Staying in touch
With advances in technology, we can now call and text through the Internet. When it comes to staying in touch, our smart phones have become our primary phones instead of our landline numbers. Which also makes you wonder, with the freedom in mobility our smartphones provide, will landline phones become obsolete in the near future?

With calling and texting via the Internet becoming more and more affordable and accessible, both businesses and individuals hardly see the necessity of landlines as they once did, say, 10-15 years ago. And with all the bells and whistles that our smartphones provide – the games, camera, entertainment and useful applications – voice communication has taken a backseat to just about everything. More and more people prefer to chat via text messages and the way we communicate has become much more visual.

The first handheld mobile device was released in 1973 and it is amazing how far we’ve gone in just three decades, from the gigantic blocks of plastic that didn’t look much different from a cordless phone to the sleek keyless gadgets we now use every day. It’s exciting to see what’s going to happen with mobile phone technology in the coming years ahead.

40 thoughts on “We no longer use the phone in our smartphones”

  1. Considering that phone technology hasn’t advanced at all, I honestly think that listing “crystal clear voice calling” can’t be a feature any more because it’s pretty much standard on every modern phone. Calling has a standard quality of 12kbps, which is good enough to hear people without the use of a lot of data. The microphones obviously surpass the quality of 12 kbps, so the “phoneness” of phones doesn’t matter on any phone brand. We’re advancing so quickly that other features are mattering now, like the camera. Chances are, the next big advancement is going to be battery life, because squeezing the battery life of an old Nokia phone into a thin, decent sized smartphone will be pretty revolutionary. I’d love to have more than 24 hours of battery life.

    • Agreed, three of my biggest concerns are battery life, camera and processing power. Also stability of the operating system in general, I want as few crashes as possible.

    • I think the “crystal clear voice calling” is more targeted to people who are doing voip calling using their mobiles. I end up doing the majority of my communications using VOIP either through Skype, Hangouts or something of that nature.

      This means that voice quality is, for the most part, preserved a lot better than with POTS. That being said, you’re right that it really doesn’t serve as an effective baseline for mobile sales since there are plenty of people out there who purchase a smart phone with either no, or very limited data plan.

  2. I admit that when I purchase a mobile device, my decision is not based on the quality of the phone features. I’m more interested in how much RAM the phone has, how much internal storage it has and how fast the wireless/4g speeds are. I rarely use the voice feature at all because I’d rather everyone text me. In my opinion, I think playing games and browsing the web are way cooler than using your phone as a phone.

    • Same here! This phone was a gift tho 🙂 But when the time to buy a phone comes, how much RAM and how much internal storage the phone has will be the main things for me to consider before even buying it. I think I’ll go for the Moto G again, but I’ll pick a model with more space 🙂

      I love how I can play with my phone while waiting at the doctor’s office. It’s very convenient in that situation 🙂

    • I absolutely agree. I don’t think that the call quality of a phone is what a lot of people look for anymore when purchasing a new cell phone. When I was on the market for a new phone last year (I decided on the Galaxy S4 and couldn’t be more happy with it) I was just looking purely for cool features. I love to multitask and that was a huge deciding factor for me; not the call quality..because I expect every phone to have the same call quality at this point.

      • The Galaxy phones are perfect for multitasking. Samsung is the only manufacturer that used the android OS, that I don’t mind the custom skin that comes with it. I just lost my S5 and have been crying ever since. I would get annoyed when people would call me because I was having so much fun with the device.

    • It’s the exact same for me. 😛 I mean, I hardly ever call people anyway, mainly because of texting, so what’s the use of having “crystal clear” sound? I would much rather have a phone that runs well, and can run the latest games and such.

  3. I was actually thinking the other day that I don’t even use the phone of my mobile anymore, now whenever there is free Wifi I just call my friends thru Skype! Actually it’s way cheaper to use Skype credits to call landlines in other countries! Some years ago when I was working abroad i used my credits to call my mom, we could talk so long compared to when I bought phone cards to call her. It’s amazing how far we have gotten!

    • Definitely, the use of Whatsapp and Skype have superseded SMS and traditional phone calls, due to the very obvious benefit that it is FREE. (Aside from data plan costs, but to be honest they are very minimal)

      In an age where SMS messages still cost a few dollars for a few hundred messages, it is much cheaper and more convenient to using messaging apps instead, with added features like sharing pictures and group conversations.

      Likewise Skype trumps the phone with the possibility of video chatting, and literally no international calling costs.

      • I wish there was an option to customize my plan. It would be nice if I could still pay very little for unlimited data but exclude most of the talk minutes. I use hangouts for my video calls and it’s way better than talking or text. There should be an article on how t.vs are used for some of the same things we use our phone’s and computers for.

        • Where I come from we can use prepaid cards, which offer a set amount of data/SMS/calltime. If you solely use the data for Whatsapp and Skype, and not browsing the Web, it could last you a very long time.

          It’s a shame that most unlimited data plans are expensive and inevitably bundled with call/SMS plans. Telcos are probably wary of the situation.

          • I think that prepaid should be the only way to mobile and do most things in life. I’d much rather pay for exactly what I need than buy plans that I only take advantage of 30% of the features.

  4. This is very true. I rarely use my phone to talk to people. I mostly play games or text people.

  5. Personally, I do not use my smartphone for the “phone” purposes anymore. I have a spare bar phone that I use for this purpose because it has a longer battery life than my smartphone which is pretty much used for everything else other than calling or texting.

    I think that although eventually, calling and texting will be done using the Internet in the following years, it is still vital for people and business to have a backup plan if the internet is slow or broken. I just hope that Telco providers will make the rates much more cheaper for calls and text than for the internet usage so that people will still be encouraged to use their services.

    • To be honest, phone companies can easily afford to lower prices for SMS, because they cost the company basically nothing. However, as most phone companies are cash cows (Verizon, At&t, etc…) they will try and milk you out of as much money as they can.

      I do think that the prices will go down with these people finally realizing how much they are being overcharged, and I truly cannot wait.

  6. I hardly use my phone as a phone too. I only really call my parents who don’t send texts or emails that often. I don’t want to do away with my minutes completely but I wish there were plans tailored to that sort of usage. I know you can use some apps over wifi but I don’t always have wifi access.

  7. Smartphones have emerged and it has changed everything about conventional telecommunications. Gone are the days that many people loved to chat it up on the phone with others because of the transcendence of phones that operate so much more “smarter” now. I’m one of those who just no longer find talking on the phone that much pleasurable anymore. I’d rather be doing activities on my phone, such as texting, instant messaging, social networking or doing other fun or productive activities on various apps. Phones itself have really been fizzled out. More like you call it a Smart Device. It’s now completely a secondary function.

  8. As little as my phone is a phone at this point, even as someone who has grown up in the age of the cellphone and text message, I still call people whenever I can. It is just more personal than texting, I like to hear people’s voices. While texting and email are more convenient as you can multitask or respond when you are available calling is so immediate and compelling, it just can’t be beat. That being said the lack of use of phones as phones has led telecom companies to abandon improvements to call quality keeping it at the same poor bit-rate that we had before 4g and even 3g and because of this call quality is not increasing with the rest of cellular technology.

  9. It’s true, I really don’t use my smartphone to call people. In fact I think I would consider it a perk more than the main function of the phone. I mainly care about the features of the phone in regards to the applications, the wifi web access, and the camera. Mobile phones (the non-smartphone) are the ones that are all about calls. I don’t think I will care about the call feature too much again until they come out with a holographic-type answering system.

  10. I rarely even use the phone on my smartphone because I barely call anybody. We normally video chat because it is easier and faster.

  11. I can agree with the article because the only time I actually call somebody on my phone is when I call my parents. They only believe in the old-fashioned calling and they have not joined a single social media website. But for all the other people I keep in contact with, I mostly text them or occasionally call them. When I am in the market for a new phone I look at what features it has and how it appeals to my taste. Several years from now when gigabit internet connections and 6g LTE are available to everyone we will probably be making crystal clear 1080p video calls and voice calls will be a thing of the past.

  12. I joke about this all the time with my friends. I have the new iPhone 6, had it since launch and I have not made a phone call on it yet. Who knows if I ever will, I actually hope not.

  13. I am one of those people who are willing to sacrifice voice quality in a phone over aesthetic looks. When I brought my phone, it was the next best thing. Sure, it looks nice but it does not compare to the advancements of Samsung and their phones.

  14. I sometimes… well, I think the point of all this is to be precise in our orders. I see what you mean. That is the modern man’s quest for precision. When choosing to produce a BB, who would consider wanting to split bills with the stranger on the next table over a beacon? Check splitting on a tab with the devop team, or… online shopping and online business? Some things just really don’t matter when choosing a smartphone, so why do they matter now? These questions I ask myself when seeing something new on the market.

  15. I think this is very true with phones. My cellphone plan only has 300 minutes (which I don’t even come close to using) but unlimited test messaging, and unlimited data. I use the phone portion of my phone maybe 2-3 times a month. The rest of the time it’s giving me directions, updating me on Facebook, taking pictures, playing games, just about anything besides making calls. And I’ve actually gone about 12 years now without a landline phone, and I have no intentions of getting one. For me it would just be a bill for something I would never use.

  16. Aside from cell phones and landlines, services like IPTV and VoIP are also also popularising Internet as the main source of services.

    I myself pay about $25 a month of internet on my phone service. I message with BBM and Facebook and make my calls through Skype and Viber. I don’t even own a TV anymore, I just watch Youtube and download shows on my laptop. Today internet is king.

  17. That’s why the iPod Touch is so popular – it’s literally an iPhone without the phone. The only thing it’s missing is 3G/4G, which is why you upgrade. This isn’t all bad, though, all of the access you can do on your phone is just another reason to not be on the computer. You can talk to people face to face – in theory ;).

  18. I do not have a smartphone yet, but you do have points that is similar to what I am thinking. I might get one soon and what I am first thinking about is the OS, then the camera, and the processing power of the phone. We all think that the phone portion of the phone is already there that we are moving towards other aspects of the smart phone.

  19. I could pretend to say I feel sorry for the telecom carriers and the fact they’re no longer able to make excessive profits out of voice. But it’s the very fact that they were able to charge silly amounts, particularly internationally for their services, that allowed for disruptive technologies to take hold.

    The business model has clearly changed and I think most consumers are quite happy to accept slightly less reliable voice cool quality in return for free calls. Long may it continue (or improve, in reality).

  20. Hahaha, that’s so true! I’m not much of a phone talker. So, I end up spending a ton more time on my phone surfing the net and listening to movies. I’m slowly starting to get into watching videos. But I still prefer the experience on my computer. Anyway, since my “tricked-out” phone is always by me, it’s so much more convenient to use it for all sorts of things. There’s no need to limit it or yourself.

  21. Yeah, I’m starting to notice that not a lot of people use to call anymore via an actual phone. Most of the time they’re either Skype calling or Facebook calling their friends. I don’t even use my phone to call anymore, it’s more for quick text and most of the time whenever I want to talk to someone, I use Skype because it’s pretty much cheaper.

  22. I’ve seen that too. People don’t really care to use the calling functions in phones anymore, when social networking and chat apps seem to have taken the stage, which also explains why tablets are becoming more popular, even without 3G (calling ability). We’ll just have to see what happens to the phone function.

  23. Yes indeed and you can make free calls with apps like Viber too. These modern smartphones are being used for biometrics and many other uses that nobody even could have imagined. I use my smartphone more as a mp3 player than anything else.

  24. It’s soo funny that I came across this post because me and my sister stayed up last night late talking about just this. It is funny that mobile phones were originally made to call on, but now I that that is the last thing people use it for anymore. I appreciate text a lot because I am the type of person who is always afraid I am contacting someone while they are busy so the fact that they can just read the text when they have time feels non forcing to me. I rarely use my actual phone!

  25. Indeed, we have just forgotten the “phone” in smartphones!

    Nowadays, we don’t want people to call us, but instead, we want us to send a text so that we can enjoy being with ourselves. Moreover, with advent of various apps, the basic function of the “phone” has got replaced with other “smart” activities.

  26. I admit that I use the other features on my smartphone more than the actual phone. However, as technology advances, why not combine everything into one? It seems more cost efficient for both the customer and provider.

  27. I think what you’re trying to say is that most people don’t use the bandwidth allocation for voice signals on their phone anymore and instead make calls digitally via the internet. There are still plenty of people making online calls on apps like Viber. Maybe people don’t use regular calls anymore because it’s not free and the voice quality hasn’t improved since the 80’s (it’s intentional by the way).

  28. Now that WhatsApp is releasing the call feature I bet calling will become more commonplace. Or not, I’ve not used the call feature of WhatsApp more than a few times since it’s not on iPhone and it’s not all THAT handy and it has a huge ping so the calls are pretty strange. But technology goes on and phones have been a thing for very long already. I’m putting my money on virtual reality connecting people in the future.

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