No smartphones

How To Survive 59 Days Without a Smartphone

No smartphones

Smartphones are an ever more essential part of all our lives, to the extent that more Android devices (700,000) are activated each day across the world than babies are born!
It has been an incredible change in the way we live and has happened in a very short space of time, given that the first iPhone only hit the market in 2007.

I recently had a chance to go back in time and use my good old Nokia 3210 for two months without having any access to my iPhone – some might call it Smartphone cold turkey – and it brought home to me just how much time we spend on our Smartphones.

Here, along with a few interesting facts and figures, is what I found during my experiment:

Missing Your Networking Fix

It is an astonishing fact that that 79% of Smartphone users reach for their devices within 15 minutes of waking up, with 62% grabbing their phones immediately. Among 18-24 year-olds these figures rise to 89% and 74% respectively.

Many people say this is to catch up with what friends, family and colleagues are up to by logging on to Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites. This goes on throughout the day – at social occasions and even business events you will often see people networking via their phones, rather than face to face.

Businesses have caught on to this fact, especially as 56% of consumers say they are more likely to recommend a brand after becoming a fan on Facebook, and it has become a valuable marketing tool. Coca-Cola alone has more than 35million fans on Facebook.

I’m as guilty as the next Smartphone user of burying my head in social media when I could be talking face to face and not having my iPhone certainly made me think about just how much I use it for this purpose.

Twitter vs Paperboy

Remember the paperboy who delivered fresh news to you every morning behind your door? Well, obviously now we have Twitter to bring us the breaking news.

The astonishing success of Twitter has been driven by the Smartphone revolution. Since the site first launched there has been a total of 163 billion tweets and the average Twitter user has tweeted 307 times – with 50% of these using the social network via mobile.

We love news and information, so the combination of iPhone and Twitter is perfect – delivering a steady stream of breaking news to mobile throughout the day. It is great for any Twitter addict as you only get news about things you are interested in and want to follow. The downside of this is that your phone is tweeting all day long and you can sometimes feel overwhelmed with information.

So, with my old cell phone unable to support Twitter, how did I find it? At first it was actually quite nice, but I soon craved it again.

Checking the Check-ins

After a long day at work I, like many others, like to socialise. But where are my friends? The answer can be found on Foursquare – the app that sees 2 million check-ins a week through the 15 million people that have Foursquare accounts (as at Dec 2011).

It has been great for businesses such as restaurants and bars, as they get free promotion through people advertising their whereabouts.

We all love being able to keep track of what our friends are up to but on the other hand, you can actually pick up the phone and have a conversation with them instead of simply tracking them online!

No More Happy Snapping

One of the most useful features of a Smartphone is the high-quality camera that each one is equipped with, allowing a quick snap to be taken and instantly relayed to family and friends via an SMS or through the Web.

Smartphone pictures are now big business – 3,500 photos are uploaded each second on Flickr, whilst Instagram reached 13 million users with 13 months of launch. No wonder Facebook paid such a premium to buy Instagram.

Further more, sharing pictures in social media, usually taken with Smartphones and Instagrammed can become a huge success. For example, let’s take the recent fame of Russian photographer Murad Osmann who made pictures of her girlfriend leading him by the hand all around the world.

Being deprived of my iPhone suddenly meant I was without portable camera.
Do you think social media would be so powerful without Smartphones today?

Keeping connected to the world

Rightly or wrongly, we live in a world where you need to be up-to-date with everything that’s going on, especially when it comes to business, so it makes life a lot easier when you can quickly check something – from the latest stock prices to up to date information on a potential supplier – via your Smartphone.

I love iPhone for this very fact and even though I can easily do it through a computer at the home or office, I did struggle with not having information at my fingertips. I am not alone in this – In Germany, 85% of people with a mobile device use it to access the web every day. This figure rises to 89% in Spain, 90% in France and 93% in the UK.

Emails on the Go

Being able to send emails through your phone is a massive bonus – a 2011 study by Google revealed that 82% of Smartphone users check and send email with their device, a figure that has undoubtedly risen since.

According to the recent Mobile Marketing Survey, 52% of companies let people sign up for email or text alerts about products and offers as a path to purchase – making mobile marketing a massive growth area for business.

For me, being without access to emails on my phone was the hardest part of this whole experiment as being able to access them wherever and whenever is a massive benefit for me and I ended up cursing my old phone’s inability to reach my messages!

Mapping Matters

My iPhone experiment just happened to coincide with a bit of flat searching in London. Deprived of instant access to handheld maps via my Smartphone I had to revert to the old-fashioned method of asking people for directions! I still managed to view four flats during one day across various parts of London, but I believe I would have managed at least eight with my iPhone.

This is where having a Smartphone is incredibly useful – having a map in the palm of your hand saves you time and, given that time is money, helps you save on costs as well.

There are many other apps and features on Smartphones that make our lives much easier and that is the beauty of this technology. But can you have too much of a good thing?

In fact spending too much time on a Smartphone is proving to be a real problem for some people, causing professional and personal difficulties. A psychiatrist in Taiwan has even diagnosed IAD (iPhone Addiction Disorder). Severe cases of IAD have even led to Smartphone addicts being hospitalised to try and wean them off their technological fix.

[Image courtesy of Intel free Press]

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