Do we care about the phone in our smartphones anymore?Evan Selleck - Contributing Editor
I’m always interested in looking over the past few years within the mobile industry and seeing all the things that have changed. It makes it more interesting to consider what has changed, and the things that are still changing today. Our phones used to be just devices that we used to talk to one another, maybe send a text here and there, and for a select bunch maybe check our emails. When you saw someone with a BlackBerry or Palm-branded device, you knew they were a business person. But now a smartphone is as common as a regular flip-phone used to be, and the features on these devices are just as advanced (if not more advanced in some cases) than the computers we use every day. But, with our devices getting more and more advanced every week, it’s beginning to look more and more like the “phone” part of our smartphones is becoming irrelevant.
I can understand why using the phone isn’t a big deal anymore. I hate actually talking on my phone. I much prefer to use an Instant Messaging application, BlackBerry Messenger, or text messages. Actually talking on my phone happens very, very rarely. However, I’m choosing not to use that particular function of my handset, and there’s no way that I would want it to actually not exist. Even just in case of an emergency, having the ability to make a call from my smartphone is essential. I just don’t ever use it.
But, a comment on a recent story has got me thinking. In a recent advertisement, it’s believed that HTC is hard at work on a Windows Phone 7 device that features a 16MP camera. One commenter suggested that perhaps this isn’t HTC making a Windows Phone 7 device with a 16MP camera, but HTC making a camera that has Windows Phone 7 on it. Obviously that 16MP camera would be the main selling point of the device, and even other aspects of the hardware would be overshadowed by this one stand-out element. Furthermore, Windows Phone 7 would simply be a bullet point.
Nokia has been a long-running frontrunner in camera technology in our smartphones, and I don’t see that changing. With their leap to Windows Phone 7, I’m sure we’ll see plenty of smartphones that have amazing cameras popping up in the future. However, even when Nokia launches a device with a 12MP camera, you don’t hear people saying that they’ve launched a camera that’s also got the ability to send some text messages or make calls.
There’s no doubt that our smartphones are much more than phones these days. Not even because many people don’t focus on the whole “calling” thing. It’s because they’re so advanced that we can almost do anything we want with them, and even if we can’t do something out of the box with it, there’s a good chance that there’s an application that we can put on our device to make it happen. Even if HTC does launch a WP7 device with a 16MP camera, I’m going to chalk it up to the natural progression of the technology we are so fond of, and not the manufacturer launching a camera with Windows Phone 7 on it. Getting to a 16MP camera in our smartphones was only a matter of time. It’s just happening a lot sooner than some expected, apparently.
Do you think the features in our phones are making them more “device” than “phone?” Or, like me, do you just think it’s the natural progression of these things, and that we should expect to see high-end features like this more and more? Let me know in the comments what you think.