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A little earlier today we talked about “dedicated devices.” We kicked around the possibility that manufacturers might start focusing on devices that prioritize one feature more than others, while still packing in the power that we all expect. As soon as I finished that article, I began to wonder how people use their devices. Use their smartphones. Despite the fact that our handsets are meant to be phones, the ability that we have to use them as Internet browsers, music players or portable gaming units make them unique devices. But when you think about buying your next phone, do you think about all those things it can do?

A few years ago I was someone who didn’t mind carrying more than one device on me at any given moment. But, a few years ago, I wasn’t really willing to try and get my music from my computer to a microSD card and then onto my simple flip-phone, or even one of my feature phones. Even when I started using smartphones, I was happy enough to be able to check my email, browse the Internet (as good as it got back then, anyway), and send text messages. Sure, I could have listened to music on any of those devices, but I much preferred to have my dedicated MP3 player ready to go at any time.

I can’t really narrow down when the transition happened, but it was a sudden one. Maybe I ran out of pocket space. Whatever made it happen, I’ve never looked back. Despite the fact that there are some impressive MP3 players out there, I own the handset that I do now because it’s able to play music, and playing music is one of its most prominent features. The fact that I can send text messages, check my email and browse the Internet from the same device is just like having amazing icing on the already fantastic cake.

I hear about more and more people who walk into a store looking for a new phone, and when they’re asked by the sales rep what they’re looking for, they tell the rep that they aren’t sure. They know that they want the phone to make calls, maybe even text or be able to check their email, but anything else is just an extra. Everyone expects to find a camera on their phone these days, so that feature probably goes without saying. But, what about playing games? Or what about listening to music, for example? Are these features just an afterthought to most, or are these folks who feel like it’s an unnecessary extra part of the fringe group?

When I thought about buying my last phone, I took all of these things into consideration. Playing games on my phone is important, but it certainly isn’t the most important aspect. Communicating with people that I know -- whether that be through text messages, instant messaging clients, or email is probably in the top-three features that I look for. But, most importantly to me is listening to music. How is the interface to the music player? What formats does the phone support? How easy is it to get music onto the phone? All of these things are part of the whole, and if one piece is missing then that particular phone just won’t be my next purchase.

That’s what I’m curious to find out. When you go into a store and you’re intent on buying a new phone, which features are you looking for more than any other? Are you someone who still uses more than one device to get done what you’re looking to get done? Or are you someone who tries to consolidate your devices as best you can. Let me know in the comments below.


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