Life with a smartphone

So I’ve had the smart phone for a little over two months at this point.   Has it changed my life for the better?  Um, yes.  Has it taken over my life?  Well, not yet, but it probably will eventually.

Our first two bills have been less than our dumbphone sprint bills.  The most recent was just under $50.

I still need to get google maps because the map program that came pre-installed both sucks and doesn’t seem to work on my phone.  DH has googlemaps on his and it’s a dream.  Maybe I should do that now.  I always think of it when I’m lost in a city and am having to use the cell for data (which is why our bill was higher this past month), which is not a good time to download it.

I’m *mostly* good about just using the wireless for data stuff, though when I’m traveling I’m not as good, and worse than that I have forgotten to turn the cell data off twice so it eats money in the background.

It is wonderful having yelp on hand, even if I don’t like the smartphone yelp app.  It’s still more wonderful than nothing.  (We knew this was going to happen– so many times I had wanted yelp when out and about and did not have it!)

I’ve used it to take a few pictures.  I now understand why my students are always using theirs to take pictures of the board or their homework or whatever.  Sometimes it is easier to just take a picture than to try to explain something.  My sister sent me a bunch of pictures she took with the kids, which was pretty awesome.

One thing I didn’t anticipate– I LOVE facetime.  I had always thought of video chat like Skype… which is just not fun to use.  Facetime is so much better.  So clean and fast, even when we’re both using wireless.  It’s like DH is in the room with me except I can’t touch him (which sucks).  And we’ve been using it for family rather than for work stuff– I still prefer just the phone for work stuff.  I don’t like having to worry about how I look or moderating my facial expressions and so on if I don’t have to (wearing pants is a big part of this).  The kids love facetiming with my sister and with DH or me when one of us is traveling for work.  And it’s so much easier to understand what they’re saying than when they’re using the phone as a phone.

DH has used his for a lot more stuff.  I’m trying to keep it slow because I easily get addicted to things.  But I do see there’s a lot of potential for life improvements.  (DH has also started using Uber for the airport, which my bleeding socialist heart isn’t crazy about, at least until Uber has more safety/worker regulations attached to it, but I do also really appreciate not having to get the kids bundled into the car late at night or in the wee hours of the morning.)

Google hangout is also pretty awesome since that’s how I keep contact with my RAs while I’m out of state.  Now I don’t have to be chained to the computer if they have a question.  (Also:  when chatting with DH, I only need to make 3 clicks to say “I love you”– it just knows!)

I do think, though, that I’m getting a bit more ADHD about checking the internet now that I have the phone and *can* check it.  Like Scalzi, I’ve been feeling pretty distracted recently and wonder if I should, like him, make some sort of productivity goal before I’m allowed to check the internet.  I don’t know.

One nice thing about paradise is that our internet cable company has this deal that if you use their internet, then when you’re out and about you can steal other people’s internet if they have the same company.  It doesn’t work when a lot of people are trying to steal the same internet, but it has been really nice when we’re out and about when there aren’t too many other people around, especially in residential neighborhoods.  When we get back home, we’re no longer going to have that option so either we’ll stop using the phones so much when we’re away from home (which might be good for say, conversation etc.) or we’ll have higher Ting bills from data usage (and me then forgetting to turn off cell).

So, do I recommend it*?  Well, if you can afford the hardware, having a smart phone is pretty awesome.  Given the hardware purchase, our break even point is a long time from now.  I do kind of wish we’d bought one earlier, but sunk cost, yo.  Ting is working out pretty well for us (though it does not process the friends discount unless you badger them about it, which I find to be kind of obnoxious).  I’m not sure it will work as well when we don’t have as much access to free wireless when we’re out.

Do you have any technological improvements you’ve been enjoying?  How has owning a smart phone changed your life, if at all?  Is there anyone left without a smart phone?

*not that anybody in the world is still sans smartphone (other than #2).

29 Responses to “Life with a smartphone”

  1. moom Says:

    I don’t have a smartphone. My wife has an iPhone. The only really useful thing for me is maps, especially when in foreign cities. Apart from that I just want to make phone calls and texts and so my old Nokia is fine.

  2. Leah Says:

    Do you have an iphone? I forget. On an iphone, you can specifically tell certain apps they can only use wifi. So, almost all of my apps are pushed to wifi only. You can change this in the settings menu. That’s how I keep my data usage super low and from burning up.

    Also, instead of turning your phone off, you can put it in airplane mode to cut off any data usage. And there is a way to turn off data without turning off the phone — it’s somewhere in settings as well if you have an iphone.

    Whatsapp is a sweet app if you have people you want to contact who live in another country. My brother is in Africa right now, and whatsapp has been great. He can respond even when he’s working in super rural areas. Africa is better about internet than we are, apparently (at least, where he is).

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      I don’t turn the iPhone off, I have the cell data part off. I do have everything but texts set to wifi only. But sometimes I need to use things without wifi and forget to reset after.

  3. Cheyanne Says:

    I don’t have a smartphone! I bought my phone for $30 at Vons over a year ago. It’s still going strong :)

  4. Steph Says:

    We have one student left in our department without a smart phone. There used to be two until I switched – I’ve had a smartphone for just about 2 months now. I love it as much as anticipated, which also means I’m just as addicted as I anticipated. But in the end it just makes my life easier – Google maps, NYC Bus Time, various chat features, Spotify. I’m getting a little better about putting it away sometimes, and keeping it away while I’m at meals with people, etc, but I still check it compulsively other times. I’m lucky in that I share a big data plan with my Mom and sister, so I don’t have to worry too much about eating up money with data use when I’m out and about.

    Also, the camera thing was one of the big reasons I switched to a smartphone. I’ve always liked taking photos, but it was getting to be more of a pain to haul my little camera around. So I send and instagram a lot of photos, and use it to take “notes” sometimes in seminars (combined with Evernote).

  5. crazy grad mama Says:

    I too don’t have a smartphone! The only feature that’s really tempting would be the ability to take hi-res pictures and share them immediately (vs. having to upload them to my computer from my camera first). I do have an iPad, though, and that very easily takes over my attention when I have a few minutes of downtime.

  6. middle_class Says:

    I held off on owning a smartphone until about 5 years ago. I used to not check emails most weekends and now I can’t imagine doing that. It does become addictive. I tend to over-check emails and play games too much. However the convenience of using yelp, google maps and several organizing apps has made my life easier and better!

    • Leah Says:

      I don’t let my email thing tell me when I have new email. That helps a lot! I love my apps, but I have to be careful so I don’t get sucked down a rabbit hole of distraction.

      My favorite app is cartwheel; I use it to scan things I’m already putting in my cart at Target, and it’s fun to see the savings add up.

  7. Jenny F. Scientist Says:

    I have a dumb phone! And the spouse has zero cellphone.

    Maps would be great for travel but they are useless here- too rural, so they’re inaccurate/strand you on a hill in the middle of nowhere. Camera would also be nice. Also my friends wish I texted, apparently it’s a convenient way to organize meetups? My flip phone could text but it seems like a pain.

  8. chacha1 Says:

    I have an LG phone which could be smart but I am too cheap to activate the smart features. It works for voice and text, I can check my gmail (have never tried to respond to one using the phone), can display pictures that other people text to me (which I’ve asked them not to do because my cheap plan has a limited number of texts and each picture counts as, like, 20). I don’t have a map or GPS function, no browsing, no voice mail, no facetime, no other apps.

    I am so accessible, being tethered to an office desk all day, that I don’t see the need to pay more than the $12.50/mo I’m paying for the phone, which cost $100.

    btw the charger that came with the phone was crap and has already died, but my Kindle charger works for it. :-)

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      We were starting to get an annoying amount of photos sent to us via text (one of the side effects of having children), which was part of the reason we were paying about $10/mo more than our base plan before we made the switch to Ting. $12.50 is a really good price! We were paying more for our flip phone plan than we are for the smart phone, even without being able to check email.

      • chacha1 Says:

        $12.50 is exactly what I think I should pay for a mobile phone. :-) I could upgrade to more voice/text/features, but with the whole internet in front of me 8.5 hours a day it’s like, why?

        The mobile phone, as I had to tell friends/family repeatedly, is for MY convenience/safety, i.e. if my car breaks down and I need to call AAA, or if I’m out with a friend and need to tell Mr. P I’ll be home later than anticipated.

  9. Cloud Says:

    To me, the killer app on the smart phone is the ability to check traffic in real time. This is almost indispensable when we go up to LA, but is also really handy here in San Diego. In LA, real time traffic can easily save you an hour stuck, particularly when you’re not a local familiar with traffic patterns. Here at home, it is just handy to choose between possible routes. I just use the Google Maps traffic. My husband has a more variable commute and has installed Waze and swears by it.

    Other than that, it is nice to always have a camera with me, but not essential. I like being able to Google things anytime, but that is also not essential.

  10. First Gen American Says:

    I am enjoying my Amazon Fire much more than I thought. It’s nice being able to stream Netflix, PBS on demand, Ted talks on a big screen instead of the computer.

  11. jjiraffe Says:

    Long time smartphone user – probably one of the earliest adapters, by percentage anyway as we had the original version of the iPhone. I resisted upgrading to a new phone for a super long time and just got a 6. And now I realize that I had a ridiculous deal on unlimited data (part of my $50 a month, which was the total bill)! So I keep having to remind myself to use wifi at all times – as my data is limited.

    I love Google maps, Yelp, and Mint. The danger of course of the smartphone is that it can be a massive time suck.

  12. hollyatclubthrifty Says:

    We have Ting and find it serves our needs quite well. I try to limit my time on my phone, but I fail most of the time. I do enjoy being able to check my email while I’m out! Our bills are also pretty low – usually under $35 or so for each line.

  13. gasstationwithoutpumps Says:

    Neither my wife nor I has a smartphone. We got her a flipphone, but she forgot to activate it within 28 days, so needs to go to a phone store to get it activated (stupid AT&T), so currently neither of us has a cell phone of any sort.

    My son has an Android phone with the Republic Wireless plan, which is a pretty good deal on a college campus, since it uses wireless for both voice and data if there is wireless available.

  14. Catwoman73 Says:

    I love my smart phone! I’ve had one for years. I use mine for everything- price matching at the grocery store, I have cashback apps, I use it to check in for flights, all my rewards cards are on my phone, I have an app that tracks my running miles, concert and event tickets are all downloaded to mine. I just can’t imagine NOT having one now!

  15. Linda Says:

    The camera on my smart phone is incredibly useful. I take photos of things I see while out and about that I don’t want to forget (such as posters about upcoming activities and prices or other details on items I’m thinking about buying and want to research.) I even used it at a medical appointment today to show the doc something that I noticed last week.

    Other than the camera, I also use the Evernote app a lot. I have notebooks for my Health stuff so I can keep track of stuff I want to ask doctors, a Knitting notebook with patterns and techniques, a Recipes notebook, and a notebook I share with my sister so we can stay organized around my mom’s care. I’ve also created notebooks for my past few vacations where I store details like itinerary, accommodations, things to do, etc.

    I love my smartphone!

  16. J Liedl Says:

    Texting is my lifeline. If an emergency happens, people can always text me. With one child living four hours away and another prone to panic attacks, texting allows everyone to be kept in the loop. I’m very good at the swipe-style typing on the little screen, now. I don’t use a lot of data, my husband only turns on data in an emergency and our kid in the big city uses a bit more data as she’s often getting online during her longish commute to and from campus.

    Of the apps, I love Twitter, FB (many family members & former students contact me through Messenger), Instagram, Evernote, Dropbox, Google Maps and Snapchat (which is the fun way to connect with the kids). I love my smartphone and would totally ditch my landline if my husband wasn’t so set on retaining it as a last stand of guaranteed connectivity (we have a conventional phone still plugged in and it’s never gone down even when the power’s been out for long stretches).

  17. nicoleandmaggie Says:

    #2 doesn’t have kids but would like to point out that all of us managed to survive to adulthood in a time without cell phones. YMMV.

  18. MutantSupermodel Says:

    I figured you’d love it. It’s crazy how useful it can get.


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