Got smartphone? (And if no, why the heck not?)

All of you reading this who own a smartphone, raise your hand. Hmm, yeah, that's what I thought — DVICE readers are heeled, as they used to say in the old west.

You who didn't raise your hands, you stupid phone owners — no, I mean the phones are stupid, not you — after all, if there are smart phones, there must be stupid phones, right? Okay — how about smart-challenged phones.

In all events, those of you with not-smart-phones are now an endangered minority. According to Pew Research, 53 percent of Americans say they now own a smartphone.

To me, owning a stupid phone here in the second decade of 21st century is akin to someone in the 1950s insisting on mounting a horse to satisfy their primary transportation.

So why haven't you joined the modern era and gotten yourself a smartphone?

And why aren't all you smartphone owners (you can put your hands down now) making like smartphone-toting St. Pauls and proselytizing among the non-smartphone believers?

Someone I know (I withhold relationship type to protect the potentially embarrassed) emailed me recently, wanting to know how to download a YouTube video and burn it to a DVD to use as reference in an artistic rehearsal atmosphere.

The question confused me — why would anyone want to download and burn a physical copy of a video that could so easily be accessed from any net-connected device, such as a smartphone?

Because this someone admitted to not owning a smartphone — nay, reveled in not owning a smartphone ("my cellphone is stupid! I like it that way") — despite working for a huge cellular company.

Yes, and I enjoy washing my clothes by rubbing them against rocks in the local river.

Here's how you smartphone owners should approach the most common smartphone resistance questions.

"Why Do I Need One?"

I admit it. You don't need a smartphone, if you define "need" as breathing, eating or wearing clothes (outside the home, at least). But you don't wear spats, a cutaway coat or a derby, do you? That's how old-fashioned stupid phones are.

Owning a smartphone has everything to with participating in the modern culture. As noted psychiatrist Lucy Van Pelt advised her disconnected client, one Charlie Brown: "Have you ever seen any other worlds? As far as you know this is the only world there is… right? There are no other worlds for you to live in… right? WELL, LIVE IN IT, THEN! Five cents, please."

I won't charge you a nickel for the same advice. Today's culture revolves around being connected to it.

Okay, you need more concrete reasons to buy a smartphone? Here are three.

1. Visual Voicemail

You likely get lots of cellphone messages. You have to laboriously listen to each message in sequence, wasting precious minutes you could be doing anything else, instead of listening to sales pitches and wrong numbers.

Smartphones all have something called Visual Voicemail. You can listen to any call in any sequence, and simply delete messages you know you have no interest in hearing. And now you have the time to do something — anything — else.

2. Carry Only One Device

Do you carry a cellphone, an MP3 player, a camera, a camcorder? What, do you have a utility belt with a pager on it and Bat-erang on it, too?

Carry one device for all your portable communication, entertainment and memory-capturing needs.

Plus, now you only have one gadget to charge when you get home.

3. The Great Time Killer

How often are you forced to wait at a store, at the DMV, on a movie line, at the doctor's office.

And what do you do while you're waiting?


With a smartphone you could be playing a game, catching up on your email, chuckling at YouTube videos, surfing the Web, texting a friend, updating your Facebook page…

Your wait will transform from interminable to "my turn already?"

"It's Too Expensive"

That's true. Your smartphone bill will likely be around $100/month for voice and 3G or 4G broadband data access.

But a smartphone can save you a lot money, too. Both iPhone and Android offer a plethora of coupon apps. Instead of you sitting at the kitchen table snip-snip-snipping coupons out of the local penny saver, coupon apps in the Apple Store for iPhone and the Google Play store for Android deliver coupons right to your smartphone.

Even without coupons, smartphones make a great shopping partner. You can procure a host of comparative shopping apps to scan product bar codes and find you where the item you're shopping for can be bought at the lowest price.

Smartphones themselves can be cheaper than stupid phones. An iPhone 3GS, as good a smartphone starter as any, can be had for $1 — or even a penny online — from AT&T Wireless. There also are plentiful sub-$50 Android models from all four major carriers.

To save some dough, dip your toe in the smartphone waters via a pre-paid cell from Boost or Virgin Mobile.

At Boost, the cheapest Android, the Samsung Galaxy Prevail, is $180, but you pay just $55 a month for unlimited data connectivity.

Virgin Mobile has several sub-$100 Android models with unlimited data plans starting at just $35 a month.

"It's Too Complicated"

As previously noted, more than half the population now has a smartphone. Someone you know — a neighbor, your neighbor's kid, your kid if they'll ever talk to you — who you won't be embarrassed by admitting your non-smartphone stupidness will be glad to help you.

So come, join us here in the 21st century by wielding the tool that defines our modern age — a smartphone.

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