Have We Finally Reached Peak Smartphone?

When does technology far outreach our needs as consumers?

Photo by Gian Cescon on Unsplash

Forget nostalgia for our analog past. This isn’t about the value of the personal connections and long phone calls with a corded handset. This is about what we have now, in our hands or pockets.

I have long been a supporter of the newer, better and faster tech adoption. Newer computer? You bet I’m planning the next purchase. Better noise-canceling headphones? You bet.

But the smartphone. That’s the real piece de la resistance.

If there was ever a single item that focused so many people on the tip of the sword — it’s this device.

Let’s recap for the sake of perspective, shall we?

Simon Says

IBM’s introduced their Simon Personal Communicator, in 1992. Smaller integrated circuit chips and wireless mobile networks made for an ideal foundation.

Simon checked out at $2030 in today’s dollars. Its battery life? One hour. Being the first has its benefits. Not the least of which is creating the baseline by which all others are measured. These numbers were seen as impressive.

And why shouldn’t they have been? Computers at the time were far from svelte and slender.

Size

At 8.5" x 2.5", the Simon wasn’t exactly going to slide into your jean jacket pocket indiscreetly. The 4.5" x 1.4" monochromatic screen sat inside the handset. It resembled a satphone from a 90’s action film more than anything.

Currently, the average smartphone hovers around the size of a standard wallet. Or three-quarters of an M&Ms bag that you’re saving for later.

Granted we’ve had some Apple phones that beefed up to accommodate a range of sizes. (Thanks, marketing.) But otherwise, smaller and faster is the name of the game.

Power & Speed

Here are some fun numbers. 16 MHz, 16-bit, 1 MB of RAM, and 1 MB of storage. What does all that mean if you don’t speak tech-geek? Processing power was at a premium, especially at that size. But remember this was for handling email, faxes, touch-screen apps, and an address book. Not augmented reality gaming at 240fps.

The Simon was a marvel of miniature technology. It would probably get a message to your friend across the room faster if you attached a sticky note and threw it.

Those numbers pale in comparison to the modern-day FitBit.

Plentiful Progress

The first smartphone was breathtaking for its time. We could wirelessly send emails and faxes with ease never experienced. Especially at a consumer level.

This wasn’t a speed concern. Neither size or weight. This was the next level of functionality and communications.

All these comparisons are not to poke fun or ignore perspective. I am celebrating being alive for these major changes. The stunning progress. We should celebrate national holidays for major innovations.

Now we can make purchases, video calls, and create stunning feature films. All from our smartphones. We’ve arrived, people. We made it. Our devices can finally let us video chat while looking like cartoon foxes.

I may or may not use that feature with unapologetic joy.

Call It What It Is

Quit calling it your phone. What you’re holding in your hand is a smart device. A supercomputer capable of more than we realize, even on our best day.

Phones are dead. Long live smartphones. Scratch that. Smart devices.

The act of making a phone call has been reimagined as an app. One of the millions available. If you’re under 30, I’d guess your phone app is on the 4th or 5th screen of apps. Right?

Phone calls are now seen as being aggressive. I know many who won’t pick up unless it is so unlike that person that it “must be an emergency.”

But I’m not bemoaning the lost human connection. This is not a memorial for voice calls.

I’ve had an epiphany.

My Phone is Enough

Have we reached peak smartphone? Most engineers and developers will disagree. They’re looking forward to what new technologies will bring, funneling it into our devices.

I can finally say it.

My smartphone. This smartphone. Is enough.

No longer does the battery usage make me cringe. The built-in camera(s) are better than the majority of my cameras before 2001. I can connect, pay, manage and create all from this iPhone 11 pro.

What do you think? If all the updates and releases ceased to affect your current smart device, could you drop the anchor? Draw the line in the digital sand? One device to rule them all in your home and life?

It might be time to hang up the annual refresh. This will do for some time now. While I’m sure there’s an even faster camera on the horizon, I don’t know that mine is holding back my creativity. Much less the quality of weekly dog photos.

Well. At least until Apple slows it down.

Wait. Isn’t that later this year?

Art director, tech geek, and house shoe enthusiast. ✖ I write about creativity, personal growth, and productivity, one existential crisis at a time.

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