Why do you need a Smartphone?

Update: I’m building an app to make taking a break from your smartphone easy and effortless. Check out Digital Detox.

Over the past few weeks I’ve have the opportunity to test the Samsung Galaxy S iii. It’s a great device, and I’m thankful I get to experiment with fancy toys for fun. I was talking with a co-worker today about how I thought paying over $100/month for a smartphone didn’t make a lot of sense.

2014 UPDATE: I just purchased a smartphone with Republic Wireless. Check out my review on the device, and why I finally got a smartphone.

This is my daily schedule:

  • 6:00 – 9:00am (wake up, gym, breakfast, check email)
  • 9:00am – 5:00pm (sit in front of a desk and work)
  • 5:00pm – 10:00pm (homework, reading, working on programming tutorials)

Put simply, I’m almost always near an internet connection. So why do I need to pay for a smartphone? Is it really worth the money?

The truth is, I’m a college student who definitely can’t afford a smartphone plan at the moment. I’m currently spending $25/month for the ATT go-phone with 200 minutes of talk time and unlimited texting. For time consuming calls I use Google Voice. It’s not sexy, my friends think it looks funny, but I don’t care. I’m saving almost $1000/year. Over ten years that’s almost $10k.



There’s a lot of people who are addicted to their cellphones. Take a step back and observe if you don’t believe me.

I tested the waters a year ago and signed up for a prepaid phone with a small data plan. I thought it would be great to have the ability to check my email on the run, but instead I found myself constantly picking up my phone every time I received a “new email” alert. This proved to be a huge distraction, and a major time-suck.

People are always talking about taking time to disconnect from technology. Newsflash! A smartphone isn’t helping you out..



Smartphones serve a valuable purpose when used within the right context. If you’re constantly on the road, it makes perfect sense. If you’re an app developer, it’s probably a good idea to have an iPhone and spend the money for data.

My point is that many people follow societal norms without putting any thought into the cost/benefit from an individual level.



The world is much different than it was ten years ago. People are obsessed with avoiding so-called “misfortune” and obsessed with planning. Looking to visit a great restaurant in your area? Look it up on your smartphone.

The truth is that memories are made in “unfortunate” situations. I once visited a terrible restaurant with friends of mine. The food was cold, the atmosphere was horrible, but we had a great time, and it’s something I will remember for years to come.



An iPod Touch is a nice (but somewhat expensive) place to start. It’s $300 dollars for the latest version, and you can still do nearly everything that a smartphone does. You have to rely on an internet connection, but my assumption is that you are like me, and constantly near a wifi hotspot. If you can’t afford it, buy a cheap smartphone on Amazon or Ebay.

Why am I suggesting alternatives? I think there’s a weaning process that must take place. If you use a smartphone for the majority of the day, it’s probably not a good idea to quit cold-turkey.


  • Rodney Turnham

    THANKS for a very well-written and carefully thought-out post. I’ve been mentally (or is it emotionally?) wrestling with this question for a while; it seems I’m the only person I know who doesn’t have a smart phone. OTOH, I’m 61 years old, trying to save for retirement, and can’t find a significant unmet need in my life that a smart phone would fulfill. I tell my grandson that I just don’t want a phone that’s smarter than I am!

    Again, thanks! Your post really helped me.

    • http://www.marketsandpatents.com/design-patent.php Mark Nowotarski

      Me too.

  • Adam J. Spencer

    I like this blog because I myself am quite fond of the 25 dollar a month AT&T plan. I figure most people buy smart phones for dumb reason especially considering how they still make Apps for regular cellphones or quick texters …..All I do is download Opera browser and music….I pretty much do all that i need to do form there. (I got the 50 dollar unlimited plan now, still cheaper than a contract)

  • Tonia39

    I’m home all day. The only time I really want a smartphone is when I am on vacation and need to access the internet for maps and websites of local attractions. Can I do that with an iPod touch? I want to be able to get on the internet when we’re driving down the freeway … is there such a thing as a data plan for iPod Touch? We use pre-paid cellphones and have no need for anything better in that arena.

  • Demoncat

    You can still have a smart phone with a prepaid plan. I have a Samsung Galaxy S6 and pay $3 a month for 100 minutes a month. But if I am on wifi I sue Google Voice, which is set to call forward if I don’t answer the phone after 3 rings.

    • Kevin

      OMG!!! $3 per a month ???? I’m living in south korea.
      In South Korea, you have to pay more than the minimum is 60$ per month !!!