Smartphone murder

Mobile world

As we begin to prepare ourselves to mourn the loss of yet another device to the smartphone wrath, wallets (as a result of the introduction of mobile payments) we began to realise just how powerful the smartphone has become. Smartphones are now the alpha male of the technological kingdom. They’re the only modern technology that has managed to position itself in the 21st-century landscape as an accessory of daily necessity. Currently, almost one-third of the world’s population uses a smartphone, a number somewhere above the two-billion mark.

To go with that, smartphone users spend on average, each day, almost 25 minutes browsing the Internet; roughly 18 minutes on social media apps; over 15 minutes listening to music and 15 minutes playing games.

We’re now at a point where we browse the Net more on our smartphones than on our laptops / home computers, and that’s saying something.

It wasn’t that long ago when using the Internet on your phone was more of a novelty than a luxury. The iPhone 3 at the time of its release was, without doubt, a revolutionary piece of mass-market technology; it was the first truly Internet-capable mobile phone. Nevertheless, despite how the phone was marketed and what we may have thought of it back then, regarding surfing the web, it still didn’t come close to the ease with which could browse on our PCs.

Try using an iPhone 3 now and you’ll see exactly how difficult it is (and so was) to navigate through the nooks and corners of the immaterial cyber world. But a lot of time has since lapsed. And things have changed. It shouldn’t come as any surprise that smartphones rival the PC for most of their shared purposes.

The innovation of the smartphone is probably best exemplified by all the older pieces of tech that have practically been made redundant because of it. It’s evolved into a chameleonic device, capable and willing to wear many cloaks. So here are five once-upon-a-time common bits of tech that the smartphone has made (near) extinct.

Handheld Gaming Devices

The teenagers of today will never know the simple joy found in what are now archaic handheld games. I can still remember spending hours at a time playing pinball on a little chunk of plastic with a small screen in the middle, a D-pad to the left and two buttons to the right.

When the GameBoy was invented, and Super Mario was available in the palm of your hand, all over the world, wish lists addressed to Santa had Nintendo’s little-big dream listed in the no. 1 position.

But alas, who needs a GameBoy when smartphones reign supreme and omnipresent? While Nintendo still produces handheld devices like the DS, sales are poor. Sony discontinued their PSP (PlayStation Portable) in 2014, right about the time smartphones really started contending with laptops as interchangeable devices. In short, handheld games still exist. The only difference is that they now exist almost exclusively on smartphones (and other smart accessories).


The only people who still use expensive, feature-packed cameras are photographers, wannabe photographers, and tourists. Most modern smartphones come with high-resolution cameras inbuilt, which makes owning any sort of other digital camera just a little bit silly.

They’re cameras that are capable of slow-mo and 4k video recording, auto-image stabilisation, autofocus, they’ve huge amounts of storage, and of course, the much-adored automatic filters. If you’ve got a smartphone, and you’re not a pro snapper, there’s simply no need to own another digital camera.

GPS Navigation

All modern smartphones come with either Google Maps or Apple Maps pre-installed.

All it takes is a fairly inexpensive purchase of a car dash mount, and your phone can double as a car GPS device, even able to connect to your car’s speakers via an AUX input or Bluetooth.

Although a few people - i.e., typically older people - still use sat navs, they’re breathing their final breaths.

Landlines and Pay Phones

I imagine one would struggle to find a living human under the age of 30, and in a first world country, who would list his landline number as his preferred method of telephone contact. Scrap that. I imagine one would struggle to find a living human, under the age of 30 who, actually has a home landline number that they use regularly.

While landlines are still important for many businesses, and while families may still see some need to have a home number, landlines are very much on the decline.

Similarly, public pay phones are fewer, scattered now thinly around most urban cities. While the mobile phone in its primitive form ignited this trend of abolition, the smartphone has taken it to a new level.

Portable Music Players

90’s kids will know the joy experienced from sitting on a crowded school bus and losing themselves in the beats buzzing through a Walkman’s headphones; it was all the distraction one needed to get through a road trip.

When cassettes were replaced by CDs, portable CD-players took over and served the same function. Then the iPod was introduced, this little pocket-sized device that could fit thousands of your favourite songs into its storage system, and we said see you later to both Walkmans and CD-players. Today, however, smartphones are the ones waving goodbye to all the music players left neglected in the shadows.

They’re the only music player the smart person needs. Of course, smaller, fitness-specific MP3s like the iPod shuffle are still finding homes in the pockets of toned thighs. But with Smartwatches and other fitness accessories joining forces with the smartphone... the days of traditional portable music players are numbered.

What’s Next on the Smartphones Hit List?

Thankfully, this first one has no real family who’ll mourn its demise - Remotes. Most smartphones now come with universal remotes that are able to interact with your other tech - change television channels, control the stereo, etc.

Credit cards are also in the smartphone’s crossfire, as digital wallets of all kinds take a solid grasp over not just our financial accounts, but our loyalty cards, transport tickets, among other things. Medical devices might also soon find themselves subsumed by the power of the smartphone, as smartphone app developers make it possible to monitor blood glucose levels or cholesterol; and who knows what’s next?

Most direly, however, might be F2F social interaction. We’re spending so much time filtering our communication with other people through the digital space that it’s not completely outrageous to speculate how our general, F2F social skills might start degenerating.

But let’s not finish on a negative note. Smartphones have, after all, streamlined much of our digital lives. They’ve created a one-stop-shop where we can listen to music, navigate our roads, pay for our morning coffee, immortalise moments, play games, track our heart rates, tell the time, work out what 987x234 is, watch shows, as well as a whole bunch of other stuff.

Yep, smartphones are the new black and it seems they’re not going anywhere, anytime soon.