Last updated: July 2016
In the past, I already wrote an article about why "high-end" "smart" phones are a ripoff. In time, however, I realized that this scope needed to be expanded, to cover more products, as "high-end" "smart" phones aren't the only flawed "smart" phones. Every "smart" phone is a flawed "smart "phone, because "smart" phones, as a whole, are all flawed.
While just about anyone who owns a "smart" phone is going to be aware of the slight niggles they have once in a while with it, just like a computer, they pass it off as "normal". Y'know, like the Blue Screen of Death, in comparison to how a "smart" phone so commonly freezes. Just like with computers, problems like this should never, ever be tolerated, much less in a corporate environment.
See, there is a difference between knowing that something has flaws, and knowing that something is flawed. Since people are sold by the the looks, the bright and glossy (ugh) screens, the (supposed) flexibility, and marketing, they go in, all-out optimist...but, the truth is, the device isn't what they think it is.
In this article, I'm going to bring to light the issues that plague "smart" phones.
First off, they're not durable. Instead of being durable, they have a well-known reputation for cracking their screens. While most people would tell you to "put a case on it", I say that cases are a downright flawed concept, just like the little glossy knife-cutting boards people put inside of them.
Remember laptop bags? I have several. They're bags that are, of course, geared towards carrying a laptop (and its accessories) in. They're also known as laptop cases. You didn't always have your laptop in there, because it wasn't practically, nor safely usable like that. The point of it, was to give you one thing to carry, with everything inside of it, and to protect it all. Once you wanted to use the laptop, you took it out of the bag, then used it.
However, with "smart" phones, we have the type that you have to take the phone out of in order to use it, and then the type that you don't. The latter type is flawed: they add largeness around the phone, and many of them don't even cover the most critical part: the screen.
Yes, that's right.
Seriously, the majority of them don't cover the screen! What's the point of it if it doesn't cover the screen?! I thought you wanted to protect the screen! The blasted screen is the most brittle part of these stupid things! Additionally, everyone just loves to hype about how they're THIN THIN THIN. My arse is thin. Who gives a rip? Here I am, wanting to know whether or not the phone survives a five-foot drop onto the floor, and everyone's just hyping about essentially just how brittle their "smart" phones are. That's just plain dumb. Do car companies brag about how likely their passengers are to get injured or killed in a car crash?
Besides, why should I have to add material to the "smart" phone to protect it? Expanding further upon the car analogy, do we now have to coat cars' bodies in thick rubber in order to protect you from said crashes that the companies are bragging about!? Does Lenovo say "Your ThinkPad is only as durable as we promise, once you've installed the separate roll-cage accessory of ours"? No and no!
While I'm at it, all "smart" phone cases are flawed; why are these dumb things becoming so huge, that you can't even fit them in your pockets anymore? I carry two cell phones with me most of the time, and my "smart" one of the two is significantly larger. It only makes sense, and even then, it's only 3.7", which is very compact for today's standards. The problem is, I feel significantly less mobile carrying it in my pocket, especially when I run. If that's annoying, I don't want to think about a big ol' iBent 6 Plus!
Mmm, then again, maybe I could bend it into a shape that'd be less annoying.
Bah, I guess that's why Sonic the Hedgehog doesn't use a cell phone: too inconvenient to run with...but where do the rings go? I quit!
Furthermore, thinness actually makes it more difficult to use the phone, because it means that you'll have less of a secure grip of it. Get a piece of cardboard, cut it to the rough size of a "smart" phone, and then put it in your hand, the way you would do with a "smart" phone. Does that feel secure and durable? No and no. What's gonna happen if ya trip? Whooooooops! It especially ruins the large-screened things not having a way to attach a wrist strap like the old Lumia 710 does, since you'd have such a big ol' thin thing, just waiting to fly out of your hands! (That's another thing I'm sure Sonic wouldn't care for, and neither would I!)
*"When I first bought my Lumia 1520, I was concerned that the device had no attachment point for a wrist strap. This being my first phablet, the combination of its large size and rounded edges seemed to sometimes make the device awkward to hold securely.
And sure enough, this August, I dropped it on a gravel road and shattered the glass digitizer. I sent it to Palco for repair, and after I got it back, I really wanted to better protect the device and also make it more secure-feeling in the hand."* -- A Windows Phone Central forum member
One thing good about "smart" phones is their touted flexibility of their software library.
The problem behind this, is that "smart" phone operating systems don't successfully strike the sensitive balance between "restrictive" and "excessive". Android is too lax, and, so, Android has become a mess. Windows Phone is significantly more hopeful, albeit on the restrictive side of the scale. I don't have iOS experience, but it's better than Android, from what I've heard.
Why does this matter, though?
This matters because too much flexibility causes app developers to have too much freedom to do as they please, as per their own opinions, which vary widely. Thus, it allows inconsistency between apps, thereby allowing confusion.
Unfortunately, this is invading the app developer's desire for looks customization! This is a very sensitive balance that has to be thought out with great care. Features must be carefully added, and others must be carefully omitted. One little step wrong could snowball into great doom for the platform in question.
Because of "smart" phones, most web developers, nowadays, are inclined to make "mobile" and "desktop" versions of their website. To most people, it probably seems fine. After all, doesn't it just make sense, so that you won't have to be prodding at tiny links?
Well, I don't like this model, because you're splitting your website in two, requiring twice as much care. On top of that, many sites, if not all of them, lack features on the "mobile version" of the site that the "desktop version" offers. This means your mobile device users have to go trudge through the "desktop version" of your site for the feature they want. That kinda defeats the purpose of having a "mobile version" if your users have to use the "desktop version" anyway, doesn't it?
Why not make one site that does everything, instead of 1.5 sites, or so to say? That's what I prefer to do: design your website to work on both computers and mobile devices effectively. Half the maintenance, and twice the happy users, and yet hardly anyone cares.
Even worse, I find at least some of these mobile versions of websites are outright broken, say, it won't even load. I know that it is not my Internet connection, as I have good Internet service from Cox, and a well-made self-planned network connection that works well on my computers. I've seen it happen before: I can sit and struggle trying to get some "smart" phone to cooperate, and I eventually whip out some old laptop, and the old laptop whips the "smart" phone, and, all of a sudden, I can get things done. Gee, I wonder why? You might as well not even have a "smart" phone, at this rate.
Ten years ago, phones often had some sort of indicators that shone when you had a notification.
Nowadays, we don't see this often anymore. What is this, USB flash drives, where we lost the activity indicators? Newfangled laptops? At least CD and DVD drives had indicator lights.
What is this done for, to reduce power usage? Gosh, LEDs must have some serious current draw. It's apparently more serious than users using their screens at 100% brightness!
Furthermore, how about the vibration force? My opinion is that I want to be the only one who knows when I get messages. Use vibration notification, right?
As mentioned before, I carry two cell phones on me normally. One is "dumb", the other is "smart". The "dumb" one's vibration is so powerful, that the sound it makes might as well serve as a sound notification. However, the "smart" one is quite weak, resulting in me missing messages!
Instead, why not offer on all "smart" phones, the ability to adjust the vibration force. Give us every option, from "I hate text messages", all the way to "Wrath of Chuck Norris".
Oh boy, I'm gonna be steppin' on s'more toes, here. So be it. Android is a blasted wreck, and here's why. Congrats if you caught the reference, by the way.
At least in Android's case, I've seen quite some aggravating unresponsiveness issues. Answering a phone call in Android is a pain with its unresponsiveness, it's such a sick joke. From this, users develop the habit of frantically flailing their fingers across the screen, in desperation to answer the call.
Maybe you're sittin' there, though, laughin' that you actually don't have the problem I've described. Alright, then. How about the rest of your phone's performance? Is it truly responsive? Unresponsiveness should not be tolerated; it should be fixed...and that brings me to our next problem.
Unfortunately, Google doesn't feel like fixing the unresponsiveness of their creation, and, even if they did, Android's horrendous handling of updates is going to make it an impossible or slow process. Here's how it works: Google submits an update. Now, every manufacturer of Android devices, as well as every carrier of them, has to approve of this update for each device they make. Lovely job, Google! What about defunct or out-of-touch companies?
"But Android has the best security!"
No fortress is truly secure if it is not maintained. Everything needs maintenance in order to work right, and keep working right. While Google may maintain current Android versions, it takes too long for the updates to "sink in" to peoples' devices. Thus, the whole update process is slowed down, and this means people are vulnerable for a long time. Why even have updates?
Here's an analogy: "smart" phone operating systems are fortresses, each with a mob of people trying to break in to find security vulnerabilities, be it for good reasons, or otherwise (white-hat or black-hat hacking). Users of the operating systems are inside of these fortresses. To keep the fortress' people safe, the creators have to continuously keep watch and maintain their defenses.
Google's approach to updates is comparable to having the guards sleeping most of the time, being only awoken once something actually goes wrong. Additionally, since the fortress is so huge, it takes a long time for the guards to actually get there.
This isn't right. These guards need to be actively watching and maintaining the fortress' defenses, and there needs to be enough guards so that the whole fortress is covered. Otherwise, the users are at risk. Do you truly call that secure? If you do, I call you mistaken.