Farewell Dumb Phone, Welcome Smartphone (Part 2)

On Friday, I will make the ultimate transition. Not from Android to iOS. Not from 4 to 4s. No, I will be moving from dumb to smart.

In Part 1 of this essay, the “Farewell,” I shared the story of my most recent phone, and why I stayed with it. In Part 2, the “Welcome” below, I share my thoughts on the switch to smartphone.

Why upgrade now?

I’ve resisted for quite some time (Part 1 explains why), but I am finally deciding to switch. Here’s why:

  1. Without regular exposure to the mobile web,* my perspective on how to design good experiences is limited. To best serve the people who use my designs, I need to experience the mobile web first hand—theorizing and educating myself isn’t enough.
  2. I am better at balancing internet usage with real life. I am reading more books (admittedly, mostly on my Kindle3), dancing regularly, occasionally doing origami, and, recently, obsessing over sculpting Bucky Balls. Life is good, and is not getting sunk into endless hours browsing the intarwebs. I don’t plan on letting a smartphone change that.
  3. It will help me stay in touch with my coworkers and clients. I love being a part of a distributed workplace. It’s the way of the future, as far as I can tell. I need to be easily reachable, and a smartphone helps me do that better than a dumb phone can. Sorry, Nokia 2600.
  4. The technology has matured. I appreciate that early adopters help us figure out what works best, and I am happy to chill out with my reliable, less expensive technology with low expectations. In the time I’ve waited, smartphones and the web’s support for them has come a long way.** I’m ready to join in on the fun.

And so, as I read rumors for the iPhone 4S/5, I prepared for the time when I would make the change.

Ordering the phone

Last Thursday night, I tried out the get-up-and-order-two-minutes-after-midnight-PST-(which meant 3:02am Friday Oct 7 in DC)-and-order-before-everyone-else-does thing. I wasn’t counting on the early morning approach, but when I naturally woke up at 3:00am on the dot, I figured, hey, why not.

Turned out that too many other folks had that same idea (unsurprising), so I called it quits around 4:30am. Yeah, I couldn’t believe I had kept at it up that long, either. Monitoring Twitter and the bleary-time-unawareness of the early morning helped.

First thing when I woke up to go to work on Friday, I tried again, and the order went through without a hitch. I felt more relieved than silly, I did not want to use my temporary GoPhone long enough to get used to it.

If what Apple says is true, I will be a proud owner of a brand new iPhone 4S before today, Friday, October 14, comes to a close.

Welcome, new friend

I am still a little flabbergasted that I am entering this world of computer-phones in your pocket.*** This week, I started to realize that I used to see myself as “the UXer who need not carry a smartphone.” That’s all about to change.

But, that’s ok. I’m coming to terms with it. Mostly because I have handy things to anticipate, all of which you will not be surprised by:

  1. I can skip the obnoxious Next Bus phone service, and use the frustrating Next Bus web service. (Yes!)
  2. I can post sketchnotes as I make them at events, rather than at the end of the day.
  3. I can more easily monitor the backchannel at events, though I hope to continue to focus on the people and presentations around me.
  4. I can leave my camera at home, except for special photographic excursions.
  5. I can keep music with me for public transportation “emergencies,” without carrying a dedicated music player.

Of course, there will be all the app-for-that fun, which I will be sure to enjoy.

Your thoughts?

How long have you had a smart phone? What was the biggest change for you when you did switch? Tweet at me, or leave a comment below.

* I like the perspective that there is only one web, but the term “mobile web” is handy in this case.

** For a little reminder, check out this Lifehacker article written for adopters of the first iPhone. There weren’t any third party native apps at that time, yo.

*** Or, rather, only in my pocket when the pocket isn’t a girl pocket.


About Veronica Erb

Designs, researches, illustrates, and writes code. Plays ukulele. Dances Balboa. Grew up in a geodesic dome, and hasn't gotten over it.
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3 Responses to Farewell Dumb Phone, Welcome Smartphone (Part 2)

  1. Pingback: Farewell Dumb Phone, Welcome Smartphone (Part 1) | verbistheword

  2. mrwweb says:

    Wow. We appear to be the same person. I’m leaning toward ordering an iPhone tonight or tomorrow to replace my 3-year-old brick, and for many of the same reasons:
    – needing to test mobile websites
    – bus schedule lookups
    – having a functional camera for the first time in 3 years.

    The biggest decision I have left is how much storage to have on the phone? The 64GB iPhone is pricy even with the discount, so I’m leaning toward continuing to use my iPod for car trips, jogging, etc., while just keeping certain favorite albums on the iPhone.

    • verb says:

      Nice! They’re good reasons, but I still empathize with waiting/abstaining. Can’t be too surprised that you’ve held off—seems like the sort of thing for Grinnellians of our ages to do.

      I went with the 32GB phone. Between a small selection and the new iTunes sync feature, I think I’ll be ok. In the past, I’ve used music players around 1GB. 🙂 If that’s not enough, I may choose to subscribe to Pandora, Rdio, or Spotify. (Not sure which, but likely only one.)

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