The Smartphone Swiss Army Knife

There used to be many products that served us for a very long time, very well. Now, one single device—the smartphone—has made them redundant!

For example, take the torch. I do have one at home but haven’t used it in many months/years. I recharge it from time to time out of habit, but haven’t used it! Even in films these days, when a character is in a dark place, they use the smartphone’s torch!

I also know of many, many people who have stopped wearing a watch, because a smartphone is with them more consistently an predictably than even a watch! I still remember my first mobile phone (not a smartphone), that I purchased while working in Delhi, in 1999. It was an Alcatel phone and only after buying it did I realize that it didn’t tell the time. It did not have a clock!! And all the Nokia phones around me in office had this simple thing!

Or, the calculator! Casio continues to make calculators, but for most daily use-case, we end up using the smartphone.

Others? Let me make a list.

Software-based equivalents (that is, the phone uses a software-based equivalent of the original single-use product):
Alarm clock
Note pad.
Calendar.
Watch.
Portable music player/radio.
Address book.
Wallet.
Photo album.
Pagers.
Dictionary.
Stopwatch.

Hardware-based equivalents (that is, the phone needs a hardware-based extension to create the equivalent of the original single-use product):
Camera.
Audio recorder (mic needed).
Maps (GPS tracker needed).
Scanner (camera needed).

In many of these cases, if you need an advanced version of the product with more specific features or want to own one for social status (like a DSLR, or a premium-looking watch), you could still opt for that. Even a torch – for example, if your everyday work depends on having a high-powered torch (forest ranger), you wouldn’t use the smartphone’s torch at all.

But a smartphone now is almost like a Swiss Army Knife.

I wonder if there will ever be another device with such versatility that reduced our dependence on so many other products.

And what next for such an all-pervasive device?

(Image source)

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