This isn’t a new subject for me as I’ve written several times on both sides of the debate. I’m now, after switching to my cheap Lumia (Windows 10 Mobile) and then switching back to my equally cheap Galaxy Express (Android 6), at the point of ditching smartphones all together. These devices, with their screens bathing our peepers in blue light, are taking over every aspect of our lives to where we are actually crippled when we don’t have use of them even for a few hours. A pervasive piece of technology that has invaded, without our knowledge, and conquered our lives right under our noses without us even giving up a fight. In many ways, you can take any classic alien movie, replace the aliens with smartphones, and the story would most likely hold up. I’d watch the movie titled “Invasion of the Brain Snatchers” that chronicled our plight against the invading smartphone intelligence trying to take over the world.
Here is the debate raging in my head right now regarding the next smart phone I’m considering to purchase sometime early next year, which will be an unlocked version regardless of my decision, if I buy one at all.
As if, these devices are electronic versions of Hell. They’re locked down, impossible to tinker with and Siri will speak to you in a condescending tone if you attempt to make any changes. I’m not an Apple fan, never have been, never will be. They’re expensive and once you’re in that ecosystem, it’s extremely hard to get back out of it. I’ve helped more friends than I can recall get away from Apple in favor of Android. In one case, I had to literally burn all their music to CDR’s, then rip them back to a non-protected, non-Apple, MP3 format. A total waste of time, but at least he has a sleeve of 50 CDR’s as a backup.
This has potential, but Google has completely fubar’d the ecosystem so far. One of the most fragmented systems known to man in terms of the number of versions still being used and extremely vulnerable. A lot of the features from Marshmallow and soon, Nougat, will go unused because Android developers need to make apps available that are backward compatible. There are 10 versions of Android that currently make the graphic below from Froyo (2.2) to Marshmallow (6.0).
The fact that malware is actively targeting all version of Android older than 6.0 means that 81% of all Android phones are at risk or already infected. How can you call a phone that runs Android a smart phone with those kinds of issues? If Google can rope in all these fragmented OS versions and exercise some control over their ecosystem, I think they have a chance of actually continuing their success.
I’m not discounting these guys out just yet. They just announced a huge deal with TCL China, a phone manufacturer, to continue building devices with the Blackberry name and running a secure version of Android. They already had marginal success with the Priv, and are announcing unlocked phones that will be sold worldwide in early 2017. I would certainly snag myself an Android Blackberry with a physical keyboard if the price was right. They have certainly kept up with regular updates on the Priv and there is a possibility that these phones will get Nougat as well.
Microsoft (Windows 10 Mobile)
This is a real disappointment. They had a really good phone OS that started with 7.x that was different from all other mobile phone systems and just worked. The apps were a real pain but there were some really good developers that created third-party apps that often worked better than the native apps for iOS and Android. The first mistake was forcing everyone on 7.x to purchase new hardware to be able and run 8.x. Again, they had a really good phone OS that got better, and with a decent selection of hardware, Microsoft was on a good track to get some traction, then, then, nothing. Windows 10 Mobile was announced and once the upgrade phone list came out, a lot of top end hardware was left behind. What few die-hard fans were left just got the shaft, again, and essentially wrote off the entire thing. I was with them from 7.x, got a new phone to get 8.x, and was left with hardware that wasn’t getting Windows 10 Mobile. See ya Microsoft, I’m out. Chances are slim that I would purchase another, unless the rumors of a mobile phone being released that can run desktop applications actually comes true. Then I have a mobile phone replacement for my laptop.
To be honest, the whole idea of a smart phone has been lost on me. It’s a necessary evil at this time that is a constant distraction for me and everyone around me. My wife is utterly addicted and will often be glued to the screen and barely answer “Uh huh” or “Ok” when consumed by the screens content. She often complains of having trouble going to sleep, except on the nights that she doesn’t use the phone before bed. I’d agree with her if the observations didn’t tell me otherwise, case in point “Q&A: Why Is Blue Light before Bedtime Bad for Sleep?”
I may just say f**k it and get a flip phone to keep the people who need to get in touch with me (in case of that elusive emergency) happy. We’ve lived on this planet much longer without smartphones than we have lived with them, how quickly we forget…..
My main concern and the reason I don’t have one yet is all the stories about batteries that explode in pockets with the potential of burning some fairly precious body parts. When they get that fixed I might change my mind and try one of these things.
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