My not-so-very smartphone

Nov. 29, 2012 @ 08:17 AM

I have a love-hate relationship with, of all things, my cell phone. For years, I resisted the technology that would allow a bill collector to find me in my car. Eventually, out of necessity, I caved and began a love-hate relationship with my cell phone provider. Thus began a years-long quest to stay under my minutes, not dial information and avoid placing calls from cruise ships in order to keep the bill down into double-digits.

It’s been about two years now that I developed a love-hate relationship with my smartphone, that wonder-gadget built on a mobile operating system with enough advanced computing capability to run a satellite (NASA is putting phones, and parts of phones, into orbit because they are the cheap way of doing what would otherwise cost millions).

According to Wikipedia, the source I turn to for smartphone facts useful only for newspaper columns and useless as dinner party entertainment, the first smartphones combined the functions of a personal digital assistant (PDA) with a mobile phone. Later models added the functionality of portable media players, low-end compact digital cameras, pocket video cameras, and GPS navigation units to form one multi-use device. Today’s smartphones also include high-resolution touchscreens and web browsers displaying standard web pages as well as mobile-optimized sites. High-speed data access is provided by Wi-Fi and Mobile Broadband.

All well and good, unless you’re trying to keep the bill down into double-digits. But the one problem I have with my smartphone is its ability to place phone calls. In seconds, I can pull up the wait time at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Everest Expedition. But in order to call my wife to pick up my free chicken wings, I often must endure a flashing screen, dropped call or the phone mysteriously shutting off. I would do better tying a string to two tin cans.

The smartphone also has a mind of its own, and will start dialing numbers automatically, sometimes repeatedly. I have auto-dialed my boss at 2 a.m., a school superintendent 25 times in a two-minute span, a district attorney and my mother-in-law.

And of course, there are the dead zones, where no service is available at all through my carrier.

It is predicted that in 15 years, smartphones will evolve into wearable devices, called smartglasses that would provide a constant stream of content and advertisement directly into the user’s field of vision. In 75 years, it is thought that a microchip can be installed directly in the user’s brain. Thoughts would connect instantly when people dial to “call” each other.

I hope they fix that auto-dial thing by then.


Kim Gilliland is a reporter for the News-Topic. He can be reached at 828-758-7381, ext. 328, or by email at