I’m one of the last people I know to actually get a smartphone, having survived with a Sony Ericsson that cost me about £15 three years ago when I bought it as a ‘temporary’ phone. This means that I’ve been part of the ever dwindling group of people that can always fall back on my phone for cheap laughs if a conversation is going badly. Having finally upgraded my phone to join the Blackberry/iPhone-wielding masses I’ve found my life has changed for both better and for worse.
Any question or argument can now be solved in about five minutes (providing I have 3G signal), instead of spending hours wondering or debating. In the past two weeks of iPhone ownership I’ve used it to answer more standard questions, such as the name of the song used at the start of Reservoir Dogs (Little Green Bag), to slightly more off-kilter topics such as whether anyone has ever survived a plane crash into the sea (the answer is yes, which I hope reassures you if you are flying abroad this summer). This does tend to ruin conversation though; it’s always a bit depressing when your anecdote about how planes only come with a procedure for crashing at sea to make passengers feel better is ruined by someone who is on the internet as you speak, finding the one example of a European flight from the 1960s that did actually manage to land safely.
Of course the internet can be used for more than just fact finding (not that I really need to tell you, as I’m pretty sure if you’re reading this you are well acquainted with it). I now no longer have to try and remember my transport arrangements/appointments/cinema times or write long lists of them. Recently, pre-iPhone, I got the train back from London and suddenly realised that I had absolutely no idea where to change or at what times. I panicked and had to ask the woman opposite me to plan my route home on hers and, while she was very helpful, her look of surprise when I showed her my phone said it all.
The iPhone also helps me to get my Facebook fix, like the junkie I am, on the move as opposed to having to rely on my desktop or laptop, which both come with the significant ‘disadvantage’ of not letting my check Facebook at any second of the day. Facebook has now become completely portable for me. I can check in so that everyone knows I’m sat in KFC Oxford (normally the sign of an essay crisis); I can respond to those Varsity Events invitations as soon as they come in, just so that I can be one of the first down to attend Blues at Camera (which, as always, is likely to be as rammed as a promiscuous ewe); I can see what pictures I’m tagged in immediately, although I have now experienced the horror of finding myself tagged in a photo from Park End that I can’t even remember being taken but which I am unable to de-tag until I run back to my desktop. I can even add people mere seconds after meeting them as opposed to having to wait until I get back to my computer (by which time there’s always the danger they may have forgotten me and may not return my all-important friend request).
Unfortunately, when my virtual friends are so close, where is the incentive to talk to the ones that are sat next to me? How can I see their tagged photos and who has written on their wall in face-to-face conversation? I’ve been in conversations and looked up from my iPhone to realise that I’ve not listened to a single thing said in the conversation or, even worse, that everyone has realised this and has cast me out, like some sort of electronic leper. Even if nothing has changed on Facebook in the last five minutes, there’s always the random article button on Wikipedia or YouTube. This wasn’t a problem with my Sony Ericsson, which only offered the choice of playing Snake or reorganising my contacts as sources of procrastination (please don’t judge me, you have to be inventive when you’ve only got WAP and Snake gets boring pretty quickly, although it’s safe to say I got pretty good at it).
The iPhone also hasn’t exactly done wonders for my self-confidence. I’ve always known that my hands aren’t exactly slender and that I don’t quite have the hand-eye co-ordination of a fighter pilot but this was confirmed when I started using the touch-screen phone. I’ve found the keyboard almost impossible to use, leaving my texts looking like they’ve been composed after a heavy night at Park End unless I turn the phone sideways to make the keys that all-important bit bigger. The disadvantage of this is that you quickly realise almost nobody actually uses the iPhone like this and people start to double-take when you use it this way.
Another thing I’ve found is that now I have a phone that is actually worth something I’m permanently worried that something may happen to it, with a feeling I imagine is pretty similar to parents worrying about their children. Waking up in the morning after a night out involves now not just wondering what happened last night and who I have to apologise to but also frantically checking the pockets of my jeans (which I nearly always wake up in – classy, I know) and any flat surface where I may have carefully placed my iPhone. Equally, dropping my phone results in a feeling of pure terror as I wonder just how many pieces the screen will be in when I pick it back up again. The worse thing that happened with my Sony Ericsson was that the 2 and 5 keys would stop working. That was easily be solved by just dropping it again or hitting it against a nearby table.
Of course, one of the biggest advantages is that I can now play Angry Birds. Need I say more?