Smartphones are one of the most popular gadgets and form of communication in today’s world. While there were ‘only’ 305 million Smartphone units launched last year, this year the IDC Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker states that the Smartphone market’s forecast to grow by 55%. The estimated total of units launched by the end of 2011 is 472 million handsets.
At the moment there are 5.3 billion mobile subscribers – that is 77% of the entire population. Potentially within a few years, Smartphones will take over the mobile market. The figure is not surprising as those little handsets are multifunctional and very powerful gadgets. In fact, the top range of Smartphones have amazing performance; a small computer in your pocket. With dual core processors, touch screens, etc., they are very effective and convenient devices for communicating, fun (games, apps, etc.), or for more productive ways - like business. Smartphones give us the ability to use the internet and connect to social networking sites quickly and efficiently.
There are a number of platforms used on the devices. The most popular are iOS, Android, RIM’s and WP7. They allow users to select apps from the various markets (iOS 350k +, Android 250k +, Rim’s 20k + and WP7 9k +). With the huge range of apps, every user will find something to interest them.
However, despite the Smartphones advantages, they also have some disadvantages. Most of these devices are very expensive. An unlocked and contract free device cost an average of $200 to $900. The buyer should also consider the associated costs like data plans, roaming, etc. Another associated cost comes straight from the app market. While there are many free apps, full and add-free versions cost money.
The most annoying fact is the battery life. Most handsets will not survive even a few hours on one charge with heavy use. The large touch screens (some over 4in) have huge battery consumption, services like Wi-Fi, mobile internet, running apps or GPS dramatically decrease the battery life. For the price we are paying for our devices, we should expect something better than a few hours of use.
With current technology speed and the number of Smartphone manufacturers, we need a pocket full of cash to be up to date with our devices. There are a vast number of devices released every month if not weekly. On the top of that (in most cases), if the user wants to have the latest OS version, he/she unfortunately needs to change the device, as the manufacturers are not keen to upgrade older handsets with the newest OS versions. There is always a choice of getting custom ROM but this might bring consequences like guarantee loss or simply damage the phone (bricked phones).
There is also a giant security issue. Services like mobile money transfer, mobile payment, NFC, social networking and location-based services are more widely available and more popular. People keep massive amounts of personal data on their devices and Smartphones are more valuable to thieves than wallets. The threat in terms of identity theft, spying and fraud is growing as fast as the Smartphone market. Some improvements must take place.
Moreover, the last and most concerning aspect is the health. Recently World Health Organization (WHO) has classified mobile phones radiation (including Smartphones) on the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) scale into group 2B - Possibly Carcinogenic. In simple words, there is some risk for our health associated with heavy use of devices like Smartphons.
In my opinion, the ideal Smartphone should be INDIFFERENT TO OUR HEALTH, BATTERY LIFE should be highly extended, INTERNAL MEMORY should be much greater as there are massive amount of apps available on the market and the OS UPDATES should come as standard. If this kind of device becomes available I imagine that the price will be high, however technology is more accessible and hopefully CHEAPER SMARTPHONES will be the future.