Why I'm using my smartphone less and less every day

Why I'm using my smartphone less and less every day

Summary: When smartphones first appeared I happily did everything with mine. Surfing the web on the phone was a heady experience, along with lots of other activities. Then something changed, at least for me.

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Phone vs Tablet
Galaxy Note 2 and iPad mini -- Image credit: James Kendrick/ZDNet

When smartphones first appeared on the scene if you were like me your phone almost never left your hand. The ability to surf the web on the little phone was an amazing experience. Online activities previously relegated to a big computer or a laptop could suddenly be done on the little phone.

In the early days I used my smartphone for all sorts of things. First there was handling email, then reading ebooks. Using the phone for Facebook and Twitter followed soon after. Then there was watching hours of video on YouTube. The phone was always at hand and kept the laptop in the gear bag.

In the last few years my smartphone usage has dropped significantly. Where it was always in use before, now it sits idly on the table waiting, calling out to be picked up.

See also: Galaxy Note 8.0: Still the best small tablet | Smartphones: Size matters | How to buy a smartphone: A guide for newbies

When I think of how I use the smartphone today it is very limited. Maybe a call or two each day will get the phone out of my pocket. Email is the task I do most often on my phone, followed by text messaging. On a given day that's pretty much the only things I will pull out the phone to do.

What's behind my using my smartphone less than in the past? The small tablet is the culprit. It started with the Samsung Galaxy Tab, the first 7-inch Android tablet. The Tab was small enough to carry almost everywhere so it was usually close at hand. The Tab was soon followed by the Nexus 7, then the iPad mini, and the Galaxy Note 8.0.

In the last few years my smartphone usage has dropped significantly. Where it was always in sight before, now it sits idly on the table waiting, calling out to be picked up.

Now I find it satisfying to reach for the tablet instead of the smartphone as the larger screen, even though only slightly larger than that of the phone, is much better for surfing the web. Tablet browsers give a full browsing experience and there's no fiddling with a small smartphone screen to get a good look at the displayed web page.

While I was happy reading ebooks on my phone for years, once I did it with the tablet that was no longer the case. Seeing a full page at once on the small tablet is much more enjoyable than the tiny page that appears on the little phone screen. I now do all my reading on the tablet, whether at home or out and about.

That's the case with just about everything these days. I reach for the tablet dozens of times during the day for all but those few activities described I still do on the phone. The tablet is comfortable to use while the bigger display is better for seeing the right amount of information at a time. Watching video on the tablet is especially nice. Text entry is much easier with a bigger onscreen keyboard than the dinky one on the phone.

With such restricted smartphone use, I can probably get by with a simpler phone than the Galaxy Note 2 I own. Practically any cheap smartphone would handle my limited needs without issue. I no longer need (nor desire, frankly) the next whizbang phone to come along. Just pass the tablet, please.

I may be the exception but I'll bet many tablet owners are now using them more than the smartphone that stays in the pocket. How about you? Leave a comment below about your smartphone usage. Do you use it more or less than in the past and why?

Topics: Mobility, Smartphones, Tablets

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203 comments
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  • Exception? Not so much I would say

    I like your article, because it reflects how I feel. I've tested, used, evaluated and abandoned dozends of Smartphones since the Uber Smartphone came upon us in 2007 and find myself calling and texting with a Sonim XP3300 which keeps me alive and in touch for weekks without thinking about charging and hooking up the iPad mini to the power cable every night. The benefits of being available for Voice/Text is even bigger, thus the need to follow the upgrade path along the smartphone buzz is down to zero. Plus the iPad mini is the perfect companion on the road with navigation that leaves no questions unanswered and a battery that keeps me going all day. I would describe it as to have found freedom again, especially with ads being displayed under your eyelid that you NEED this or that. Seems that I've found what works perfect for me.
    flke
    • Depends if you have data plan

      If you have a data plan on your tablet I can see a big drop in smartphone usage. For me the device with the data plan will get the most use. I'm not willing to add a data plan to a tablet on top of the smartphone. This is where the phablets like the galaxy note might make a lot of sense.
      utempire
      • Makes no difference to me

        My smartphone has a data plan and I can use it as a WiFi hotspot. When I want to use the tablet I turn on the hotspot, when I don't I leave it off.

        My issue is whether or not I want or need to bring the tablet with me. The phone fits in my pocket (I have a belt holster too), the tablet does not.
        Michael Kelly
        • Fits in pocket

          My nexus 7 fits in my shirt pocket and pants pocket. Of course if I bend way over it slips out of the shirt pocket, but then so does my phone.
          kevin.nichols@...
      • Depends where you use it....

        I do use my smartphones multiple times a day BUT will use the ipad mini more whost in the office or the living room etc. The mini has no data plan at all and works 100% on wifi in my case. Office and home..... no problem. If I needed it on the road I'd probably just use my mifi gadget and share that with other kit (I think; but I travel site to site and have no current need)

        Agree with the original article. My mini is used most of the time as it's far more portable, and I returned my ipad2 to my employer. Big tablet is Transformer as I prefer the connectivity, mouse, and keyboard on holiday etc. Different needs for different scenarios but the mini is definitely preferred when visiting offices as it's just the right size and weight.
        johnmckay
    • I want an Apple version of this. Please copy them Apple.

      Put all the iPhone stuff into your iPad mini with Retina. Cell plan would remain at the monthly option and other longer options for a cheaper unit rate.

      Give me my iPad mini Phone !!!
      The Danger is Microsoft
      • Phone calls?

        They do? Really. I gotta try that. Grin.
        Sure, I make phone calls on my smartphone, but it not the primary use. Sounds to me like you could get a $20 trackfone and save a LOT of money.
        rphunter1242
        • Don't need a smartphone.

          My communication costs are $100 year for 1150 minutes on my $20 Nokia dumb phone, and $50 year for a Skype out subscription...Any call I make from home or wherever there's wi-fi available is via Skype from my Nexus7 or laptop.

          I just can't stomach paying $1000 year for a smartphone (I know people who pay much more than that after all is said and done).

          Only thing I miss is an always-on internet connection when I'm traveling, and that will be remedied when the Nexus7 with 4G is released (probably about a $300 investment, but worth the upgrade for the new and improved hardware). Then I'll buy chunks of data when I need it.

          Give me value, or give me nothing!
          louishelps
          • Took the words right outta my..

            er.. keyboard! :D
            JCitizen
    • I agree with the article, too.

      I don't use my iPhone all that much as a telephone. Mostly it's used for text messages, various apps, and information searches when I don't have my iPad with me. Sure, I get a lot of text messages. That's because everyone knows I prefer texts to phone calls. For everything else, I use my iPad. It's just better suited for my other tasks.
      BillDem
    • I thought the article would be about the battery life. lol

      I gave up on my Android phone due to the appalling synch options for ANYTHING... and started using my iphone again but I have to say the battery life is appalling if I use the media playback and expect to make calls in a day. It'll just about last an average work day and needs charging every evening... that's bad!!!! But the HTC was getting to the same stage latterly.

      I'm on the iphone for personal stuff now; and use my Blackberry Torch for work as I much prefer the 2-3 day battery life. It's time manufacturers took a bit more notice of this... Users want more use; especially if they are travelling long haul.
      johnmckay
  • Here's a novel feature

    I use mine to MAKE PHONE CALLS! Sure I'll check to see if I got that email, while on the go. I'll even look up something on the web when I'm out. But I do not live on the web, I live in the real world.
    Troll Hunter J
    • Blackberry

      That sounds like my usage pattern when I had a Blackberry. Call, email, text and OCCASIONAL web. The thing is, I never thought of the BB as a smartphone.
      Keltypack
    • Actually...

      ... I don't even have email on my phone. Why should I? I have 2 fibre broadband connections at my office, 2 at home, so the email stays where it belongs: on the PC's (2 at work, 3 at home). My mobile phone is STILL a NOKIA E50 I've purchased in 2007 for around 400 USD at that time. Still serves me perfectly for voice calls (I make a lot of those and get many too) and occasional messaging. BTW! I make around 10 minutes by car from home to work and about 20 minutes from work to home (different hours, different traffic). So... why should I bother with tablets, smartphones with email and all that... ???
      Kostaghus
    • So what? Just because you think it should be first and foremost a phone...

      ...doesn't mean others feel the same way. To many people a smart phone is primarily used for texting, Internet, application use first. Many don't care much about the phone aspect of it at all.
      ye
      • voice is so 20th century..lol

        I rarely talk voice on my cell (Note 2); though its there if needed of course. I think the author's Smartphone->Tablet migration is the natural path; and sooner or later folks are going to start realizing there's nothing but legacy tradition keeping them from using the tablet to make and receive voice calls as needed. For now, people still feel this odd need to stick the thing up against their heads like a 1930's wall hanging rotary dial handset; but that will eventually pass and we'll be able to get on with it.

        When it does, many will find the (7/8/10) tablet form to be an exceptional device for all forms of communications, including voice; but the device is for looking at, not playing ear muff.

        I'd buy a Samsung 10" with spen in a heart beat... IF it could replace my Note 2, including the ability to make and receive voice calls over cell nets.
        rwwff
    • no, it's not a phone

      it's a pocket computer that can make the occasional phone call.
      the smartphone has been around for more than 10years and there are still people who think it's just a phone?
      warboat
  • This Is Even Worse News For Microsoft

    Their tablet campaign is going even worse than their smartphone campaign.
    ldo17
    • Microsoft

      I just switched from an Android to a Windows Phone and I am loving it! I also dig Windows 8.1 - I haven't switched my main PC from 7 and probably won't for quite a while, but the way that all the Microsoft devices meld together is fantastic. I am planning on ditching my iPad for a Surface Pro - I don't think the RT would perform the way I want, but the Pro blows any android and apple device out of the water in terms of ease of use and functionality
      Jonathan Schriefer
      • "the Pro blows any android and apple device out of the water

        in terms of ease of use and functionality" ...
        and cost ...
        and weight ...
        and bulkiness.

        It's a great device, but many people probably use their tablets in a different way to how they use their desktops/laptops
        DJL64