How essential to life is a smart phone in the 21st century?

Mojo

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Given the NHS Covid App trial on the Isle of Wight, that may deem them 'essential' to have certain freedoms in the near future.
Although it was reported yesterday that the NHS for some reason has decided to use an app that is almost unique amongst other countries that has an app, and has gone for a centralised approach, and an app that won't work properly on iPhones...
 
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Bletchleyite

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Given the NHS Covid App trial on the Isle of Wight, that may deem them 'essential' to have certain freedoms in the near future.
That isn't the intention. The idea is that theoretically enough people volunteer to give you a mobile-phone-based equivalent of (some level of) herd immunity. It's all about reducing spread, not stopping it entirely.
 

Domh245

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That isn't the intention. The idea is that theoretically enough people volunteer to give you a mobile-phone-based equivalent of (some level of) herd immunity. It's all about reducing spread, not stopping it entirely.
But then you have Matt Hancock saying that people have a "duty" to download it

https://www.politicshome.com/news/a...y-to-download-coronavirus-contact-tracing-app

Matt Hancock has told the public they have a "duty" to download the NHS’s coronavirus contact tracing app when it becomes available.
The Health Secretary said the NHS-developed app would be crucial in getting "our liberty back", as ministers plan the next steps for easing he coronavirus lockdown.

The app, which is currently undergoing a pilot study on the Isle of Wight, will alert users if they have been in significant contact with an infected person, and allow medical staff to follow the spread of the illness

Ministers said the "test, track and trace" scheme will also include thousands of on-the-ground contact tracers, but experts have already warned around 60% of the public would have to download the software for the plans to be successful.

Speaking ahead of the launch of a national campaign to persuade the public to use the app, Mr Hancock told BBC Breakfast that those who take part were "doing your duty and you're helping to save lives".
 

lxfe_mxtterz

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As the capabilities of being able to perform tasks online increases, and as businesses choose to move certain aspects online, I'd say that a smartphone (for me at least) is essential in today's world as, for example, it's the only way I can receive and respond to important emails, considering I don't own a computer!

I do part time work at some local horse stables, and because the only road there is a narrow, winding country road with tall banks either side, rainfall occasionally floods the road making the stables inaccessible. The yard owner can only usually be made aware of this on the day it occurs, so can only send myself and the others emails the evening before we're due to work again. Even if I did have a computer, say I was out on a trip for the entire day, I may not have time to check the computer by the time I arrive home, so having a smartphone is extremely useful as I can check up on important emails like these whenever, wherever. :)
 

Non Multi

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The phone part is somewhat essential now that payphones are rare things, it's also useful for providing real time information, mapping and journey planning whilst out and about.
 

JohnMcL7

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I don't know where the brainwashing comes into it when smartphones now offer an incredible range of functionality in a portable and convenient form factor. I fix PC's for friends and was doing a laptop this week and realised how rare it is for me to do that now because many people now use phones and tablets instead so in turn it's no surprise they're more relied upon.

I've lived through most of the major computer eras and I find a smartphone incredibly useful and means I can spend less time in front of a computer. I feel a bit of fashioned as I still use a desktop PC and a laptop (for performance reasons) plus dedicated cameras but I get a lot of use out of my mobile and don't mind spending a bit more on it although not the obscene costs some of the current handsets are, I bought a brand new one year old flagship for £400 and it has the added bonus of a headphone socket and better speakers. It's the device I use the most so I don't feel that's bad value for money especially not compared to say my car which I spend more on yearly maintenance and get much less use from these days.

With regards to photos it is fascinating how our photos have changed with phones. I've been scanning in photos starting with my grandparents and there's not many photos most of which are simple posed photos of people outdoors on holiday. Going newer to my parent's photo albums and when I was a child the photo quality is noticeably better as my Dad was a photographer using a Pentax K-1000 but there's still very few photos, my parents would buy a roll for the summer holiday then another for Halloween and Christmas but there's little in between. Some people think modern digital cameras and phones have diluted photography but looking back I miss all the candid shots, there's a photo taken while we were visiting my grandmother and it shows a posed photo of a few of my relatives. But that's it, there's no photos showing what we did together or anything like that whereas now we tend to take a lot of photos which give an idea of what life was like at that moment.
 
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AM9

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I would say it's essential for my job. I can take the train or drive to a construction site and know that I'm using the most time-efficient route. At the site I can take photos which are labelled with their exact location and timestamp, so they can be automatically loaded onto a project map. I can also refer to any relevant emails without carrying printed copies, and contact colleagues if necessary. To do all of that without the smartphone would cost more and take a lot more time.
I think that the question was asked in the context of life in the 21st century. Of course there are plenty of jobs that can't function without certain tools, for example, musicians can't perform without their instruments, carpenters without their tools, driers without their vehicles, so in many jobs where contact away from a landline is necessary, a mobile phone is essential (particularly since most public telephones have disappeared, etc., jobs that have been changed requiring the employee to carry a device like a smartphone, is another, but it the phone isn't essential for the non-work life of that employee.
 

Harold Hill

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I took a busy National Express bus from Bristol to Sheffield 18 months ago. As far as I could see I was the only passenger carrying a paper ticket.
 

ABB125

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I've got a Moto G7 which is pretty midrange (actually a very good phone - I prefer it to the far more expensive Oneplus 6T I had previously to it for a number of reasons) and that was about £200. You don't need to pay the outrageous Apple tax for a good phone.
Same! :)
An excellent phone for the price, does everything you might need as an "average" user. The camera isn't the best (not an issue for me as if I need high quality pictures I use a "proper" camera), and I doubt it would be much good for hardcore gaming (but why do that on a phone with a small screen anyway?). But a good all-round device.
 

AM9

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Same! :)
An excellent phone for the price, does everything you might need as an "average" user. The camera isn't the best (not an issue for me as if I need high quality pictures I use a "proper" camera), and I doubt it would be much good for hardcore gaming (but why do that on a phone with a small screen anyway?). But a good all-round device.
I've had a moto g3 for 4 years. Does everything that I want it to. The battery is getting a bit short of breath but it still usually gets through the day. I like the fact that moto gs come without all the bloatware that nobody wants. The plain vanilla android is perfect good enough for most people.
 

ABB125

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I've had a moto g3 for 4 years. Does everything that I want it to. The battery is getting a bit short of breath but it still usually gets through the day. I like the fact that moto gs come without all the bloatware that nobody wants. The plain vanilla android is perfect good enough for most people.
I agree. I had a G2 for four years, but upgraded just before a trip which involved me filming many hours of footage from multiple angles, with cameras controlled remotely by phone; the G2 would have struggled with this! Other than that, it was a fine phone, no issues other than running certain demanding apps a bit slow as it got older.
In terms of bloatware, the only complaint I have is the lack of a note-taking app (although Google Docs can be used as a less-than-ideal substitute).
 

Islineclear3_1

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Maslow's hierarchy of needs does not mention smartphones

Depends who you talk to. Probably anyone under the age of 25 would say a smartphone was essential. Many would "die" without one

Mine is useful. It does what I want it to do. It costs me £228 per year to run (the 2 year contract ended nearly a year ago). And it's a brand-named phone
 

AM9

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I'd say modern life would be much more difficult without Internet access. However, what device that's on is rather less important.
That I do agree with, indeed the current pandemic would be a totally different experience without it.
It's not disputed that smartphones are useful in modern life, but a fair proportion of the marketing of the devices is focused on their desirability much in the way of a fashion accessory. That's why the top models are priced around £1000.
 

Bletchleyite

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That I do agree with, indeed the current pandemic would be a totally different experience without it.
It's not disputed that smartphones are useful in modern life, but a fair proportion of the marketing of the devices is focused on their desirability much in the way of a fashion accessory. That's why the top models are priced around £1000.
Though that's similar to cars. You can spend £100K or you can spend £1K. Both of them will get you where you are going.

I'd hate this to have happened in the 90s, or worse the 80s. The Spanish Flu must have been awful - if you lived on your own your only contact would be by letter.
 

GRALISTAIR

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How much does the average smart phone user spend annually on running a smart phone. Incidentally, what is the cost of a middle-range smart phone?
In US Dollars I spend $1260 per annum including tax but it is internationally enabled and I use it for conference calls too. I claim on average 40$ per month back from my employer so about $780 per annum net.

My previous company provided me one and I did not see a bill for 6 years! In normal times I check and monitor flights and 1st class upgrades and much more. Essential - NO. Extremely useful - YES.
 

Hadders

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Is a smartphone essential?

Are any of the following essential:

Electricity
Gas
Fridge
Television
Central heating
Landline telephone

None of these are essential. You could manage without all of them but they're extremely useful, arguably essential (with the possible exception of landline telephone these days)
 

eMeS

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... smart phones whether we like them or not (I don't but I have one) are becoming increasingly essential...
I don't have a smartphone, and normally get by using an old Nokia 6030. However, I had a short spell in two hospitals last December, and discovered that my phone simply didn't work inside either of the two hospitals, whereas Smartphones used by my visitors worked OK. I'm guessing that the Smartphones used the hospitals' WiFi systems to make contact with the external networks. So, perhaps Smartphones are essential... the nursing staff were very helpful when I did want to make a call.
 

D365

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Although it was reported yesterday that the NHS for some reason has decided to use an app that is almost unique amongst other countries that has an app, and has gone for a centralised approach, and an app that won't work properly on iPhones...
This is the article that I read on the matter. There's some very interesting soundbites in that one:

That’s two reasons some/many won’t install the app

The British app is less private than apps that use the Apple/Google API, and it will reduce the battery life of phones running it.

Germany has already made an overnight U-turn to adopt the API. Most other European countries are doing the same; France is the only other holdout. Britain, in its determination to do its own thing (perhaps in some Brexit-fuelled delusion of independence) is refusing to do so.

Put simply, some people who would have installed an Apple/Google-powered app will refuse to install the British one. That means less contact tracing will take place, fewer people will be notified that they have been exposed, more people will be infected and – ultimately – more people will die.

It’s that simple: the British government’s decision not to use the Apple/Google API will cost lives.
 

Bletchleyite

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Considering the government's track record of running the NHS, I wouldn't be at all surprised if the NHS app becomes an epic fail
Really?

The NHS gets a lot of bad press but by and large it does the job pretty well for the cost. It does need modernising (its processes live in the 1970s) but it is to me pretty good value. My employer offers private insurance but I don't take it as it's just not worth the tax on it (at 40%, so I would need to pay half the cost effectively; if I was in the standard rate bracket I might see it as worth it but again maybe not, I never took it in the past either).

The one area it's a *bit* lacking is dentistry, where I do pay for private treatment, for two reasons - one being that I don't like the idea of having mercury based products in my gob (not proven to be an issue, which is why it's a choice I'm happy to make for my own money rather than suggesting the NHS should change materials, but I'd just prefer not to[1]) and the other being that I'm a nightmare when it comes to local anaesthetic, my dentist thinks I have a third nerve when most people have two, and it's really hard to make the teeth connected to it go numb, so he takes much more time with me to get it right. With one back tooth in particular he was quite innovative - he couldn't get it to go numb at all so used an antiseptic filling material sealed in with the decay, which actually worked and killed it all off.

[1] There is another reason not to use mercury amalgam - it's not "sticky" so you have to drill out a much larger hole to keep it in, which weakens the tooth. Modern composites are glued in so you need to drill less and so there is more chance of the tooth surviving long term.
 
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Domh245

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FWIW, the NHSx team are considering moving to the Google-Apple API, although I suppose at this stage it's just a backup in case their proposed workarounds don't work well enough


In what could herald a course reversal for the UK's National Health Service, health officials in that country have reportedly asked a team of developers to "investigate" switching its contact tracing app to a cross-platform API provided by Apple and Google.

The NHS COVID-19 app, which includes mechanisms for contact tracing. Credit: BBC

The NHS COVID-19 app, which includes mechanisms for contact tracing. Credit: BBC​


The NHS is this week scheduled to begin testing an in-house contact tracing solution as part of wider efforts to monitor and mitigate the spread of the coronavirus. Like France, the UK rejected an arguably more comprehensive API from Apple and Google in favor of a solution capable of storing user information in a central database.

It now appears that UK officials have contracted a Swiss development firm to refine the NHS contact tracing app before it sees mass circulation. According to documents seen by The Financial Times, that refinement also includes investigating the "feasibility" of implementing the Apple-Google technology.

The development company's work is described as a "two-week timeboxed technical spike" with a deadline of mid-May.
 

Bletchleyite

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The NHS does not have a good track record with large-scale IT projects. Remember the "NHS Spine?"
Most large organisations don't, to be fair. Do some reading into the Scout Association's "Compass" debacle, to give another example (there's plenty out there on it). Or the classic London Ambulance Service system[1], which features on just about every Computer Science course - an IT screwup that killed lots of people.

FWIW in my experience it's almost always caused by trying to get too much for too little money. IT is really expensive to do well[2], if you're short of funds it's better to do something small well than something big badly, but inevitably organisations try to get more. And in that context, people won't adjust their processes, which is often a cheaper way to get a system going - they insist on it all being customised, yesterday and at a third of the quoted price.

[1] OK, it's NHS too, but not in the same way.
[2] "Script kiddies" are ten a penny, but a reasonable chunk of my job is spent undoing the mess they've made.
 

bearhugger

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I’d say they’re, like a lot of things in life, not essential. However they certainly make a lot of aspects of life much simpler IMO.
They have downsides, but overall I find them very advantageous. As a kid and teenager I dreamed of having a connected computer in my pocket, like a Star Trek Tricorder or Ziggy off Quantum Leap or something. Now I have.
I agree with the above - not totally essential but very useful apps and features.
I've just upgraded. Had an iPhone 5s for years and didn't feel the need to have the latest Apple models mainly because of the lack of a 3.5mm jack for headphones. Now have a Google Pixel 3a so again ot the latest model in that particular range but the handset should lat me a few years and the difference in what it can do it subtle. EG Biometric login if yowant to enable that.
On the subject of banking, I use Internet Banking & the app for my bank but came accross a little quirk today. Got a cheque in the post & my son said he can scan cheques with his banks app so I investigated the option on my banks app, seems no can do so went down to the branch in town. They wouldn't let me in the branch but told me to use the atm outside, choose the envelope dispener option, put in the amount on the cheque and then put the cheque in the envelope and insert in the appropriate slot. I wasn't really comfortable doing that especially a there wa a queue of people behind me waiting to get in the bank next door but the staff in most of the banks seemed to be quite strict in who they were letting in through the doors.
 

JohnMcL7

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I don't have a smartphone, and normally get by using an old Nokia 6030. However, I had a short spell in two hospitals last December, and discovered that my phone simply didn't work inside either of the two hospitals, whereas Smartphones used by my visitors worked OK. I'm guessing that the Smartphones used the hospitals' WiFi systems to make contact with the external networks. So, perhaps Smartphones are essential... the nursing staff were very helpful when I did want to make a call.
If it's this Nokia 6030:


Then I suspect the problem is the lack of 3G support as I've seen some areas where they have turned off 2G/2.5G. Although there is support for running voice over data networks it's far from standard and unlikely all the smartphones would be able to use wifi for normal voice services.
 

najaB

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Have the public at large been the victims of subtle marketing brainwashing since the start of this millenium?
Essential? Not really. Extremely useful? Without a doubt.

More and more services are available primarily or exclusively online and a smartphone (as a portable computer) makes it easy to access those services at any time.
Many services depend on accurate positioning services and a smartphone with it's built in GNSS receiver makes using those services very easy.
Many people have a need to take lots of pitures, and a smartphone camera is usually the best way to do so.

In short, there are very few people who need a smartphone but smartphones make life a lot easier for a lot of people.
 

Aictos

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I've had a moto g3 for 4 years. Does everything that I want it to. The battery is getting a bit short of breath but it still usually gets through the day. I like the fact that moto gs come without all the bloatware that nobody wants. The plain vanilla android is perfect good enough for most people.
My Nokia does everything I need it to and as a bonus comes with the Android 10 programme so no bloatware that Samsung for one overloads their phones with.
 

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My Nokia does everything I need it to and as a bonus comes with the Android 10 programme so no bloatware that Samsung for one overloads their phones with.
Samsung's version of Android is horribly bloated and it's one of the reasons (the 50Hz pulsing of the display being the other one) I won't have a Samsung. I do wish the contract had been "use it stock, or don't use it at all".
 

Aictos

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Samsung's version of Android is horribly bloated and it's one of the reasons (the 50Hz pulsing of the display being the other one) I won't have a Samsung. I do wish the contract had been "use it stock, or don't use it at all".
Huawei is the same with the bloatware, least there are options out there that don't have bloatware.
 

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