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Bill Bennett


Today’s handset is much more than a phone

Apple iPhone 6S Plus

Apple’s iPhone has always been more than just a phone handset. From the outset it has also been a pocket computer. The same is true for many Android and Windows phones [1].

While iPhones can’t do everything PCs do, they do the most important things. Modern handsets do them well enough for many people’s needs.

In the third world, phones are often people’s only experience of computers. It is how they use the internet. For them it is the computer.

Many of us living in richer countries have the luxury of owning more than one computer. That often means a desktop or laptop and a tablet and a phone.

Handset evolving role

Although the three have distinct functions, their relationship has evolved over the years. For Apple users the biggest step was last year when the IPhone 6 Plus arrived[2]

Its bigger, 5.5 inch display brought more screen real estate. That meant more flexibility in displaying information. More text can fit on a single screen. A split screen is practical.

The larger screen also makes for easy data input. Big displays mean better on screen keyboards.

It’s not the best tool for writing a thousand word story, but it can be done without discomfort. As I found out in practice. That wasn’t the case with earlier, smaller iPhone displays.

Last year the iPhone went from being a communications tool with some processing to being a productivity hub. Everything else now revolves around the phone.

Android fans will argue otherwise[3] but for me this is where Apple and Microsoft have an advantage. The phones integrate smoothly with laptops, desktops and other tools. They are much more than just phones.

  1. But let’s keep this simple, it gets tiresome writing or Android or Windows Phone ever other sentence.  ↩
  2. Apple wasn’t first to the big phone party by a long shot.  ↩
  3. Please do. I’ve not found Android’s integration with desktop computers to be as smooth or as productive as the alternatives. Yet it’s clear millions of people do work this way so it must work.  ↩



One thought on “Today’s handset is much more than a phone

  1. OK Bill – you’re laying down the challenge!

    I believe that IOS devices have always communicated moderately well with Mac desktops, but the real world basically uses Windows. Vis à vis my Windows computer, I always found my iPad pretty much a closed shop. I had to pass through all kinds of hoops for the iPad to work with my Windows machine. For example, I couldn’t even do a kludge Dropbox connection, because Apple’s own office suite refused to save documents to Dropbox. In those days the only moderately hassle-free communication medium between my laptop and the iPad was email.

    The biggest advantage I saw when I bought my first Android phone can be summed up in three words: drag ‘n drop. I could use the phone like a USB flashdrive. And not only for office type documents. Drag ‘n drop was way ahead of the dreadful iTunes system for moving around music, graphics, books etc. And right from the start I had an easily used Dropbox connection between all apps on my Android phone and my computer. That was later expanded to Google Drive, OneDrive. Pushbullet, Evernote etc etc.

    It was because I wanted to communicate better between my tablet and computer that a few years ago I bought an Android Nexus 7. I loved it from the start and in short order the iPad was relegated to a drawer. I’ve since upgraded both my phone and tablet, but I haven’t been tempted back into iOS.

    My iPad was a very nice machine and I used to sing its praises. But it was accurately described, back in the day, as a velvet prison. I believe there are more chinks in the prison walls today. There certainly needed to be. It may even communicate reasonably well now with Windows computers. Good. It’s time it caught up.

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