With the price of the iPhone X being around $1200 (for the model/options I got) plus the cost of mobile data, I was thinking about if it was worth the money. The same question really applies to any expensive smartphone, whether iPhone, Android or Samsung, etc. I think it definitely is especially with the iPhone X, not just because it’s the best smartphone I’ve ever had, but because of all of the things it also replaces or enhances in my daily life.
Considering that it’s quick and easy to get a lot of stuff done with compared to what I used to only do on a computer, plus is very lightweight and fits in my pocket, it’s a worthwhile device that I can’t imagine being without now.
Not only can you do many things you can’t on a computer, but in many instances you can also do many things in a lot less time or effort. This is true especially when factoring in the time savings of using Face ID on the iPhone X (or Touch ID on other iPhones) to unlock the phone and authenticate apps instead of typing in passwords or codes constantly.
While I am spending a lot of money for the iPhone X (luckily there is AppleCare+ and interest-free monthly payments), you can also do many or all of the things I list below on almost any less expensive smartphone, whether it’s a different model iPhone, an Android or Windows phone. An older and slower phone will just take longer and not be as good an experience on some of those devices compared to an iPhone X.
Regardless of which phone you use, it’s interesting to think of how smartphone technology has replaced or simplified things over the years. My list below isn’t complete or in any particular order of importance or most used, just random as I thought about the apps I’m currently using on my phone.
My List of Things a Good Smartphone Can Do Better
Land Line Telephone Service
I haven’t paid for a land line since about 2005/2006 and I haven’t missed it once. Doing simple math (13 years x 12 months x $25/month), I’m estimating that I’ve saved around $3900 so far on this one item, amazing!
Using Apple Pay (or the equivalent on other smartphones) where available (retailers, websites, apps, etc) is a handy option and more secure than using your actual credit card.
TV is almost always better on a big screen, but there are plenty of times when being able to watch it on the go or even at home when you’re not near a big screen is handy. The TV app on the iPhone X (and Apple TV) is my favorite way to keep track of what shows I’m watching and which episode I left off at. It also lets me know when there are new episodes available.
This capability is something you don’t get on other platforms like Roku and others, at least as far as I know. While that might not sound like a big deal, when you subscribe to multiple streaming services it makes it so much easier than going into each one separately to watch. For example, we currently subscribe to Hulu (on Demand and Hulu with Live TV), CBS All Access and Amazon Prime. Plus there are some shows only available through their respective apps like SYFY, ABC and others, so it’s basically a one-stop app that connects you with the various shows and streaming services.
You don’t need a clunky old video recorder/player any more. Simply stream or play downloaded movies and TV shows from your phone while at home and cast it to a larger screen. Of course you can also do this directly from an Apple TV (which I usually do) or a Roku or other device, but you can also use your smartphone to stream video on the go or when traveling.
While a smartphone camera might not be as good as a 35 mm DSLR camera with interchangeable lenses that professionals and others use, they are very good now for the average person’s photos. Factor in the convenience of a flat little device that fits in your pocket and it’s tough to beat for most situations.
When your eyes aren’t as good as they used to be or when things are just printed too small to read, using the magnifying glass function/widget from the iPhone camera app is awesome.
Just like using your smartphone for taking still photos, it’s also good at recording video. No more need to have an extra (and expensive) video recording device for most every day use, unless you’re a professional of course.
Remember audio cassette recorders (tape recorders), or more modern digital audio recorders? You can easily do that on your smartphone also now.
Some people might still prefer to have a separate alarm clock on their night stand. However, if you like a lot more settings and being able to choose your own alarm tones (or music), you don’t need to have yet another device just to wake up on time.
Having a countdown timer is nice when you’re cooking or doing other things you need to keep track of the time (parking meters, etc). While some parking apps have built in timers, if you ever park at an older meter that you can’t use with an app, then this is a good option so you don’t run out of time and get a ticket. It’s located in the clock app along with the other timing functions. Plus, you can even put a shortcut to it on the iPhone control panel so it’s quick and easy to open when you need it.
I don’t normally need a stop watch, but if you ever do on occasion, it’s right there on your iPhone. It’s also located in the clock app along with the other timing functions.
Car Navigation System
The problem with many built in car navigation systems (especially on older cars) is they don’t get realtime traffic (without a subscription) and some dealers will charge a couple hundred dollars to update the map and software. It’s so much easier to use your map app of choice on the phone. They work well and the updates are fairly frequent and free.
If you really want to keep better track of your steps, a smartwatch is a better way to go as it’s usually on your wrist and will always be counting. However, your phone can also count steps and keep track. I like how the iPhone does this and combines it with other data in the Health app, making it easy to get an overall view of your activity and statistics.
The only downside to using the phone as a pedometer instead of a smartwatch or other device (like an actual pedometer), is you have to always have the phone in your hand or pocket so it can track your steps. Mine usually is by habit, but it won’t do any good if you frequently leave your phone somewhere and don’t have it with you.
It also doesn’t work if you’re on a treadmill and have the phone sitting on the tablet/phone shelf to watch video while walking. The good news is it does work to have it in your pocket and listen to music instead while walking.
App Connections & Data Sharing
A bonus is that some apps like Walgreens have the ability to connect with the Apple Health app (with your permission of course). I earn Walgreens points worth dollars off at the store just by doing normal walking, over $20 so far! If you don’t mind sharing that information with Walgreens and you shop there anyway, you could save some money. In this case it’s only sharing the number of steps taken with Walgreens, so it’s not sharing too much personal information.
The main things I use a computer or laptop now are when I need a keyboard for extensive typing (like blogging, etc) or when I simply need a larger screen. However, with good apps and the quickness of Face ID for authentication, there are plenty of times where it’s far faster and more preferable for me to use the phone. To me this is things like banking, refilling prescriptions, browsing email, shopping online and many others.
I used to read newspapers decades ago, like most people did before there was another choice. But why would you still want to pay for a physical newspaper subscription that you only get once a day then have to deal with recycling all that paper?
Today you can subscribe to most newspapers and magazines online or through their apps, or get a lot of free news through apps like Apple News. I suppose the main reason would be if you don’t have a smartphone, tablet or computer or are a business and want them for the lobby or waiting room. Other than that I can’t think of any reason.
If you’re an accountant or someone that works with numbers constantly for your job, you probably still need a separate calculating device. But for the rest of us, there’s an app for that! There are simple calculator apps, and even more complicated financial and scientific versions for just about every need.
I suppose if you like having the nice photos that go along with printed calendars to hang on a wall or your refridgerator, then having an old fashioned paper calendar would make sense. But when considering the convenience of having your appointments available to you on your smartphone and smartwatch, being able to change/reschedule appointments from anywhere, getting reminders, etc. you really don’t need the old ones anymore.
Sticky notes were a great invention way back when they first came out and have been for more years than I can count. They might still be useful to some people, but with very good apps like Apple Notes and others, sticky notes seem like a waste of money and paper to me now.
Can you add photos, video or scan receipts or other documents and add it to a sticky note? Nope, but you can with Apple Notes and competing notes apps, which is a good reason that makes them preferable in today’s digital era.
Notepads and To Do Lists
Similar to little square sticky notes, there are the much larger notepads and to do lists that have been enhanced (or made obsolete) by the various notes apps available on smartphones. You can put more information into one digital note than you ever can with a paper notebook or to do list. Plus you’ll never wonder where you left that note paper and you’ll always have all your notes with you.
I suppose in a garage, workshop or something like that, having an old fashioned radio would be useful. But with apps like Apple Music and the other competing apps, you have so much better choices than the old fashioned radio.
While you need a paid subscription to get commercial-free or ad-free music, there are also free, ad-supported options for internet radio and streaming music, all from the convenience of your smartphone. Even though the iPhone X speakers are really good for a phone, you can also add the awesome Apple AirPods or some good headphones and you’ve got something much better than old radios.
Some people might prefer to have a paperback or hardcover in their hands when reading. However, for those that don’t read that often, or like the convenience of having every book they own available to them anywhere, anytime, a smartphone (or tablet) is a great way to go.
Some people still prefer having a physical album to flip through when looking at photos. But as film cameras are just about a thing of the past and almost all cameras are digital now, that means if you want to put them in an album you have to either print them yourself or pay to have them printed. With a smartphone, your photos are all digital.
That also means you can delete the bad shots you don’t want to keep, and crop and enhance if necessary the good photos right from your phone, tablet or computer. You also store them on your phone or tablet, plus they can automatically get backed up to the cloud (internet) and organized nicely in albums. Now you have a choice to view your photos on your smart device, share them on the internet or display them on your TV. So much nicer and less expensive than it used to be!
As previously mentioned, along with the faster processor on the iPhone X is Face-ID, which isn’t yet available on other Apple devices (but hopefully on new devices going forward). Besides saving time and the hassle of having to type in a password or code countless times a day to get into your phone, you can also use it to easily get into banking and other apps that support it. Additionally, according to Apple it’s more secure than Touch-ID that is used on other Apple devices.
So there’s my current list after thinking about how I use my iPhone X every day. It’s the one device I have that get’s used constantly throughout the day and night. While a computer is still important and not replaceable for most people including me, a newer and fast smartphone like the iPhone X can replace many separate devices, as well as many functions that are typically done on a full size device like a laptop or desktop computer.
Of course you can always get a less expensive and less powerful phone, but once you experience the incredible screen resolution and how fast the processor is compared to other phones, you’ll probably agree that it’s worth every penny to have the best overall experience when using a smartphone.
So Much More You Can Do
With literally millions of apps for smartphones, I’ve only listed a small number of them (some of the built-in apps by Apple) and ways to use a smartphone to replace other devices/appliances, etc. Feel free to add apps I haven’t mentioned and other ways you use a smartphone in the comments, I’d like to know!