H4cked Off: The smartphone is dead

By Peter Gothard
29 Nov 2012 View Comments

The smartphone is dead.

Further reading

At least, it is for me.

I bought a Google Nexus 7 the other week, and I just love it. I'm not new to the tablet space; I've been an iPad owner for a while (see picture), even if my ownership was due to a recruitment drive by a previous employer rather than my own personal preference.

But as my first-gen iPad was recently betrayed by its maker, I had to stay back on iOS 5 while the cool kids marched ahead to no native YouTube, a broken map app, and all that good stuff on iOS 6. Then I started to shop around. Released from the shuttered-up Apple ecosystem, there was a whole world out there.

I initially adopted the 7-inch Google-Asus lovechild simply because it was (a) cheap and (b) the size and weight of a largish paperback novel, my large collection of which I hoped to replace by downloading my books in future. But since then, I've found the Nexus 7 has begun replacing not only the things I did with a tablet or a book, but also many of the things I'd previously done on my phone, too.

I can take it everywhere – that's the simple difference. Light and satchel-friendly, it's always on my person.

This means I can happily choose between mobile or native browser versions of websites, taking in the funkier side of modern web design, such as Pitchfork Media's recent, stunning Bat For Lashes cover story.

I can also view the increasingly numerous "tablet editions" of magazines, which generally aren't properly formatted for dinky phone screens.

Plus, I can play games, and that's none of your Angry Birds nonsense. I'm lording it with things like Rockstar's recent full-3D re-release of PlayStation 2's Grand Theft Auto III while I commute to work in the morning.

I've found that, pretty quickly, my smartphone has been relegated to occasional 3G email checks, keeping up with Twitter and even – shock – phoning the occasional person. For everything else I had the storage, processing grunt and battery life to get it all done on the tablet.

It was the cost issue that nailed my divorce from smartphones in the end. My phone contract ran out last week, and as I went through the traditional "I'm leaving unless you give me a great deal next time" process with customer relations, I had a sudden realisation. After more than a decade of eagerly following the mobile phone market, I realised little had actually changed since my last handset two years ago, yet the relative cost of a two-year contract remained pretty enormous. And for what? Small tablets offer a host of improvements that smartphones can never really hope to match. Quite simply, a £200 tablet can do more, more conveniently, than a £400 phone.

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