Not long ago I wrote about pros and cons of devices designed to do only one thing well versus others that can do many things. Of course, the smartphone is the multi-use magic gadget with the chops to function as the be-all end-all device.
That in mind, here’s a thought experiment: can the iPhone replace all other devices?
First, the iPad (or other tablet). Can it be ditched in favor of minimizing device overload, to simplify your daily life? It is basically the same as the iPhone, only bigger. So you would lose the large screen. To mitigate that, you could just buy one of the big screen iPhones. You know, a phablet.
Also, many people who have an iPad do not have the LTE version, whereas the iPhone always has a cellular connection. So although the iPhone is smaller, it does have built-in cellular internet, which is a plus.
If you’re willing or able to live without the larger screen of the iPad, you really don’t need it. Your iPhone, though maybe less than ideal in some scenarios, is enough.
Next, your point-n-shoot camera; can it go away? Chances are, if you still have one, you have not used it in forever. Your smartphone camera is with you 100% of the time; it’s all you use anymore. OK, that one was easy. Moving on. Seriously, unless you’re an enthusiast photographer, or if you only used a DSLR on auto, then your iPhone camera is enough.
Now for the giant HDTV in the living room. Let’s see if we can toss that out the window. And let’s also chuck your subwoofer and little speakers or soundbar that go along with it. While we’re at it, say good-bye to the Bluray player, the game console, the Apple TV, your Roku, and any other streaming box you have. That’s a lot of electronic entertainment gear!
But so what? Your smartphone has an excellent screen, with super high-resolution, wide viewing angles, dynamic range, etc. It’s just smaller than your jumbo-tron! But then again, you sit only inches from it instead of feet, so what’s the big difference really? Want to zoom in on what you watch on your iPhone? Hold it closer to your face.
Yeah but what about the big bass sound lost? No big deal. There are many affordable headphones you can wear that deliver exceptional bass and stereo sound, even ones that mimic surround sound. Best of all, you can watch and listen to your shows anywhere; you’re not stuck to the living room.
Wait, what of the games? The streaming stuff? I will grant you that nothing beats a good controller with tactile buttons for gaming. That said, in the virtue of simplicity, one can enjoy a great gaming experience on a smartphone these days. There would be some sacrifice, sure, like not having the latest Zelda game (ouch).
Instead of dwelling on what’s lost, you can focus on what’s gained: the many other great games to play, the overall lower cost of playing, and being able to play those games everywhere, not just the living room.
As for media content, you know these days just about anything you want to watch or listen to is available online or in your smartphone’s app store, music store, games store, whatever. The supply of entertainment is virtually endless and still growing constantly. In fact, there’s too much!
Okay, your living room entertainment center has now been replaced by your smartphone. When you think about it, your phone is probably the center of your entertainment universe already! What else do you need?
Last and not least, your computer. That big box and monitor with a slow hard drive. Or your trusty clamshell laptop whose battery only lasts a few hours these days. No thanks. How much do you really use those things? What apps or programs on them must you use that cannot be found on your phone?
Most folks just use the web browser. And most major websites and services have apps on the iPhone. When it comes to the PC, the smartphone is the most personal computer on the planet! It’s always in your pocket! Plus, the processor inside your modern phone is likely as powerful as your traditional computer for 99% of the tasks you do.
So we can safely kick your computer to the curb. The phone in your pocket is more portable than your laptop and as powerful as your desktop. It can even do things your desktop can’t do, like double as a camera, scan barcodes, and be the GPS on your car’s dash.
If you prioritize and utilize your smartphone above all else, you can sell off the many other electronics in your house and use the funds to invest in a top of the line smartphone with a protection plan for it, a case, and peripherals or accessories for it like wireless headphones, a bluetooth keyboard, extra charging cables around the house, or an extra battery case.
Of course there are caveats to this kind of over-simplistic all-your-eggs-in-one-basket approach. For example, if your phone is lost or stolen, or even if just the battery dies, you have nothing else to use for backup. You’d feel like you’re in a black-out where you get that eerie quiet feeling that life is on pause until the electricity comes back on.
One way to help your mind think about this is to imagine you’re going to sell your home and live in an RV to travel the country. The RV can only contain so much. Could you relax comfortably in it with just a big smartphone and a few choice accessories?
Run this thought experiment through your own household and see what things your smartphone could replace. You might be surprised to find what you can live without. And you may discover a new level of simplicity and minimalism, reducing clutter in your home and in your mind. There could be so much less stuff to manage.
Just a phone, that could be all you need.
One little glass rectangle.
What do you think about this idea?