The Feature Phone is Dead! Long Live the Feature Phone!
Most of my friends have an iPhone or an Android smartphone. I'll admit to some level of 'Angry Birds Envy' but I really don't do much with my phone except for calling and text messages. Email would be nice, and sometimes I could use a GPS, but is it really worth it?
Do You Really Need a Smartphone?
Smartphones are inexorably taking over the mobile phone market. Fifty-five per cent of mobile phones purchased in the U.S. during the second quarter of 2011 were smartphones, according to Nielsen's latest consumer survey, compared to 38 per cent a year ago. The market research company predicts that smartphones will outnumber feature phones by the end of 2011. Yet some people still question whether they really need a smartphone.
There are two alternatives to smartphones. The basic cell phone does voice and text messaging, and not much else. The feature phone category, which covers everything between the "basic" and "smart" phones, is more complicated. Feature phones tend to be cheaper than smartphones, although that is changing as smartphone makers try to expand into the budget market.
There's a lot of overlap between the capabilities of feature phones and smart phones these days. Let's take a look at how they differ, and how to get some of those "smart" options on your feature phone.
Feature phones typically include cameras for still pictures and video, although these are usually of a lower quality than those found on smartphones. It's not uncommon for a smartphone to have an 8 or 10 megapixel camera, whereas feature phones more often sport 3.2 or 5 megapixel cams.
Apps and Internet Access on Feature Phones
Feature phones have smaller screens, but they do allow you access to the Web, email, and other Internet services via your 3G cellular signal. Expect to pay a bit more each month to use the "mobile web" feature on your feature phone. In the US market, there are no feature phones that include WiFi or 4G capability. So if you want a really fast mobile internet connection, you're stuck paying an extra $30 per month (or more) for a smartphone data plan.
Social networking is possible through feature phones even without a data plan. Facebook has a built-in feature called Mobile Texts that you can activate on your account's settings page. You can upload multimedia content to your Facebook Wall via MMS messaging. Foursquare, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social networks have similar messaging-based features.
You can run apps on a feature phone, too. Getjar.com has a library of several thousand apps that run under the Java ME mobile platform, which virtually all phones support. Snaptu.com is similar, but it relies on Web-based services so you don't have to download apps to your phone. Of course, you will need an Internet connection to use Snaptu. One of the most popular Snaptu apps, Facebook for Feature Phones, will run on over 2000 mobile phone models.
GPS navigation is standard on most smartphones, and it's free. On feature phones, you can still get maps and turn-by-turn navigation, but you'll pay either a one-time fee, a weekly fee or a monthly fee. Verizon's VZ Navigator costs $2.99 per day, $4.99 per week or $9.99 per month. And you don't even need a GPS chip in your phone to use this feature, because phones can use cellular towers to detect your location.
No, you don't really need a smartphone, especially if all you really want to do is make calls and swap text messages. Today's feature phones offer web, email, music, games, maps, and can do most of the things that smartphones do, with a bit of compromise. But if you depend on your mobile phone for business, or internet access is important to you, a smartphone is probably your best bet, because they have larger screens for email and web browsing. You'll also want wifi, because internet access via a cellular signal can be painfully slow.
What's your opinion on feature phone versus smartphone? Post your comment or question below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 27 Jul 2011
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Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved