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The surrender: I'm buying a smartphone

After years of rationalizing that I was better off without one, I have to collapse under the weight of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

By doubleace Mar 28, 2011 1:50PM

This post comes from Lynn Mucken at MSN Money.


If you are a bit like me -- not adverse to technology but perhaps a little reluctant to embrace it -- then you should read "Spoiled by the All-in-One Gadget."


The New York Times' Sam Grobart postulates that the smartphone is not just a useful tool and source of endless entertainment, but also the biggest money-saver since the clip-out coupon. And he makes a darn fine case.  Post continues after video.

Grobart takes a very inexpensive smartphone -- a refurbished iPhone 3GS currently on sale by AT&T for $19 -- includes the least-expensive data and voice plans and a two-year contract, and calculates that a customer would pay about $1,800 over 24 months, including taxes and fees.

Then he computes what it would cost to duplicate what that package has to offer, if you had to buy the tools separately:

He comes up with a total two-year cost of $1,999, a savings of $199.

Just to be picky, I should note that he failed to list the expense of hiring a Sherpa for 16 hours a day to haul all of the above around for you. Or, if you are the hardy type, the costs of a heavyweight backpack and the resulting spine surgery.

And, I could point out that Grobart doesn't mention that Google is now working with MasterCard and Citigroup to create an Android app that will allow you to charge your purchases by waving it over a small reader at checkout counters. This is the latest upgrade from the systems being used by Starbucks (bar code on your phone screen) and the Citigroup, Bling Nation and PayPal combo (ID strip pasted onto your phone). That means less-bulky purses and wallets.

But back to the issue. The Times article has persuaded me to buy a smartphone. For several years, I have been telling myself that my cell phone was enough, or sometimes too much (I leave it at home sometimes).

After all, I have two digital cameras (one old, one new), a very nice digital voice recorder, a GPS unit in both cars, two watches (both in bedroom drawers), CD decks and radios in both vehicles, and a DVR and Blu-ray and two MacBook Pros in my condo.

But reading this made me get honest: The watches are in my sock drawer because I can look at my cellphone for the time of day. In the rush out the door, I often forget the camera (or fail to bring batteries or empty the card). The voice recorder, which I bought because it is compact, is, after all, bigger than a smartphone. The GPS unit is a pain to get out of the glove box and mount on the dashboard (and it never sticks there on hot days). I never seem to have the appropriate CD in the car, and the radio stations I like always seem to be 1,000 watts and fade out anytime I pass a tree.

And, of course, there is the biggie: When I walk in my door, I rush to the computer to check my email.

OK, so now it is clear that even if I don't need a smartphone, I surely want one. That leaves only one last deterrent: the plan cost.

My wife, the lovely Nancy, has a smartphone. She was, I believe, the second person in America to get one. And I'm getting her an iPad for her birthday. Our electronics bill -- cable TV, high-speed Internet, cell and smartphone -- already appears to be upward of $200 a month. I don't know for sure; she pays those bills online and is very evasive when I bring up the issue, which is seldom because it always results in her suggesting I cut back on my golf to free up more money.

In other words, I have fought the good fight -- and surrendered unconditionally.

More from MSN Money:
Mar 29, 2011 12:27PM
The list of devices it replaces is inflated. The level/quality of camera you get from a smartphone is not equivalent to a $200 digital camera; it's closer to a $70 model. And even that $70 model will shoot videos, so strike the digital camcorder from the list. That right there is $330 of the supposed value, more than the $199 it's supposed to be replacing. And that's just the unarguable stuff.

You can get a perfectly serviceable MP3 player for a lot less than the $149 iPod Nano. Mine was 20 bucks and it plenty small and functional. If you do get a Nano, it includes a voice recorder.

Every cell phone shows the time and includes a calculator, so strike the last two items.

Mar 29, 2011 11:51AM

The real question is how necessary are these items? GPS? How often do you use it, if it says in your glove box all the time then apparently not very often. Most of the time if I am going to a place that I do not know I'll just print out directions before leaving the house, cheaper than an unused GPS.

Next a DVD player? Any time I can get to just think is a blessing, why stuff more time sucks robbing me of that precious time? I could say the same about a music player but music can help me relax.

Email? Yes I can understand the need to check email when you get home, but what is so important that you need to check your email every moment of the day? If they really have something urgent then they can send a text/IM, otherwise allocated once or twice a day for email.


Finally the Watch, Calculator and cell phone are all in one device so you shouldn't separate these things when comparing to a cell phone, maybe a landline but not a cell phone. Also the Point and Shoot and the Camcorders usually now are shared in the same device especially when compared to the quality that the smart phone will give you.


Overall this sounds more like someone who wants an excuse for buying a smartphone and getting the plan and wrote it up to convince themselves. My total IT bill for my home? $69/month, internet and phone.

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