It began with several stand alone devices that we laboriously toted around, filling our pockets. But then, deep in the land of Cupertino, in the offices of Apple, Steve Jobs forged a master device, and into this phone he poured his creativity, his cunning, and his will to dominate the cell phone industry. Other phone makers would follow suit, and the smartphone would rise above all other devices.
One gadget to rule them all!
However, as omnipotent as the smartphone is, sticker shock is still a common side-effect when shopping for one. If the price of a state-of-the-art handset is making your wallet weep, consider this: There are at least five other items that you won't have to buy, if you go for an iPhone or Android device. (Not to mention that a smartphone isn't a tool of Sauron that you'll have to cast into Mt. Doom.) Here's a list of five devices that a smartphone could easily replace:
Point and shoot cameras
As photographer Chase Jarvis pointed out, the best camera is the one that's with you. And the camera you'll always have with you is the one built into your smartphone. Not only do the newer smartphones take surprisingly good pictures, but consider the additional ease of sharing a photo from your phone as opposed to your point-and-shoot; with a regular camera, you have to wait until you get home to download the pictures to your computer, then upload them to Facebook. With a smartphone, it's all handled in-device, so you can begin tagging friends just moments after they say "cheese."
Smartphone storage has grown to the point where their internal capacity matches all but the biggest hard drive–based MP3 players. So why carry both? Plus, with smartphone access to cloud storage and online music stores, new music is ready to be plucked from the sky and crammed into your ears at the drop of a hat.
Whether it's bundled into your phone's map software or available via an app purchase, it's more and more common for people to use their phone to find their way around. With the software makers keeping the maps up-to-date, there's no need for future map purchases, either. An additional bonus is that you don't look quite as silly using your phone for walking directions as you do carrying around a Garmin.
Digital video cameras (Flip, et al.)
For many of the same reasons that a phone has replaced your point-and-shoot camera, the digital video camcorder is also on its way out. Unless you know ahead of time that you'll want to shoot video, chances are you won't be filling your pocket with a Flip cam on a daily basis. But you probably won't be going anywhere without your phone. A second reason to kick your video cam to the curb: Many smartphones offer apps that allow you to shoot, edit, and upload a completed film using its handy touch-screen interface. With a Flip camcorder, most editing has to be done later, on your desktop.
Handheld video game systems
Portable gaming consoles are cumbersome; to enjoy one, you have to lug around the system and the game cartridges, meaning you'll only have access to a handful of games. Not to mention that the games themselves cost upwards of $40. Compare that to a smartphone, which can store and download hundreds of games, many of which cost only 99 cents. When you get bored of the ones you already have, a new game is just a cheap, over-the-air purchase away.
Jeff Somogyi is the dealnews Media Editor. His blind brand loyalty means he'll continue to use his Zune until it dies — but he's not happy about having to carry the extra device. For more of his humor, follow him on Twitter or read his blog. You can also sign up for an email alert for all dealnews features.