Advantages and Disadvantages of Smartphones

By Carol Finch

Smartphones have basic phone functions, such as phone calling and SMS messaging, but their mobile operating systems make them more like personal computers than just phones. Carrying a smartphone is like having an Internet enabled computer in your pocket; it gives you more ways to communicate, manage everyday tasks and entertain yourself. However, these advantages may come with financial, social and physical costs.

Wider Range of Features

Although some cellphones often known as feature phones come with advanced features, such as Internet connectivity and the ability to manage email and social networking accounts, they typically have limited capabilities compared to smartphones. Smartphones give you access to more features, often through app downloads, and are better at multitasking. You can shop and bank online, browse the Internet, take and share better quality photos and access GPS location services. To relax, you can watch videos, TV shows and movies, play games, read books and listen to music.

Customization Through Apps

Feature phones typically offer limited customization options and may not be able to handle third-party apps. Smartphones come with some installed programs, or apps, but also allow you to download many others to customize how you use your phone. For example, if you use a phone for work, you might primarily install productivity apps that help you manage your schedule and work on your emails and documents. If your smartphone is your personal phone, you might focus on downloading games and apps for websites you visit frequently. Also, if you run short of memory or want to stop using an app for a while, you can remove and reinstall it later.

Higher Costs

Unlocked and contract-free smartphones can cost hundreds of dollars. If you take out a monthly contract, you may get a free or reduced cost phone, but your plan charges will be higher than you'd pay for a regular cellphone, as you have to add a data plan. Replacing a stolen or damaged smartphone can be expensive, and most smartphones are less rugged than regular cells and more prone to accidental damage. Also, app store purchases add up. Although many smartphone apps are free, others cost a few dollars or more, and some require in-app purchases to get full functionality.

Problems From Overuse

A smartphone's constant Internet access, portability and features may tempt users to use it more than they might use a cellphone that does less interesting things. It may be tempting to spend more time in their virtual world than to socialize in the real world or to relax away from technology. From a business perspective, smartphones can affect your work-life balance -- they make it easy to carry on working even when the business day is done. Overuse may also have physical downsides. Constantly looking at a screen and using the phone’s buttons or keyboard may, for example, can strain your eyes, lead to headaches and neck pain and cause repetitive strain injuries in your thumbs.