Mobile usage

posted by Jason Kottke   Sep 08, 2005

Quite a few folks are pointing to the results of this survey (graph here) about what features people want on their most frequently used mobile devices. The results are interesting but also probably misleading in about 1000 different ways (text messaging didn’t even make the list). But it got me thinking about how I use my most frequently used digital device, my mobile phone. In order of a combination of most usage and importance, here’s what I use my phone for:

Stuff I don’t want on my phone:

What’s your most-used portable device and what do you use it for? Feel free to comment here or link to a post on your site.

Reader comments

ChrisSep 08, 2005 at 1:53PM

Absolutely agreed with you on every one of those features. My most-used portable is currently my iPod, but that’s because my Powerbook’s battery is fuct and my phone doesn’t have a camera in it (I know, what a Luddite). I’m getting a new phone next week, though, and I’m hoping to get something that does exactly what you’re describing well, and very little else… no need to pay for crap I won’t use. (I would note the need for contact-info storage on the phone, though, preferably with an easy wireless sync process.) I am a crazy music nut, but I already have a 60GB iPod (which is nearly full), so it’s gonna be a looooong time until there’s a musicphone with the featureset I’d require.

Derek PunsalanSep 08, 2005 at 1:57PM

I would have to say that text messaging is the most used feature on my Sidekick II. Texting is less intrusive and easier to manage as opposed to voice calls. I access my Gmail accounts from my handset but often disable the feature due to the amount of email I receive. Having the internet available is nice. It’s not very pleasant to use considering it’s comparable to dialup. I guess I’m spoiled.

The single most important feature that I need is texting. I could live without the email and internet.

Instant messaging counts as text messaging. If I don’t pick up my phone when you call, that means I’m not willing to communicate unless it’s via text or IM. On a side note, this SKII needs Jabber support.

I have to agree with you on not needing a built in MP3 player. That’s what my Shuffle is for. Phones have so many features built into them. The problem is that these supposed conveniences have serious room for improvement and leave the user yearning for more.

CatherineSep 08, 2005 at 2:00PM

I don’t want a camera on my phone - as an attorney, I take it too many places where I can’t have a phone. My most used mobile device is my blackberry, which I use only for email (well, and the occasional game). I don’t use it as a phone becuase it’s clunky as a phone. I don’t use it as a web browser becuase it’s too damn slow. Eventually, I’d like to combine the blackberry/phone. Definitly no music on phones. Definitly a clock; my husband has a flip phone without a clock or caller ID on the outside, and it’s suprisingly irritating.

I remember having a discussion a long (?) time ago with my dad about tv’s with built in vcr’s. All that means is that when your vcr breaks, you’re out a tv and a vcr. Same with these do-it-all gadgets. If my camera-cellphone-organizer-mobileemailer-mp3player gets broken/stolen/lost, I’m out everything. Who needs that??

EmilySep 08, 2005 at 2:01PM

My most used mobile device is my cameraphone (Samsung something or other c60 or a601 - no idea) - (my only other device is an iPod):

How I use it - most used to least used:
1. Yes - a clock - that’s #1 - I don’t usually wear a watch unless I’m exercising
2. Voice - talking on the phone and retrieving voice mail
3. Taking photos and sending to Flickr (Flicking)

Very little
4. Text (other than some Backpack reminders)

- Web Browsing

WirthySep 08, 2005 at 2:02PM

I love the web browser on my phone, although primarily only use it for sports scores.

I have absolutely no need for my phone to have an mp3 player. I have enough worry about my battery lasting through the day without using my phone to play music.

MattSep 08, 2005 at 2:03PM

I use Gmail to filter my mail, then pull it down from my Treo. I use Real player on my phone to store about 20 songs, bands I represent and then play to show people with images. Web well.. I like my Web apps on the Treo and to me it’s worth the extra 40 a month. That, and I can use it as a modem using bluetooth with my Powerbook.

actionBERGSep 08, 2005 at 2:06PM

I think receiving email on your phone can be important if you are in a business where you are traveling/driving a lot. In real estate, if I am driving around all day checking up on my properties, being able to check my email is a nice feature to have. Also, with a Blackberry, you can have your calendar synced as well while you are on the road.

Catherine, the new Blackberry 7100s are definitely a lot smaller than the original Blackberry. I think it works pretty well as a phone too. I do agree that the internet is too slow though.

HosenpantsSep 08, 2005 at 2:06PM

I use my phone and an iPod Mini.

I use the iPod for a large storage device as much as for walking around with headphones - living in LA there is not as much walking (nobody) ‘natch. We do use it for occasional music as we wire it into my fiances ‘69 Cutlass stereo via the “cassette” type device as the iTrip can be a pita.

The phone was (finally) bought as a safety item as I ride a motorcycle as primary transpo. It occasionally serves its primary purpose, but is mostly an answering machine and a clock and a rolodex (I cannot remember any phone numbers at all - hardly my own). I do wish it had address in it - years ago my Handspring Visor spent most of its life making random postcard writing possible.

dave rogersSep 08, 2005 at 2:15PM

Most used Mobile Device: Nokia 3660.

1. Voice
2. Clock
3. Voice recorder! I use it most consistently to record my gas purchases and odometer readings to track mileage. Much easier/more convenient than even a Moleskin notebook as the phone is always on my hip and I can do it with one hand.
4. Text (my daughter likes to send me messages)
5. Salling Clicker to control iTunes when I’m doing the couch potato thing.
6. Camera. If it took better pictures, I’d probably use it more often, but I still use it fairly frequently.

Second most used mobile device: Nintendo Gameboy Advance SP. (Advance Wars II) (Must get DoubleScreen!)

Third most used mobile device: Sony Clie TG50
1. Calendar
2. Address book
3. LifeBalance app
4. Documents to Go
5. Voice recorder (Better mic for meetings, duration limited only by available memory (512MB Mem Stick). It is pretty damn good in meetings.)
5. Salling Clicker

Fourth most used mobile device: iPod 3g 40MB. Mostly sits in the dock at home connected to the wall charger and a set of JBL Creature Speakers. Not terribly mobile.

Fifth most used mobile device: iPod Shuffle. Working out or while bored and waiting for someone or something.

BrianSep 08, 2005 at 2:30PM

Vindigo is the killer app for me. It gives me a relatively full listing of restaurants / movies / stores in whatever metro area I happen to be in, and it provides directions and phone numbers so that I’m never lost.

It’s the main reason that I carry a Treo.

LacySep 08, 2005 at 2:32PM

Most used …. Treo 600. Second most used is my powerbook. For the treo {angels singing} - I use it for voice (obviously), address book (I don’t know anyone’s phone number anymore. Just where their button is on my screen. I love treo’s favorites buttons!), datebook, pictures - and I DO surf the web with it. It’s AWESOME for getting directions or looking up a phone number when you’re out and about. I’ve been able to find the nearest starbucks when we’re out traveling with a few clicks on my phone. Very handy. I text message some … but not a whole lot. I can check my email on my phone - and it’s not too bad with the Exchange OMA interface (text only version of webmail).

The powerbook … use it for everything. Email, graphics, coding, photos, movies, word-processing - it even makes me breakfast in the mornings.

thomas lacknerSep 08, 2005 at 2:34PM

On my Blackberry 7290, which I love >>

In order of priority:

1. Texting
2. Email
3. Phone
4. Mobile web (would use more if more sites were mobile web oriented; Basecamp, I’m lookin at you)
5. Jotting down notes, shopping lists, todo, managing my life, etc.

Things I don’t use but would like to use >>

1. Camera - but only if it was at least 2mp with a decent lens
2. Gaming - if any massively multiplayer online games had a mobile interface, aside from the one we’re creating (pinkslip)
3. Mobile document access (waiting for the killer app)

Things I don’t give a shit about:

1. Shoot em up single player games
2. Music

NieroSep 08, 2005 at 2:39PM

I would love my phone to have a setting called “I fucking hate voicemail - never ever take any” where it instead sends me emails from the caller in a super broken speech to text.

u07chSep 08, 2005 at 2:41PM

I just dont get sms messaging i have had cellphones that can do it since 1995 (when gsm made it to scotland) but even back then it supported email (and something called fax ?); 168 bytes of data costs how much ?

If they charged over $25 per megabyte for gprs/umts data you would never surf the web. Wireless email is the future embrace it and bring down cellphone companies profits.

Clint PidlubnySep 08, 2005 at 2:43PM

As far as your “Music. I am unconvinced of the wisdom of cramming a music player into a phone. The user experience needs to be solved first.” comment. To me music in a phone isn’t important in general, but looking at Apple/Motorola’s latest release you have to admit they’re getting close.

I have no need for a phone that does a bad job of playing music (poor user experiece) but an iPod phone would allow me to stop carrying my iPod (or phone??). I won’t buy an ROKR until it holds at least 10 GBs of music, and has the kinks worked out, but iPod in a phone does improve the usability over the current competition.

I agree on the clock, but for me is followed by personal phone book.

George.Sep 08, 2005 at 2:46PM

My Treo has become my outboard brain. I love that I can be ANYWHERE and not be tethered to a laptop or desk. I can check emails, flight information, traffic cameras, schedule meetings and dates. Take pictures. Play Snood. Leave my iPod at home when I got for a jog because I’ve got all of my heavy-rotation music on the 2GB SD card. I keep my list of music and DVDs to look for at the music store (because without it, I stand there trying to remember what it was I even went to the music store for). I’ve even got my Delicious Library list on it! Oh, and it makes phone calls. Seriously, if you’re going to get an all-in-one phone, get one. It saves SO much space in my pockets.

kingbennySep 08, 2005 at 2:48PM

Most used portable device = my Treo. Phone, text messaging, calendar, contacts, email, dictionary, web; I use all those things, in that order generally, and it works very well.

Probably most preferred portable device = my Powerbook. Obviously not quite as portable, so less used than the Treo.

kingbennySep 08, 2005 at 2:49PM

oh yeah, and I guess I use the Treo as a portable storage device(SD) and for mobile camera + flickr.

MichaelSep 08, 2005 at 2:53PM

I use a Treo 600. I also have an iPod, but I don’t use it that much, though that will change when I can hook it up to my car system. My most frequent uses and the ones I’m most attached to:

1. Voice
2. Calendar (synched with iCal)
3. Email (I use a client-side spam filter that deletes spam from the server when it does its magic. So when I go by and pick email up on my Treo it’s spam-free.
4. Camera (I suspect I would use it more were the camera just a little better) + Flickr.
5. Notepad

Music doesn’t even make the list.

DonnieSep 08, 2005 at 2:55PM

yo kot. i hook up this flizzy on my cizzy… that’s celly to you. ipod around a bit as well, but use my celly to check my peeps often. (sniff) (deeper sniff)

Dan BrunoSep 08, 2005 at 2:58PM

You know what I’d like? Something that I can talk into that integrates with Apple apps like iCal and Address Book. I don’t care about text messages, picture messages, video messages, ringtones, Bluetooth headsets, and Internet access.

beerzieSep 08, 2005 at 2:58PM

Mobile Phone = Phone. I like to keep the other stuff separate.

RimantasSep 08, 2005 at 3:03PM

Voice, text and alarmclock.
I don’t need any crappy camera, player etc. on my phone.

deannaSep 08, 2005 at 3:09PM

My most used device is my phone; I just want the battery to last longer! I also wish that it had a bigger memory for storing text messages; where i live (uganda) we text so much that I often receive about 30 messages a day, my phone only holds about 25 or 26.

My second most used portable/digital device is definitely my flash disk. I just wish it wouldn’t scramble about 10% of the photos i transfer using the disk.

kellySep 08, 2005 at 3:19PM

i think my powerbook/digital camera/sidekick II are probably all tied for usage. i got the camera a year ago today and it has just under 10,000 pictures taken. which is roughly 27 a day. and on a good day, i’m out of the house for four or five hours, sleep 8, and spend the remaining time online. sick!!! and the sidekick is in constant action. pictures, checking things online while i’m out, texting… i don’t remember life without it. don’t care to either.

MichaelSep 08, 2005 at 3:39PM

Wallet -

1. Store cash

2. Store debit card

3. Store tiny address book

DaldianusSep 08, 2005 at 3:45PM

Clock as well! And text-messaging

AndySep 08, 2005 at 4:00PM

Amazingly…I only use my phone as a phone. I know boring, but cell phone companies are missing out on a huge opportunity here. I know…more features, new phones, more upgrades means more money. However, as suprsing as it may seem to readers of this site, the majority of people are not techno geeks. If you made my cell phone, it would be a guranteeed hit…

My perfect cell phone features in order of importance:

Clock ;-)
100% signal all the time
Huge battery life
Speaker clarity and volume
Microphone clarity
Simple thin global open source interface
Small - preferably only in ear/touch cheek
Customized design/look
Simple contacts phone book (stored independent of phone-think )

Add in software from any source (for the aforementioned techno geeks)

If anyone knows of this phone please list it in the comments.

Amazingly, you all know your 1st cell phone almost covered all of those features…and each new cell phone has steadily deteriorated from that standard…too bad I guess…kinda sad really…

DanSep 08, 2005 at 4:11PM

Here are the only uses my phone gives me:

• Phone w/ contact management
• Voice recorded (occasionally)

Everything else is just crap I don’t want. I don’t want a camera on my phone, I don’t care about text messaging, nor music, web access, or anything else.

DanSep 08, 2005 at 4:12PM

Oops, meant to say “voice recording.”

mileenaSep 08, 2005 at 4:19PM

sidekick II (oh how love it)

1) taking pictures and flickr-ing
2) text message/aim/yahoo (please build jabber support and i need to get irc working)
3) email (gmail’s filters are great, i almost never get spam)
4) phone numbers / addresses / email addresses
5) clock
6) phone / voicemail
7) notepad (i keep recipes, grocery lists, knitting needles, patterns, directions, restaurants to try… can’t remember actually carrying around pieces of paper).
8) games

i’m not opposed to a music player, but i’m afraid of the battery usage. if that’s not an issue, it might be neat.

Patrick HaneySep 08, 2005 at 4:22PM

I agree with pretty much everything you said. My phone is a Nokia 6230, which I absolutely love despite some of its less than wonderful quirks. Most of the time I use it for telling time, phone calls (obviously), text messaging and taking photos that I can send to Flickr (though the VGA camera leaves much to desire).

The 6230 also has all of the other capabilities you mentioned, including a music player built in. Unfortunately, it’s not a very good one. I’ve only used it to listen to music once and was annoyed by the limited and clunky user interface as well as the awkwardness of the phone and the headphones plugged into it. Will the iTunes phone do any better? Maybe slightly, but it’s still not going to start a revolution. Especially since the Bluetooth built into it cannot be used to listen to music and is for voice calls only. That makes no sense.

I do however find myself using the built in FM radio functions more often than I thought I would. I suppose if there were an iPod with this ability, my phone would become obsolete in this sense though.

Another thing I use my phone for a lot that you didn’t mention is an alarm clock. The 6230 has some nice features for this, including the ability to wake you up with tones, MP3s or the radio, and an escalating alarm that doesn’t scare you at full volume right off the bat. This and the countdown timer (which I use for reminders such as “your laundry is done!”) come in really handy at times.

I don’t bother with email or web browsing on my phone for obvious reasons: it’s slow and mostly worthless. Like you, I don’t carry a watch so my phone is my main source of telling the time, however it’s often difficult to read the screen. Phone manufacturers need to figure out a better way of displaying time and missed calls that you can see at a glance without unlocking the phone and really looking.

Our phones aren’t perfect, but they do quite a bit more than make phone calls these days. Still, more work needs to go into the user experience rather than trying to cram in more features that don’t work well.

robSep 08, 2005 at 4:38PM

What it does:

- pictures & moblogging
- email (send only)
- phone number management (and email address management, if i go to the trouble)
- clock
- voice
- text messaging & email (the moblogging uses email)
- web browsing - i have 3 bookmarks: cnn, weather, and rolling stone album reviews. don’t balk; these are perfect for killing time when waiting for someone/something (even if i don’t agree with the reviews, haha). I have low-end data service to cover email anyway, why not?

What I wish it would do:

- manage my contacts completely, including synchronization. most UIs suck for this, and i’m not quite ready to plunk down for a data cable or bluetooth on both ends either, given the quality of the sync software. treos and their ilk are too big. if the phone doesn’t fit in my pocket next to my keys or wallet, i won’t carry it.
- voice memos. i probably just need to RTFM
- better photos.
- scheduling and schedule-aware apps (don’t ring in meetings).

What I don’t care about :

- music (sizeof(my phone + ipod shuffle) - location based services (until they are compelling - maybe if i lived in a larger metro area they would be)

my dream phone is probably a windows smartphone. if the motorola mpx200 had been slightly better in the voice department, it might have been my dream phone. alas, i bought a cheap reliable phone to replace it and lost a bunch of cool functionality.

Robert WetzlmayrSep 08, 2005 at 4:42PM

Mobiles, as they are built today, are nothing more than phones and texting devices. Even the most sophisticated phone cams produce nothing else than crappy snapshots not worth the time to watch, the music players lack infrastructure (moto ROKR proves this just today), web experience is painful.

If ever WAP had fulfilled the promises the industry made when it first appeared… I think we’d have a much more useful phone which could be a cleint to highly specialized online microapplications. A phone’s display will always be ways to small to browse ePay or Amzn, but it would be quite large enough to place that last minute bid in an auction in a more userfriendly way than today’S “Bid per phone”.

Basically, there are lots of applications based on texting which would gain usability if they lived on the graphical mini screen of todays phone.

We will see more useful applications in a time to come. The time is not now.

susieSep 08, 2005 at 4:55PM

Mobile Phone =

-call people
-receive calls (sometimes) :)
-alarm clock
-pictures: send to flickr, other phones, when I don’t have my good digicam.
-send email

i don’t use:

-text messaging (takes too long)
-web browsing (rather use laptop)

Jason GilstrapSep 08, 2005 at 5:11PM

I use my mobile phone mainly for making and receiving calls, text messaging, the clock, and the alarm clock when I’m travelling. I don’t use it for web browsing or taking pictures, and I certainly don’t care about using it to play music. Just give me the basics, please.

RabSep 08, 2005 at 5:15PM

I am still the proud owner of the ‘Cup-a-lite’ mark II (plastic) which has no text facilities, clock, camera, email or mp3. Reception is ropey to be sure, particularly during long distance calls, but if you keep the string taut enough the advantages are astounding. Caution - do not use on rollercoasters,

Jesse!Sep 08, 2005 at 5:16PM

I’m surprised that address book scored such a low response on that survey. Even the most basic phones have the ability to sync with a desktop PIM, and I’m very surprised more people don’t take advantage of this.

I use mine all the time and sync it with Mac OS X, AddressBook (and iCal). If I lose the phone, I still have all my data on my computer, and no need to send out an awkward mass email asking everyone for their contact info.

edmzSep 08, 2005 at 5:25PM

I would love a cellphone that had on side/top a small pen similar to the ones that come with the Swiss Army knives.

I don’t carry bags and hate puting pens in my shirt. The only place left are the pockets of my jeans, but due to the shape of a pen it is too uncomfortable. My cell is already in my jean’s pocket so a pen inside the phone doesn’t sound to crazy to me.

EamonSep 08, 2005 at 5:41PM

I’m always amused by the “don’t want it” response. If it doesn’t affect the user experience, the battery life, or the price, why not?

Anyway, buy a Treo. Immediately. The battery life on my 600 is absolutely incredible— days and days without recharging, and I flog mine very heavily, including automatically fetching email every 30 minutes. Here are just a few of the things I use mine for every day, in order of importance:

1) Phone calls
2) Text messages
3) Address book (built-in)
4) Alarm clock (TreoAlarm)
5) Email (SnapperMail)
6) Encrypted memos (MemoSafe)
7) Music (PocketTunes)
8) Flash drive (CardExport)
9) SSH client (pssh)
10) Games (Snood)
11) Camera (built-in)
12) Calendar (built-in)

On top of that, there are plenty of obscure things I use it for, such as watching episodes of The Daily Show ripped from my ReplayTV and PalmVNC for emergencies where I need to work on my computer remotely. It’s really a life-changing device, and I can’t say enough about it.

neon mSep 08, 2005 at 5:46PM

i have a cheap, entry-level, plastic, ugly nokia phone, low screen resolution, grey, pixelated, no features. i have kept this phone rather than more impressive compact, cutting edge phones i’ve tried because:
1) this is a darned tough phone, can survive anything.
2) i hardly ever use my phone. during my last relationship, i text-messaged my girlfriend a lot, but other than that, my phone is just a hunk of plastic that serves as my watch, alarm-clock and answering machine. i prefer email over phone.

my ideal is to never have to talk on the phone, and to have all transactions processed via email, converted to text, and for me to have a pocket-sized machine i can literally read my voice-mail on, via voice-to-text translation, and for me to be notified via email whenever i get voicemail, using a handheld device i’d carry with me 24/7. i’d be much easier to get ahold of if i could make that work.

i could not live without this, have an older 3rd gen ipod, grey screen, it serves me fine. only thing i wished it had was a way for me to easily insert a cf card into it so i could transfer my digital camera’s pics onto it. i’m considering, once i become wealthy again, of getting a nano ipod, and keeping my older 15gb ipod, but using it just as a pocket-sized hard-drive. i never use my entire library on my ipod, only the playlists, so a 4-6gig would be fine. i’m finding 15gb is way too much anymore.

1) houses my 25gig music library
2) houses my digital media, years of documentary photography
3) ical serves as my social calendar, reminds me of events in whatever city i’m living in at the time
4) serves as dvd player when i’m traveling
5) endless amounts of digital illustration, flash design, web design, writing
6) heavy journaling (personal writing)
7) airport card, wireless almost everywhere, surfing the web
8) arcade (via macmame, online flash games, downloads, etc)
9) limewire
10) recharges my ipod in a clinch
i only wish the ibook were lighter. please, apple, please get into the ultraportable market.

i haven’t had any desire to have a camera combined into any of the above devices because i take photography seriously, and the picture quality of cameraphones and the like simply doesn’t come close enough to what i need.

and that’s MY 2 cents.

ElaineSep 08, 2005 at 6:33PM

most used is my acer laptop, which is just my primary computer, so I do all the computer-y things on it. :)

2nd would be my phone. which I use for
- talking (mostly to my sweetie)
- clock (I’ve always hated watches)

and apparently I am the only person on earth who likes a music player in her phone. the thing is, I have this weird little attachment for my 3-year-old sony/ericsson that I picked up hella-cheap on amazon, and then I bought a bigger memory card about 6 mos later.

I have it set so it starts playing when I connect it to the phone, and it plays my collection randomly, so basically it’s a shuffle, only it was hella-cheap and I had 2 years ago. plus, I can hear my phone ring and it pauses the music while I’m talking. since my sweetie often calls while I’m on my way home (see above), that’s an incredible convenience.

although apparently one which I alone among humans appreciate.

kikaSep 08, 2005 at 7:05PM

I don’t have a mobile phone. And don’t miss it.

pwbSep 08, 2005 at 9:18PM

This is so ridiculous. Any poll that shows anything other than making phone calls as the most common/important function of a cell phone is totally invalid.

In a year or two all phones will have music capabilities just as nearly all currently have camera functionality despote the fact that few people use it.

What is interesting is that noone has marketed a digital camera that has wireless capabilities for auto-uploading your pix to Flickr or wherever.

DustinSep 08, 2005 at 10:45PM

1. You’re kidding me that you don’t own a good watch - an automatic or a winder. What will you do when your charge on your phone runs out?

2. Email is what every manufacturer is not getting correct on their phones. It is close on the Treo or SE p910, but until push technologies from the server exist, its just not the same as being on a computer proper.

danboarderSep 08, 2005 at 10:49PM

I leave my mobile phone at home many times. It’s nice to go out untethered.

However, for a favorite device I do enjoy listening to mp3 tunes on my tiny Casio exilim ex-m2 camera with a 1gb sd card… it has worked fine for years (since 2002), and takes fine photos for it’s size.

javajiveSep 08, 2005 at 10:52PM

I’ve noticed a few people remarking about being serious photographers and not being able to accept the level of quality produced with phones.

I too, am a serious photographer, and have found that my beautifully designed Sony Ericsson S700 (only 1.3mp) has helped support my habit in many ways. Of course I cannot use the images for much more than web use, but I’m no longer missing those “where’s my camera?!?” shots that seem to always happen when I’m camera-less.

I live in a pretty crazy place - Jakarta, Indonesia - and there are often times when I definitely don’t want to drag around my Canon SLR and army of lenses, as it would be a prime target for theft or would make my presence much more noticeable. For this reason, the Sony has proven its worth quite well without the need for carrying yet another device around - or buying a $500 pocket camera that still won’t rival the SLR.

The other device that’s with me at most times is the iRiver 140 – a 40gb music player similar to an iPod, although admittedly not as slick or easy to use. Although the S700 acts as an mp3 player, the size restrictions (Sony’s expensive flash memory sticks) and sound quality aren’t sufficient for my use.

I don’t mind having multiple gadgets, as I have yet to find a phone/camera/music player/browser that can rival a well designed laptop, music player, and camera for most purposes. Until someone can actually create a user-friendly, simple, and yet powerful device (please don’t say it already exists) that can envelope all I’ve spoken of, I’ll be that guy with all the gadgets bulging from every surface of my body.

TomSep 08, 2005 at 11:01PM

My iPod nano. However, it’s so small I may lose it!

Jordon CooperSep 08, 2005 at 11:36PM

I haven’t seen anything like it advertised in a while but you used to be able to get inning by inning breakdowns of baseball games. I would love my cell phone provider to be able to give me that for hockey, baseball, or football. I also wouldn’t mind a webcam type feature that allowed me to use it for video conferencing.

quaisiSep 09, 2005 at 12:43AM

The camera on the mobile phone is the most important thing to me. It`s the make or break feature when deciding on one.

I don`t use one for surfing the web because of the price as a commenter said before and I also don`t want to play games on it. After those you only use it for what it was intended for - texts and voice calls.

pwbSep 09, 2005 at 1:04AM

Quaisi, would you buy a phone that had a camera but that you could not make or receive phone calls on? On the survey, would you have reported that the camera was more important than voice?

Javajive, surely your joking that you consider yourself a “serious photographer” and use a 1.3mp camera on a phone. Spend the $200 for a 4mp *camera* and stop kidding yourself!

A lot of folks on this thread seem incredibly out of touch with reality.

javajiveSep 09, 2005 at 1:19AM

pwb - wow, that was a bit harsh and uncalled for.

Did you read the rest of my comment?

I mentioned that I use a Canon SLR - for my work.
The integration of a camera on my phone simply allows for those times when I don’t have my “real” camera ready. The phone is always in my pocket - the SLR isn’t.

adySep 09, 2005 at 1:48AM

The most used portable device I have is my Nokia 3230. I bought it out of necessity for emergencies whilst travelling. Other than that I hardly use my mobile phone at all. I’m one of those who prefer to be reached by a land line.

I find that the main thing that I use it for now is:
1) music
2) photography
3) communicating

AlexoidSep 09, 2005 at 3:14AM

Music. I am unconvinced of the wisdom of cramming a music player into a phone. The user experience needs to be solved first. — Have you seen this phone? In user experience terms it beats most MP3 players out there (except for the iPod). It also has an excellent radio tuner.

Myself, I find that I use my phone for e-mail and web a lot. My telco is pretty cheap (I only pay a minimal fee on KB usage) and it’s nice to be able to Google a film review or forward important e-mails to it. I also have a Java-based MSN client so I can quickly report back when I’m out of the office. The second you get a phone which turns all of this into a seamless user experience and a telco which delivers the services at a reasonable price then people will start to use them.

I didn’t use to think like this but I now believe that the all-in-one device could very well be the way to go.

DinoSep 09, 2005 at 3:16AM

On my mobile I onlya call/recieve function and sms (although I do not favour the latter).

Oh, and I hate iPod. iPod is for people who like “uniforms”.

MishmoshSep 09, 2005 at 4:05AM

Duct tape an iPod nano to the back of a Razr and wind up with a smaller device than the Rokr…?

MegSep 09, 2005 at 6:02AM

I have a Nokia 6230i (the i is important - makes a big difference in features) and in order of usage frequency (which translates as importance, I suppose), I use the following features:

— FM radio. I know, how retro, right? I’m lucky enough not to have to take the tube to work, so I can listen to Radio 4’s flagship Today Programme and whatever follows it on the way into the office, and the comedy slot at 6.30 on the way home. Every day, I get something different, intelligent and good to walk/take the bus to. I listen to music a lot at home (and at work) so having the FM radio built into this thing I carry in my pocket is ideal. I also have an iRiver 140, but I don’t use it while commuting because I can’t hear my phone ringing while listening to music on the iRiver. On my phone, the radio cuts out automatically, switching to text message alerts or calls.

— Camera. It’s only 1.3Mp, but it’s great to have something in my pocket I can use a) surreptitiously and b) with immediacy. I don’t tend to carry my actual digital camera(s) around everyday, in every situation, and wouldn’t be able to get half the shots with them that I can with my camphone.

— Flickr via GPRS. I could theoretically email the pictures to Flickr, but for some bizarre reason, the phone can take big pictures but can’t handle sending big attachments, so auto resizes them. The only way to get the original size up to my Flickr account is via the Flickr mobile site, which costs me a fair whack in data transfer fees every month, but is worth it.

— Bluetooth/Infrared. I most often send pictures to my laptop via bluetooth/infrared, and then upload them from there. It’s cheaper :o)

— Clock/Alarm clock - up until a couple of months ago, I didn’t wear a watch, so this was very valuable (though not on planes, obviously)

— Text messaging.

— Voice calls.

MetaphorSep 09, 2005 at 6:41AM

A very interesting topic especially with some peoples desire for convergence devices. I don’t wear a watch either so I use my phone as a clock and alarm clock, especially usefull when I am travelling. As kit has become smaller (no not Michael Knights car), I think the desire for one device is slightly reduced. Now I have seen the iPod Nano its made me think hey do I really want to play mp3’s on my phone, as it is so darn small and functional and tbh the sound quality on my Nokia 6630 is pants. The Nokia is good for address book and basic organiser functions when linked via Bluetooth to my iBook.It’s also great for ebooks!
Email and web browsing is more of a reality on that phone especially as its on a high speed 3G network here in England, maybe something thats not so available in the US.
The points made about camera quality are true. For general snapping its fine but for more personal use ie pics to print (how many people do actually do that now?) it doesnt quite cut the mustard!
One point on the ROKR…dont like it, its just not styled well enough for an ‘Apple’ linked product.
So will stick with Phone for most things when out and about, but never for music.

LaurieSep 09, 2005 at 7:15AM

My wristwatch (analog).

The PagemanSep 09, 2005 at 8:08AM

time- as a watch. like Jason I don’t use a watch anymore
calculator - I have to convert from us dollars vs. singapore dollars vs. uae dirhams vs afghanistan afghanis all the time
thermometer - very handy in places where the temperatures are extreme like 51 degree celsius dubai
camera - good for instant photos all the time
SMS - text messaging is one the best inventions ever for the phone. why call another country when you can say all you want in 160 characters?
voice - of course this is why we use phones for in the first place
games - beats being bored

JamesSep 09, 2005 at 9:38AM

Out of curiosity, Jason, what brand/model phone do you have?

rpaSep 09, 2005 at 9:59AM

I am curious to know the age group sample on which the survey was conducted. Seems like they did it on a bunch of teenagers.

IMO the usage model varies drastically among age groups. I use my 6600 for clock, text message, email, picture taking and bluetooth and and some occassional voice calls. My younger brother, who is 18 now, uses it for all wiered purposes that are listed in the survey. He would even use it to watch live cricket match.

I don’t want to generalize. But I think I am correct.

AugustSep 09, 2005 at 10:07AM

Andy: Agreed, dude.

I despise feature-itis on gadgets, and on cellphones in particular. Just one more thing to drain the battery, as far as I’m concerned.

I use:

1) Voice
2) Internal Phonebook

I don’t care about:

1) Everything else

If I had wanted a PDA/Camera/iPod I would have bought one (also, I find text messaging via cellphone tremendously annoying, but I know that I am in the minority on this). I don’t even use the clock… you’ll have to pry my analog wristwatch off my cold, dead wrist.

Brian LSep 09, 2005 at 10:31AM

I can’t believe the number of people who don’t wear watches.

LarsSep 09, 2005 at 10:52AM

Why would you buy the mp3 phone when Apple just came out with the awesome iPod Nano? Can I borrow 300 bucks?

MetaphorSep 09, 2005 at 11:11AM

Oh I forgot to add video calling.
I have a weak wrist which is why I don’t wear a watch….

Andrew SSep 09, 2005 at 11:18AM

I use an HP Ipaq 6315 because while i do not feel that music, internet browsing, and things of that sort are nessassary in a mobile phone, i do feel that the are nessassary in general.

Than one day, while digging for my keys, i discoverd i had my ipod, my pda (dell axim), my camera phone, and a whole mess of other electroning things on my person. I also regularly lugged my laptop down to campus for no purpose other than to check my email without fighting 5 other students for the computer, and i grew frustrated. Several days later, i sold my “stuff” on ebay and got the HP 6315 from tmobile. MP3’s via SD card, internet access, phone, camera, plus Windows Mobile for easy calendar, to do lists, Word, Excel… its a good way to prevent the need for a man-purse.

bottomunionSep 09, 2005 at 11:25AM

For some anachronistic reason I abstain from joining the thumb army…but I guess for the work I do, ideally I would like all of this combined in one apparatus, a dream machine…at least a 3 chip camcorder (maybe HD/24P) with a decent uni-directional mic, an edit program in it, so you can edit the stuff you just shot (no log-&-capture), no tapes, a phone (I guess), and ftp/internet access…oh, and it could tell time as well.

pwbSep 09, 2005 at 1:08PM

These questions would reveal more accurate data:

1) If your phone could not make and receive phone calls, would you buy it?
2) Same for a clock?
3) Same for a camera?
4) Same for text messaging?
5) etc.

The only must-have is #1.

MaaikeSep 09, 2005 at 3:21PM

In my bag are usually: a cell phone (Samsung), a digital camera (Ricoh) and a mp3-player (iRiver H320). The device I use most is the phone, the thing I love most is the mp3 player.

The phone I use mainly for:
1. calling
2. checking the time (no watch here either)
3. text messaging
4. alarm clock (it’s what wakes me up in the morning).

The camera I use, of course, to keep my flickr account (more or less) interesting.

The mp3 player (it’s ugly but it’s great):
1. playing music
2. I use it as a back-up for important files on my computer, and to carry files to clients and friends etc.

All 3 devices require a separate adapter. I’d love to see that problem solved…

KiraSep 10, 2005 at 11:45PM

My most-used portable device is my cel phone, used for checking the time… I don’t understand why anyone wears a watch nowadays.

SteveSep 11, 2005 at 5:40AM

1. Time. I stopped using a watch years ago. Why carry around a watch when you’ve got your mobile.
2. Text messages. I text a lot
3. Alarm clock
4. Calendar and reminders
5. Voice
6. Phonebook
7. Browsing (WAP via GSM or GPRS) - sometimes

ChetSep 11, 2005 at 5:20PM

my cell phone is my watch, and paperweight, that is it. Once a day I will pick it up to tell my wife I am on my way home… but other than that… A sexy camera-able watch-displaying paperweight.

David KasparSep 12, 2005 at 10:30AM

Mobile Google is the modern oracle (info searching, prices, directions, maps, local services, currencies, units and much more). You need a XHTML capable “modern” mobile.

Gmail (via POP3) is great on a phone.

J2me is great fun: games and own application (but probably because I am a Java developer).

Eric BostromSep 12, 2005 at 4:44PM

I just had had my bachelor party this previous weekend in vegas. I left my Nikon D70 at home (too big) and took my fiancee’s Canon Powershot s410 thinking it was smaller. I ended up leaving the camera in the hotel room and just using my Nokia 6230 all weekend since it was on me, and not bulking up pockets.

Typically i’m always at a computer, so my cell phone hardly gets any use. This weekend however, i was going nuts with messanging, phoning, alarm/clock, countdown timer, games and most of all, camera/flicking. Oh, i also used the voice recorder in a strip club, to have the stripper tell me the perfume she was wearing (i liked it and wanted it for my girl) so i could remember it.

So now that i’m back, i can organize and upload the remaining to photos to flickr in sequence. I MMS’d a few around while i was there as well and generally made up for 3 months of near non-usage. I really wish i would have waited the 30days or whatever till release, and gotten the 6230i: it has a 1.3mp cam instead of .3.

On a typical daily basis, my 12” 867mhz powerbook gets hands down, the most usage.

AdamSep 20, 2005 at 1:04PM

while I’d prefer the “Nano duct-taped to the back of a RAZR” option over the current version of the ROKR, I still think it’s inevitable that the iPod and the cellphone become one device…hopefully within the next 1-3 yrs. (And I still think Apple could create that device, sans Motorola…any reason Motorola was involved in the first place? I thought they made their chipset available to anyone).

Why not just build basic phone capabilities (and wi-fi connectivity) into the Nano instead of trying to build music capabilities into a cellphone? (potential issue with text-messaging)

Other things I’d love to have on a iPod/cellphone:
-Google Maps
-megapixel camera
-electronic wallet

I’d like to be able to get directions on the fly, in case of getting lost or wanting to re-route around traffic while driving. The camera thing is a given, and I think 2-3 megapixel will be standard soon.

Lastly, I think the wallet feature would be great. Imagine if we could standardize electronic transactions using something built into your cellphone (IR scan, etc)…similar to a Mobil Speedpass, only universal. Scan it at Starbucks, or a vending machine, etc…

Maybe there’s a way where each store you’re at has a certain number to dial when you want to buy a product. Dial the number, use your cell to scan the product, your credit card gets billed. done.

This thread is closed to new comments. Thanks to everyone who responded.