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Let me preface this post by saying I’m not much of a cell phone user. Cell phones are relegated to emergency only status.  As such, the thought of purchasing a Smartphone was considered a waste of time and money.  I’ve since changed my opinion.

Smartphones get a bad rap.  We equate them to talking/texting drivers and folks who carry on loud conversations without regard for the people around them.  The very same rude people who don’t think twice about holding a loud cell phone conversation at the dinner table next to you are the ones who cause people like me (and maybe you) to swear off all types of mobile communication.  In addition to the increasing rude cell phone culture, I thought the monthly expense wasn’t worth it.

Cell phone versus Smartphone

What I failed to realize was there is a huge difference between cell phones and Smartphones. A cell phone, from what I have witnessed, is a device that has the potential to bring out the rudeness in already rude people.  A Smartphone, on the other hand, is a mini-mobile computer with almost limitless capabilities.  A Smartphone is what you get when a cell phone is bred with a computer.  The resulting device takes on the size of a cell phone with the power of a computer.

Being the proud new owner of a Motorola Moto G smartphone (I’ll explain why the Moto G in a later post) I’m quickly learning just how powerful a tool the Smartphone is.

 Apps Make the Device

Just like a computer needs software to create spreadsheets, balance checkbooks or access the internet, Smartphones have apps that can do just about anything you want them to do. Unlike most computer software programs, many of the mobile device apps are free.  Don’t get me wrong, there are apps that cost, but you can go a long way without having to pay for an app.

Here are a few apps that have made my life easier in the short time I’ve owned my Smartphone:Google Play Store

  • KingSoft Office Suite (Yes, I do use it on my tablet, but it functions well on the phone too).  I’m able to write/dictate articles and save the text files on my phone.
  • Smart Voice Recorder, a digital voice recording app:  This free app allows me to turn my Smartphone into a digital voice recorder.  I dictate and record articles, blog posts and book chapters to my phone.  I then upload the recorded files to my Google Cloud drive. From there I’m able to have the file transcribed using Dragon Naturally Speaking.
  • Banking Apps:  Each bank has its own proprietary app that allows you to check balances, transfer money and, get this…deposit checks.
  • Amazon Kindle:  When sitting in a waiting room, I can open Amazon Kindle and catch up on my reading.
  • Barcode Scanner App:  This app isn’t absolutely necessary, but it helps when researching products or purchasing items in a store.  Just scan the UPC code or the QR code and the app displays additional product information.
  • WordPress for Android App: As a blogger, I use the WordPress app to add, delete and edit posts.  It also allows me to access my traffic stats among other things.
  • Watch Movies/TV:  Just about every cable/TV channel has its own app. If you missed your favorite show and would like to watch it while waiting in the doctor’s reception area, you can.  Just remember to plug in earphones.

These are just a few apps that have proven to be useful.  At a later date, I’ll explore individual apps in detail.

 Screen Resolution

One would think working on a Smartphone would be next to impossible because of the tiny screen (at least that’s what I thought).  Come to find out the Moto G screen resolution (720 x 1280) is so sharp that it is possible to read books on a 4.5-inch screen.  Changing image or text size is as simple as pinching inward or outward with your thumb and index finger.Smartphone Screen Shot

 Monthly Costs and Data Usage

Once you use the Smartphone for more than just talking and texting, you enter into a different type of monthly rate charge.  That charge is based upon data usage.  Uploading or downloading something over the Internet affects Smartphones data usage.  Accessing web pages, watching videos or even sending emails require an Internet connection and thus uses data for which you will be charged.

Cell phone providers charge for data use on a per megabyte (MB) or gigabyte (GB) basis. Heavy Smartphone users that spend a lot of time watching YouTube videos or video chatting may use several gigabytes worth of data per month. After hearing horror stories of astronomical cell phone bills caused by too much talk/text and data usage I really wondered whether or not Smartphones were worth it until I realized just how many free wi-fi hotspots there were.

By tapping into free hotspots you’re not charged for data usage.  You can upload/download over the free network while leaving your available data usage intact.

Hotspot availability depends on your area.  Some places like NYC have them everywhere, but if you live in a rural area, hot spots are fewer and farther between.  Your cable company may have a map of the local hotspots in your area. Most large retail stores such as Bloomingdale’s, Macy’s and Kohl’s offer free wi-fi as does Starbucks, McDonald’s and other coffee shops and fast food restaurants.  Modify the settings on your phone to alert you or automatically sign you into free wi-fi networks.

Inexpensive Smartphone Service

For the occasional cell phone user, it is possible to pay as little as $15 per month for voice, text and data service.  Between infrequent cell phone use and tapping into local wi-fi hotspots for data usage, there is no need to get locked into a long-term expensive monthly plan.

Let me end this post by saying, this former non-cell phone user is still a non-cell phone user, but she is becoming an avid Smartphone user.

Next, I’ll outline what I looked for in a Smartphone and why I ended up purchasing the Motorola Moto G.

FeliciaFelicia (aka Low Tech Grandma) is a wife, mother, grandmother, freelance writer and low tech blogger.