PC World on 10 things supposedly killed by the smartphone

MacBook, coffee mug, and cactus

Last updated on December 10th, 2021

PC World magazine has an article about “10 things killed by the smartphone”:


The list consists of:

  1. MP3 players
  2. Portable game consoles
  3. Point-and-shoot cameras
  4. Personal video players
  5. Voice recorders
  6. Portable GPS navigation devices
  7. Personal digital assistants (PDAs)
  8. Wristwatches
  9. Paper maps
  10. Dialing 411 for directory assistance

Quite an interesting list, though it fails to observe situations where such items are still useful. For instance, paper maps still work in cellular dead zones, and MP3 players don’t rely on expensive cell phone contracts (plus are way cheaper). As for which devices *I* still make use of:

  1. MP3 players: I still have my old 3G iPod Nano and Sandisk Sansa, but I haven’t used either one since getting my Palm Pre. Advantage: smartphone.
  2. Portable game consoles: Not being a big video game player, I never had a Game Boy/PSP/etc. in the first place, nor do I use my Pre to play games. Advantage: neither.
  3. Point-and-shoot cameras: While my Pre’s camera (like the rest of the hardware) is on the low-quality end, even if it were a new smartphone, I would never solely use it to take vacation photos. Instead, I always bring on trips my Kodak EasyShare M340 (which cost about $80). Advantage: point-and-shoot camera.
  4. Personal video players: While the iPod Touch has largely replaced the personal video player market for those who don’t want a smartphone, I can play videos on my Pre just fine. One reason I bought the Pre in the first place was my desire for something with a larger screen (than my iPod Nano) to watch cartoons on. However, I wound up being convinced to go all the way into buying a smartphone. Advantage: smartphone.
  5. Voice recorders: I haven’t had to make use of a tape recorder of any sort in years, plus I’d rather write down messages to myself than hear my own voice reading my grocery list. Advantage: neither.
  6. Portable GPS navigation devices: While I don’t own a car (nor need spoken-to-me directions), I do make use of the Google Maps feature on my Pre sometimes. The mass transit schedule feature of Google Maps is quite invaluable on vacations/trips out of town. Advantage: smartphone.
  7. Personal digital assistants (PDAs): Never owned a PDA, but sometimes use the memo feature on my Pre, which came in useful at last month’s C2E2 comic show to track desired comics to buy, a schedule of events, etc. Advantage: smartphone.
  8. Wristwatches: I still wear a wristwatch. The Pre’s clock is useful, but I don’t have it on me *all* the time (plus the wristwatch battery doesn’t die remotely as often as the Pre’s does). Advantage: wristwatch.
  9. Paper maps: See the GPS entry above (no car, Google Maps), though I’ll occasionally consult a paper map on trips (the ones with tourist attractions listed that hotels/museums give away). Advantage: smartphone.
  10. Dialing 411 for directory assistance: I can look up phone numbers on my own, either via Google, the Yellow Pages app on the phone, or (gasp!) an actual Yellow Pages phone book, though mine gets used more as a footstool than phone number research these days. Advantage: smartphone.

The final tally:

  • Smartphone: 6/10
  • Stand-alone devices: 2/10
  • Neither: 2/10

So it looks like the smartphone’s replaced *most* of the stand-alone devices for my purposes, but I still prefer a stand-alone camera and wristwatch. I do feel, though, that my smartphone’s been one of the most useful purchases I’ve made in recent years (outside of my laptop).

Anthony Dean

Anthony Dean is the owner of Diverse Tech Geek and Diverse Media Notes.

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