Smartphones do lots of things very well. Email, texting, web browsing, photos, Twitter, Facebook — and yes, even phone calls.
But there are a couple of functions that smartphones will not totally replace — at least for the next few years.
The first is photography. People often ask me what’s the best digital camera to buy. I always tell them the same thing: the best camera is the one you have with you when you want to take a photo. That’s when a smartphone’s camera is the perfect choice. Most people won’t leave home without their phone, therefore, they’ll always have a camera with them.
However, if you really want to take good quality photos, you can do a lot better than the digital camera built into today’s phones. Yes, I know, they’re getting better all the time, but the hardware manufacturers are usually forced to compromise on features to keep the size and cost down — and the quality suffers. An moderately-priced pocket-sized Canon PowerShot camera is way better than any smartphone camera.
I’ve seen people bringing only their cell phone to take photos at a wedding. Or even on vacation. The last time I was in Washington, DC, I saw people taking family photos in front of national monuments with their basic cell phone. I guess it’s better than nothing, but yikes, why bother!?
Second, I don’t think smartphones with GPS technology will take the place of dedicated GPS units anytime soon. I recently drove to Arlington, Virginia from Buffalo, New York. I had both a dedicated GPS unit as well as my iPhone loaded with several GPS apps. The iPhone worked fine, but using it for GPS most of the time made it more difficult to use as an audio player or placing phone calls during the trip. I know it’s possible to multitask, but current Garmin and TomTom units are so good at what they do, it just makes sense to keep them in your car and use them for their singular purpose… navigation. That frees up your smartphone for communications and media functions.
Sure, use your smartphone as a jack-of-all trades device — one you have with you at all times. But for semi-serious photography and reliable navigation, go with dedicated digital cameras and GPS units. You’ll end up getting to your destination much easier and taking better photos when you get there.