Good points and bad points with smartphones

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This is not the future, this is now

Just as digital cameras changed the photographic world, so did smartphones 20 years later. In fact, smartphones have all but killed the low end of the compact camera market. So why are they so popular?

At the outset I should also admit that I own a smartphone. I also admit that it is a lot smarter than me. Fortunately I have children to show me the ‘smartness’ of it all, and they are kind enough not to complain when I need another dose of the ‘smarts’. Yes, smartphone is here to stay. Have you noticed that your spell checker accepts ‘smartphone’ (all one word) when it used to be initially ‘smart phone’ (two words).

The first good point with smartphones is you are likely to have one in your pocket at all times – unless it is too big and you keep it in your handbag (or manbag). Those ‘once in a lifetime’ shots are yours for the taking, provided you remember to shoot it and the battery is charged! Because of its size it is also easy to carry around; however, here’s the first drawback. If it is very small to be portable, the screen size is also very small, so all the hype about watching movies, is just that – hype. To get the larger screens you have to invest in a smartphone ‘tablet’ or ‘iPad’. Neither of which is particularly portable because of the larger size.

Of course one of the initial plus points for digital anythings, is the ability to get instant gratification. That is the prime requirement of all three year olds. We were supposed to grow out of that, but instead we grew to adulthood with the need, and now the ability, to see your photos instantly, and then upload the image to other smartphone users, or people who can access your electronic images. Like the barber shop needing three chairs working and no waiting. Nobody wants to wait anymore!

One very negative point with smartphones is the almost universal fascination of looking at the small screen while walking along, not seeing anyone in front of you, in fact not seeing anyone else at all. And getting killed.

Smartphones really are killers, when you think about it. Not only have they killed the compact camera, but also killed personal communication. Look at couples in a restaurant, flicking through their messages and not talking to each other. I particularly liked the cartoon of a restaurant notice board saying “Sorry. No WiFi. Try talking to each other.”

The third demerit, as far as I am concerned is an acceptance of the mediocre. Smartphones just give you ‘record’ shots. An ability to change the depth of field has been lost. Stopping motion has been lost. In fact, any creative instinct is not transferred to smartphones. And if you really want something dreadful, try using one of those after market “wide angle” lenses!

But the battle hasn’t stopped there. The smartphone people are continuing to be smarter. Remember all those ‘soft’ out of focus shots you took and didn’t retake at the time because you couldn’t see how blurry they were on your small screen? The latest technology can correct what you took, and like the electronic filters that gives you ‘sharp’, ‘sharper’ and ‘sharpen edges’, this new technology does it for you in the smartphone!

The new technology is also ready to fix the small screen problems. Imagine a screen that opens out like a folded piece of paper, to give you a large screen, then folds to go back into the handbag (or manbag – another silly name).

Samsung has been awarded patent rights for a foldable screen.

Patent for a design of such a fold-out smartphone which would curiously put Lenovo in a rather dangerous position as they have been touting a foldable smartphone already this year.

No, we have not seen the end point of smartphone abilities, the big names are working on all the problems right now. Be prepared.

However, they will never displace the photographic eye. You!