Somewhere on the dance floor, she vanished. It would have a been no problem, except her smartphone was so large she left it at coat check. In the pursuit of a big, beautiful screen, she’d sacrificed why people carry phones in the first place. We had no way to find her in the massive nightclub, and we never saw her again.
This was my eye-opening experience in Singapore this week. Smartphone innovation has focused on power and pizazz rather than efficiency, and that has its downsides.
With today’s technology, we could surely have small, lightweight, long-battery, nearly indestructible phones capable of calling, SMS, and perhaps that even run Android so they could use messaging apps. They wouldn’t need a big screen or heavy processing power. They’d be portable and reliable above all else.
Our lost little friend certainly could have benefited from such a device. She spent the night at the club alone, and we spent it distracted and frustrated looking for her. A little phone could have fit in the waistband of her skirt or her bra, and we could have rendezvoused and resumed our evening under the disco lights.
Sales of Mophie juicepacks and the common refrain of “my phone was dead” show demand for some solution to our battery woes. If you knew you didn’t need to save that last 20% of life for essential communication later in the evening, you wouldn’t have to ration your electrons so diligently.
With the current trend of tighter men’s jeans, guys could make use of smaller phones too. A basic, hosted music app could make them a nice alternative to working out with a weighty chunk of glass in hand. These devices could also serve as great emergency devices. At a low-cost you could throw one in your glove compartment or earthquake kit along with a solar or hand-crank charger. The idea might not be popular with carriers who subsidize handsets to rake in data plan revenue, but perhaps an independent manufacturer could step in to the fill the void.
Many laughed at the idea of Path founder Dave Morin having two iPhones, one for day and one for night because he blows through battery so quickly. But maybe what some of us really need is one large, full-featured media consumption mobile computer, and one tiny, basic communication tool.
There are plenty of feature phones out there, but they’re bare bones out of concern for price. A purposefully limited but high-tech handset could find a market. Not smart, but not dumb either, the world could use a Simple Phone.