My first Smartphone experience
(The definition of a smart phone has been a moving goal post. So I am going back to the times of the Mughal civilization in Mobile Phones, the time when an iPhone was launched, and when I realized only after the India got Independence, that I should upgrade to a smarter phone. So pardon the lack of technolog knowledge)
The summer of 2006-07 was a period I’d remember for not so much fond reasons. I had lost my Motorola c650 phone, bought just in time for my first job. It was my first color phone, and I felt bad losing it on a hurried trip from the east coast(Chennai) to the West Coast(Mangalore) in 12 hours. I resolved to be careful and bought myself a Sony Ericson W550, because I could listen to music on my phone, and in a couple of months on my way to work, it fell from my pocket when my bike sped on a speed breaker. A bus smashed it with its rear tyre and left me gasping at my luck with phones. I then used 2 basic Nokia Phones for the rest of the year and lost them on a train, and the other from my loosely hanging shorts when on a bike. I had the horrors of not being able to lose a phone. The next few months were spent being paranoid in protecting the incumbent mobile from the curse of being lost. This led me to postpone being part of a new generation that was using smart phones.
A year and a half later, tired of using a basic phone, to communicate my thoughts, I decided to take the plunge that I had long been waiting for. Buying my first smart phone. So what was ‘smart’ back in 2008? A decent camera, using internet on the move via 2G, listening to songs, and sending emails from the phone, and using the phone as a navigation device. I was more than thrilled to begin a new life back then. A blue color Nokia N81, was in my pocket at a princely 15,000 rupees. It stayed on with me for the next 18 months before Moore’s law dictated a change with touch phones. I was in love with my Nokia ‘smart’ phone. I thought it made me smarter than I was
Back in the days, I was excited that I could use a phone to record a conversation. I used to use my phone as a prank camera recorder and upload videos to youtube( through Wifi). I enjoyed the kind of freedom I used to get as being a source of media. Media those days were limited to what the Television showed you. It was one dimensional in that sense. Now with my ‘semi’ smart phone, I could actually create media in the form of short quips of my thoughts or showcase the beauty of a place or a running train, and a bunch of people could watch my thought on the web via Youtube. Basically it was harnessing the power of the moment, the power of now! The process was complete when I used to rush back to my home the same day and upload the media via my computer on Youtube. I actually did cricket player interviews with Sunil Gavaskar, Mashrafe Mortaza, Steve Tikolo and Johan Botha. I also interviewed Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikimedia Commons. It later struck me that my phone had Wifi and was as good as a laptop device, because the only way you could connect to the internet using wifi was through a laptop, and the phone at least helped me find out quickly if any open wifi network was there, so that I could open up the laptop and use the wifi, incase the work required some ease of use.
I was a random traveller, and would just get back from work, and head to VT Station, and get on any direction that fancied my whim on a Friday night in Bombay. I found myself on trains to Vapi, Sawantwadi, Karjat, Pernem and Cancona over a few months, and decided to check if my phone’s GPS would tell me where I am , when I was in a crowded smelly unreserved compartment. The N-81’s battery would heat up, as I would use up my phone’s internet for tracking where I was and what’s around the place, if I decide to get down. All this in the age of 2G, and yeah, I should have been one patient person to browse at that speed. The next little innovation that kindled my inner traveller, was that the phone added GPS coordinates to every photo taken, so if I saw a beautiful scenery on the train, I could just take a photo in that location, and find out the coordinates to plan a trip specifically to that location. However little ‘smart’ that might seem without a touch phone and apps, I was actually over the moon and enjoying how technology could enhance my hobbies without interfering too much in my life.
Back in the days, the other high came from the presence of Internet on the phone and the fact that I could read internet content and blogs while on the move. Also something of curious interest back then was to hear a song on radio on the phone, and then having the craving to wanting to download that song. Sitting in a crowded local train in Bombay, I used to download songs during my journey. Also back in the days then, the phone had fixed apps given by Nokia, with some third party apps. I was over the moon, in just having real player for playing audio and video. If you needed to get more apps or games, you had to go to Getjar.com and download them on your PC and then transfer to your phone. Here’s where Nokia missed an opportunity despite Apple having a store for its apps. Sounded fun back then, but even with its minimalist features, that little ‘smart’ phone had me in love with technology and in love with life.
In between all this, Apple had made 3 iPhones and pretty much the whole world had become ‘smarter’ with phones. I was just happy and stuck with being ‘smart’. Nevertherless, for a first experience, it sure made my life better!
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