Are mobile phones REALLY getting easier to use?


Alright, so this is going to shake things up a little. It may be opening up a smaller version of Pandoras box but it needs to be done so I will be brave enough to put forward the question. Are the mobile phones that are sitting right next to us easier to use now, or were they easier to use back in the days of the indestructible Nokia etc?

‘Why do you ask such a silly question Enki?’, ‘Off course they are!’ These may be some of the questions that come to your mind so before I continue I will explain the story. You see, after the last post, the one where I kindly thanked everyone and said that the Enki crew had decided to spend the Saturday night out on the town we proceeded to head out. We were having a great time! The drinks were flowing (spilling) everywhere, the conversation was engaging the atmosphere was perfect for a night catching up with friends. It was all going so smoothly then… happened….. my phone dropped just as hard as the latest hip hop beat.

Now I know I am not the only one to experience this but for me it was my first time. Everything was in slow motion, in my attempt to rectify the mistake I lunged for the phone, at the same time spilling my drink and creating more of a scene, highlighting my amateur mistake at letting a precious contraption fall from my (slightly intoxicated) hands. As I reached down to review inspect the damage and quickly brush it off I knew instantly that the screen had cracked. Which raised the question, are these rectangle devices easier to use, as in handle now or was it easier back in the day where all the cool kids were playing snake?

To be perfectly serious a cracked screen is a pain in the ass. While I’m usually really good and looking after my stuff mistakes do happen and I wasn’t heart broken or devastated, it didn’t ruin my night. I have to take this opportunity to give a shout out to the fellas at Repair My Mobile Phone Perth for helping me out in a tight spot. I happen to be leaving the country in a matter of hours for a weeks trip and actually need my phone. Having a broken screen is actually a disastrous situation for me and with very little time to spare these blokes were able to get it sorted for me quickly, cheaply AND on a Sunday?! Couldn’t believe it

So after the breaking of the screen the group got chatting and I thought it would be good material for this page. I mean really, I know that these phones are fantastic, I can browse the web, book flights take photos/video, check email, set calendars, alarms, keep up to date with the weather or news and one other thing….what was it again……oh yeah! Make a phone call! The fact that these devices can do all this in one small (or big package) is incredible, especially considering what we were dealing with 10 years ago but despite the fact that we can do all these remarkable things they do often become more of a pain. They break SO easily, the battery does not seem to last anywhere as long as it should, phone signal can be interrupted with something as simple as a phone case over it and you no sooner unwrap your new phone from the box and there’s a new model out or your software needs an update.

It gets you thinking ….are the phones designed like this for a reason?? No surely not, these corperations would sell us a product knowing that it would break or wear out just so we would have to go and buy another?? Well maybe? The phones we have today are meant to be easier to hold right? Fit your hand more ergonomically. Hands, unless I’m mistaken, are the same shape if not the always the same size and have been for a while now, so why is it not one person I know can successfully or easily use the new galaxy note without a second hand? Simply swiping over the screen is nearly enough to tip it over the edge of your hand.

Even charging for instance, Apple are brilliant in their with phones no denying that, but when upgrading your iPhone 3 to an iPhone 4 you have to use a completely new style of charger? Wait, what? are you telling me that if I have to upgrade my iPhone which will eventually get a broken screen, or have it’s battery die, or run out of free space (none of which are easy to replace) that I will have to get new charges for the car, new ports for the alarm clock/radio I mean really? That’s a bit of on oversight or a convenient boost is product sales.

The old school phones may not have had all the features but they were better designed for LIFE! They could take a bit of a knock and still get up and keep fighting, they could last longer for 20 minutes without the need of a nasal spray and you could find a charger at a friends house in a heart beat by simply walking over to the nearest powerpoint. The signal was awesome even standing under a tin roof and you could customise them with different covers.

In the pursuit of designing a phone for todays day and age, one where most of our life is online the big phone designers have lost sight of those of us who still live in the real world, one where we get dirt on our hands, work in the rain, and need to be away from a powerpoint for longer than a few hours. I’m sure in the years to come a compromise between these two worlds will be made. Then I could drop my phone without it breaking on me. Ahhhh those will be the days.