We’re so used to our smart phones that it’s hard to imagine what we’d do without them, and it’s hard to remember what it was like to have really terrible smart phones. But it wasn’t all that long ago that we got quite excited and paid lots of money for handsets that now we’d never put in our pockets.
But what is remarkable is how recent the whole smart phone phenomenon is. For someone like me, who is still quite strongly an internet dude and who started out on the internet, these things affect how I work. They are important tools. I first got a smart phone in 2010. That’s just seven years ago
My first smartphone was an HTC Desire (read about how I described it here), and the camera on it was completely rubbish (but at the time it seemed great). I held onto it for a couple of years, but the first time I had a decent smartphone camera was when I got an iPhone5. The iPhone5 was my introduction to Apple, and it was a real step up.
I held onto this for the contract period, too, and then upgraded to an iPhone 6. This was a real step up in terms of the camera, and I began to use it more, sometimes confident enough in its qualities to leave a proper camera behind. Its weakness was when the light was low, but overall I was very happy with it. It was a little bigger than the 5, but I got used to the size. This phone got stolen on a plane, and I ended up using a Chinese android phone for a few months, which was a mistake. It was the Umi Iron, and I’d bought it a few months earlier out of curiosity.
The Umi was OK, but it taught me a lesson. You use a phone all the time. You live your life on it. If you are skint, there are some pretty good, inexpensive Android phones, and they will do a job for you. But the last place you should be saving money is with something you live your professional and personal life on. Save money elsewhere, but go for the best phone.
I eventually got fed up with the Umi, and bought an iPhone. The SE. I liked its small size, and the fact that it has a state of the art camera, the same as the one in the iPhone 6S. I had a very happy 18 months with this phone, but now I have updgraded.
I went for the iPhone 8 Plus. Why? The camera. It actually has three cameras: two facing forwards, and one selfie. The two facing forwards, together with decent processing, result in stunning pictures, and can even emulate depth of field effects very convincingly (as in the picture above). It’s a big phone: a ‘phablet’, but it was the camera that made me opt for it, and so far I’m getting on very well with it. The iPhone7 Plus has a similar camera arrangement, as does the X. But the X wouldn’t give me anything better than the 8 Plus, and I’d be paying around £500 extra for it over the course of a two-year contract.
This is the first smart phone camera that produces something close to the quality possible with a proper camera and decent lenses. It’s not perfect, but it’s good enough to change my approach. Previously, if felt like a bit of compromise putting smartphone pictures on my blog: now I feel that in some situations, the smartphone pictures are just as good.
I’ve taken a few phone calls with my iPhone 8 Plus, just to remind me that this is actually a phone. But it’s actually a very sophisticated computing device. For now, I can’t do without a laptop (and I can’t see that changing), but this smartphone is really impressive.