Smartphones versus Feature Phones

Traditionally, smartphones have always had an edge over and above feature phones (non-smartphones). Smartphone users were the cream-of-the-crop, so to speak.

You see, on smartphones, you had the best of features. You had multi-tasking – that rare ability to run several appliccations at the same time and simply switch from one to another. And of course, with smartphones, you had the ability to install 3rd party applications. All these literally set smartphones aside from other phones and made them mini PCs.

But over the last 2 to 3 years, the line between smartphones and feature phones have continually been erased, so much so that what is left in some cases is a very thin – almost indiscernable – line.

There are a number of feature phones from various manufacturers that now come with multi-tasking and high-end features. All that separates some of these outstanding feature phones from smartphones is their inability to install 3rd party applications. Of course, there’s java (J2ME) to bridge even this last gap a little.

Look at the iPhone, for example. Though marketed as a smartphone, this beautiful device did not qualify on at least two fronts when first introduced:

1. it lacked multi-tasking
2. it lacked an openeness to 3rd party applications

Yet, it was successfully passed off as a smartphone.

Several feature phones from Nokia, LG, Samsung and others already pack the same features and capabilities as smartphones, bar installation of 3rd party apps and multi-tasking. LG in particular is breaking down the barrier even better than Nokia and Samsung by introducing multi-tasking into a good range of their feature phones.

Is there really any serious difference between the overall capabilities of feature phones and smartphones anymore?

I purchased a top-of-the-range smartphone late last year, the Nokia E90 communicator, but found that there was very little 3rd party applications that I needed to run on it. The device came with most of those features I needed built-in.

Now compare that with several high-specified feature phones. Those too come with many of my requirements built-in, and where necesarry there are often a number of java applications available to fill in the gap.

Would I be wrong to argue that a non-smartphone with a similar feature-set as my E90 would have been able to meet my needs just as well?

What do you think? Is this the beginning of the war between smartphones and feature phones? Do you absolutely need a smartphone now, looking back at growing similarities between smartphones and non-smartphones?


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