There isn’t much we can’t do on a smartphone these days. We order pizza. We share photos. We wave them around to pretend we have lightsabers. Staying up-to-date with current events and trends (Harlem Shake, anyone?), and keeping tabs on our favourite celebrities (hello, Twitter), sporting teams and bands has never been easier.
We can tell everyone where we go, what we do there, and when we do it. You might even be reading this off of a smartphone. There’s no need for the heavy street maps of ages past. Awkward situations sitting alone, begone! These touch-screen babies are Gen Y’s ultimate inanimate companions.
There is, however, one thing that divides us. The smartphone market is dominated by one of the biggest rivalries in technology and business, and war has been waged for our money and customer loyalty through ad campaigns, expanding product ranges and legal battles.
Chances are, your phone belongs to one of these competitors. You have more than likely been a witness to a dispute between an iPhone owner and a Galaxy owner. The issue seems to matter little to the Baby Boomers and Gen X-ers, but this is a heavyweight boxing match of the touch-screen, hand-held kind, and we my fellow Gen Y-ers, are right in the thick of it.
In the red corner, we have Apple with the youngest and slimmest of the iPhone siblings, the iPhone 5. Weighing in at 112g, at just 7.6mm wide, with a bigger-than-ever-before 4-inch display, and available in either black or white, this is the sleekest and allegedly the most advanced of Apple’s market-dominating smartphone offerings.
In the blue corner, we have Samsung with their flagship S Series and its latest debutante, the Samsung Galaxy S III. Weighing in at a 133g, at a slightly thicker 8.6 mm wide, with an even bigger 4.8-inch display, the S III is available (in Australia, at least) in Samsung’s ‘Marble White’ and ‘Pebble Blue’. Tech geeks and critics have hailed it as ‘the iPhone killer’.
We are looking at approximately nine grams, one millimetre, and 0.8 of an inch of physical difference. In terms of height, it is 1.28cm that separates these two phones, with the S III being the larger. As we all know, size doesn’t always matter, it’s what you can do with the size that counts.
Running on iOS and Android systems respectively, the iPhone 5 and Samsung Galaxy S III rise above the rest of the smartphone market despite shortcomings, such as the iPhone’s lamentable battery life, and the Galaxy’s microphone issues. Watching Apple and Samsung go at it from the junior leagues are the likes of HTC, Sony, Google and former mobile phone rockstar, Nokia.
Some would argue that it is the other brands’ shortfalls, like Nokia’s load times, HTC’s lack of memory, or Motorola’s pre-installed, un-removable, and often unnecessary, software that make Apple and Samsung more successful.
However, the iPhone and Galaxy both boast common ground that their competitors lack: excellent screen visuals, extremely fast processers and lots of memory that make multitasking easy and smooth. These days you can buy those tickets to Soundwave, while texting at 2am, while liking your best mate’s photos from last night on your Newsfeed – all on relatively easy to use interfaces.
Whatever you’ve got your hands on, we’ve got a few HTC and Motorola smartphones scattered in between the iPhones and the Galaxy’s in the 5Why team. A discussion and/or argument is almost guaranteed to ensue in the event of someone upgrading their model.
Players of the smartphone scene have created entire microcosms of technology to go with their smartphones, slickly easing into place in some part of our lives. Kudos to your bank account – or Mum and Dad’s – if you have the royal flush of any one brand: the laptop, the smartphone, the tablet and the mp3 (yes, there are mp3 players other than iPods, surprise). Even without an affiliated device, a smartphone is often enough to infiltrate almost every part of your daily routine.
‘I rely on it a lot,’ says Kim, a retail assistant.
‘It’s got my contacts, bill reminders, music and movies. It’s with me all the time.’
She’s stuck with Apple since the iPhone 4, mostly due to the availability of accessories, and the convenience of using her iTunes from her old iPod. Arguably most of us have used iTunes at some point, but there are those who use their mobile phones, smart or not, as simply that – a phone.
‘It’s an HTC,’ laughs Paris, a midwifery student, waving her phone.
‘I text and I call, and maybe play a game… Once every two months?’
She seems perfectly okay with keeping track of her schedule and social networks without the convenience of her phone. She’s not checking Facebook periodically either, which would account for the time she has to actually do the amount of work piled in her lap.
‘I have an old Nokia,’ says Oliver, an Arts student.
‘I have an iPhone too, that was given to me, but I haven’t even taken it out of the box.’
He’s entirely happy with his Nokia, and says he’d want another one even if it broke somehow. Although he mentions he might prefer smartphones if they had more buttons.
It is a common sight in the media to see Gen Y under fire for depending on smartphones and technology for so much, whether we use them to support our social calendar or to read a book. Or as a paperweight, which seems to be a popular choice too.
Positive or negative aspect aside, whether we text from them or post our latest meal from them, smartphones form an integral part of the Gen Y persona. Samsung and Apple continue to lead us via the lights of our touch-screens, but with the launch of the Galaxy S4, the game might just be swinging towards one of those teams.
Eye-controlled screens, anyone?