My Smartphone History

When I first saw the modern cell phone I thought it had a lot of promise.  It would take years before that dream could be realized.  The news and buzz around the first iPhone I thought might be interesting. For years I thought the concept of a device that integrated cellular, text, email, phone and GPS was inevitable and poof, one day Steve Jobs did it. But I wasn’t one of the first to rush out and wait in line to buy it. No, quite the contrary.

I deeply worried about the security implications of such a device. A friend of mine, HD Moore, (author of Metasploit) was eager to show me how he had rooted his device, and installed Python on it so that he could hack from the device. He was almost breathlessly excited to tell me he had found issues with the voicemail system and could listen to people’s voicemail as a result. In practically the same breath he was encouraging me to buy one.

I asked, “Why should I get an iPhone after you just told me that?”

He answered with a smirk, “So I can hack you.”

With that in mind I stayed clear of iPhones for the first several months, until I felt reasonably sure the phone had gotten most of the low hanging fruit fixed.  I finally broke down and bought one.

My first impressions weren’t good at all. It had bad battery life, no concept of multiple processes, it crashed regularly, didn’t have enough storage, it was slow and had no QUERTY keyboard. How did people live with this device? It felt like a giant step backwards to me and I’d regularly tell people it was the worst phone I had ever owned  – even worse than that Matrix slide phone that had loose microphone connectors so no one could hear you talk unless you held it just right.  Yes, the first iPhone really was that bad.

I had just left things like the Palm V and the latest Windows CE devices – all of which had nearly as many features, with way less annoying limitations around the app stores and better access to the device internals.

The next few iPhones came out and gradually my gripes decreased. With antenna-gate I went back to hating the phone. It was only slightly better than the 5 watt bag phone that I had in the car when I was younger… At least that thing had great cellular signal.  At this point the iPhone wasn’t impressing me very much.  Design failures, compounded with a locked ecosystem were a big drag.

But with the iPhone 6, nearly everything I disliked about the older versions has been rectified or I had gotten used to.  Even things like a screen that was too large to use single handedly seemed to vanish with multi-tap. In fact instead of being the worst phone I’ve ever had like the original iPhone it was suddenly the best!

Years ago I had a conversation with a friend of mine, Jeremiah Grossman about the iPhone. My major beef with it was that,

“it feels like a device for consumers of products, not builders of products.”

Of course you can update your Facebook status with photos and video. But you can’t make a company or create a product with an iPhone, I said. At least not then….

One of my dreams has always been to be truly mobile. Not just sort-of mobile where I still have a backpack full of gear when I travel. I mean really truly mobile where I can leave everything that doesn’t fit in my pocket behind and still get stuff done. No phone had never been close to that device for me. But maybe something had changed. Maybe the confluence of mobile app development, mobile responsive design with websites, better OS and superior hardware had made this possible while I hadn’t been paying attention.

So with that in mind I began thinking, perhaps it’s time to put this to the test. Can I operate my corporate life using only a cell phone?  Who knows? But we shall see.

Published by

Robert Hansen

Robert is an executive with a smart phone. Trying to tackle the big meaty problem of mobility, in the modern world where content and creativity are requirements of a job well done.