Recently, I read an interesting report regarding iPhone use. Market research firm iSuppli found that many people use iPhones in ways that differ markedly from other phones, especially in categories that until recently weren't that important to most users.
We don't use it as often for phone calls as other cell phone owners.
And while we text message about as often as those who own other phones, we're much more likely to be checking e-mail, surfing the Web, watching videos or YouTube clips, or viewing photos.
What surprised me the most out of all of iSuppli's statistics is that iPhone owners spent less than half the time actually making calls -- 46.5 per cent -- compared to 71.7 per cent of the time people use other phones for calls. At first, I had a fleeting moment of defensiveness; I wondered if they were insinuating that the iPhone isn't good for voice calls. I hadn't noticed any problems with either my 8GB phone, or the newer 16GB model I replaced it with earlier this year.
It turns out voice quality isn't the issue. "This usage pattern shows Apple has succeeded in producing a true convergence product that consumers like to use for multiple purposes," said Greg Sheppard, chief development officer at iSuppli. "Apple has come as close as anyone to achieving a balanced convergence in mobile handset features and usage."
My curiosity piqued by the report's findings, so I set out to document how much I use my iPhone.
How it was B.I. (Before iPhone)
Before the iPhone was released, I lived in what I call the "Dark Time." As a former Motorola Razr user, the only time I felt anywhere near comfortable using my phone was when I made calls. That was it. To me, the Razr was just a phone. Because of either bad software design or the limitations inherent to static, button-based hardware -- or a combination of both -- the Razr's functions were poorly implemented.
For example, accessing the Internet felt less like information gathering and more like I had lost a bet. The experience was flat-out unpleasant. First, the software was terribly slow, even though the Razr browser was rendering mostly text. Second, the mobile Web it offered up looked nothing like the Internet. I've seen the Internet and that's not it. WAP browsing may have been a compromise, but its execution in software is slow, cumbersome and inefficient.
Since I had to navigate my way through a maze of vague commands and menus, I avoided the Internet on my Razr. The contacts and calendar applications were useless, too, given the hoops I had to jump through to keep them synced with my Mac. The same was true of e-mail, directions and the other functions the Razr could theoretically offer. No wonder I used it mostly for phone calls; I couldn't do anything else very easily.
I've started paying attention to my iPhone use, and I've found that similar to the findings in the report, I use my iPhone to make calls about half the time. The other half I spend browsing the Web, checking personal and company e-mail, playing games and using most of the available features -- and then some. (Yes, my iPhone is unlocked so I can add unofficial apps, and it will remain so until Apple releases a newer version of iPhone software in June.)
What surprised me even more than how accurately the report reflected my usage is the amount of time I spend on the device itself. After a few days of focusing on how often I use my iPhone, I've realized that not only am I using it more for calls than I did with the Razr, I've found that I also used it much more overall than any other portable device I've ever owned, iPod included. Until this report made me step back and take a good look, I never fully realized how iPhone-dependent I have become.