The one problem I see with the new iPhones?

September 13, 2017

…is that they’re still calling them phones.

Bear with me for a minute because I don’t limit this to just a problem with the new iPhones (or any recent iPhones) but also any recent Android smartphones too, like the Samsung Galaxy Note8. The problem is that we’re still using the term “phone” when we talk about them and especially when price becomes part of the conversation it can get silly — fast!

By far the typical comment for smartphones upon a new release is, “That much — for a phone?!”

I think any reasonable person would agree that spending $700 to $1,000 for just a phone would be ridiculous. In fact, $500 or $300 or maybe even less would also be ridiculous because a “phone” is simply an electronic device that is meant to transmit sound or speech to a distant point. I think the conversation needs to change because the “phone” sure has. These smartphones like the iPhone X have now become our:

  1. Cameras. And what a wonderful world it became for me when the first iPhone came out with its camera. Honestly, it changed my life. It helped me be a more creative person, a more spontaneous creative person and allowed me to capture moments that I would never have been able to capture before its invention. Then they introduced Portrait Mode, and now they’ve made it better. For the technical reasons why visit the specs page at Apple.com 
  2. Lighting. There is a flash and a flashlight built right in.
  3. Post Processing. Don’t get me started. Hahaha! One of my favorite things to do is the post processing of my images on my phone. So many, incredible, apps that make it easy, fast and fun!
  4. Theatres. This is big too. We watch movies, sure, but we live-stream TV, YouTube, and Training — we learn and improve our lives with these devices.
  5. Communication. Finally, we get to the phone part of our “phone.” We can make a call, video chat or text someone. Although it really can be frustrating to get interrupted with a call when I’m trying to take a picture. Hahaha! The fact is that most of us are using our phone for an actual phone less and less. We do use it for all the Social aspects of communication like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and GooglePlus.
  6. Work. This one gets overlooked by those who don’t use it for their work, but I do a lot of work on my phone because a lot of my work is communicating (with my office and with others). I need to write, edit, read and sign documents and contracts, and collaborate on projects. Sometimes, I’ll even take and edit photos for work. Using this device means I don’t always have to lug around a laptop or even a tablet and that is glorious!
  7. Play! Here’s one I don’t use it a lot for but there are loads of games, and now with the addition of the augmented reality, it’s about to get nuts!
  8. Banking. Some do all of their banking on their phones. I know people that haven’t been to the bank in forever because they bank from their phone.
  9. Reading. Every day we read the news, books, novels, devotionals and more on our phones.
  10. Sharing. We share our lives with others through the images and videos we’ve taken and keep on our phones.

I could go on and on, but I’ll wrap it up by reminding us not to forget how these devices inspire our sense of design and technology (inspiring companies and products to try and match or outdo one another — and that’s a good thing)! These pricey “phones” really are giving us some of our glimpses into the future. Just the camera advancements alone are amazing. I know a lot of photographers that would like to see cool things happen as often with DSLRs. I can’t help but be reminded of a Louis CK comedy routine about people complaining about flying. He talks about how their drink doesn’t get there fast enough, the wireless on board isn’t working, the fare is too high, and then he cleverly reminds everyone that they’re in a chair, flying through the air! Hahahaha! Sorry, as a pilot, that one always gets me. Somewhere along the line, we stopped being amazed at what these things are capable of, what they add to our lives, how much research and technology goes into them. Add to them that they come water resistant while charging wirelessly and it makes me wonder if our expectations haven’t gotten just a tad too high.

At 64GB the iPhone X lists at $999. For the same 64GB, the Note8 lists $929.99. I do prefer the iPhone. I enjoy its experience and am most comfortable with it. I have friends who feel the same way about their Galaxy phones, and none of us have an issue with what we’ve spent because none of us feel we’ve spent “That much — for a phone?!”



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  • Reply Jorge Martinez September 13, 2017 at 12:31 pm

    I was thinking exactly the same a couple of days ago. What we know as a smart phone has mutated into this tiny, portable computer, camera, GPS device, health monitor system, etc. etc. You nailed it!

    • Reply kalebrakelby September 13, 2017 at 3:15 pm

      Oh my gosh — yes — the GPS and health monitoring systems so deserve to be mentioned! Thank you for bringing those up.

  • Reply Jessica September 13, 2017 at 12:45 pm

    Could not agree more!

    • Reply kalebrakelby September 13, 2017 at 3:15 pm

      Thanks, Jess! 😉

  • Reply Ryan September 13, 2017 at 1:35 pm

    Nailed it! Your thinking is spot on. Great article Kalebra.

    • Reply kalebrakelby September 13, 2017 at 3:16 pm

      Thanks so much, Ryan! Really appreciate you taking the time to read it.

  • Reply Rich September 13, 2017 at 1:54 pm

    Fascinating observation! I’ve always thought it interesting and inspired for someone to attach a phone to a pocket-sized super computer!

    • Reply kalebrakelby September 13, 2017 at 3:08 pm

      Thank you, Rich, good to hear from you! And, right?!

  • Reply Joe Frazee September 13, 2017 at 2:07 pm

    I think we need to starting calling them Pocket PCs. 😁

    • Reply kalebrakelby September 13, 2017 at 3:03 pm

      Hahaha! It’s not terrible. 😉

      • Reply Aaron Stramiello September 13, 2017 at 4:52 pm

        Pocket PC is a term used by Microsoft, so apple will likely not go this route.

        • Reply kalebrakelby September 14, 2017 at 11:36 am

          Guess we’ll have to keep looking. 😉

  • Reply Steve Hansen September 13, 2017 at 2:42 pm

    The issue with price is the obscene markup associated with this mass-produced device. It’s the only technology that has never gone down in price despite how cheap the parts and labor have become. With the amount of money they make with in-phone purchases and the lost man hours creating content for the various social media avenues, we should be charging them for using their phone. It’s staggering what you can get the general public to blindly buy into.

    • Reply kalebrakelby September 13, 2017 at 3:05 pm

      “we should be charging them for using their phone.” Steve, if you figure out how to do this you let me know because this is an idea I can get behind. 🙂

      • Reply Steve Hansen September 13, 2017 at 4:28 pm

        I’m still getting one though 🙂

        • Reply kalebrakelby September 14, 2017 at 11:31 am


  • Reply Averil September 13, 2017 at 3:23 pm

    I would be lost without ‘just my iPhone ‘. I depend on it so much throughout the day. It is also a great memory tool for those of us that have short ones. Take a pic of the grocery list, calendar to remember appointments etc. Great observation!

    • Reply kalebrakelby September 14, 2017 at 11:54 am

      Same. I LOVE “Reminders.” 😉

  • Reply Jim September 13, 2017 at 3:37 pm

    I would really love to see a photographer compare the capabilities of the Note 8 and the iPhone X/8 Plus. I agree we need to stop calling these phones since no one actually speaks to one another anymore =) It should be called the Text-Selfie-Social-Media-Super-Computer

    • Reply kalebrakelby September 13, 2017 at 3:50 pm

      Hahahaha! “It should be called the Text-Selfie-Social-Media-Super-Computer.” It’s a little long but not, not accurate. (That can’t be right.) 😉

  • Reply Clinton Ferrara September 13, 2017 at 3:51 pm

    Well said Kalebra. No one ever calls me on my “phone” but I’m using it all day.
    Has anyone mentioned baseball on the iPhone? Every day for me.

    • Reply kalebrakelby September 14, 2017 at 11:48 am

      No, no one has mentioned baseball but it doesn’t surprise me that you can interact with baseball on your phone every day — they have the longest season with the most games — OMG! Hahaha!

      • Reply Clinton Ferrara September 14, 2017 at 9:22 pm

        I remember you said you met A-Rod.
        I met a social worker who also met him at spring training in Arizona. She was not impressed.
        Want to be impressed? I saw Ted Williams play in Fenway park.
        This all makes me smile because I think of your interaction with Scott when he questions you about a Grid gift. You love it. And then dead pan, never used it. Always gets a chuckle out of me.
        How did I get here? Woo hoo.

        • Reply Kalebra Kelby September 14, 2017 at 9:58 pm


  • Reply Jeff Donald September 13, 2017 at 4:18 pm

    A phone is a phone, is a phone, is a phone until you unlink it from from the major 4 US carriers. The only reason the X will thrive is because the cellular companies will finance the purchase interest free for up to 30 months.

    It’s great to get all the “extras” but without cell companies the numbers wouldn’t be there to produce these “luxury” items.

    Now that I’ve said all that, I’ll be inline to reserve mine. I’ve owned nearly all the iPhones since the original was released in 2007. If you look at the original iPhone price, $599 for an 8GB device, the iPhone X at 256GB is a steal.

    • Reply kalebrakelby September 14, 2017 at 11:44 am

      It is a “luxury” no doubt and I am grateful that I can be in line with you. There are other luxury items that I will not be in line for (like the Cirrus SR22) but I can live with that. Sort of. Hahaha!

  • Reply Steve Kalman September 13, 2017 at 4:49 pm

    Nailed it.

    And I’m hoping the hurricane left your home and offices relatively unscathed.

    • Reply kalebrakelby September 14, 2017 at 11:32 am

      Thanks, Steve, and yes, we all fared well. 🙂

  • Reply Gary Kalosky September 13, 2017 at 5:46 pm

    This is very much the truth Kalebra. I often talk with friends and we comment on the fact that we are using small devices that we carry around in our pockets that contain infinitely more computing power than was used in going to the moon. Let that sink in a while and I don’t think anyone should have a real issue with the price. If they don’t feel they have a need for such a device, they should simply exercise their option not to buy one. As for me, I will be buying new ones for both myself and my wife.

    • Reply kalebrakelby September 14, 2017 at 11:35 am

      Twice the photos of the grandkids! 😉

  • Reply Deb Uscilka September 13, 2017 at 6:53 pm

    I love that new technology keeps me employed as an instructional designer and instructor! Keep it coming!

    And Kalebra, you are exactly right! It’s not just a phone. It’s a communication device. Comdev X? Nah, that sounds silly!

    One more thing to ponder…”phones” are more powerful than the computer that put a man on the moon! Now, everyone…go take a picture of that moon with your fancy phone! LOL The irony.

    • Reply kalebrakelby September 14, 2017 at 11:34 am

      Deb drops the mic…😂

      • Reply Deb Uscilka September 14, 2017 at 7:00 pm


  • Reply Ron Elmore September 13, 2017 at 7:05 pm

    I’ve wondered when the camera technology will surpass that of our DSLRs. I use my phone camera more and more especially because of the convenience. I shot Yosemite with a 6d and shot the same photos with the 7+ and several in pano and was amazed at how great the phones camera turned out. The apps that control shutter speed, ISO, F stop, and white balance allows you to do things most folks can’t believe. I’m excited to start using this new phone.

    • Reply kalebrakelby September 14, 2017 at 11:29 am

      Hi Ron,

      I feel like the smartphone camera can be an excellent tool for the DSLR shooter by helping them shoot every day and by helping them think differently. If you’re a photographer and you’ve got a camera in your hand why not use it? I don’t believe that it needs to replace the DSLR (or even try) it’s another option like there are lots of them already and I’m with you — excited for this one!

  • Reply Mike Nelson Pedde September 13, 2017 at 7:31 pm

    I’ve said this from the beginning when doing courses on ‘phone’ photography. “We call this a phone. This is not a phone. This is a computer and a radio.”

    I also point out to people that with chemical photography (film, wet plate, etc.) we create an image by capturing light onto a substrate. With digital photography, we are Not capturing images. We are capturing light as INFORMATION. We can then take that information and make it into something that Looks like a picture. 🙂

    • Reply kalebrakelby September 14, 2017 at 10:53 am

      True and down the rabbit hole we go…hahaha! I like that about you, Mike. 😉

  • Reply Frederic Hore September 13, 2017 at 10:11 pm

    Earlier this year, I bought the 256gig iPhone7 S, but not to use as a “phone” but for its camera and video capabilities, plus the amazing apps that allow me to use it for hiking, driving, tracking the stars, as a stopwatch, cinematography and so much more. Not even a dedicated video camera for the same money can do what this marvel can do! With the extended AppleSoft warrantee and taxes, the bill came to just over CDN $1,800. It’s a big investment and a valued addition to my photography work, travelling in a padded LowePro case.

    I leave the phone and email part to my smaller profile and tougher Blackberry Classic with its tactile qwerty keyboard, which I’ve used around the world, including in Antarctica. It runs on a cheaper phone plan than if I were to use the iPhone!

    • Reply kalebrakelby September 14, 2017 at 10:45 am

      Exactly the point, Frederic, everyone gets to figure out their own workflow and happiness or enjoyment/budget quotient. By the way, I don’t know what you do but it sounds like it could be fun. 😉

  • Reply Dee Wescott September 14, 2017 at 1:03 am

    I have been telling people for years (who wanted justification in the purchase of an iPhone) that they were not getting a phone that does computing, but a computer that makes phone calls!

    • Reply kalebrakelby September 14, 2017 at 10:39 am

      Hahaha! I knew it couldn’t just be me. 😉

  • Reply Finn September 14, 2017 at 5:43 am

    Spot on I dare say….
    These days I am much scare of misplacing my iPhone then my wallet.

    • Reply kalebrakelby September 14, 2017 at 10:38 am

      Thank you and ack! — it is a toss up.

  • Reply Bob Redding September 14, 2017 at 8:22 am

    Other things my iPhone is used for:

    – Compass
    – Ruler
    – Calculator
    – Night sky map
    – Bible
    – Radio
    – Book reader
    – Alarm clock
    – Note taker
    – Camera monitor for my alarm system
    – Timer/stopwatch
    – Logging for my runs
    – Heart rate monitor
    – Control for my Sous Vide
    – Control for my telescope
    – Clinometer
    – Barcode/QR reader
    – Scanner with OCR
    – Level
    – Voice recorder
    – Control for my dozens of devices around my house
    – Translator
    – Jukebox
    – Guitar tuner
    – Sheet music display
    – Music recorder/mixer
    – Metronome
    – Drawing pad
    – Diet recorder
    – Bank deposits/transfers, etc.
    – Map
    – Uber caller
    – Weather
    – Business apps (Word, Excel, etc.) (in a pinch)
    – Rolodex
    – Calendar
    – Police Radio Monitor

    • Reply kalebrakelby September 14, 2017 at 10:37 am

      Ooo…need some of these apps. 😉

  • Reply V Paul Bowers Jr September 15, 2017 at 7:50 pm

    And, “shot with my trusty Note8”, just does not have the same ring as, “shot with my trusty iPhone”. A phrase we have all come to love and enjoy. lol.

    • Reply kalebrakelby September 19, 2017 at 8:30 pm

      Haha! Thank you, Paul. 😉

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