Is it a Cell Phone, Smart Phone or Mobile Phone?

By Larry Teren

I don’t have a smartphone but my cell phone isn’t dumb. After all, when it is powered on, it displays the day of the week, the date and time. It can also take pictures and make videos of events taking place in my presence. It can  send an email. I’ve been told that if I am willing to pay extra, my bland flip style cell phone can even receive emails. If I didn’t have that doggone carpal tunnel syndrome in my right hand, I’d probably even take advantage of text messaging and receiving instant messages.  I even think that a gps system has been burnt into the cell phone so that law enforcement officials can find out where it is hiding if my cell phone tries to run away. Yes, I’d say my little buddy is a pretty electronic smart dude.

Except that nowadays a smartphone is defined as containing fancier capabilities than what is listed above. A  smartphone is one that knows how to talk to a web server on the internet almost instantaneously. It presumes that the user intends to text message regularly so it has a miniature keyboard attached. With the fast internet access, many smart phone users are taking advantage of skype video phone communication. They are walking around nonchalantly doing video chats on their phones.


But I’m not jealous. At least not yet. I’m part of the baby boomer, old school generation who kind of likes to believe that we only should pay for one monthly internet service. It took me many years to accept the inevitable that I would be paying for two monthly phone services. One is the freaking water-logged land line inside the walls of my condo apartments and the other is the simple cell phone service.


That’s another thing. Until cell phones became popular, you never heard the expression “land line”. Did you? Everything was a land line unless you were rich like Gene Barry in the “Burkes Law” 1960’s television show who  had a phone in his car as well as on his yacht. Nowadays, people apologize for saying they have a land line. In fact, many twenty somethings getting an apartment or even a house of their own for the first time, eschew installing a land line. Most young couples keep separate cell phones. If you call one and ask to speak to their spouse or partner, they tell you to hang up and call them on their phone. They usually say it with a tone in their voice that sounds as if they really wanted to say, “what am I, their freaking secretary?”


It is no secret that we’ve become a divisive society- in politics, religion and social mores. Those who are catering to the smartphone crowd recognize that there is a whole bunch of us who are slow to make the move. Rather than belittle us- or worse, totally ignore our needs, the decision makers are more and more adopting a neutral phrase so as not to offend us old geezers. We are all part of one big happy family of ‘mobile’ phone users.


To me, Mobile is a city in Alabama. There are four portable,  wireless phones attached to the land line wiring in my apartment. I can pick any one of the cordless phones, hold the handset to my ear and walk all around the apartment, getting a dose of exercise while deep in conversation. That’s being mobile, too- right? And it ain’t connected to no cellular tower, Bubba, correct?


Growing up in the 1950’s and 60’s, the only time I heard the word cell was in connection to a jail. I also never heard the word ‘smart’ come up in conversation especially if I was the subject of the discussion. In the 1980’s I think I heard the word mobile used in conjunction with friends showing me a moving, noisy bunch of figurines dangling from a string hung over their baby’s crib.


If you will forgive me, as far as I am concerned my non-land line, mobile, smart cell phone does me proud. It’s the lousy blue tooths that I lose every other month that give me aggravation. But, that’s another story.

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