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High-Tech Hustle: 20 Jobs Your Smartphone Does Better

Submitted by Melissa Pretorius, SigniFlow Media Engineer

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Things your smartphone replaces

What would you do without your trusty smartphone? That’s totally a rhetorical question because the answer is obvious: You’d be lost. Alone. Ineffective.

What once was a simple, humble communication device, has evolved into a smart central hub of efficiency.

Can you remember the first handheld mobile phone that made its appearance in 1983? No? Let me remind you: The Motorola DynaTAC 8000X was 25cm long, weighed an entire kilogram, and only had one simple feature – wireless calling. 😐

Today, our handheld mobile phones do a whole lot more than just make phone calls. These pocket-sized preciouses are basically our very own personal assistants.

Yip. Today – short of making you your morning coffee – your phone pretty much does it all. It’s your constant companion, your daily go-to, your digital darling. It’s also responsible for making many, many items completely redundant.

Here are just 20 once-useful things your smartphone has savagely kicked to the curb:

1. Cameras and video recorders:
Gone are the days of camera-donning tourists. Your smartphone is all you need to capture those scenes and memories now. And, although some say a phone will never replace the old-school cameras or video recorders, I don’t think I’d have captured all my precious memories if I still had to set up a clunky camera or video recorder to get the perfect shot.

2. Portable music players
Smartphones killed the Walkman. And the radio. And the CD player. Even the tiny portable MP3 players – dare I say it – they killed the iPod. 🫢

3. Calculators
Oh, the calculator (chuckle)…Who else had a calculator that was a victim of coffee spill? Or the flat batteries that forced you to hit the vitamin D, so that the calculator’s solar cells could finish that math problem?

4. The GPS
For a while there, the amazingly innovative Global Positioning System devices had us going. They looked and felt like the future, but alas – enter smartphones with Waze, Google Maps and Apple Maps – and GP…who? 

5. Alarm clocks
For sure, bedside alarm clocks served their purpose. Even if it was a mind-numbingly annoying one, what, with a hundred buttons and options to decipher and an alarm tone that could wake an entire apartment complex. But it was time to move on. Now you can wake up to the sweet satiny sounds of fade-in instrumentals that come standard with your phone, or a thunderous get-up-and-go ACDC track from your playlist – whatever rings your bell.

6. Scanners
No need to purchase a pricey scanner or make a trip to an internet café (remember those?) or postal store – now you can use your smartphone to scan and digitise your documents. Even if your phone isn’t pre-equipped with this feature, there are plenty of apps that can do the job.

7. Gaming devices
I know what you are thinking…The imagination invested, the detail and sophistication can’t compare the modern PlayStation or Xbox games – however, the gaming apps available on smartphones are catching up at an impressive rate.

Looking for a place to store your documents from your laptop or from other devices? Forget the little, easy-to-misplace USB sticks – your smartphone now serves as a portable hard drive.

9. Kitchen timers
Ok, so we may still like the quirky chicken egg- or ticking time bomb-shaped egg timers – but really, their purpose does not go beyond novelty anymore. Let’s face it, if you want to time anything in the kitchen, your phone’s going to be your go-to.

Printed calendars are so last year. 🙄Your smartphone has a built-in calendar that spans the ages and can be displayed as a widget, easily accessible on your home screen – not pinned on a wall in your study. And it’s more than just the date. You can schedule meetings and reminders and set up a notification system.

Can you remember the notepad? Not your HP, the actual ring-bound, lined paper notebook that required a pen and legible handwriting to be effective? Doesn’t matter – you don’t need to. With the inclusion of apps like voice recorders and digital note-taking apps, they’re a thing of the past.

12. Newspapers
Read all about it! Electronically, any time, in real time on your smartphone, immediately. There is nothing like a fresh cup of coffee and the latest news. Honestly, by the time the newspaper hits the shop shelves, whatever it has to say is already old news.

13. Photo albums
From the have-to-take pics of your baby smiling, walking, drooling (cute), to family get-togethers you’d rather forget, but are obligated to capture, and that trip you took with the pretty sunsets – there are millions of photos you’ve taken. Too many to print and archive in an album (which may or may not survive the next move). Fortunately, your phone does the job now. And it does it better.

14. Phone book
Do you remember that thick book with the extremely thin pages that you had to work through, line by painful line, to find a certain number? Now, your smartphone sources any number, within seconds, from the internet. A quick click on the number and you’re connected. To the right person or place, first time ‘round.

15 Bank cards
Bits and bytes, and a connected device, are the new plastic. You don’t need to cart your Visa or Mastercard around with you anymore – now you just link them with the relevant app on your phone to pay. You can even withdraw money from the ATM by tapping your phone on the contactless card reader.

16. Remote controls
No more fighting over the remote control, no more frustration over misplacing your numerous remote controls.  Today, you can easily download an app on your smartphone that allows you to connect all devices to one digital remote control – whether it is to change the TV channel, or switch lights or the air con on and off.

17. Pen and paper
This one’s a godsend for neat freaks and tree huggers (guilty👋🏼) . No more wasted paper or daunting document piles – now your phone is your note-taker and your document holder. Even more significantly, you can now receive and sign legally binding documents and contracts with electronic and digital signatures on your smart device.

18. Mail
I can’t remember when last I received something in the mailbox at my residential address. With everything being sent to my email address, and usually opened on my phone, I don’t have to wait for the mailman to deliver the portion of my mail that didn’t go missing in transit.

19. Printed books
New book smell aside, e-books are awesome. Although I have to admit, seeing someone attempt to read a book that fell in water and ended up twice its original size – crinkled pages hugging each other until ripped apart – is rather amusing.

20. Compact mirrors
If you have a smartphone in your pocket, you have a mirror. Whip out your smartphone, open your camera and switch it to front-facing – Voila! Mirror, mirror on your phone.

All things considered, we owe a lot to our new-age multitasking personal assistants and who knows how their roles will change – what other jobs they’ll make redundant – in years to come?

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