My Tech and Me: Smartphones

Clare Hopping

Friday 12 December 2014

It’s March 2007, a package has arrived in the office. I rip it open and am instantly in love. My first smartphone has arrived.

That’s where I can trace my obsession with smartphones back to – although, in truth, I’ve loved mobile phones since I was 14. My mum first presented me with the family mobile phone in the hope it would help me keep in contact while I was out being a disobedient teenager.

When it became apparent one phone between all members of the family wasn’t the most efficient solution, dad got me a contract in his name. Like any self-respecting teenager, I hated the phone which came on the cheapest tariff, so started buying prepay phones and got them unlocked.

My tastes have since moved on from Symbian devices, via Windows Mobile, iOS and BlackBerry. I’ve presently settled on Android. I love the freedom it gives me, with its various productivity applications (although Google Drive is a firm favourite), access to Twitter, Facebook, two email inboxes and even Slack – the collaboration platform I use to communicate with clients –in one steady stream.

What’s even better is that I can switch handsets as much as I did in my teenage years. Having a huge screen helps, and I love that I can just pop my SIM card into a new phone, sign in to Google, and everything automatically transfers across.

The one issue with all of this is battery life. With smartphones becoming smarter, something needs to be done to extend their hours of function. Although there are a number of companies looking to improve battery life, none have so far been very successful.

There is hope, however, with researchers at Stanford University developing a battery they claim could increase smartphone battery life by three or four times. Early teething problems meant the volatile graphite anode material exploded if it got too hot, which certainly isn’t what I’d want from a smartphone stored in my bag. I expect it would be even more worrying for those of us who keep their phone in a trouser pocket. But thankfully, by using carbon nanotech layers, the scientists at Stanford have solved this combustible tendency.

This new technology will hopefully be built into smartphones from next year, so it looks like I’ll be changing my device once again in the New Year, despite upgrading just two months ago. And so my device-switching obsession continues…