Feature phone vs smartphone
Published Tue, May 22, 2012 Updated Tue, Feb 16, 2021
If you love technology and literally can’t leave home without a few prize gadgets then you are probably also pretty enamoured with your smart phone; and why wouldn’t you be? It no doubt contains your whole life; contacts, email accounts, social networking essentials and doubtless dozens of addictive games to play.
In short, smart phones are a gadget lover’s dream. But we as users have left out an important alternative that in many ways serves the true gadget lover even better; feature phones.
What is a feature phone?
A feature phone is like a smart phone, but less smart in terms of apps and operating system. It doesn’t do as much because it doesn’t run on a proper operating system (such as Android or iOS) and instead runs on bespoke software designed for that specific phone.
These phones are more capable than just a ‘regular phone’, but less so than a true smart phone – they generally don’t have access to all of the apps you would get for your iPhone for instance. But let’s look at how they actually compare:
Calls and messaging
Well obviously any feature phone does this just as well as your smart phone – at the end of the day, this is what a phone is for, and it’s probably the function you use the most. Any good feature phone will display text messages as conversations if that’s what you like, and call quality is just the same as a smart phone.
This depends on the phone, but certainly there are feature phones available that handle email almost as well as a true smart phone, and for the majority of users that is all you need – you receive your emails when they come in, you can reply and you can delete ones you don’t want.
OK, so this is where a smartphone shines, but good feature phones do come loaded with most of the functions you might need, and often they are a limited number of add-ons available from the manufacturer. If you are a heavy app user then this could be a deal breaker.
This is where feature phones shine – because they do less, they don’t need as much processing power. They are built in a bespoke way so the functions they have, they do very well and very fast; but the lower processing power means that they use much less energy.
Your iPhone, with its powerful CPU, is eating up loads of power even when it’s not in use. This is why smart phones generally just about make it from morning till bed time between recharges.
With careful use your feature phone might well last 5 days or more, and even with heavy use you can probably get 3 days out of it.
Remember, your smart phone is only smart when it’s got charge, and as soon as you go somewhere overnight and forget that charger you will find yourself without a phone the next day.
Feature phones are so much cheaper – which means that you don’t have to spend extra money on phone insurance, you don’t have to worry so much about it getting stolen and you can spend your money on some other awesome gadgets (you might want to get some cheap gadget insurance for those ones though).
What it comes down to
There’s no getting around the fact that a smart phone does stuff a feature phone can’t; but how much do you really use those features? Are they really worth the extra cost and the inability to go more than 15 hours between charges?
One great alternative is to get a feature phone and an iPod, you get the best of both worlds; great battery life on both devices, all the apps you could dream of and the total price of both is probably less than half what you’d spend on a true smart phone.
But it does mean you have to carry 2 gadgets and not just one, but what’s a bit of pocket space really matter? Besides, if you really love gadgets, now you have twice as many to play with!