The fact that cell-phones in just 15 years of time have replaced a lot of the gadgets we used to have separately is of course obvious. But have you thought of how many these gadgets actually are, and how much physical space they would take up? Now they all fit in 12 x 5 x 1.5 centimeters and weigh about 150 grams.
I have used the Nokia N97 as a starting point for this list – not because it necessarily is the best and most complete phone out there, but because whatever you may think of the device itself, the N97 is well-rounded and comes packed with plenty of features. This list will probably apply to most other high-end smartphones as well. Many of the gadgets mentioned below naturally perform their various tasks better than the N97’s counterpart – the real deal is often superior, but it’s still impressive how one single gadget has taken the place of so much in such short time.
Of convenience, I stopped using a wrist-watch in the late 90s when I started carrying my cell-phone with me wherever I went – since I could always just pick my phone out of my pocket to tell the time. The last couple of years I’ve been wearing wrist-watches again; mainly because I like the look of them and it’s a bit quicker to just glance down at my wrist than to pick up my phone. Still, there’s no need for a watch when you have a cell-phone. Weight: ~ 90 grams
Until a few years ago, cameras on cell-phones were merely better than not being able to capture images with them at all. The resulting pictures were mediocre, and under bad lighting conditions – rubbish. However, both the quality of the optics and the number of megapixels have increased (look at the Nokia N86, SE Satio or Samsung Omnia HD for example), and I believe the N97 takes at least as good pictures as an average digital camera did four years ago. I haven’t actually bothered with a separate camera since I got the Sony Ericsson k700i in 2004, even though the pictures it took left much to be desired.
Weight: ~ 170 grams
3. Video Camera
Just to be clear: I am in no way suggesting that the N97’s video recording capabilities could replace a proper video camera if you’re serious about your footage. But for the everyday, ordinary capturing of scenes, it will do just fine. After all, it can record in VGA at 30 FPS. Weight: ~ 500 grams
Ah, I remember the magical old days as a young, nerdy lad back in 1994 when I connected to local BBS servers with my 28.8k modem, before the World Wide Web had entered every household in the western world and Terminate was all the rage. I think I got my first Internet connection a year later in 1995. Now I simply can tap on the Internet icon on my phone and I’m online with speeds about 300 times faster than I could reach back then. Rather amazing, isn’t it? Weight: ~ 750 grams
5. Wireless 3G Broadband USB Modem
I like this one, since the N97 actually replaces something that is modern and up-to-date. 3G USB modems are quite popular in Sweden at the moment. Haven’t people heard of tethering? If you have an unlimited data plan (those cost around $8/month over here at the moment), you can just connect your phone to your laptop and use its 3G connection as a modem. Weight: ~ 40 grams
6. Wi-Fi Card
The N97 comes packed with WLAN 802.11b (with WEP and WPA security). I’m not sure how it actually would replace the desktop computer counterpart, but I guess you could connect to a wireless network with your phone and then tether. Weight: ~ 55 grams
7. GPSThe N97 has a built-in assisted GPS receiver with magnetometer and comes with Nokia’s navigation software OVI Maps (you could easily install Google Maps as well, and you should). With a screen size of 3.5 inch, I think the device effectively manages to replace a stand-alone GPS.
Weight: ~ 175 grams
With a digital compass (magnetometer), the old-school equivalent is no longer needed. A magnetometer is a quite handy addition to cell-phone navigation, since the device will know in which direction you’re heading. Weight: ~ 30 grams
9. MapsOf course, with GPS you no longer have to use traditional paper maps.
Weight: ~ 100 grams
10. GPS Running Watch
The N97 is perhaps a bit on the heavy side to be running around with, but with Nokia Sports Tracker (later to be replaced by OVI Journeys..?) you get all the features of an advanced GPS running watch. Weight: ~ 50 grams
Yes, I know – this is a bit of a stretch. A smartphone’s dual LED flash doesn’t come close to give the same illumination as a proper flashlight. Still, I have used apps like PhoneTorch to successfully light my way many, many times. It works. Weight: ~ 35 grams
12. Builder’s Level
There’s a utility on the OVI Store called Level Touch that lets you use the N97’s accelerometer as a builder’s level. I can’t recall the last time I used that tool, or if I ever have, but I still think this app eventually will save the day.
Weight: ~ 65 grams
13. MP3 Player
With 32GB of internal storage, expandable to 64 GB with a memory card and a more than decent music player – I think it’s safe to say there’s no need to carry around a dedicated MP3 player if you have the N97. Weight: ~ 150 grams
This is an easy one: the N97 has a stereo FM radio with RDS, and even though you need to connect your headphones (they serve as an antenna) in order to use it and the reception may vary, it’s still a good radio. Weight: ~ 30 grams
15. Pocket Recorder
I am a songwriter, and for years I have recorded my song ideas with my cell-phones. It’s very practical, because you never know when you’ll get an idea for a tune and the phone is always around. There’s a native app on the N97 for this purpose called Recorder, but I prefer using Alon MP3 Dictaphone, which can record your phone calls as well. Weight: ~ 45 grams
The calendar on the N97 has reminders, meetings and to-do lists. No need for the paper version with fewer features! Weight: ~ 130 grams
Ever since I got the SE k700i in 2004, I have used my phones to take notes. I still have a paper notebook for my song lyrics and music production ideas, but I no longer have the need to carry one around. A good thing is that you can use your phone’s camera to capture picture notes as well. Weight: ~ 170 grams
18. Morning Papers
All major morning papers have a website adjusted to cell-phones with their latest news and articles. I always catch up on local and world events on the tram on my way to and home from work. With apps for reading e-books and comics, the N97 could replace their paper counterparts as well.
Weight: ~ 350 grams
The N97 comes with an application simply called Dictionary, that you can load with up to three dictionaries. Even if it hadn’t, you could always connect to sites such as Langtolang or get dictionaries from developers such as MobiSystems. The number of dictionaries that can be replaced is naturally high, but I’ll count the weight of the three that the Dictionary app can handle simultaneously.
Weight: ~ 1325 g x 3 = 3975 grams
20. Address Book/Telephone Book/Timetable
There is of course no need for a traditional address book when you keep all your contacts on your handset, and you no longer have to use telephone books since those directories are available online these days, as well as timetables for buses, trains, trams and so forth. Combined Weight: ~ 1570 grams
21. Game Boy
If I were to pick my all time favorite software for Symbian, I wouldn’t have to think twice: Vampent’s emulators. I started using them on my Nokia N73 and I’m still impressed by how well they work. The N97’s large screen, full hardware QWERTY and D-pad and Nintendo emulation are a perfect match. Games run flawlessly with sound and smooth graphics, and there are plenty of settings available. You have up to five save slots that can be loaded to resume your game play right where you left it. The N97 has TV-out, so you could even play the games on your television. Since you can carry many hundreds of games with you all the time, the N97 actually replaces the game cartridges as well, but I won’t account for their weight. Weight: ~ 200 grams
22. Game Boy Color
Same as above, the N97 also replaces the Game Boy Color. Weight: ~ 180 grams
23. Game Boy Advanced
…and the Game Boy Advanced. Weight: ~ 140 grams
24. Nintendo Entertainment System
The NES can be emulated as well and all its games can be played.
Weight: ~ 1000 grams
25. Super NES
The same goes for the Super NES, so the N97 can more or less replace all these consoles. If I only could get Master Gear running on the N97, it could serve as a Game Gear and Sega Master System as well. Master Gear’s developer Marat is working on a version that’s compatible with Symbian 5th Ed., and hopefully it won’t be too long until its release. Weight: ~ 1000 grams
26. Commodore 64
While we’re on the topic of emulation: there is a piece of software for Symbian called Frodo that allows you to play C64 games. Even though the latest version is supposed to be fully compatible with 5th Edition, it’s still a bit glitchy. Weight: ~ 2000 grams
This is a feature of mobile phones that even most non power-users take advantage of: the calculator. Weight: ~ 40 grams
For some reason Nokia stopped including a timer and a stopwatch on their devices out of the box, but there’s
excellent third-party software like Handy Clock that does the trick. Weight: ~ 25 grams
29. Alarm Clock
I reckon this is one of the most frequently used cell-phone features as well: the alarm clock. I was surprised when I realized that not all phones sound the alarm even though the device is turned off. Nokia’s models have always managed to do that.
Weight: ~ 50 grams
30. USB Memory Stick
As I mentioned earlier, the N97 has 32GB of internal memory which can be doubled with a memory card: just connect it to a computer in Mass Storage mode and you can use the N97 just like any USB flash drive.
Weight: ~ 20 grams
With all its fancy features one cannot fail to mention the primary thing a handset was designed for in the first place: to make calls. In Sweden, especially among people under 30, it’s getting more and more common to not have a land-line at all and entirely rely on wireless phone communications. In fact, one of Sweden’s largest carriers, 3, is in a recent ad campaign trying to completely abolish expensive land-lines in favour of cell-phones. Weight: ~ 220 grams
32. Video Phone
Unlike several other high-end smartphones (hint, hint), Nokia’s Nseries devices come equipped with a front camera that enables video calls – something you otherwise would need a video phone for. Weight: ~ 250 grams
Yes, this one might be a bit far-fetched, so I’ll put the weight in brackets. Nonetheless, 15 years ago I still relied on compact discs for listening to music. Along came MP3 – a digital format for audio compression that started to gain ground in 1994. Its popularity literally exploded a couple of years later, in part because of players like Winamp (1997). Recorded music were converted to ones and zeroes and no longer had any physical weight in the form of cassette tapes, CDs, LPs and mini discs. Around 1997-1998 I almost exclusively listened to MP3s instead of CDs. I have already mentioned how the N97 rubs out the need for an MP3 player, and in extension it also erases the need for CDs. The songs on an N97 can easily be listened to on a stereo, either via cables or by using the built-in FM transmitter. I have 2400 songs on mine; approximately 240 CDs in comparison. [Weight: ~ 21 840 grams]
34. Portable Video Player
Some people might argue that a screen of 3.5 inches is too small for enjoyable movie watching. But with software for converting DVDs to video formats playable by phones without any noticeable loss in quality, and the N97’s fairly high resolution – I’d say there’s no problem to watch movies and series on the N97 while on the road to pass time. I’ll throw in the weight of the circa 10 DVDs that I have put on my phone.
Weight: ~ 170 g + (115 x 10) = 1320 grams
35. Portable TV
The N97’s predecessor, the Nokia N96, has a DVB-H receiver for watching mobile TV. The N97 doesn’t, but you can still catch TV broadcasts by using applications such as SPB TV, SlingPlayer and for UK residents – the BBC iPlayer.
Weight: ~ 235 grams
These 35 things that the Nokia N97 can be used instead of would have a total weight of 15 160 grams (15.160 kilos) – 37 kg including the CDs. Fully fifteen kilos is 101 times heavier than the Nokia N97, and I can’t even speculate on how much space all these gadgets would take up and what their total cost would be. Certainly a lot more than the N97’s 12 x 5 x 1.5 centimeters and current $500 price tag. Is there something that the N97 can replace that is not on this list, or can you think of a device that is even more versatile? Any other feedback? Leave a comment and let me know!