You could forget your keys and maybe even your wallet, but you’d never forget your phone. Maybe because you never put it down and you maintain some sort of intermittent longing to gaze at its lighted face — begging and pleading for the next notification so that you can justify adding your recent ego-boosting facade to your Snapchat story or expertly packing a truly meaningless thought into 140 characters and throwing it into the Twitter void of mutual apathy by all your social media “friends.” You need your phone, you live through your phone and your phone is an extension of your being. The age of human androids and cyborgs may have come a few years early, as we now interact through phones more than we seem to interact personally. But we’re not here to do some classic baby boomer columnist-esque millennial-bashing, because we’re millennials after all — and we took breaks to check our phones way too many times throughout the creation of this piece — and we care about other things. For example, what phones are people glued to these days — if you’re a baby boomer, that’s “what are the ungrateful and hopelessly disaffected youth’s various instruments of destruction toward intellectual and good ol’ fashioned book-reading today?”
Bram Stoker’s “Dracula,” F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby,” and Apple’s iPhone all have one particular trait in common — they’re classics. Just as you may have been force-fed the words of some long-dead writer, you can expect to be force-fed interactions with the iPhone. It has become a vanilla standard in the world of phones, and it is likely what is most commonly associated with the idea of a modern-day phone. The iPhone is now influential, widely possessed and irrefutably necessary to maintain an upper-middle-class lifestyle. The bubbly interface and sharply colored icons are so eye-catchingly delicious that it feels like you’re staring at a bowl of exquisite fruits — except through a Retina display. It might have apps for stocks and organization, but you’re no businessman — you’re more interested in the stalking you could be doing on Facebook, and you prefer clicking the star-shaped button to favorite Tweets over placing a star of importance next to things on your checklist. But still, the iPhone is the phone of the people, and never will the iPhone, with its sleek curves and beveled edges, go out of fashion — oh wait, there’s a new iPhone? This old one is now obsolete.
As we near the bright walls of Qualcomm and sit down in a room that makes us feel like we’re inside of an orange, we can’t help but notice the marked difference in cellular devices. There were more phones running Android software in hand than there were Qualcomm wraps — and though this might speak to the quality of food there, it also does attest to a demographic-based difference in phone preference. The open-platform software allows people to create their own applications more easily and use their phones for a variety of unorthodox tasks. As we asked around, we heard reasons such as that the phone is used as a remote for a robot they built and programmed or used to test out and create apps that would otherwise have had to be processed for approval via Apple’s App Store. One particular computer science major described his project to us: He was using his HTC One M8 as a remote for an interface of various barometric measurements through raspberry pi modules. Another Qualcomm-goer told us that he had two phones — one iPhone and a Galaxy Note 3 — and that he used his iPhone for daily use and iMessage purposes, while he used his Galaxy Note 3 for running more intensive programs and apps that he was building.
We think that we could equate campus phone choices to campus computer choices. Looking up at an auditorium full of unseen faces shielded by laptop covers, you’ll generally find yourself looking at what might seem to be a glowing technological orchard of apples. But upon closer inspection, you may catch a glimpse of the backlit Asus logo, with brands such as HP and Toshiba peppered in.
And that’s the trend that the sea of mobile devices on campus appear to follow for the most part — there’s a marked Apple product dominance, but the presence of the Samsung Galaxy and HTC One is well noted. We think that the locational changes are to be recognized, though, as an influx of more easily programmable devices held by students studying the engineering sciences and computer sciences is observable. It proposes a meaningful inquiry into the why of owning a certain type of phone and how some phones are deemed better at accomplishing some tasks than others. Android software caters to user design and programming, allowing people to customize and practically determine the function of their phones — a trait valued by the pragmatic. Apple software allows for more social function as an easy platform to message quickly and use multimedia boundlessly. All phones gather their own connoisseurs, regardless of their interests in simplicity, robotics or superior photographing ability — but to each his own, because, after all, phones are used for calling.
Contact Uday Suresh at [email protected].