I use my iPhone a lot. I text people all the time using Whatsapp and Facebook Messenger. I check-in to places using Swarm. I update Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn and I upload photos to Instagram and Flickr.
But you know what? I rarely use my phone as a phone these days. So if it is just used for social networks then it shouldn't be much of a wrench when it gets broken right?
Well, my iPhone did break this week. It actually just died. It refuses to charge and despite trying several different cables and making sure it has been dried out, nothing seems to bring it back to life. This happened to me once before with another iPhone, but that time I had dropped it into a swimming pool and despite jumping in fully-clothed to save it, the pool water finished it off.
The phone that stopped working this week was an old iPhone 4S, so I had already been thinking about upgrading, because I couldn't even update to the latest Apple operating system - there was just not enough space on the phone. However it is one thing to go out and buy a new phone and upgrade from the old one and another to be forced to do sooner than planned.
I decided to get an iPhone 6 and to order it from Apple directly online as there are some good discounts if you pay immediately rather than asking for credit terms to pay for the handset. However, it is going to take a few days to be delivered to my home and given that the phone stopped working on Monday this means that for almost an entire week I am without a phone.
We are not often forcibly separated from our phones these days so this period of not having one for as long as a week has already made me notice what I miss most about not having a smart phone in my pocket.
. Meeting people is harder. I do still remember the pre-mobile phone days where you agreed to meet someone in a certain place at a certain time and if they were not there then you just had no way of finding out what was going on. Are they running late, are they not going to show up, are they here already just I can't see them in the crowd? All these problems are back for me right now as I do have several meetings this week with people I've never met and they are surprised to hear me telling them not to bother trying to call me.
. Audio books. I always have an audio book on the go all the time. Depending on the narrator it is possible to turn up the speed to 2x so you can get through an entire book really fast. The narration on the new David Nicholls novel 'Us' was so slow I could comfortably listen to the entire book at 3x speed. I miss having books always with me for when I'm on the bus or train.
. Podcasts. I listen to dozens of podcasts, especially for news, current affairs and political analysis. With the UK general election coming soon, I'm missing out on so many political interviews right now - or am I?
. My camera. I love taking pictures everywhere and just capturing normal daily life as it passes by. Whenever I see something interesting I feel a sense of loss that I don't have a camera instantly available in my pocket.
. Having information on tap. When I want to check a bus time, translate a word, or check a sports result it is usually there in an instant. Now I have no access to instant information unless I am at home in front of my laptop. That is how the Internet used to be, but we have moved to accept always-on as normal so fast that it now feels strange needing a computer to get online.
And what does all this confirm?
That all the things I miss about my phone have nothing at all to do with anyone phoning me. My phone has replaced the need for a camera and iPod. It's really just a mobile computer with a phone app.
Perhaps we will eventually start calling phones something else? Communicators... or is that just a little bit too Star Trek?