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A Smartphone Isn’t Smart Anymore. It’s Just a Phone.

46 percent of adults own smartphones. And just 41 percent own a cellphone that isn’t “smart,” according to Pew’s latest study. Can we stop calling them smartphones?

The word “smartphone” is clunky. Ugly. It feels bad in the mouth, I guess you could say. But it was necessary, once upon a time, to distinguish the select few devices could do “smart” things, like browse the internet or check email without resorting to a funky Verizon portal that cost you like $20 per MB to scan cramped, pixellated text in the pseudo-internet hell known as a WAP browser. It’s not anymore.

Pew’s latest survey shows that 46 percent of adults own a smartphone, and just 41 percent own one that isn’t “smart.” And if you’re just talking about 18-35 year olds or college graduates, that number’s over 60 percent. Smartphones aren’t special anymore. They aren’t smarter than the majority of phones. They are the majority of phones. In other words, they’re just phones.

There’ve been other attempts to retire the mangy multi-syllable clusterbomb that is smartphone—Gizmodo’s Jason Chen earnestly put forward “com,” because they’re used more as computers and general purpose communicators than are as telephones—but you know what? “Phone” works pretty well. Words get recontextualized all the time. So a phone does a lot more today than simply call people. But it’s just a phone.

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