Are cell phones essential?

I grew up without cell phones. While I bought cell phones for DH and myself, I rarely use mine. He never uses his and resists learning how.

But it seems that cell phones have become as essential as, say, a computer connected to the internet – probably more so for the mass market. In fact, smart phones are computers connected to the internet (though I can’t imagine setting up a spread sheet on a cell phone).

It looks like consumers are keeping up with their cell phone payments – similar to other essentials like rent and electricity. This bodes well for the share prices of the carriers.



I’m an old dude but having said that I really depend on my cell phone a lot. I primarily use it as a replacement for my watch. I use the calendar and the reminders for doctors appointments and lunch get togethers. I use notes for stuff like when ‘when did I get my flu shot’, ‘when did I get my covid shots’, ‘a photo of my drivers license and insurance in case the fuzz pulls me over’, ‘my son’s safe words for his burglar alarm system’, ‘photos of stuff I need from the hardware store’, etc. Of course I use the camera a bunch. I accompany my wife to estate sales all the time and we use maps (or whatever) for directions. I sometimes use my brokerage app and my bank app.

strong textOf course there is solitaire and sudoku for when you are in the doctor’s office waiting. I use 3 or 4 different weather apps for when I plan to play golf. I recently had physical therapy and I have an app that displays the exercises and times them for me.

There are many, many things I use my iPhone for. Ironically I rarely use it as a phone I do however text the family all the time.


ImAGolfer (retired '03)


I know people whose only computer is their smart phone. They have no desktop, no notebook, maybe not even a tablet. But their smart phone is their way to get to social media, browse the web, etc. etc. etc.


I agree with the above, the cell phone is essential. My in laws still have a land line, but primarily communicate with the family by text. I have an 83 yr old buddy and he gave up his laptop a couple of years ago and does everything on his cell phone…doc


One anecdote that I always find interesting is the number of homeless TV characters that have a cell phone.

Turns out, it is supported by factual data:,39%25%20of%20the%20study%20participants.

The vast majority (94%) currently owned a cell phone, although there was considerable past 3-month turnover in phones (56%) and phone numbers (55%). More than half currently owned a smartphone, and 86% of those used Android operating systems. Most (85%) used a cell phone daily, 76% used text messaging, and 51% accessed the Internet on their cell phone.

My guess is that those that lack home internet access are very reliant on their cell phones - more so than those that have other means to communicate or access information.

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I’ve been waiting for this movie to be released somewhere near me. It screened at a recent film festival, but I couldn’t make to that one screening. I think you and DH would probably like it.

Maybe, maybe not. One issue is that “everyone” already has a smartphone, so the main way to grow is to acquire customers from other carriers. That leads to cutthroat competition which is expensive and reduces profit margins.


I don’t have a cell phone. Zero interest in having one. My landline phone sits, unused, for months at a time.



Typically, with business emails people have their contact information in the footer. There typically used to be three or four phone numbers: Fax, main office landline, desk landline (usually called “direct”), and mobile. Now there is pretty much just one number. There is a general assumption for business purposes that your work phone is a mobile and can receive texts and open attachments.

I ditched the landline years ago and I use my mobile for lots of things all the time. Navigation is a big one. Traffic is a thing, and the phone knows where the backups and fastest routes are. Super handy for finding gas stations or restaurants on the go. A quick text is often a better way to communicate than a phone call, and I can also check email. I use my phone to deposit checks (I still get checks occasionally) and send or receive money from friends via Venmo. I use my phone to play music or podcasts in the car and I can pay for gas or groceries with my phone. So no need to bring my wallet if I am just making a quick grocery run.

When I travel, my phone locks the front door automatically when I leave the house and unlocks it as I return. My boarding pass is on my phone, and my phone alerts me to flight delays and gate changes. I can check into my hotel, select my room, and open the room all with the phone. So there is no need to go to the front desk at all. I occasionally use Uber or Lyft, which are much faster and generally better than a taxi.

At home, many products don’t come with manuals anymore, you get a QR code that you scan and connect to the manual online. I can read the manual while the phone is monitoring the brisket on the smoker.

I don’t need a smart phone, but life is easier with one.


The poorer you are, the more you need a cell phone. For one thing, your address changes almost every year, and you need a phone number that doesn’t change. You need a phone for taxi cabs. Your dentist and doctor will confirm your appointments by text. If you have kids, you need a phone that lets the school reach you wherever you are. Most people don’t have landlines anymore, and if you rent you probably won’t have one. Your phone is how you keep track of everyone in your family and social network.

This is not true for me, since I’m an old fogey with a permanent address and a landline that I use to give my number when I don’t want someone calling my cell phone. But I still use that phone quite a bit, despite my fancy computers.


I haven’t had a personal computer in two years. On occasion I use my wife’s.

I use my personal cell phone for
most of my business.

For spreadsheets and complex messages, like the FEMA quarterly report, I use my company computer. For work I have a laptop, an Ipad, and a company cell phone. If I were young, and I had good eyes, I could do most of my job off my company Iphone.

We have a contractor working on a boat project that we are overseeing, the Governor Stone, a historical schooner, the leadership has one laptop among the three and they run their entire business off of cell phones.

I can see where homeless people would have a cell phone as a priority.



I have no land line. I never replaced my laptop which broke about a year ago. My phone connects me with bbc, nbc, cnn, npr, the lancet and npr in the morning, my trading and savings accounts , what’s left of and, importantly, my AllTrails hiking maps which beep a message into my hearing aids when I wander off trail

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As a 40 year Installer of telephonic equipment, from the power systems behind the landlines, to the carrier, multiplexed radio systems, and on to the cellular systems, local sites, I’ve been immersed in the tech side since the early '60s… On the job, there was resistance to even pagers, but we always had temporary landlines, then pagers, and eventually cell phones, as well as laptops with early ties directly into our engineering and Bell Labs as needed… I still hang onto a landline, mostly for the E911 access, but as time goes on, the hard copper link to the Central Office is changing, fiber links break it up, local cabinets have limited battery backup power, few have primary engines for backup power, where the Central Office and many cell sites do have backup generators… So from early flip phones to the current iPhone was a long road.

Landline is dusty, ringers lowered and spammers ignored. Our iPhones let up block spammers, and to hundred other functions, messaging the main use, but GPS when traveling, tied to my F150s screen…

And I’ve invested in T, VZ, AAPL for years, so another boost, a big boost in the case of AAPL, but dividends from all three… Talk time, not a lot, but the iPhone bemuse a speakerphone for sharing calls, or for Zoom calls with Grandkids as they move along… Photos, so many, handier and equivalent to the dusty Nikons and lenses in the closet… Photo editing, sharing, easily done…

Way more Pro’s than Cons in this new world… Spreadsheets, they are still on laptops, desktops for the larger view, but friends, family have gone to tablets for even that, but most aren’t into the Excel world anyway…

Cell phones opened many new things of interest, traveling in Europe, a local SIM chip made it easy to find our way around, stay in touch… A literal lifeline to the world. Our Watches, no longer Timex or Casio, but in our case Apple’s with even more suctions tied to our iPhones, from fall alerts to afib alerts, EKGs, or simpler heart rate or Oxy levels… More on the way…

Cells are pretty vital to us… And I’ve seen, installed the equipment that makes them work, and that was over 20 years ago!



I guess I’m out of touch with my Samsung…it doesn’t have any suction AFAIK.


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Hell, like many here (Wendy included), I grew up before there were hand-held calculators, let alone PC’s and the closest we got to thinking about a cell phone was watching Smart talk into his shoe.

That said, the term “cell phone” has as much relevance for many as the terms “turning on the light” or even “I hear the phone ringing” or “dialing” a phone number. My wife uses her “Smartphone” primarily as a telephone and (using a T-Mobile “pre-paid” plan which I understand is no longer available) just loaded this year’s projected cost of $10 on the SIM. On the other hand, while I do use the telephone function (most of which is for foreign phone numbers), more of the time I use it is spent on its GPS function, foreign subway maps, email and assorted other functionality utilizing it as a gateway to the internet.

My biggest gripe is the lousy user interface of using a six inch screen and a miniature screen-based keyboard. Given the choice, in the absence of a PC/laptop, my preference is an 8 inch mini-tablet and a small Bluetooth “full function” keyboard of about the same size.

The “cell phone” is simply the smallest, most portable, class of a continuum of gadgets which I use and offers that advantage at the expense of a long list of user interface liabilities.

(Who prefers to use his desktop PC with three oversized monitors, backlit keyboard and ergonomic mouse)

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Oops, a few typos were scattered about… “functions” was the intent… Fixed some others, too…


I tried, before cells, using a Garmin GPS device in Paris to find our way about, at the time I didn’t also carry a compass, more than once we were totally turned around, even with maps. But the Garmin turned out to be useless, I forget the model now, but it was an International setup, maps of Europe, etc… But if it couldn’t ‘see’ the satellites, it was lost, and it was so slow, useless… Once the modern iPhones came along, I knew domestically that Verizon did the best site work, updated from their older AMPS system (Bag phones), but overseas, we soon learned in London, Denmark to replace our SIM chips so we had decent local access…

Whole different game today, however our travels have been rather squashed for the foreseeable future… Age, covid, low water, do add up…


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I just upgraded my cell. My carrier CC/ATT told me the Samsung J3 was not going to be updating any longer time for a new cell. I bought a Samsung A13. Fantastic upgrade glad I did it.

I just bought a new gaming machine 12th Gen i7 Intel 12 Cores with an Nvidia RTX 3070, I believe 20 cores. My HDD is mostly full now, 1 TB. The SSD will be for the game development.

My marketing project for the older art is broadening out. Better now than later this year. Once up and running, I will turn to learning C#.

If Neon becomes an issue by November I will sell my AMD 6600 Card for a pretty penny.

I have had a small hand in tech since a 1981 engineering class in FORTRAN. My studies, careers and jobs have always touched on tech.

I remember 1968 seeing an IBM set of machines that took up a massive room in a hospital complex. The other side of the long corridor was empty. That was where the old machine has been. In 1975 my dad bought a calculator for $75. In 1982 I bought a programmable calculator for $45. In 1983 I believe my sister got an IBM 80800? Nomenclature? I think my parents spent $3000 or so as her graduation gift. She wasn’t getting a car.


I find that chart amazing and a little disconcerting. Almost a third of the households in the USA still have a land line. AT&T with the encouragement of the FCC had a goal of removing all landlines by 2020.

Maybe a third if the households should still have incandescent bulbs, cars with manual chokes or outhouses.

As far as I am concerned, if a house is
connected to the electrical grid, it should have good cell coverage. Anything less should generate a response, think Game of Thrones.



I keep a cheap “burner” phone in my car. It comes in handy if I am stranded by the side of the road or get into an accident. Also, if I do get into an accident, most phones now have cameras, so I can take pictures of the accident scene, including pictures of the damage to the other party’s car, to show the insurance company.

Costs about $100 a year to keep the number active plus many more minutes than I will ever use. Having that peace of mind is worth it to me. Other than for emergencies, the phone just sits in my car’s glove compartment, turned off. I charge it up every month or so, to keep the battery topped off, and to make sure the phone still works and I can make calls.

  • Pete