Why You Need a Phone for Your Phone

VP of UX & Optimization
Published 11/26/13
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Have you seen this thing? HTC has created an accessory for your phone that is… a smaller phone. No, really! It’s like a little handset with physical number keys and a little LCD screen. It’s just like your old Nokia phone, except it doesn’t have that snake game and it’s not really a phone. Instead, the HTC Mini+ just connects to your phone via Bluetooth so you can use it to make calls. Calls from your ACTUAL cell phone, the one that you’re carrying in your pocket, purse or briefcase.

The Mini+ was roundly lambasted as an exercise in excess – like a remote for your TV remote when you’re too lazy to get up and find the real remote. But the Mini+ isn’t a practical joke; what you’re looking at is the future. The future not only of mobile, but of computing in general. The Mini+ is one of the first concrete signs of the coming convergence of mobile and what we used to call “desktop” computing.

There are several simultaneous trends going on here:

First: Size.

Smartphones are getting bigger, no doubt about that. The success of Samsung’s Note series has led nearly every other manufacturer to build bigger and bigger phones – LG’s G2 is 5.2 inches diagonally, Huawei’s Ascend Mate is 6.4 inches, HTC’s One Max is 6.5 inches and, not to be outdone, Samsung went ahead and built an even bigger phone than the Note, the whopping Galaxy Mega at 6.6 inches diagonally.

And while carrying around a huge screen has advantages, they’re only advantages when you’re actually making use of the screen. When it’s in your pocket, it feels like you’re lugging a 2x4. When you’re on a call, it feels like you’re talking into a flip-flop. And that’s where the Mini+ comes in. Now you can keep your giant phone in your bag, and still make and receive calls.

Second: Speed.

I’m sure you’ve heard the aphorism that the average smartphone now carries more computing power than it took to put a man on the moon. But that undersells the story by a considerable amount. Apollo 11 made do with computers no more powerful than a pocket calculator. Your average smartphone, on the other hand, carries significantly more computing power than your average laptop did just eight years ago. Samsung’s latest Note 3 smartphone features a quad-core processor running at 2.3Ghz, 3GB of RAM and 32GB of storage. Compare that to your 2005 laptop – running at maybe 1.5Ghz, 512MB of RAM and a 30GB hard drive. Mobile computing is rapidly approaching the point where your “phone” will be faster than your “computer” – and that’s the point at which your phone will become your computer.

Third: Device proliferation.

In 2005, you traveled with a flip phone and a laptop. Today, your average business traveler is carrying a smartphone, a tablet, an e-reader, a laptop, spare batteries, smart watches, wireless speakers and a rat’s nest of cords. Who wants to carry all of that?

In just a few short years, you won’t be carrying a tablet, a laptop and a phone. You’ll just be carrying your own personal computer, in your pocket.

If you could replace everything with fewer or smaller devices, wouldn’t you? So here’s where this is all headed: In just a few short years, you won’t be carrying a tablet, a laptop and a phone. You’ll just be carrying your own personal computer, in your pocket. Heck, the future almost happened earlier this year - check out Ubuntu’s Edge, a concept product that turned from a phone into a full-blown computer when you plugged it into a monitor and a keyboard. The Edge campaign on Indiegogo was record-breaking, with over 25,000 backers and nearly 13 million dollars pledged, but unfortunately failed to raise its goal.

One way or another though, the future isn’t far off. And in it you’ll connect your pocket computer to whatever peripherals you need, everything from boring old keyboards and mice to HDTVs to wearable technology like Samsung’s Gear watch and Google’s Glass HUD. So don’t think of the HTC Mini+ as a phone for your phone – think of it as a phone handset for your mobile personal computer, which is exactly what you’ll be carrying in your future pocket, purse or briefcase.

Want to start now? We’re just about there – Samsung’s Smart Dock Multimedia Hub lets you plug your phone easily into USB peripherals like a keyboard and mouse, an HDTV and a stereo. Bam! Instant computer whether you’re at home or in a hotel room.