Is having a smartphone mandatory in 2021?


For many people, a smartphone is essential, as necessary as food and water. Others, however, may not see the call. According to CNBC, for example, Warren Buffett used a flip phone for years before finally switching to an iPhone in 2020. This raises an important question: is a smartphone a necessity in 2021? There are several strong arguments to be made in favor of smartphones as a requirement, although offering one may not be realistic for everyone.

Key points to remember

  • It is estimated that 85% of Americans use a smartphone, according to Pew Research.
  • Smartphones can be needed for a variety of reasons, from online security to accessing beaches and other recreational areas to public transportation.
  • Owning a smartphone can be difficult for low-income households, although there are programs that can provide financial assistance.
  • As more and more people live digitally, it stands to reason that smartphones will only become more important in the future.

Ownership and use of the smartphone

Smartphone ownership has increased dramatically over the past decade. According to the Pew Research Center, 35% of Americans owned a smartphone in 2011. By 2021, that figure has risen to 85%.

Men and women tend to own smartphones in equal numbers, although Americans under 65 are more likely to have one. Ninety-six percent of young adults aged 18 to 29 own a smartphone, compared to 61% of adults 65 or older. Smartphone users also tend to live in urban areas rather than the suburbs or countryside, have a college degree, and earn $ 75,000 per year or more.

So what, exactly, do people use their smartphones for? Some of the more common uses include:

  • Social media check
  • Play games or use other apps
  • Make phone calls or send text messages

Apart from this, people can also use smartphones to pay their bills, check their bank account balances, manage their budgets, send money to friends and family, or shop online in their stores. favorite. The typical person checks their phone every five minutes, and 75.4% of Americans consider themselves addicted to their phones. Still, does that mean they are needed?


The percentage of Americans who rely on their smartphones as their sole source of internet access at home, according to the Pew Research Center

The smartphone case as a requirement

It’s easy to say that smartphones are a luxury rather than a necessity. After all, people have managed to live without them for centuries. Nonetheless, this rules out a number of changes that have taken place in the way people work and live.

Smartphones in the workplace

The increasingly digital nature of the workplace presents the first example of why smartphones should be seen as a requirement rather than an option. As more companies use cloud technology to store information and online platforms to keep workers connected, there is a need to strengthen security protections. Innovations such as two-factor authentication (2FA), also known as “multi-factor authentication (MFA)”, make this possible.

The MFA allows employees, including telecommuters, to securely access digital platforms by entering a code, and a key requirement to use it is a smartphone. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has resulted in an increase in work-from-home activity, 49% of companies said they have introduced AMF to secure information.

Employees interested in remote working and independent contractors who work from home are likely to need smartphones. Aside from security, smartphones can also be essential for staying connected at work through messaging apps or tools like Zoom.

If your employer requires that you have a smartphone for the work you pay for, ask if any of these expenses are reimbursable.

Smartphones for leisure and travel

Smartphones can also be considered a requirement if you are traveling or participating in recreational activities. For example, the state of New Jersey now issues beach access badges through the Viply app. This allows travelers and tourists to bypass long lines to get seasonal, daily or weekly beach passes.

Disney World visitors can download an app that allows them to book and pay for contactless meals, navigate the park, and access MagicBand features. The app also offers direct room services while staying at Disney hotels.

Besides these types of apps, there are other apps that can make traveling easier. For example, if you are taking a flight, your airline may give you the option of downloading a mobile boarding pass so that you can skip the lines. More and more hotel chains are also offering mobile applications that allow you to check in and pay via your smartphone instead of the front desk.

The New York City Metropolitan Transport Authority (MTA) plans to replace fare cards for subways and buses with the OMNY payment system by 2023. Its use will require either a contactless credit, debit, or prepaid card, or a smartphone or a connected watch equipped with a digital wallet. If you don’t have one or the other, you won’t be able to use public transportation in New York City.

Smartphones for health

Health is another area where smartphones are becoming more and more important. Telehealth apps, for example, allow people to chat live with a doctor without leaving their homes. These types of apps can be vital for someone who has lingering health issues but can’t always see a doctor in person. You can also use a laptop or desktop computer for telehealth, of course.

But you can’t use one if you want a vaccination passport. These are also becoming increasingly common as the number of people vaccinated against COVID-19 increases. In New York State, for example, residents can show proof of vaccination with the Excelsior Pass.

While vaccine passports have not been nationally mandatory – and some states choose not to require them – they may be required to enter private places. For example, you may need to show proof of vaccination in order to access sporting events, concerts, Broadway theaters, and college campuses. In these situations, a smartphone would be required to use a vaccination passport application.

Showing proof of vaccination may be a requirement when traveling overseas to countries outside of the United States

Paying the price of a smartphone

While it’s fair to say that a smartphone is a necessity for many people, affording one isn’t always easy. Smartphones can come with a number of costs, including:

  • The cost of purchasing the phone itself
  • Accessories, such as bluetooth headsets and car chargers
  • Insurance protection plans
  • Monthly benefit

On average in 2020, the typical cell phone plan costs $ 113 per month. The global average selling price of smartphones is $ 363 in 2021, and high-end smartphone models can cost $ 1,000 or more. For someone living on a tight budget, these numbers can be intimidating. So, aside from wondering if a smartphone is a requirement in 2021, it’s also important to ask how the average person can afford to pay for it.

Here are some of the best ways to save money on mobile phone service:

  • Buy a used phone instead of a new one
  • Opt for a prepaid phone service instead of a plan
  • Choose the lowest possible smartphone service plan
  • Share the cost with others through a family plan

Renting a smartphone could also save money and offer another benefit – the ability to upgrade to a new phone every year or so. In this sense, renting a phone is similar to renting a car. At the end of the lease term, you can choose a new phone, keep the one you own and sign a new lease, or buy the phone directly.

Smartphone financing can be an option if you want to buy a personal phone. You can find it from retailers like Best Buy, cell phone service providers, cell phone manufacturers like Samsung and Apple, or through the buy now, pay later (BNPL) platforms. With BNPL, you get an installment loan at the point of sale instead of using a traditional installment loan or credit card. Any of these options may be worth exploring if you’re looking for a way to finance the purchase of a phone while saving money on interest.

If you are interested in BNPL options such as Klarna or Affirm, be sure to compare financing terms and credit requirements first to find the best fit.

The bottom line

If you regularly use a smartphone, you may not think much about its central role in your everyday life. Whether you see smartphones as a necessity or not, it’s clear that dependence on them continues to increase at work, at home, and when traveling. It’s possible to get hold of a smartphone, although it may take some planning to find a phone and service plan that fits your budget.

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