a.k.a. smart phone, Internet on the go

Considered a killer app, a smartphone is a cell phone that's integrated with a data device, containing the features of a PDA and more. Think BlackBerry, think iPhone. Smartphones, which are mobile phones that act like minicomputers, can access the Web and email and a bunch of other technology features including thousands of apps. But beware of smartphone face!

Historical perspective: In a watershed moment in the history of computing, global shipments of smartphones exceeded those of PCs for the first time in 2010. As of 2011, 83% of people own a cell phone, and more than 50% use a smart phone to access the Internet. And, during 2011-2012, tech companies in the smart phone industry alone have spent as much as $20 billion on patent litigation and patent purchases—a sum equivalent to eight Mars rover missions. In 2011, for the first time, Apple and Google each spent more on patent lawsuits and purchases than on developing new products.

People love their smartphones, however, more and more studies suggest that electronic communication—unlike the face-to-face interaction it may replace—has negative consequences for mental health. One study asked college students to report on their mood five times a day: The more they had used Facebook, the less happy they were. Another study examined the impact of smartphones on relationships: People whose partners were more frequently distracted by their phones were less satisfied with their relationships, and—perhaps as a result—were more likely to feel depressed. Another study concluded that adults, distracted by their smartphones, do a lousy job of caring for their kids: The most-absorbed texters and swipers rarely looked up to check on their kids during dinnertime and answered kids in curt tones, yelled, and even kicked them under the table. Nevertheless, we can’t stop staring at our smartphones.

NetLingo Classification: Net Technology