Smartphone: friend or financial foe?

smartphone iphone
Owners of iPhones don't mind showing them off. (photo by Florin Hatmanu)

By Alexis Bean, Rob Gosselin, and Sammi Gorman
 There’s no question that smartphones are popular, and Fitchburg State University seems to be especially open to this technology.
According to a recent Nielsen survey, about 25 percent of Americans own smartphones. But a recent on-campus poll of 42 FSU students revealed that 45 percent of those surveyed own them.
According to the FSU poll, the top smartphone across campus is the iPhone, as it is for the nation, with Androids not far behind.
While the smartphone trend has hit colleges, and the rest of the nation, in full force, the question remains: Are smartphones worth the cost?
In the FSU survey, the No. 1 use for a smartphone was said to be texting – not using applications, but good old-fashioned texting. The second biggest use was making calls. After that came email and Internet access.
So why do so many members of the Fitchburg State University community own smartphones if they could opt out for a cheaper cell-phone plan for the same uses? “It’s about having the option,” says FSU senior Kevin McDowell, who owns an Android. “Even though I mainly use my cell phone for texting and phone calls, I do use it for other features. Instead of having to own an iPod, a GPS, and a cell phone, I own all three in one. I do not use the added features every day, but I use them enough to make it worth owning a smart phone.”
Is having the World Wide Web at one’s fingertips worth a small fortune? With prices from $30 to $80 per month higher than a regular cell-phone plan, smartphones are an expensive temptation. Samantha Sexer, a junior at FSU, claims her smartphone cannot replace her laptop. “I had a smartphone about a year ago, but I got rid of it, it was too expensive,” Sexer said. “I hardly used my smartphone for the Internet or applications.”
Many college students are in Sexer’s position; they know the smartphone is great for a lot of things, but if they’re struggling to save money, they realize it might be beneficial to have a regular cell phone without a data plan. Having a $50 bill for a messaging phone, as opposed to an $80 smartphone bill, adds up to a savings of $360 a year.