Smartphones have become the ultimate tool of everyday convenience and instant gratification. We get news and entertainment on demand. We order food at the tap of a button, manage our money without having to go to the bank, browse stores without leaving our homes. We make free phone calls over WiFi, send free text messages all day and stalk our crushes from the safety of our bedrooms. We are in the digital lap of luxury, and life is good.
It's easy to forget what a powerful, almost magical tool a phone is — and all the times it's saved you in a pinch. Here are five situations when that wondrous thing in your hand isn't a luxury, it's a lifesaver.
1. When you have to improvise.
You've spent the last five days preparing for this presentation. You've practiced in front of the mirror. You've got your power suit on. You're going to win this. You're at the client's office, five minutes from walking through the door, when you realize your laptop is on its last 5% of battery, and you've left your power cord at home.
Ten years ago, you might've rushed around in a panic, asking anybody and everybody for a charger. Maybe you'd try to reschedule your meeting at the last minute. You would've choked. Today, things are different. You simply pull out your phone, download the presentation from the cloud, and walk through the door. You'd look for the IT guy setting up the projector, email it to him to "make sure it was in the right format" and boom! You got this.
2. When your wheels won't go.
No matter how careful a driver you are, inevitably at some point you're going to find yourself in a Target parking lot with a dead battery. Face palm. According to AAA, millions of motorists encounter an automotive breakdown every year. Having car trouble is scary, but having a breakdown in a wireless dead zone can be downright terrifying. It could be the middle of winter, or late at night, and if you're in a rural area another car may not find you for hours. When you've had an accident, not being able to call for help could be the difference between life and death. In these kinds of situations, having a secure connection is absolutely essential. In fact, the first item on AAA's Problem Prevention Checklist is "cell phone with charger."
3. When you're alone in the dark.
A powerful phone won't change the fact that many of us find ourselves in threatening situations or vulnerable to attack while walking alone at night. But a phone can be an essential alarm system. In addition to talking with friends or family to maintain an open channel until you feel safe, you can also use an array of free safety apps, like bSafe, Guardly, Circle of 6 and Kitestring, which can be triggered with a tap of a button, calling and texting a number of people instantly with one's location and an emergency message.
4. When you're a stranger in a strange land.
You've bought your flights, you've booked your hotel, you've landed at the airport, but you have no idea where you actually are. Whether it's a business trip or a vacation, we constantly rely on our phones to figure out how to get to where we are going. In a new city, it's our way of letting loved ones know we've arrived safely, or finding our way back home when we get lost. Wandering down the wrong street in a foreign country can be a dangerous exercise so being able to know exactly where you are at all times is a real relief.
5. When the water breaks.
After months of anticipation, going into labor can be an exciting time. For expecting mothers, however, having your water break means calling the OB-GYN or midwife, calling the father, calling a cab, calling the hospital, calling one's parents — you get the idea — all while weathering contractions and an unusually large belly. Let's just hope your partner isn't planning on live-streaming the event.