“Normob” is defined in the Urban Dictionary as a normal mobile user. If memory serves me correctly the term started popping up on Twitter in 2008, around the time that the iPhone 3G was making its way into the hands of millions of new users around the world. Some people thought the term insulting, and called those who used it elitist—and they were probably right. But you can’t deny that there exists in the wild a large number of smartphone users who, for whatever reason, aren’t enthusiasts like us.
So today I’m putting on my snob hat and complaining about them.
The three beefs listed below are all easily correctable; I believe that it’s our duty as snobs—sorry, enthusiasts, to let our normob friends know that life with a smartphone doesn’t have to be this way. Have a look and tell me if you agree…
1. Wall Huggers
I have to concur with Samsung here; the problem is real. I must also point out that, as an Android user with an admittedly crap and very much non-removable battery on his Nexus 5, I know all too well that wall huggers aren’t just those who prefer iOS.
What really gets me is that this is so easily solved by leaving your charger at home and packing a cheap, external battery when you go out. You can buy them at every 7-11 in Hong Kong, and I’m seeing them more and more at drug stores here at home.
I mean, how can you really call a device “mobile” if it’s constantly plugged into a wall socket?
2. Cracked Screens
I get that some people don’t like phone cases. And I get that accidents happen. And I also get that a replacement for a $700 smartphone with a damaged screen isn’t necessarily in everyone’s budget. Yet I found myself aghast earlier this summer when I found myself beside someone who pulled her phone out of her expensive-looking purse, with a screen so shattered as to be completely unusable. As phones these days are pretty much all screen, I would think that a damaged glass panel would at some point affect your experience so much that it would at least warrant a repair.
3. No Data Plan
This I don’t get at all. I’ve a friend in Australia with some kind of crazy prepaid SIM where she pays something like $5 every three months. Every SMS sent incurs an additional charge so she doesn’t usually send any, and as her plan has no included data she relies entirely on the kindness of strangers with WiFi networks.
First of all, this is an incredible security risk. If you’re connected to an unsecured WiFi network there is a very real risk of having your connection intercepted by a third party via a simple tool like DroidSheep. I know this for a fact because I tested it myself, and was able to hijack the Facebook session of the IT admin for an unsecured network I found. Needless to say, said network was secured in short order.
In fact, just by having the WiFi radio running on your phone you run the risk of having the password for your home WiFi network stolen. This is done via something called a WiFi Pineapple. How it goes down is like this; when your device’s WiFi radio is on it’s basically repeating this message over and over:
“I’m searching for my home network, called xxx.”
A WiFi Pineapple will spoof your network, like this:
“Hey, I’m your home network, xxx. Give me your password and I’ll totally connect you!”
The pineapple will then log your network name and password, so that the person operating it can help themselves to your home Internet connection. At best, they’ll be leeching off your bandwidth; at worst, the police will show up at your door to inquire about something very illegal that you’ve downloaded.
Security issues aside, I also feel pretty strongly that a mobile phone without a data plan is technology squandered. Isn’t the whole point of a smartphone to bring the Internet with you wherever you go? I get that data plans are expensive, but mobile devices with only WiFi access to the Internet seem a lot less mobile to me.
Anyway, that’s my short list of normob gripes… Feel free to add yours to the list!