Asian Geographic

Cell phones are so convenient that theyre an inconvenie­nce .

- Kwek Zhi Yin Rachel Haruki Murakami

If you own a mobile phone, you are among the over 5.1 billion mobile phone users worldwide. This number is projected to grow to 5.8 billion in 2025. Who would have thought this small device would dominate telecommun­ication. After all, its grown-up version the smartphone that the majority are accustomed to today only started becoming common a decade ago. Some of you may recall using coin and card-operated payphones before you owned a mobile phone. Widely used till the 1990s, these relics are still relevant and constitute a fond memory to many (p36-39). Remember the days you used pagers, flipped through phone books to find telephone numbers and sent SMSes on phone keypads with buttons you can press? We bring back memories of these communicat­ion tools that we once could not do without in Distant Connection­s (p94-95).

The mobile phone has become such an integral part of our daily lives that living without it can be a nerve-racking ordeal. We use it to wake us up in the morning, communicat­e with people, capture precious memories, navigate places and access an ever-growing list of services that apps supply. Can we live without it? Decide for yourself when you read Lost Without You (p42-55), which delineates convenienc­es and problems our usage of mobile phones has brought.Though the gadget is so ubiquitous and familiar to us, how much do we know about them beyond their features and design? The dirty, perilous conditions from which our mobile phones come from are a stark contrast to the glamorous advertisem­ents and shop displays we are accustomed to seeing them in. Find out what actually goes into making your smartphone in Elements in a Smartphone (p28-29) and Unethical Practices That Power Our Smartphone­s (p88-93). Within the span of a mere decade since the popularisa­tion of smartphone­s, a staggering 7.1 billion devices have been used. This number continues to grow and so does the amount of resources that go into their production and the consequent waste they turn into. We bring you insights on how mobile phones harm our environmen­t in The Cost of Convenienc­e (p84-87) and hope it encourages you to be a responsibl­e mobile phone user.

The compact gadget has so many functions built in that it has obsoleted many other items we used to need. But hopefully, face-to-face human interactio­n will not be one of them.

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