11 everyday things the iPhone made obsolete

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The first iPhone was released in 2007, and since then it has changed the way we live. The iPhone — and smartphones in general — have collapsed so many things we use every day into a little block made of metal and glass.

They have changed our notion of what a phone should be. It's no longer enough to simply make calls: A smartphone has to be an all-purpose mini computer we can use to direct our lives.

In making our lives easier, smartphones have made many things obsolete. From alarm clocks to mirrors, here are 11 things that have been replaced by the iPhone.


Flickr/Maglite Flashlight

Why would you carry a big clunky flashlight when you can just swipe up, then press one button? And having a flashlight app on your phone comes in handy when you drop your keys or run into an unexpected dark patch.

Watches, alarm clocks, stopwatches, timers

Flickr / Alex

Every type of timekeeping device, it seems, was killed by the smartphone. Of course now we are trying to bring back watches as wearable computers, but mechanical watches have been jewelry for a long time.

Maps, GPS devices

Flickr/Kitty Terwolbeck

Google Maps had made expansive paper maps feel quaint by the time smartphones came along. But even before the iPhone, there was a time when you had to print out the Google Maps directions and bring them in the car with you.

Now even car GPS units feel old-school. Unless you don't have reliable cell service, you can just mount your smartphone on the dash.

Paper checks

Flickr / Iris

Mobile payment apps like Venmo make paper checks seem like a waste of trees, though some of them lack the same degree of security.

And if you do have to deal with a paper check, smartphones have made it easier than even to deposit it. Most banks now have apps that let you simply take a picture of your check, and then have it appear in your account.

Audio recorders


Having an external microphone is still a good idea for professional recording, but if you just need to keep a copy of what someone is saying, use your phone. The built-in Voice Memos app on the iPhone gets you high enough quality audio to do things like make a podcast.


Kate Sumbler/Flickr Creative Commons

That front-facing camera on your phone does more than take selfies. It can be used as a mirror to check if you have something in your teeth or whether your hair is messed up. Or just check your reflection in the smartphone's glass display with the screen turned off.

Paper tickets

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More and more places are accepting electronic tickets, from music shows to movie theaters. The biggest kink that still needs to be worked out is that you sometimes have to annoyingly turn up your phone's brightness to get the ticket scanner to register. But never forgetting your ticket is incredibly convenient.

Cameras, video cameras

Product Displays At The CP+ Camera And Imaging Expo

The footage and photos that can be shot on smartphones like the iPhone 6 (and iPhone 6s) is truly stunning. One indie film shot only on an iPhone 5s was picked up at Sundance Film Festival this year.

iPods, CD players, radios

Flickr/James Chao

Apple was in the strange position of watching one of its marquee products cannibalize another when the iPhone began to make the iPod obsolete. Especially with the move toward streaming apps like Spotify, there is less and less reason to have what is, basically, a portable hard drive full of music.

And if you want the radio experience, you can simply tune in to Pandora, or use one of the apps that lets you listen to thousands of radio stations across the country.

Fees for long-distance calls, basic text messaging

Flickr / Pat (Cletch) Williams

With the numerous messaging apps out there that run on "data," there's no reason you should have to pay for text messages. Similarly, the ability to call over Wi-Fi means no more crazy long-distance phone charges.

The idea of a phone as a stand-alone device

Telephones for sale at Talat Rot Fai
Smartphones aren't just phones; they're more like mini computers in our pockets, with the phone functionality an app like any other. And as time goes on, the iPhone has become less of a phone and more of a computer. We listen to music, order dinner, hail a cab, and communicate on social media. Oh, and sometimes we make a phone call.

RELATED: See the visual history of the iPhone:
Evolution of the iPhone
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11 everyday things the iPhone made obsolete
Apple CEO Steve Jobs holds up an Apple iPhone at the MacWorld Conference in San Francisco, Jan. 9, 2007. Apple Inc., on a tear with its popular iPod players and Macintosh computers, is expected to report strong quarterly results Wednesday. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)
Jeff Gamet, from the Internet magazine The Mac Observer, looks at the new Apple iPhone at MacWorld Conference and Expo in San Francisco, Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2007. Apple Inc. is a tight ship when it comes to corporate secrets, regularly suing journalists and employees who leak data about upcoming products. Although few people outside of Apple's headquarters knew product specifications for the iPhone before its announcement, the device was widely anticipated. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)
An advertisement for the upcoming iPhone is displayed in the Apple store in SoHo, Friday, June 22, 2007 in New York. The long anticipated gadget hits the market on June 29th. (AP Photo/Dima Gavrysh)
A television journalist holds the Apple iPhone, the only one given to a journalist in Los Angeles before it went on sale, as he interviews people waiting to buy the iPhone outside the Apple store at The Grove in Los Angeles, Friday, June 29, 2007. After six months of hype, thousands of people Friday will get their hands on the iPhone, the new cell phone that Apple Inc. is banking on to become its third core business next to its moneymaking iPod players and Macintosh computers. Customers were camped out at Apple and AT&T stores across the nation. The gadget, which combines the functions of a cell phone, iPod media player and wireless Web browser, will go on sale in the United States at 6 p.m. in each time zone. (AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian)
A customer holds a demonstration Apple iPhone during the release of the Apple product and the opening of a new Apple Store at Woodland Hills Mall in Tulsa, Okla., on Friday, June 29, 2007. More than 500 people waited in line. (AP Photo/David Crenshaw)
Apple Inc. CEO Steve Jobs announces the new Apple iPhone 3G during the keynote speech at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference in San Francisco, Monday, June 9, 2008. Jobs announced innovations to the Mac OS X Leopard operating system and an enhanced iPhone. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)
An older Apple iPhone is shown next to an advertisement for the new iPhone 3G at an AT&T store in Palo Alto, Calif., Tuesday, July 8, 2008. To sustain the momentum of the original iPhone's success and keep fickle consumers and Wall Street happy, Apple Inc. needs a dramatic second act with the next generation of iPhones, which roll out Friday with faster Internet access and lower retail prices. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)
A shop worker holds the new Apple iPhone 3GS in Barcelona, Spain, Friday, June 19, 2009. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)
Apple CEO Steve Jobs smiles as he uses the new iPhone 4 at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference, Monday, June 7, 2010, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)
Apple iPhone at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference, Monday, June 7, 2010 in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)
FILE - In this Feb. 10, 2011 file photo, Chris Cioban, manager of the Verizon store in Beachwood, Ohio, holds up an Apple iPhone 4G. Verizon Wireless, the nation's largest cellphone company, announced Tuesday, June 12, 2012, that is dropping nearly all of its phone plans in favor of pricing schemes that encourage consumers to connect their non-phone devices, like tablets and PCs, to Verizon's network. (AP Photo/Amy Sancetta, File)
Apple CEO Tim Cook during an introduction of the new iPhone 5 in San Francisco, Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2012. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)
People queue outside the Apple Store as the iPhone 5 mobile phones went on sale in Amsterdam, Netherlands, Friday Sept. 28, 2012. (AP Photo/Peter Dejong)
In this photo taken Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2013, new plastic iPhones 5C are displayed during a media event held in Beijing, China. Last year, eager buyers in Beijing waited overnight in freezing weather to buy the iPhone 4S. Pressure to get it — and the profit to be made by reselling scarce phones — prompted some to pelt the store with eggs when Apple, worried about the size of the crowd, postponed opening. Just 18 months later, many Chinese gadget lovers responded with a shrug this week when Apple Inc. unveiled two new versions of the iPhone 5. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
A customer examines a new iPhone 5s at the Nebraska Furniture Mart in Omaha, Neb., on Friday, Sept. 20, 2013, the day the new iPhone 5c and 5s models go on sale. (AP Photo/Nati Harnik)
Apple CEO Tim Cook discusses the new Apple Watch and iPhone 6 on Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2014, in Cupertino, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Two new iPhone 6 are photographed at the Apple store in the city centre of Munich, Germany, Friday, Sept. 19, 2014. A large crowd had gathered in front of the Apple store ahead of the offical launch of Apple's new iPhone. (AP Photo, dpa,Peter Kneffel)
FILE - In this Sept. 19, 2014 file photo, a customer looks at the screen size on the new iPhone 6 Plus while waiting in line to upgrade his iPhone at a Verizon Wireless store in Flowood, Miss. A newly-discovered glitch in Apple's software can cause iPhones to mysteriously shut down when they receive a certain text message. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis, File)
Apple CEO Tim Cook introduces the new iPhone 6s and 6s Plus during an Apple media event in San Francisco, California on September 9, 2015. Apple unveiled its iPad Pro, saying the large-screen tablet has the power and capabilities to replace a laptop computer. AFP PHOTO/JOSH EDELSON (Photo credit should read Josh Edelson/AFP/Getty Images)

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