11 everyday things the iPhone made obsolete

iPhone 6S and 6S Plus vs. Every iPhone Ever
iPhone 6S and 6S Plus vs. Every iPhone Ever

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 From alarm clocks to mirrors, here are 11 things that have been replaced by the iPhone.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
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
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.

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