Are feature-phones cheaper? Now, with $100 smartphones, the question becomes very tough. Either you're ready to pay $100 (or more) for a smartphone without a contract, or you go for a $1 phone with a contract. In both cases, that phone can now be a smartphone...
Buy a case + screen-protection ($20) and don't sit on your phone. You'll be OK
Longer battery life:
Smartphones can hold a call as long as a feature phone. The main difference is that you use your smartphone for more that caling people... Thus the increase in power consumption...
Right now, phones are 50g of electronics and casing + 50g of battery. Give me a 250g phone that lasts 4 times as long (full week of "smartphone usage") anytime. I'm a big guy, I can carry it easily.
I can't talk from experience with the newest feature phones, but with the old feature phones, you either had a text/menu interface to navigate through the things you could do with it or small icons that took you 20 tries to navigate to when you wanted to click on them (weird arangements of sub-menus of icons).
Now, on your smartphone, you have big icons that you "simply" have to ram a finger into...
So, no... I don't see the point of feature phones anymore.
The screen size is one thing. But then, there is this question the whole industry is grappling with now. How big is big enough? 5-inch and smaller are now considered regular smartphones; something bigger than 7-inch are considered tablet. In between, they call it phablet. What is your big-enough screen?
You are right about it being cheaper to get a new feature phone than a new battery. The only reason I replaced my older LG a couple years ago becuase the battery wouldn't hold a charge. I replaced it with another LG flip phone and then promptly disabled the web access so I wouldn't accidently eat up the minutes on my prepaid plan.
I also have an iPod Touch which I use for apps and the camera. When the battery on my current phone dies, I might consider a smart phone but it would have to be useable out in the country. A lot of prepaid plans I've seen appear to have no service in Montana...
DMcCunney, I saw people in big cities in China carrying Samsung Galaxy everywhere. They seem to like that bigger screen. But Coolpad was also another brand I saw often. Meizu was another one -- I hear that's actualy very popular among students.
I got the impresion that 5-inch was almost a norm already a year ago; and when I was back in Shenzhen in March this year, many local chip vendors and handset companies talked about "phablet."
Here's the URL to the slideshow I put together about a year ago on China's smartphone brands.
I think we will always have ATMs and at least some number of bank branches, although I expect that as time goes on, there will be fewer branches than today. Some banks already offer lower cost checking accounts that permit only online or ATM access -- if you want to go inside a branch and work with a live human, that type of account has a higher monthly fee. E-cash stored on phones should eventually encroach upon the prepaid debit card market, and with NFC the phone can and will begin to take the place of ordinary debit & credit cards.
I was unaware that mobile banking & shopping has such a low penetration rate among smartphone users. I suspect that mistrust of the security is still a major issue for many people. As for retail shopping, e-commerce has already had a significant impact on the way brick & mortar retailers do business (just ask Best Buy). They have a challenge in addressing the problem of consumers visiting the store to look, touch and decide, then making the purchase online where they can get it cheaper. Many stores will now match internet pricing, or offer some other value proposition to persuade consumers to make the purchase there in the store rather than online. The availability of barcode scanner apps that instantly inform the user of price & availability of an item locally and online has made the smartphone a great way to save money when shopping. I'm surprised that many more consumers don't take advantage of this.
Rather than buying a Phablets i will go and buy a decent 7" tablet which i can use to read books, play games, surf and buy a decent low end smartphone or a feature phone so that i do not need to keep it on charge always. I do not know why people buy 5" smartphones as a 3" or 4" would serve the same purpose.
The nice thing about eInk displays is really low power consumption, since they require no power to maintain a screen image once it has been rendered. Users of dedicated eBook readers using eInk displays report weeks before requiring a recharge.
A phone wouldn't be quite that good, because of other power consuming activities, but it would be beyyer than other phones.
Current eInk displays and controllers can actually handle full motion video. The biggest issue will be lack of color, but for usage as a phone, that's not a drawback.