What the Tech: What’s a smartphone worth?

Local News

We have smartphones that cost over$1,000 now and I hear people saying they’re way too expensive but hear me out, smartphones, even the ones over a thousand bucks, are a great value.

To prove it, I dug up an old Radio Shack ad from 1991. It showed sale prices on a portable CD player, an alarm clock, a tape recorder, a calculator, answering machine. If you haven’t noticed anything about those gadgets yet, let me help: a smartphone can do them all. All of these tech gadgets were made obsolete by smartphones.

You’ve got a powerful computer on your phone. Radio Shack offered a desktop PC for $1,600. You can find them a little less expensive than that these days, but the 1991 PC only had 20 megabytes of storage! A $1,000 iPhone 11 Pro smartphone comes with 3-thousand times more storage space. A portable CD player? You can stream every song in the world using Spotify or Apple Music.

A VHS camcorder was $800 on sale in 1991, you’ve got a more powerful video AND still camera built into your phone. Not only that, but you can edit photos and videos in a matter of minutes. Radio Shack sold headphones for about $8 in 1991? You got a free pair when you bought your phone. A desktop scanner and CB were $100 and $50 respectively but there are free apps for that today and Waze is about as good as any radar detector. Radio Shack was selling a “fuzzbuster” in 1991 for $80. Cellphones back then cost $200 and a home phone was $30 and answering machine for $50. Almost no one uses a home phone and answering machine today.

Of the 15 items in the advertisement, 14 of them are on the phone you’ve probably got in your hands right now. The products in the ad total more than $3,000 but adjusted for inflation, they’d cost nearly $7,000 today, or the price of 7 iPhone 11’s.

But do keep in mind, most all smartphones will do those things, even ones that cost under $99.

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