Sometimes being online all the time and in constant contact with our friends, family and loved ones can feel like overload.
It can be relaxing to take a break from your smartphone every now and then, just to get some respite from the intensity of life in the information age.
Indeed, those old enough to remember life before the smartphone – or even the internet – may get nostalgic for a time when we didn't have 24/7 access to so much information at our fingertips.
However, there is no denying that the world is now a different place from the one it was before Steve Jobs announced the original iPhone back in 2007 and popularised touchscreen devices.
With this in mind, we thought it would be timely to offer a reminder of some of the ways in which smartphones have improved our lives – and the conveniences we wouldn't want to be without.
Good quality cameras
The benefits of having a camera with you at all times cannot be overstated. No matter where you are, you or a friend will be on hand to immortalise a moment forever.
With old film cameras, people would understandably tend to be much more selective over what they would capture on camera. While it is easy to mock the deluge of photos on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, it gives us access to a much broader library of treasured memories.
The fact that smartphone cameras are usually of a decent standard should not be overlooked either. You always have the option of spending hundreds on professional-grade equipment and get a much richer image, but the images taken on smartphones are more than adequate for most people's needs.
Keeping you safe
Walking home at night can be made safer with the assistance of a smartphone. For starters, the tracking feature of the handset itself will be able to keep a record of where you are. Extra protection can be offered by personal safety apps like bSafe, which has a 'Follow Me' live GPS trace so your friends will know you got home okay.
Of course, it is better to be safe than sorry – and instead of walking home alone at night you can always take a taxi, which can easily be ordered through dedicated apps.
The ability to do so many different things in one place – from checking your email, texting friends, checking the weather and making appointments to doing the big food shop – is not to be underestimated.
A study from market research firm Harris Interactive found that all of this convenience can save people around 88 minutes a day – building up to an impressive total of 22 days per year. This does not mean we are just more efficient workers, as lots of fun is being had with this extra time – such as playing your favourite mobile games.
Convenience of information access
Access to the internet via a smartphone means it really does feel like the entirety of human knowledge is available at your fingertips.
This is convenient for settling trivial dinner arguments such as who directed a certain film or what the average height of a person is, or for conducting more important research.
It also means you can find out what time the last bus home is, or what's on at the cinema without having to make a trek across town or returning home.
Changing how we think
All of this really does change the way we think. A study published in the American Association for the Advancement of Science journal Science found that constant access to so much information means we are more likely to remember how we can access information, rather than various bits of trivia.