How I feel about the phone these days as a Gen-X in the 20s
Phones are good for everything except talking on them.
I'll first that that yes, I'm calling this decade the 20s. We're over 20 years into it now, nobody confuses the 2020s with the 1920s, so it's okay.
Do I call the 2010s the tens? Yes. But for years 2000-2009, I do call those the two-thousands (or 2000s in written form for short) because referring to them as "oughts" is just weird.
Also, small complaint: It annoys me whenever anybody says "year two thousand" when referring to that year specifically. Just say 2000.
We're never getting back how awesome phone conversations were in the late 90s
I'm not referring to what people talked about in the 90s but rather the feel and the sound of the conversations.
Landline phone tech for the home had its peak in the late 90s and early 2000s. This was a time when the sound quality was as good as it ever got on the old style systems. Absolutely no lag from when you spoke to when the other person heard you and vice versa. The phone designs were amazing, and the handsets had great battery life. Speakerphones even on cheap home systems were great too.
For the cordless systems, gone were the retracting antennas, replaced with small stubby ones. And the wireless frequency that worked best was 2.4GHz. There was a short period where 5.6GHz was promoted as an "upgrade", but it was terrible compared to 2.4. The range you got on 2.4GHz was incredible. Talk anywhere in the house, outside in the yard, basement, wherever. It always worked.
In addition to that, it was not uncommon to keep a phone for 5 to 10 years before replacing it. There was simply nothing to break on them.
The modern smartphone: Very usable with data OFF
I use a prepaid smartphone service that allows me to receive normal calls and texts using no data. Whenever I need data for some internet thing when not at the house, I can enable it temporarily. When at the house, I just use Wi-Fi when needed.
The reason I mention this is because there are some carriers out there that require data to be on all the time just for phone service to work. I hope it's a good long while before I ever have to deal with a phone that requires always-on data, as I would find that genuinely annoying.
I like texting, taking photos and making videos
These are the 3 things I like best about the smartphone. I use the Textra app for my texts (it's amazing.) It's easy to make high quality videos. Where photos are concerned, I really like that I can geotag them.
Before the smartphone, I had been searching for a point-and-shoot digital camera that had GPS specifically to geotag photos. I never bought one because they were way too expensive, and they still are. For whatever stupid reason, getting a point-and-shoot camera with geotagging is a big ask. On the phone however, it's built right in.
Granted, a camera like a Canon PowerShot or a Panasonic LUMIX takes far superior photos when compared to a phone... but the phone makes geotagging, storing and sharing of photos stupidly easy.
I don't like talking on the phone anymore
It's been years since I've had any sort of long conversation on the phone. Once you go smartphone, long voice conversations just isn't a doable thing for several reasons.
There's no way to comfortably hold a plastic brick (the phone) for a long period of time.
The sound quality is terrible.
I refuse to use an ear bud because it makes my ear sore quickly, and I don't like having a speaker physically in my ear. Yes, I've tried several different types of buds. All terrible.
All smartphones have "overtalking" problems where if you use the microphone and speaker on the handset itself, you're guaranteed to talk over the person you're conversing with and them talk over you. This is because the mic and speaker on smartphones, including expensive ones, are just cheap tinny little things. The phone tries to smooth it out with audio processing, but nope, it's bad. That's just the way it is.
Use the speakerphone? Forget it. Same overtalking problem, only louder.
Because of all this crap, I can only stand to talk on a smartphone for maybe 5 minutes.