Smartphones really are pretty amazing when you think about it. We’ve become totally used to them (maybe even reliant on them) even though the first proper smartphone was only around 12 years ago. Love it or hate it, they have become part of the fabric of our society. I can still remember when I felt really self-conscious walking down the street with a non-smart mobile phone, back in the days when most phone owners had Nokias. To even own a mobile phone was a novelty. Now you look strange if you don’t have a phone and even young children have smartphones that can do what desktop computers could barely do 20 years ago. My first smartphone was the awesome, and now cringeworthingly retro, Sony Ericsson P900. This thing looked like the bees knees (to me) back in the mid 2000s and it could do some pretty cool things (with a stylus mind you).

Current day phones have progressed so much and have apps that let you do pretty much anything on them. There are weather apps to check when it’s going to rain, snoring apps to measure how much you snore, betting apps to let you put a wager on the football. Apps that help make you healthy, apps that educate, apps that organise your life. It’s all there in these little devices we keep in our pockets.

Here is an updated list of all the main things that I can do on my smartphone to fuel my retro passions. Some of them are obvious but others might be slightly more obscure.

Lists – Simplenote and Google sheets
I am a list junkie. I love making lists. One form of lists I like is to make a list of ideas that I have, or to dos that I need to remember. Writing these down in a list helps me know that I’ve got it out of my head and somewhere that I can refer to later. Quite often this is a list of retro items I want to hunt down, or what retro games I own for a particular console etc. But the other forms of lists are more obscure. I might suddenly feel the urge to make of a list of my favourite Arnold Schwarzenegger movies (and then I will have to rank them of course). I found a list recently that I made a few years back and it was my favourite swords in movies. Very random, and I need an outlet for this stuff to get it out of my head. Simplenote and Google Sheets are both good vehicles for this addiction that I’m cursed with.

Another personality trait/weakness is that I simply cannot watch a movie or a show without resorting to IMDB to work out where I recognise someone from. And it seems that I recognise, or think I recognise, someone in nearly everything I watch. The phrase “How I do know her” or “Who is that guy” will be said at least once by myself or my wife whenever we watch something. IMDB is such a quick and easy way to find out who that person is. How on earth did we survive before it? Did we just have to sit with our questions and go to bed still wondering who that person was?! And it really does seem to be that Murder, She Wrote is the one show that absolutely any American over the age of 50 was in. 

Now we’re onto the big one. This is probably the app where I do most of my retro activities. Many a late night, when I can’t get to sleep, you can find me scrolling on eBay, looking for retro bargains. I’ve got a list (obviously – see above) of all the retro items that I’m still hunting, and whenever I feel a bit down, or I feel I’ve deserved a treat, or perhaps I just can’t sleep, I’ll have a wee search for one the things I’m looking for. I know some people say that hunting for things on eBay isn’t like finding things out in the wild, and I get that, but I still enjoy the hunt on eBay. Particularly when you find an item you like and then click onto that seller and see what other cool things they are selling. It almost feels like you’re stepping into the back room of their shop or stepping up into their attic to see what goodies lie within. Exciting stuff.

Social Media – Instagram, Twitter and YouTube
Obviously a lot of time is also spent on Instagram, Twitter and YouTube. A lot of people don’t like the negativity on these social platforms but I have drastically curated my feeds over the years and now only really follow people that are positive and garner positive or constructive comments. And the majority of those are retro based channels. That keeps my social media perusing to nice, positive things that I can enjoy while staying away from the negative side of those platforms.

One game that I really enjoy playing, and is perfect for playing on a phone, is chess. Perhaps it’s not technically retro, although it could be argued that it’s the most retro game of all. It’s certainly retro to me as I learnt it when I was about 8 years old and mostly played in my youth, until I restarted playing a couple of years ago. I recently discovered that chess was really making a comeback in a big way because of all the chess YouTubers and Twitch streamers and because of all the awesome chess apps. So I got back into it and it reminds me of my early days of playing chess in my youth. The main apps I use are and LiChess but I also found the Play Magnus and the Magnus Trainer very useful for learning.

Retrogaming apps
In terms of retro videogame apps there are just so many to choose from now. You can get officially licensed games such as Sega classics Sonic the Hedgehog, Streets of Rage, Golden Axe, Crazy Taxi and more. But if you have an Android phone there are loads of other options where you can load your own Roms into arcade MAME emulators or emulators for every console and computer the ZX Spectrum to the Game Boy. I mean seriously, if you can do this stuff on your phone then when would you ever need to leave the house again?