Now more than ever, our smartphones are a lifeline to the outside world and families who are self-isolating.
I'll admit that one of my biggest bug bears is when one of my parents has a technology question. Mum gets a new smartphone? I won't visit for three weeks until she figures out how to use it. Dad has a new tablet? Time to send the brother-in-law, who possesses much more patience than I, down to the house for a lesson.
But in these trying times we suddenly find ourselves in, how glad I am that my parents have access to smart technology that not only helps, but is often essential, in them keeping in touch with their loved ones.
Yesterday, my mum had a video call with her two-year-old grandson that she hasn't been able to see in person for weeks due to social distancing guidelines from the Government. It was a comfort for both my mum and my nephew who is missing his granny, or 'Ninny' as he calls her.
Smartphone technology allows families to keep in touch during self-isolation. Photo: Getty Images
On Monday my dad was able to watch the latest HSE press briefing live from his phone, and keep us all updated with texts afterwards. Essential viewing for him when he can't pop out to buy his daily newspaper.
Smartphones have come a long way in just a few years. From fuelling the internet generation who simply live, work and play online, to being a lifeline to all ages during a 21st-century pandemic. The latest on the market, the Samsung Galaxy Z Flip, is testing the boundaries of what a smartphone can do.
Read more: The Flip Side: Ireland's creative entrepreneurs on what their smartphone means to them
Read more: Why you're going to see every influencer you follow with this phone
It's the first smartphone to have foldable glass, allowing it to snap shut so it's only half its size when closed. The hands-free function, where the phone has as its own tripod when in an L shape, is also an exclusive design that Samsung has launched.
IMAGE staffers, who are all working from home for as long as we need to keep social distancing, have shared here what their smartphone means to them, in good and bad times. And if this pandemic has taught me anything, it's to have a bit more patience with my parents when it comes to technology.
The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip is available in Ireland from March 27. Photo: Samsung
Due to the nature of his work, my husband is now in isolation from my 11-month-old baby and I. I can't live without my phone because it's our lifeline to him and the rest of our family. Never before have I relied so much on video calls to stay in touch. This evening we are even going to try Dad reading a bedtime story via phone! – Dominique McMullan, Digital Editor
I can't live without my Samsung because it's my connection to the outside world and it allows me to do my job well. A double-whammy. As someone with not-so-well-managed asthma, I've had to cocoon myself at home since the outbreak of Covid-19. I can't remember the last time I saw my boyfriend or my friends, so we're keeping in touch via lifeline apps such as WhatsApp and Zoom.
My phone is also a key part of my job. I spend hours reading the news and social media for potential story ideas, not to mention ringing interviewees for quotes. What's more, my smartphone is very handy in the sense that I can update image.ie remotely. As long as I have my phone and 4G, the job will get done (pandemic or not). – Grace McGettigan, Homepage Editor
Like most people at the moment, my smartphone is how I am keeping in touch and up-to-date with friends and family who I can't physically interact with. Video calls with a wine in hand have become the new Saturday night with the girls.
I am also using it for exercising - whether it's getting out for a walk or run or using apps for HIIT classes all while listening to music or a podcast. – Karen Bell, Senior Branded Content Manager
Video calls help me stay in constant contact with my friends and family who live all over the world. I will always video call my friends even if they are 10 minutes down the road as it's that bit more personable. Most importantly, my little sister moved to Canada last year and the fact that I can pick up the phone and see her in her new home and new city makes me feel that little bit closer to her. – Alec Ward, Agency Account Director
As long as I have wifi and a charger, I can do pretty much all my work from my phone. I use the recorder for interviews, I use it to take notes, despite investing in a fancy mirrorless camera, I've yet to take a photo that looks better than anything I've produced with my smartphone. I occasionally take my laptop away with me when I'm on a working trip but it rarely gets used. Everything I need is on my phone. – Katie Byrne, Digital Editor
I couldn't live without my phone because without Google Maps, I would never make it anywhere successfully, spending my whole life driving around in circles! Not ideal when working in events. – Lucy Carroll, Senior Project Manager, Events
Over the last week, my screen time has doubled and my smartphone has become central to my life in a way it never has been before – for the better. Like most people, I'm using for actual interaction these days. Cue teaching my parents how to video call so I can see them every day while they're cocooning at home. I'm actually talking to them more than ever. Podcasts and audiobooks have also kept me sane, be it listening to David O'Doherty reporting from his isolation on Achill Island, or laughing away to a David Sedaris audiobook on solo walks around the neighbourhood (laughing away to yourself is also a good way to guarantee social distancing – you look crazy!). – Bill O'Sullivan, Creative Director
My phone is important to me because it allows me to have access to so many things that I love, every second of the day. Whether it's looking for interesting new recipes to try, saving ideas and inspiration I come across, jotting down the title of a book I want to read, listening to my favourite podcasts or just having a scroll through old photos, never mind being able to contact friends and family instantly, there isn't an aspect of my life that isn't somehow tied to (and made easier by) my smartphone. – Megan Burns, Staff Writer, IMAGE Interiors & Living
The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip comes in three colours: black, gold and purple. Katie Byrne will be pleased to know you can charge it wirelessly simply by snapping the device shut and placing it on the wireless charger. Other Samsung devices, such as the Galaxy Watch and Galaxy Earbuds can also be charged this way, and from the Galaxy Z Flip itself.
The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip is available to buy in Ireland from March 27 from Three Ireland and the Samsung e-store.