Mozo guides

Are smartphones vegan? Your ‘silliest’ mobile questions, seriously answered

Collage of a woman grinning to herself while a speech bubbles blooms from her phone. She's probably Googling silly questions, and that's okay!

Look, we’ve all had a weird thought or random question, especially when it comes to new technology. So in the spirit of learning and curiosity, here are your silliest mobile questions, seriously answered.

Are smartphones vegan?

A collage of a bouquet of flowers emerging from a smartphone, because they're both vegan.

It depends on how you define ‘vegan’. Unfortunately, many smartphones are made with exploitative supply chains where workers labour in appalling conditions, whether from mining raw materials or assembling parts like batteries – not to mention the impacts mining and plastic production can have on the environment. 

Some parts of smartphones can even come from or use animal products, such as casein glue (derived from dairy) or animal cholesterol in the LCD screens. However, most modern OLED screens and glues are traditionally vegan – as in, don’t use animal-derived products – it will just depend on the manufacturer. 

There are some ways to be sustainable about your smartphone use. For example, you could:

New models like the Google Pixel 7 even use 100% recycled aluminium in their casing.

Who invented the smartphone?

A collage of retro floppy disks on a red background.

The first proto ‘smartphone’ was developed by IBM computer engineer Frank Canova in the early 1990s and sold to consumers as the IBM Simon. It could send and receive calls, emails, and faxes, and supported early mobile applications like an address book, calendar, calculator, world time clock, maps, stock reports, and news. 

However, the term ‘smartphone’ wouldn’t be coined until 1995, when it appeared in an advertisement for an AT&T product. The technology would evolve into the 2000s until the introduction of the first Apple iPhone in 2007, which officially cemented the smartphone’s mainstream appeal.

Are smartphones computers?

Collage of a smartphone with a speech bubble saying

We tend not to think of a smartphone and a computer as the same thing, but they do share many features and overlap in function, and by the strictest definition, a smartphone is absolutely just a handheld computer. In fact, miniaturising early computer technology led to the creation of the first smartphone. 

However, if you tell your kid you’ve bought them a computer for Christmas and just get them a smartphone, they might be disappointed.

Can smartphones read your mind?

Collage of a shocked boy reading a smartphone, cuz it's acting as if it can read his mind.

No, smartphones can’t read your mind – but algorithmic and data tracking can sometimes make smartphones seem eerily aware, especially when it comes to advertisements. 

Companies can mine an astonishing amount of data from our everyday smartphone use, from the websites we visit to the links we click to the locations we visit – even the time of day we browse. All of this can be compiled into a general demographic profile of you that can be sold to advertisers. 

Social media apps can also track who you interact with and sell this to advertisers. So, anytime your coworkers, friends, or family members look something up, companies guess their query might also apply to you.

Do smartphones listen in on your conversations?

Collage of hands holding phones with speech bubbles.

Smartphones don’t listen in or record your verbal conversations unless the voice memo or phone app is turned on. 

However, the same answer about data and algorithms applies: if the product is free, then you are the product. ‘Free’ platforms and websites sell your information to advertisers so they can accurately target you with ad campaigns.

Do smartphones cause cancer?

Collage of a smartphone emitting static noise.

According to the Cancer Council of Australia, studies have shown that radiation exposure from short-term mobile phone use (less than ten years) isn’t significant enough to damage your DNA and cause cancer, though some evidence may suggest long-term usage accelerates the rate at which cancer develops.

However, the long-term impacts of smartphone usage and cancer haven’t been determined because not enough time has passed to study this properly. 

If you’re concerned about your smartphone causing cancer, you can invest in accessories like headphones to reduce the amount of time you hold your device against your head. Otherwise, the risk seems relatively low. Many other activities, such as sun exposure, carry a far greater risk of cancer.

Do smartphones stop charging when full?

Collage of feet emitting lightning bolts.

Smartphones don’t overcharge themselves, so they stop charging once the battery gets to a full 100%. However, power may still trickle in to keep it going if you leave your smartphone on to charge for long periods of time. 

Generally speaking, modern smartphone batteries don’t handle extremes very well, so keeping them at 100% all the time or letting them drain down to 0% can hurt your battery long-term. Instead, keep your smartphone between 30% - 90% to prolong its lifespan.

Do smartphones need antivirus software?

Hand holding a smartphone with a VPN turned on.
Photo by Dan Nelson on Unsplash.

Smartphones generally don’t require antivirus software, though you can still be vulnerable to scams, phishing, or account hacking on your mobile apps. 

The phone itself can also be hacked, though this is rare. Signs your phone may have been hacked include strange or inappropriate pop-ups, lags, sent calls or text messages not made by you, unusually high data usage, mysterious apps appearing on your home screen, and a quickly draining battery. 

If you suspect your phone has a virus, don’t plug it into another device. Switch it off and take it to an authorised retailer or repair shop. They may have to perform a factory reset to wipe the virus from the device.

Some ways to protect your smartphone from viruses and hacking include:

  • Enabling two-factor authentication on all your accounts.
  • Downloading and using a VPN app to browse the internet. 
  • Deleting, reporting, or blocking any suspicious texts from unknown numbers.

Are smartphones destroying a generation?

Millennials text on their smartphones. Collage.

Smartphones have definitely changed the way we live – for better and worse. Whether or not they’ve ‘destroyed a generation’ is too subjective to answer, but they have certainly transformed it. 

If you’re a parent with questions about the impacts of smartphones on your children, check out our smartphone and social media guide for kids.

What is my mobile phone number?

Collage of a man in a smartphone thinking of the spinning wheel of death.

A surprising amount of Australians – 1.5 million, according to a recent WhistleOut survey – don’t actually know their own phone number. Luckily, it’s fairly easy to find out. 

You can find out your phone number through your card in the Contacts app or under ‘About’ in settings. Alternatively, download the What Is My Number app or browse the webpage, and it’ll automatically detect your phone number.

Is a mobile phone bill a utility bill?

Collage of a hand scrolling on a smartphone.

A utility bill is an essential household service like water, electricity, and gas. Optional services like mobile and broadband plans aren’t generally considered utilities, though companies may refer to them as such. 

Given how vital mobile and internet services have become to our lifestyles, however, they may as well be considered a utility bill.

Are Mobile Monster, MobileCiti, and Mobile Federation legit?

Collage of a woman with a smartphone in front of recycling arrows.

Australian stores Mobile Monster and Mobile Federation both sell secondhand refurbished phones, while MobileCiti is a general mobile retailer. All three have registered ABNs, are legitimate businesses, and make decent options for getting a new or pre-loved handset. 

If you’re looking to shave money off the cost of a new smartphone with a big telco, you could potentially trade in or trade up with Telstra, Optus, or Vodafone.

Are mobile phones tax deductible?

Collage of a woman at a laptop filing her taxes.

If you use your smartphone exclusively or partially for business/work purposes, you may be able to claim it on your taxes.

Always consult a tax advisor on what is eligible for tax deductions.

Is mobile data the same as WiFi?

Collage of a woman grinning at her smartphone before a Cloud logo.

Mobile data and WiFi serve similar functions, allowing you to access the internet from your smartphone. However, mobile data uses your local cellular service (meaning you’re connected directly to a tower), while WiFi is funnelled through a router. 

WiFi and mobile data may also use similar connections (such as 5G), but your WiFi usage gets charged to your home internet plan while mobile data comes from your mobile plan.

Do mobile hotspots use more data?

Collage of a woman looking down a cavernous pink smartphone outline.

Using a mobile hotspot essentially means you’re using mobile data for internet access (such as on your laptop) instead of a WiFi router or ethernet cable. As a result, it can significantly drain your mobile data allowance. 

Even if your mobile plan allows for ‘infinite’ data, your mobile speeds may slow down after you run out of max-speed data.

Can you use mobile data on a plane?

Collage of a person grinning at their phones while a plane swoops in the background.

Most federal aviation regulations require you to switch your mobile to Airplane Mode after take-off, which prevents you from accessing your mobile data. 

However, even if you were to turn it on, most commercial airlines fly too high for you to access a stable signal from a cell tower anyway. Slow it as it is, the plane’s WiFi is your best bet for browsing.

Compare popular mobile plans below, or check out our best mobile plans hub for some award-winning recommendations.

Evlin DuBose
Evlin DuBose
Senior Money Writer

Evlin, RG146 Generic Knowledge certified and a UTS Communications graduate, is a leading voice in finance news. As Mozo's go-to writer for RBA and interest rates, her work regularly features in Google's Top Stories and major publications like