Saturday, January 29, 2011

The mobile phone dilemma

There is no denying that mobile phones are a great thing and I would not want to be without one. From their humble beginnings they first of all shrunk in size so that they became light and pocket size and now have started to grow back again as manufacturers add more and more features.

The cool ones now are the so called smart phones with their touch screens, 3g/wi-fi connections, multiple applications even satellite navigation. They are the Swiss army knife of the phone world – everything you need in just one device. You can take pictures with them, make movies, listen to music – everything your heart desires. Best of all a smart phone is great to impress your friends and colleagues with as you slip it gracefully out of your pocket.

The thing is though, I don’t need all this computing power in one device. I already have a Palm PDA to store information which I have had for years, I have a very good compact camera, I have a TomTom sat. nav. to find my way round and an iPod to listen to music with. All I really need is a phone that makes calls and which I can send the odd message from. What would I do with all these other devices if I had an all singing, dancing smart phone?

The difficulty I am having at the moment is finding a phone that is OK cool enough to be seen with but at the same time cheap enough not to worry too much about. Unlike the 20 to 30 somethings, I am not going to spend my waking hours with a phone glued to my hand as I wait for the one call per month or the odd text that I might receive I don’t really want some fancy phone that costs me an arm and a leg, I can’t warrant that sort of expense.

Finding a reasonably priced, half decent pay-as-you go phone though is becoming more and more difficult because the phone shops don’t seem to want to sell them. They either have the cheap budget ones that you would give to a child or the out of my price bracket ones.

I thought I had found a reasonable replacement for my old Spanish phone but out of the five shops I have visited that advertise it none have it in stock. Actually that is not quite true, because most did have the phone on contract for a minimum consumption of 8 Euros a month (actually 9 Euros if I want to send cheap texts to the UK). What they don’t have though is the phone outright for 59 Euros on pay-as-you-go.

If I signed for the contract, the phone would cost me a minimum of 144 Euros (or 162 Euros) and all I would get for the difference in price would be that much worth of calls or texts which I don’t actually make too many of. For Pamela, things would be a little different because she can spend as much as 20 Euros on texts in a month on her pay-as-you-go phone.

1 comment:

Pete said...

It is a dilemma Keith. On the one hand 'convergence' has been a theme for the electronics industry, but you can only go so far. On the other hand, we've got people spending four and five hundred quid on miniature tablet computers which they carry EVERYWHERE with them. They get broken, lost, dunked and flushed.

I'm reasonably happy with my work phone at the moment which is a Nokia E71. That's not bad for phone calls. It's great for texts. It's excellent for reading (not not so much sending) email. As a sat nav it's really excellent, and I actually use it as my sole sat nav device.

As a music player it's not bad. As a video camera it's weak and as a still camera it's poor.

Where it excels is that it does enough things reasonably well to be useful. It's no ipod, but I've listened to music on it. It's no kindle, but I've read a novel on it. It's no PSP, but I've played games on it. It's no SLR, but I've taken pictures with it. The great strength is that I DO carry it with me. All those other devices I need to make a point of picking up, but I've usually got a phone with me when I'm out of the house.

Now, as for your're right. Getting a 'decent' cheap phone isn't easy. Lots of people think that Nokia shot themselves in the foot with the 6230i. With GPRS, still camera, video, voice recorder, diary, currency converter and a built in tuner it does everything you actually need plus a little bit more. The battery lasts forever. It's as small as it can be whilst still being thoroughly usable, and you can get them on ebay for about a tenner. Great phones.