Friday 4 December 2015

Making the case for the StupidPhone

A couple of months ago my Smart phone started playing up, then it stopped working as a phone.

It seemed to develop a hardware problem whereby I was sending more noise than speech.

So I had to decide whether to invest £100+ in a new Smart device, or consider the alternatives.

I've probably been using a Smart phone for almost 4 years. My first was a Huawei and my second a Sony Xperia. They are interesting little toys, and at different times I've found a use for several applications including:-
  • email
  • checking the news & weather
  • taking photos
  • Asset management
  • video monitoring
  • checking wifi APs
  • as an audio test source
  • timing events (mostly computer boot times) with the stop watch

It looks like an open & shut case: I use a lot of my smart phone's functionality, at least some of the time.

Smart phone Vs. Silly phone

But are phones like my Sony "Smart phones with additional features" or really "Smart devices that have a phone function?"

A mobile phone is about communication over the phone network (e.g. voice & text). My two main problems with Smart phones is cost and battery life.

I consider Smart phones to be expensive: how many hours did you have to sit behind a desk or shovel sand to pay for yours? Quite a few of these end up broken, lost or stolen. So now work out the recurring cost of ownership, and again, how many hours you have to work to feed your habit!

When you first get your new Smart phone, you may find the battery lasts a couple of days between re-charging. After a few months, capacity will probably drop off so you need to re-charge every day, or maybe a couple of times a day.

If you have children you may have already had the problem of trying to reach them: "Yeah, sorry dad, the battery was flat/left my charger in Bob's car/I installed a new app & now it won't boot/the screen broke/it was nicked on a night out" {delete as applicable}

Consider the alternatives

Of course instead of buying a phone for £100-£200, you could just buy a simple phone for £10-£20. When my Sony stopped working as a phone, I dusted off an old dual-sim Nokia that we originally bought for African travel.

I used the Nokia for a week before I had to admit that I loved it!

  • I love the fact that you charge it up and it [seems to] last forever
  • It boots up quickly because it doesn't have a complicated operating system
  • It never crashes or shuts itself down because its more like a simple machine than a desktop computer
  • It works better inside the building where I work (i.e. I get a better signal!)

I'm still using my Sony as a smart device, for all the [mostly work related] tasks listed above. And when it finally fails for good, I'll have to decide whether to get another small smart device or maybe one with a 7inch screen.

But in the future I'll be sticking to a cheap, simple phone.

What do Ofcom say?

The British government-approved regulatory and competition authority known as Ofcom recently conducted tests and came to the conclusion that many old-style phones communicate better than their Smart cousins.

As wireless communications equipment, mobile phone design is a compromise between performance, size and looks. So its sometimes the fancy looks that get in the way of a good signal.


  1. Stupid phone all the way! Dropped my nokia dumb phone recently, and all bits that could fall off did, battery, cover, sim etc... collected it all up, reassembled and works perfectly. Am still thankful its not an iPhone.

    1. Excellent! I thought I was in a minority of one.

      I trust you will be blowing out the cobwebs from your bird box over Christmas, in preparation for the 2016 season?

  2. sort of possibly... have had power outage issue with shed, so am temporarily out of action. Could be a family of elves in there at the moment and I would be none the wiser...