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Anti-Smartphone Phone Launched For Technophobes 437

Posted by samzenpus
from the I-do-one-thing-and-I-do-it-well dept.
geek4 writes "A Dutch company has launched what it calls 'the world's simplest phone,' targeting users who are sick of new-generation models. Only capable of making and receiving calls, John's Phone is dubbed the world's simplest mobile phone, specifically designed for anti-smartphones users. It does not provide any hi-tech features. No apps. No Internet. No camera. No text messaging. All you have to do — in fact, all you can do — is call, talk and hang up."
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Anti-Smartphone Phone Launched For Technophobes

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  • Expensive Price (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Sonny Yatsen (603655) * on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @05:29PM (#34260778) Journal

    Is it me or does £60 to £80, or about $95 to $127 dollars seem extremely overpriced for a phone with essentially no features?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      But having no features IS a feature!

      • Re:Expensive Price (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Sonny Yatsen (603655) * on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @05:34PM (#34260878) Journal

        What I mean is, there's almost no expensive components in this phone. Heck, it doesn't even have a screen. All it needs is the simplest or the cheapest microprocessors that is capable of making a call. Yet, it still costs £60 to £80.

        • Re:Expensive Price (Score:4, Insightful)

          by rvw (755107) on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @05:51PM (#34261236)

          What I mean is, there's almost no expensive components in this phone. Heck, it doesn't even have a screen. All it needs is the simplest or the cheapest microprocessors that is capable of making a call. Yet, it still costs £60 to £80.

          I suspect it's so expensive because it's probably produced in small quantities. On the other hand, older people might just want a simple phone and are prepared to pay a little extra. For most people it's not that much extra, and in the long run this might be a really cheap deal because the buyer probably won't need the newest model in a year or so.

          My parents have a Sagem VS-1 [amazon.co.uk], which is much simpler than the standard phone nowadays, but still much more complex than this phone. I think there's a huge market for simple phones, even ones without a screen.

          • by puto (533470)
            Cheaper than a 30 dollar nokia? I doubt it.
        • by Abstrackt (609015) on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @05:54PM (#34261278)

          Look at it this way:

          Lisa: "By your logic, I could claim that this rock keeps tigers away."
          Homer: "Hmm; how does it work?"
          Lisa: "It doesn’t work; it’s just a stupid rock!"
          Homer: "Uh-huh."
          Lisa: "But I don’t see any tigers around, do you?"
          Homer: "Lisa, I want to buy your rock."

        • by icebike (68054)

          Exactly my thoughts.

          Yet here, a phone with just as few features is readily available on the market for 20 bucks [cnet.com].

          And it looks more intuitive than the phone pictured in TFA.

      • by nlawalker (804108) on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @05:51PM (#34261238)

        Copyright Apple 1976-2010

    • Very over priced. I had a TracFone that was like this. It only cost me twenty bucks around ten years ago.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by sgtstein (1219216)
      Have you ever happened to look at what a normal smart phone costs these days when unsubsidized? I do realize that the price is still high but I have a feeling that's more so due to the low sales and manufacture numbers compared to other phones.
      • by mirix (1649853)

        Right, but there are plenty of dumb phones (which still do more than this, say text, play at least midis, and might have an awful camera) for $40 or less, without contract.

        Why not get one of those and just not use the features?

      • by PitaBred (632671)

        A normal smart phone costs 3-5x unsubsidized. But that's still for a TON more features and complexity. This phone's BOM probably comes to less than $20.

    • Re:Expensive Price (Score:5, Insightful)

      by AlanMJones (595762) on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @05:33PM (#34260844) Journal
      The lack of features IS the expensive feature. Because of that the volume is low and the price per unit is higher to make it, I would expect.
      • by slick7 (1703596)

        The lack of features IS the expensive feature. Because of that the volume is low and the price per unit is higher to make it, I would expect.

        The real and original non-smartphone is the hard wired land line, with a rotary dial. The only expense is to continually pay a lease fee that pays for the installation 50 times over.

    • by gmuslera (3436)
      Its the Evian of the cellphones. Expensive, but 100% pure.
      • by tsa (15680)

        100% pure water is not tasty and is even dangerous for your health. Be happy that Evian contains some ions to make it drinkable!

        • Re:Expensive Price (Score:5, Interesting)

          by treeves (963993) on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @07:25PM (#34262578) Homepage Journal

          100% pure water is ... dangerous for your health

          Please don't spread this lie. If you rely on water to get all the carbonates, chlorides, sodium, calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium, etc. that you need, you probably should try eating food!

          If I drink a glass of water with no ions in it except hydronium and hydroxyl, it will cease to be so as soon as it touches my mouth, and if you tell me that it will leach out all the minerals in my body, that would be true of any water that contains a lower concentration of those ions than the fluid in my body does, but it would be hard to drink enough water for that to matter. Your body (specifically your kidneys) does a good job of maintaining homeostasis and keeping the electrolytes it needs and getting rid of the rest, whether you drink water with 50ppm of sodium chloride or water with zero electrolytes.

          As for the taste, you're right.
          But that's all it is. A matter of taste.

    • In this case, I think its killer 'feature' is being devoid of any other features. :)
      Also, I'm willing to bet that inside that thing you would find most of the same silicon that you'd find in a typical phone. It just doesn't use the bells and whistles.

    • <sarcasm>Well it takes a lot of effort for them to remove all the features! All the code that has to be removed must be a lot of work. Surely they have to be paid for their hard work.</sarcasm>
    • by T Murphy (1054674)
      The cost is to cover the free upgrade to a rotary dial.
    • I don't know, that sounds to me like the extreme version of what Apple has been doing for years.
  • by michelcolman (1208008) on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @05:34PM (#34260868)
    If you can only call, talk and hang up, it doesn't appear very useful to me. Listening would be a nice addition, and receiving calls as well...
  • by jayhawk88 (160512) <jayhawk88@gmail.com> on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @05:36PM (#34260904)

    ...speed dial with enough memory to store ten numbers...

    Whoa whoa whoa....what now? What's all this fancy schmancy wizardry again? I'm expected to remember some arcane, complicated button combination simply to dial a phone number? It's always the same: you get something working just the way you want it, and some damn hot-shot wiz kid has to come along and make screw it all up.

    • by Ossifer (703813)
      A better phone would have just a side-crank instead of buttons, so that you can the switchboard operator lady's attention to tell her who you want to talk at.
    • by roc97007 (608802) on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @05:53PM (#34261258) Journal

      Does anyone actually use speed dial on dumb phones?

      Usually it's so complicated to program (and every phone is different) that it's easier just to memorize the damned number.

      The biggest change in my life when I switched to a smartphone is that I finally started using the internal address book.

  • Ergonomics? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by xanthines-R-yummy (635710) on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @05:36PM (#34260918) Homepage Journal
    Is there a reason they designed the phone to look like a remote control or a weird pager? At least the other phones have some added capabilities to make up for the uncomfortable form factor. They might as well have put some more thought into making it comfortable to use in addition to ease-of-use.
  • I also like the idea of being listed in the White Pages as "John Doe"

    Oh, wait [slashdot.org]--

  • The chintzy paper phone book it provides doesn't count.

    They should have included a standard electronic phone book plus speed dialing, but I have no complaints besides that. If it'd had a proper phonebook, I'd have no trouble recommending it to my in-laws.

    • by rsborg (111459)

      Too basic? Then this phone isn't for you.

      It's not meeting a small set of needs, it's focused on folks for whom anything digital is tedious and who already have a nice pen-and-paper system of information management.

      I know folks who (unlike us geeks) literally get ill at the thought of digitizing paper records like an address book, since every digital implementation sucks in various ways and sync never works perfectly... plenty of data loss horror stories too.

      Personally, I'd prefer just having my old brick No

      • by eldepeche (854916)

        I tried to teach my grandpa how to use his cell phone, so I programmed in my number, showed him how to access it, and told him to call me. He pulled his reading glasses and an index card out of his pocket and dialed my number manually.

        He literally wants the old Bell phone that he can carry around with him. It's what he's used to, and he's not going to learn how to use anything newer than his VCR.

  • Jitterbug (Score:5, Informative)

    by Captain Spam (66120) on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @05:41PM (#34261018) Homepage

    Funny, I seem to recall TV ads a few years back for a series of phones — "Jitterbug", as it was called — that effectively did just this. Complete with the "old person afraid of smartphones" use case example. Though with screens (just to see the numbers as you dial them).

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by binarylarry (1338699)

      I bought one for my grandfather, it's a POS.

      50% of the time he doesn't receive calls.... they just hang up. And he's in a major city with otherwise great cell coverage.

      And it's not something he's doing, I've tested it myself.

    • Yes. It touted among it's features getting "a familiar dial tone" before you dialed, and having an operator "address you by name" if you dialed "zero". They would advertise it in Yankee magazine, and other things that all the old folks read.
  • I don't get it, they claim to have made a phone that is as simple as possible... and then they do include speed dial. Why did they ruin the perfect phone?!
  • ...is for people sick of New Generation models.

    No, wait...

  • by Anonymous Coward

    If they pulled all the crap out of it but did some serious engineering to optimize range and durability I could get them 10 sales instantly for our site people. We would probably pay TWICE that price. All they want is to be able to make calls on the edge of cell coverage after the phone has been knocked around in dusty environments and operated at -20C. New crappy phones often don't last a year and range seems to get worse with each new generation. They would fall in love with the things if they were wa

  • Technophobes? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by fahrbot-bot (874524) on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @05:44PM (#34261072)
    Condescending much?

    How about for people you don't need extra stuff/crap and just want a fucking phone? I'm a Unix/Windows SA and systems programmer with 4 computers at home (Windows and Linux) and have managed everything from Crays to PC - so, hardly a technophobe - and I still use my Qualcomm QCP-1900 from 1998. It cost me $200 with no-contract and my service is still $15/month (no contract). The thing still provides 6 hours of talk and two-weeks of standby.

    Sure, text and web might be nice - sometime - but I don't really need/want to be that "connected" all the time.

    • Re:Technophobes? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by YrWrstNtmr (564987) on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @06:07PM (#34261470)
      Exactly. I have a very basic PAYG phone from VirginMobile. $20. No frills, no web, blah, blah. Why? Because I simply don't/can't use it much.
      At work, no cell phones. Period. At home, landline and multiple PC's. If we're out with friends, we're out with friends, not dinking around on the phone.
    • Re:Technophobes? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by godrik (1287354) on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @06:11PM (#34261544)

      texting is a nice feature. But I must say I am very happy with my crappy basic phone. My shopping for phone session went something like:
      -"hello, I'm looking for a cheap phone that can call 911 and keep me in touch with my wife in case of emergency and that will last more than a week without being plugged in"
      -"Here is our cheapest nokia sir, have a good day"

    • by SanityInAnarchy (655584) <ninja@slaphack.com> on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @06:24PM (#34261762) Journal

      If you're seriously considering this phone, especially paying extra for it -- have you seen it? RTFA.

      Let me put it this way: Why would you want a phone without at least an address book? I'm with you that it's gotten out of control, but why would I want a paper address-book stuck to the phone, so I can take it off the back, flip through it, and manually type that into the front? Every time I want to call someone, I'd have to do that.

      Or I can press probably fewer buttons than it would take to actually dial the number, and only have to remember the person's name.

      Yes, I do "just want a fucking phone." But this isn't just a fucking phone -- the paper addressbook does indeed scream "technophobe."

      • by martin-boundary (547041) on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @07:47PM (#34262808)
        The real reason why people want phones with no features is the terrible, absolutely terrible, user interface design of all mobile phones (and that includes smartphones).

        When a phone has no features other than dialling a number, then (for example for a brick with a simple keypad) the interface fits well with the hardware design.

        When a phone has multiple features and you have to press complicated and unintuitive key combinations to access them, then there's a mismatch between what the hardware is designed for (simple keypad for typing numbers) and what the software is designed for (lots of things that don't map well onto keypad interaction).

        The same is true with menu systems. Cursor keys are simply awkward ways of interacting, and menus are awkward ways of using limited screen space in general.

        What's really needed is for a good designer to invent a totally new hardware paradigm for mobile phones that actually makes sense for the kind of software features we expect on mobile phones. That's much easier said than done. Instead, we're stuck with old style phone handset designs on one side, and old style PC/GUI/WIMP designs on the other, and every mobile phone designer tries to combine them in different ways, hoping to hit the jackpot, but always failing.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by lennier (44736)

          The real reason why people want phones with no features is the terrible, absolutely terrible, user interface design of all mobile phones (and that includes smartphones).

          It also includes cordless phones for the home.

          I bought a cheap cordless a while back when my existing one broke. The thing has a completely unpenetrable UI, by which I mean:
          * It has a numeric keypad, okay so far
          * It has a one-line LCD with a display for the typed number (ok so far) and a number of indicator icons (potentially good or bad)
          * It has the standard send/end/power keys
          * It also has a key with an icon of a clockface and an unrecognisable squiggle, which I don't know what it does. As far as I can te

  • by roc97007 (608802) on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @05:45PM (#34261080) Journal

    According to TFA, the phone has a THREE WEEK standby time!

    Man, I'd almost give up my smartphone just for THAT.

  • Dumbphone?
  • Bah, speed dial. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    If I pay a hundred bucks for simplicity, I don't want no fancy speed-dial. Kidding aside, the perfect no-frills phone already exists, it's called the Motorola F3 and has an e-paper display which is readable under all lighting conditions, big keys and hands-free mode. It runs forever on one battery charge, it's quite thin, it is comparatively rugged because it was designed for the inhospitable environments of third world countries, and it's one of the cheapest phones in existence. If you really just need a p

  • So basically it's a phone from like 10 years ago?
  • by falldeaf (968657)
    They might be on to something, if they changed most of the build materials to wood and put a hand crank on the thing they might open a whole new market up in the Amish community! :D
  • A rotary dial?

    Seriously, I've always wanted to have the equivalent of Maxwell Smart's shoe phone ... with this attached to my shoe I could nearly have been there if only they had made it rotary.

  • Weak! (Score:2, Funny)

    by ryan.onsrc (1321531)

    Seriously -- what's up with the Cartman buttons?

  • I wonder why they omitted the A-Z characters?

    Those can be useful mnemonics (especially for young/old users).

  • Jitterbug (Score:5, Informative)

    by scorp1us (235526) on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @06:09PM (#34261514) Journal

    In the US, we already have such a phone, called a Jitterbug, and it is aimed at the geriatric market...

  • Capitalism never ceases to amaze me in it's creativity. Someone could buy a second-hand semi-smart phone for a 3rd of that price but because they cant/wont learn some basic features like clicking on an icon they get charged half the price of an iPhone for what is, essentially, a keypad.
  • I got one of those just by not paying much for a phone

  • My grandparents had a HandleEasy326 about 4 years ago. Big keys, 4 buttons for stored numbers and a display. (Would only show the dialed numbers). No sms, no camera, nothing else. You can't dumb down a phone more without taking away the basic phone capabilities! And if that sounds still too complicated, when my grandpa finally was in hospital, he had a cellphone without numberpad, just three colored buttons for three stored numbers.

    That should count as even simpler as the one mentioned in TFA. And it was 3

  • ... would you want a phone that couldn't send or receive SMSes? I'd prefer to have a device that could not make or receive phone call, and only did SMS.

  • Working in a phone shop, it grates at my nerves the number of times I hear "I just want a phone" - not because I think everyone needs every feature under the sun, but because we HAVE one, the Samsung E1081T, and people still can't bloody use THAT. It's as if as soon as a device has more than five buttons (three functions) people have some complete logical breakdown. I base this number o a TV remote, having power, volume up and down, and channel up and down. Some people don't ever touch the numbers on the

  • by elysiana (1152995) on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @06:40PM (#34261970)

    On the one hand, I can see this being useful for people like my aunt, who have an "emergencies only" cell phone. Easy to understand, no frills, no chance of accidentally going online. I can also see it being useful for those who just don't want to bother with all the extras that are on phones anymore. Even my "dumbphone" has a camera, a media player, texting, and online capabilities, and I don't really need or want all that (Except texting. You can't take away my texting).

    On the other hand, I can't help but feel that pandering to an already technophobic crowd only makes their fears seem more substantial (to them, at least). With technology changing so incredibly rapidly, it doesn't seem like the best course of action is to put them in a bubble and tell them it'll be okay, we won't let the bad bad digital phone hurt them. Technological advancements aren't going to go backwards; at some point these people are going to have to learn something new.

    Mixed feelings.

  • by molo (94384) on Wednesday November 17, 2010 @07:09PM (#34262388) Journal

    This phone, the firefly, has just 5 buttons: call mom, call dad, phonebook, call, hangup.

    http://www.fireflymobile.com/store/firefly/ [fireflymobile.com]

    -molo

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