My wife’s old Nokia phone collapsed and she asked me to suggest a “simple” replacement. By “simple” she meant something with a big keyboard and a large screen. She was very clear about what she did not want: definitely no touch screen, and doesn’t matter if it’s 2, 3 or 4G, or has a two- or a 20-megapixel camera. “A simple cellphone,” she said. “Not a toy or a computer.”
That “toy” bit was a dig at me and by “computer” she meant a smartphone. She knows what a smartphone can do but doesn’t give a damn. She says she is in no hurry to check her emails or Facebook, and is not interested in listening to music or playing games either. She wants a phone for calls and text messages, which means a nice keyboard and large fonts on the screen. That’s it.
Ever since her first cellphone, she has always used a Nokia and has developed a comfort level with its menu. In the same period I have been through Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Samsung, Motorola, the iPhone and now the Samsung Galaxy S2.
Nokia X2-02: A no-fuss cellphone
There’s a reason why she is so vehemently anti-touch screen. Her last Nokia (C3-01) was what I call a “50:50” phone—half touch screen and half old-fashioned keyboard. I had persuaded her to try it out because I thought it would be a good way to introduce her to touch-screen technology.
But the phone turned out to be a disaster: The touch-screen experience was simply exasperating—too gentle a touch and it wouldn’t respond; increase the finger pressure and the screen would roll like a slot machine.
I tried to convince her that the future is touch screen, and that she should give it another try. I suggested she should buy the Samsung Galaxy Y series, a basic touch-screen Android phone that’s got good reviews and is also 3G, but she was adamant: “What’s the use of features that I may never use?”
I asked her if she would call herself a technophobe, and she said, “I may not be tech savvy but I will happily adopt technology that I think will be of use to me.” My point is you don’t have to be tech savvy to use a smartphone. I know people who don’t have a clue about terms like Android, Bluetooth, 3G and Wi-Fi and yet use a smartphone. They download a few apps and are quite satisfied with them. You need to understand the jargon only if you want to make optimum use of the gadget in your hands.
I have umpteen apps on my Samsung Galaxy, but to be honest I don’t think I have used more than 10. You may say what a waste of a smartphone, but these functions are adequate for me to manage my life: Make calls, send messages, check emails, use Twitter, shoot an occasional photo/video and use Skype. But ask me if I can do with less, and my answer will be “no”. I have become used to a smartphone.
My wife, however, doesn’t want to do all this on her cellphone. She would rather check emails and Skype our son from her desktop. She just wanted a regular, no-fuss cellphone to make calls and send text messages.
So I trawled the Net, asked around and did a recce of the market, and in the midst of all the smartphones (the nicer-looking phones in the shops these days are mostly touch screen) I found a gem: a bright orange Nokia X2-02. Launched in December, it’s a basic cellphone (no 3G) with MMS and email capability, plus it has a 2 MP camera, radio and an MP3 player thrown in. It’s also a dual-SIM phone in case you use have two phone numbers.
We paid about Rs 3,400 for it, and so far, my wife is quite satisfied with it. “Why waste money and complicate your life,” she said. Sometimes the simplest options make sense.
Shekhar Bhatia is a former editor, Hindustan Times, a science buff and a geek at heart.
Write to Shekhar at firstname.lastname@example.org