Users demand the ease and efficiency of legacy gadgets -- and now, makers respond.
By Anand Parthasarathy
Bangalore, May 23, 207: 'Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away. Now it looks as though they're here to stay...I long for yesterday!'
The lyrics of that Beatles' classic, seem written to anticipate the current woes of technology-challenged consumers. Phone makers cram so many features and so many layers of menu, into today's smart phones, that only the smartest, savviest, users can navigate them. Many of us long for the less complicated days, a decade ago, when any dummy between 8 to 80 years, could learn to use a mobile phone or a music system in two minutes flat. Finally, the rebellion has come: Buyers are confronting makers with the classic KISS mantra: Keep It Simple, Stupid! And manufacturers are slowly responding.
Mumbai-based Advanced Computers and Mobiles, has just brought the China-made Fox Mobiles' Mini 1, to India. It is a starkly simple feature phone, the same size as a credit card, just over 5 mm thick and weighing 85 grams. It is not cluttered with things like FM Radio or an audio socket. The display is small -- 2.4 cms -- and the 320 mAh battery is a tenth of the size of typical smartphone power source, yet it lasts 3 days in stand-by. This is not a touch phone: There is a regular key pad. You can store 1000 numbers.
As I discovered, this single-SIM phone, will work perfectly well as a stand-alone device. But the makers suggest it will make an ideal second phone and can be paired with your primary phone via Bluetooth. When on your morning jog , you can leave your heavy smart phone at home and its calls will be transferred to the Mini , even if the main phone is switched off. At Rs 1799, this not just one of the smallest phones in the market but also one of the cheapest. I'm guessing enough buyers will like it for its super-small size, in this era of 6-inch phablets. This is one cool tool -- literally -- that won't burn a hole in your pocket, in whatever sense you take that phrase.
When Nokia launched the 3310 phone in 2000, they had no clue that 126 million buyers would make it the world's most popular handset. On a full charge, the battery lasted for a week. It could take a lot of bashing and still work. And it was the epitome of a simple, functional design, localized for each market, including India.|
Nokia is no longer in the phone business, but there is so much nostalgia for the less complicated days of mobile phoning that the inheritors of the brand -- HMD Global -- have recreated the 3310 with some small tweaks. In essentials it remains a good basic feature phone. The display is now in colour and slightly larger at 2.4 inches. There is just one 2 MP camera. It can take 2 microSIMs and works only in the 2.5 G bands. You can add 32 GB with a microSD card -- and its original USP, a torch is there. Advancing technology has made the 3310 in its Second Coming, much thinner at 12.8 mm -- and lighter, at just under 80 grams instead of 133 grams. The talk time on full charge is good for one day.
The asking price of Rs 3310 is the same as the model number! So, 17 years later, who will buy the Nokia 3310? Maybe there are enough nostalgia-driven customers out there, who recall the years when 'Nokia' was a synonym for mobile phone, when people who successfully bridged the digital divide went to a phone shop and said, "Mujhe ek Nokia chahiye!"