Rethinking Your Phone

I recently managed to wash both my Nokia Lumia and my Blackberry z10. In my defence, I did this at the same time, leaving them in my dressing-gown when I put it in the washing machine. I should make it clear I am not a serial phone-washing idiot. As ‘W’ nearly said, “Wash me once, shame on me. Wash me twice, shame on…me”.

After I realised what I had done (Well, I say realised…after I had heard my wife plaintively crying “Oh, Niiiiiccccckk” in that disappointed but unsurprised way), I went through the recommended route for wet phones…open them up, dry them out physically, leave on a radiator overnight. No joy at all, both were dead.

So, I nipped out to the nearest little high-street phone shop. There, for £29, I got a perfectly capable little Samsung phone. It made calls, it received calls, and received texts. I could actually answer the phone reliably, which I’ve not mastered on any smart phone. And the battery lasted 3 days.

I was in love. This was what phones used to do. They made phone calls, they worked. I’d forgotten what it was like.

But I quickly fell out of love. I was receiving phone calls and texts from people whose identity I didn’t know. With voice calls, it was slightly embarrassing, but I could do a “Who is this” fairly easily. With texts, which said “Are we meeting up tomorrow”? I had no idea – who are you? And I had no diary to check anyway.

So I went and researched, and found a perfect phone for my new world, the Nokia 515. This does everything my little Samsung did – makes calls easily, receives them, lasts for days on a single charge, and using Nokia link for Exchange, connects to my Exchange/Outlook information. So, not only can I see who is calling/texting me, but I can also see emails as they come in. And it’s only £100.

Sure, it has limitations. I can’t see attachments, the old predictive-text keys (Press key 1 3 times to get a ‘C’) is horrendous for more than one-word replies, there are essentially no apps, no wifi, and an awful web browser. But for going about the streets, able to make calls, able to glance at emails to reassure me nothing dramatic is happening, not having to worry if it will run out, it’s a marvellous little device.

It won’t be for everybody (And it wouldn’t be for me if I didn’t have an iPad mini to back it up during my working day), but here’s the thing. I took a day off and spent it with my wife on a Thames river cruise. And I just enjoyed the day, and my wife’s company. I wasn’t checking cricket scores, or taking snap after snap, or checking in on forums/facebook. I was actually *there* – but with the reassurance that people who needed to contact me could. Once upon a time, that was the promise of the mobile phone revolution. I am wondering, after a lovely day actually paying attention to my wife and surroundings, if we shouldn’t go back there.