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It's a Dumbphone, But It's the Nicest Dumbphone You Can Buy (wired.com)
172 points by cpeterso on Aug 30, 2013 | hide | past | web | favorite | 189 comments

The OS is not 14-year-old but actually the newest reiteration of S40 which has no problems running Whatsapp, native Facebook apps, Exchange support et cetera. It is not a dumb phone but a feature phone. The OS still has its raw edges here and there[0], but it is anything but old or dated.

[0] I tried it for a week or so on a Nokia 301 and an example of a raw edge is that when using the music player and you accidentally remove the head phones, the music continues over the phone its speaker immediately. It should pause instead.

>when using the music player and you accidentally remove the head phones, the music continues over the phone its speaker immediately. It should pause instead.

Isn't this the case for a lot of devices? Every desktop and laptop I've used, on Windows and Linux, follows this behavior.

Yeah, pretty much. I'd be pissed and amazed if the default was to pause the song. I don't want the device to try to figure out what I'm trying to do, I want the device to do exactly what I tell it to do, which, in this case, would be to simply do nothing. I just removed a physical cable, I don't need it to do anything on the software side other than make sure it updates the current audio output.

The purist thing doesn't tell us much. You could equally as easy interpret things as, I didn't tell it to output music on another speaker, I only told it to stop outputting music on the headphones. Different people have different ideas of what the correct behavior should be.

Also, Android, iOS, and (if my memory serves) Windows Phone all exhibit the behaviour of pausing music on disconnecting headphones. Whether right or wrong, it is common and expected behaviour - doing differently (without good cause) is bad design.

I use dumbphones. Dumbphones do not pause the music (at least not the ones I've been using for the past 10 years), which is probably why I'm against this behavior.

Yeah. Some defaults are mildly annoying on all phones. Very true.

Every Android that I've seen (incl. Nexus 4) tend to stop playing, if you remove a physical cable. Not nice. Especially if your headset is old and sometimes looses connection for a millisecond or two...

But much much worse, is when the Bluetooth is disconnected/connected. The thing stops playing. And upon connecting resets position to the start! And starts playing! So if you are listening to a 70 minutes chapter of an audiobook, suddenly you have to search for a precise minute in the chapter. A bit frustrating. And even dangerous, as you might have been driving a car at the time.

... sometimes makes me wonder just how many car crashes could have been prevented by a slightly better designed interface of Google Music ...

The audiobook player app don't do this.

Hmm... Which one? I'll take a closer look.

Audible app never looses position. But I do sometimes play MP3s... Is there Google audiobook player?

Yes, devices should always do exactly what you mean them to do.

Not for phones. On iPhone, the assumption is that removing headphones while playing music is a mistake (e.g. jostling the cable from jogging) and if you're going to take it out of your pocket to plug the headphones back in you can restart the music too. On Android, I think headphone removal triggers a global intent that your music app can listen for. Whether it does something when that intent fires is another story.

The stock music player pauses when that intent fires.

Spotify also does, most of the time. It does occasionally fail, which is really embarrassing when I'm listening to Carly Rae Jepson on the train and I drop my phone.

Right, but what I was alluding to was that if someone wants a different behaviour on Android that all they had to do is write their own music player (or fork the stock one, or similar).

All the Maemo music players do this too. I expect it - and if I'm going somewhere where I don't want it to switch to the external speaker, I just mute the external speaker volume.

Question for those who use either iPhone or Android - do they have independent volume levels for speakers vs. headphones? I honestly just realized that I don't know.

On my Android (not sure which version, i think its v2) when you unplug the headphones the music stops, but it has only one volume for headphones and speakers.

On my Android 4.1.2 it has different levels for speaker and headphones. Maybe that's an TouchWiz addition but if so, that would be about the first useful one.

It never occurred to me that there'd be a single volume for both, just because I can't think of a way to relate the volume level of speakers and headphones.

And to think that I was annoyed that my phone didn't automagically spawn a third volume level for my bluetooth speakers:)

There are too many raw edges on a Nokia 301, probably related to new features (which are not many). One can google for them. To me the most annoying is that panorama mode fails to save the photo ~20% of the time on a large and mostly empty SD card. 39 days standby is a lie. Mine barely manages a week of standby on 2G only. Earlier versions of this platform are more robust and seemingly less power hungry. I wish I had bought a 2-3 year old one.

> [0] I tried it for a week or so on a Nokia 301 and an example of a raw edge is that when using the music player and you accidentally remove the head phones, the music continues over the phone its speaker immediately. It should pause instead.

I can imagine that a software trick like that is patented by for example Apple who iirc were the first ones to have music pause when unplugging, and a license wasn't taken on the technology to cut costs.

Sony Ericsson's dumbphones have also stopped the music when you unplugged the headphones since they added MP3 support. It always annoyed me that Nokia's didn't back in the S60 days.

I once biked too close to a fence in a crowded area, got caught and flipped the bike, and if that wasn't embarrassing enough, I was listening to some pretty terrible music at the time which then started blaring out of the speaker. I went back to my Sony Ericsson after that event. Didn't help that Sony Ericsson's dumbphone OS was better at multitasking J2ME apps than Symbian was at native apps (and in ways better than iOS 6 since it let me run an IRC app if I wanted to)

Android has this baked in, too. How can I determine whether this is actually a patent which requires a license? I wish I could file an issue for Nokia somewhere so they can comment.

I'm sticking with my MOTOFONE F3 (The "Zombie Apocalypse" phone: e-ink display and a 2-week battery life.)

It feels like Nokia's missing the mark here though. Once you get below a certain threshold, you hit customers who are prioritizing price, simplicity, size or battery life. The Nokia 515 is pretty good on all of those, but not the leader on any. It's sort of the least dumb dumbphone, but not necessarily a great dumbphone.

I don't quite know who this is for... but I sure wish they'd applied the same energy to optimizing for size or battery life in a beautiful container. Something that can fit in my smaller pockets and has a great antenna would be amazing as a "going out" phone, even if it only did voice & SMS.

It may be perfect for me. Smartphones are a strange thing, they are just the wrong mix of everything: Can't rely on it as a phone, (too big, too expensive when stolen, low battery life), and they are not great at user input either: Want to write down some notes? Oh well, use this tiny screen. Oh and you can't do it while talking to someone over the phone.. because you know why. Wan't to find your way to a target destination? Go read your directions on a tiny screen, possibly with sunlight on a glossy screen.

Today I had the idea of buying a feature phone or dumbphone in addition to a tablet. The tablet would ideally still be able to fit into my pocket and have a portable keyboard. Not sure where to find something like that, but I haven't looked yet.

Ideally this dumbphone would still be able to sync seemlessly with the tablet and I could write apps for it.

From what you are describing, the nexus 4 might be perfect for you. It's only $50 more expensive than this phone, and has addressed most of your concerns.

That's pretty much what I was thinking. The product page for this phone on the Nokia website says it can be used as a 3.5G modem, but it doesn't say whether this is as a wifi access point or over bluetooth. I'm guessing the latter.

In any case, I am seriously considering ditching my smartphone, and switching to a combination of a feature phone like the 515 and a 7" tablet (New Nexus 7). That, for me, sounds like a killer combo.

Fitting into your pocket and being good for more than momentary use are, I find, at odds.

However, something the size of a Kindle can fit just about anywhere else. Backpack, table, car dash, lap, in your hand, etc... so that is the size of tablet I intend to get, based on my experience with the Kindles.

And better hope you can get to your destination before the battery runs out.

Not to mention trying to read the directions while the screen goes to sleep every 30 seconds.

According to the article, it has a 38 day battery life, which is more than double yours and as high as any phone that I'm aware of. I'm not sure what point you're making here.

Yes, I see that. However it is a few mm thicker, 50% heavier, 400% more expensive and 7 years(!!!!) newer.

Imagine what they could do if they were actually optimizing on dumbphone strengths!

"They could've done even better" doesn't invalidate his argument, though.

No: they could've done different.

As it is, it's sufficient in battery life but slightly larger and much more expensive. Close, but not worth upgrading for.

Exactly. Now, this same phone at 100mm x 44mm x 7mm ? I'll buy that today.

The Sonim X3 I am using easily gives me 2 months of the battery life. So 38 days is definitely not a record.

Despite that, this Nokia phone looks really nice, and twice as cheap.

"Something that can fit in my smaller pockets and has a great antenna would be amazing as a "going out" phone, even if it only did voice & SMS."

We (Nokia) did that. The Nokia Asha line hits price points way below the fancypants 515. The Nokia 105 goes as low as $20.

They're probably some of the most under-appreciated marvels of mobile device engineering out there.


You had me excited there for a minute!

But nothing as thin or light as my F3 (though they are prettier).

I have used the F3 for a few years now and love it. Only issue I have is that it takes a while to access my phonebook after turning the phone on, but with two week battery life, why turn it off?

Actually to be totally honest it's dwindled down to like 3-day battery life. I should get a new battery. But the phone is tough. One of my friends dropped it on the sidewalk and it's fine. I keep the phone with my keys and it's all scratched up but still fine.

I've got it on a prepaid plan I can refill via a phone call. Seriously I feel free with this thing. Might be nice to have maps on it or Lyft, but whatever...I just call a cab for god's sake.

My phone of choice is this no-name Samsung one: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B007F9XJDY

It's dirt cheap ($28), quad band, dual sim card, pretty light, pretty tiny, really durable, has no internet capabilities (ie. no bloatware), a flashlight, and the battery lasts 2 weeks (although some reason my last charge only lasted 5 days).

It's not my ideal minimalist phone, but it's the closest I've found so far. The perfect phone would be thinner, look nicer, have an e-ink screen, month long battery life, and be made of some unbreakable material.

Meh. It looked good, until I saw the review that said the charging plug is proprietary. I am currently boycotting phones that do not include USB. A barrel connector for the wall-wart is fine, but it better be able to charge over USB too.

Same, I love the motofone and I got 2 of them for 20-something dollars off ebay! Lost one, the other one has been through tons of abuse. Still going strong.

Demo of car driving over it: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EKocfAk7W4Q

I believe it's for countries that value cost all the time, not just those of us who need a cheap phone. I don't think I'm explaining this properly.

Markets like Thailand, Philippines, Korea to a lesser extent, are interested in having cheap phones, but when that's ALL that they're going to have, they do want something nice, they do want that premium feel.

These are the same places that Nokia still has massive market share in feature phones, and this will only help advance those markets, I believe.

Lets not forget that Asha is an Indian name!

I also have a MOTOFONE F3 as my only phone.

This model continues to be the model to beat in this space, and it is stupefying to see that in 2013, with as little as this Nokia does, it is thicker than the F3, at 11mm (vs. F3 @ 9.1mm).

If they can make a 7mm thick smartphone with two cameras and GPS, etc., why can't this little Nokia be <7mm thick ?

>>>If they can make a 7mm thick smartphone with two cameras and GPS, etc., why can't this little Nokia be <7mm thick ?

I'm not sure, but I think it has to do with the network its built for. The Motofone is a dual band GSM. The 515 has CDMA capabilities. I know most CDMA phones tend to be a little thicker because they need a specific antenna and some additional hardware, which doesn't allow them to be as thin as they could be.

Again, not positive, but it's what some engineers told me a while back when Verizon was getting some of the high demand Motorola phones and we were wondering why they were thicker than their AT&T and T-mobile counterparts.

Wow, I never heard of that motofone, but it looks pretty awesome. My biggest concern would be, can the screen light up at all for when in dark places/nighttime?

Looks like you can only buy the F3 which is GSM only. I'd love to have one of these for when I'm in the boonies here in the US, but thats typically only covered by CDMA. F3c is not available, even on ebay.

Yes, it is LED 'backlit' (more like side-lit). The eink display is readable even in the lowest light though, as it has a pretty big font.

It does have a backlight for just that reason. The size and simple functionality are the best if that's all you need.

Yup, it works just fine in the dark. Never any glare.

I wanted this one when I was looking for a dumbphone a few years ago... I settled for an Emporia Elegance. Not the same :/

The AARP should be sponsoring this, seriously. My parents would love to own this phone, or rather I would love for my parents to own this phone. They don't want or need a data plan. They don't want to play games or get stock reports. They just want an easy to use phone with big numbers and screen that they can see.

Currently, they are using cheap, plastic phones with tiny little screens and complex OSes. They aren't durable, have poor battery life and have an appalling UI. I wanted them to upgrade to an iPhone just because its easier to use than the no-name phone they are using now. However, the iPhone has way too much capability and would more than likely confuse them.

If this Nokia "dumbphone" can deliver a sturdy phone with a simple, streamlined UI I would get my parents one in a heartbeat. Pair it with a cheap phone only plan from T-Mobile or AT&T and my Christmas shopping is done this year. :)

I used to think like that too. But then one day I saw an older person who was really happy with the Note II. I think sometimes we over generalize, with good intentions, and make wrong assumptions about what the older folks want.

I now think that they actually do like being connected, but they just need a bigger screen to work with. Which is why the Note II is a good option.

Smartphones are often misunderstood. Their most important role and primary use-case are still communications.

I like my smartphone not because I can play Angry Birds on it, but because I've got my email, Facebook's messenger, WhatsApp messenger and Google Hangouts always connected.

So if you see elderly people that don't like smartphones, that's because those people don't use email, Facebook, Google Hangouts, Skype, WhatsApp and so on. But then again, there are elderly people that do.

We like to embrace new technologies just because. The elderly on the other hand value their time and tend to be very conservative, but give them a valuable use case, like video communications with their children that have left the country and you'll see them with smartphones.

On the other hand there is something to be said about the quality of these smartphones to function as phones. For example I remember fondly of how I didn't need to look at my phone, just for dialing a number, a function that's so important while driving. Yes, we've got voice recognition now, but it's so shitty.

As an older person on this forum I can confirm the Note II really helps. The eyes start to go first..

I'm curious about this. Is it just because the text and buttons are bigger on the Note II? Or is it because their granddaughter/grandson only responds on Facebook, so an over-sized touch device is the only way to stay in touch with them?

Yes and it's much of the same reason we like smartphones. Videos, music, and pictures! And the big screen because of poor vision and clumsy fingers. It's hard to click and browse stuff with a tiny screen.

My father uses a phone book for his phone. It's basically taped to the back of the phone. When he needs to call my mother, he mutters "now what's Barbara's number again?" Then flips the phone over, locates the number he wrote on a sticky pad taped to the back, then laboriously types in the first few numbers, flips over the phone, then continues to type in more numbers in the same way until he's entered the full phone number.

First time it happened was in a shopping mall in front of McDonalds. A whole bunch of schoolgirls stopped talking to watch the performance. Super embarrassing!

See if Doro phones are available in your country. They're just that: simple phones for seniors. http://www.doro.com

Have you seen the Just5?


They're not that very well built. My retired anti-tech, luddite, menu-fearing dad had plenty of trouble using the older, more squarish model.

Woah, the brick [1] is seriously cool (no irony), I would love to try one of those out.

[1] http://www.just5.eu/brickred.php

For such a "dumbphone", it seems to be kind of pricey, in my opinion. The camera sensor is probably the most expensive there :)

For a seriously dumb phone, I'd go for a Nokia 100 or 101 (2 sim slots). It's got absolutely nothing - not any kind of web/wap accessibility, no front/back camera or a memory card slot. A resolution of a handsome 128 x 160 and a battery life of ~35 days. All for a price of ~20-40 bucks.

What I'm curious is whether it's $150 after subsidies or before subsidies. If it's the latter, then this phone could easily be offered as a $0 phone on a two or three year contract.

Newsflash for non north americans.

I got all my smart phones, in a country where they run $800 each, for free with one year contract. And paid less for data. And sms was always included in the voice plan.

And i still complained about how expensive it was.

You know what else could be offered free on contract? An iPhone.

Free with data contract, mind you. That's a big price bump, and it's ongoing.

Frankly, I've got the worst of both worlds -- I bought my Android phone upfront, and I still pay extra for the data plan.

In theory I do this so I can change my plan and/or switch providers willy-nilly, but I never do because I don't want to lose a phone number that's not really "mine" to begin with.

I thought they only did that with the two-generation-old-phones-that-they-want-to-get-rid-of-stock-of that they were selling for $99 off-contract.

The oldest iPhone is still quite a bit more modern than a Series 40 Nokia. You can buy plenty of phones for cheaper.

Agreed, but I can access Facebook and Twitter over SMS. What does a "Modern" enable me to do? Type long emails with my thumbs, play Angry Birds, and eat up the battery by having a huge screen and GPS powered on all day.

I bought a smartphone because it lets me check email when I'm sitting in lectures at university and I'm bored. I haven't really used my smartphone as a phone as much as its price would have you expect.

Maps are a biggy, at least for me.

I haven't paid a cent for my iPhones and I got all of them at launch. All were free on contract, and the 4 was actually free - as in I could have gotten the same contract without the phone and paid the same amount per month.

I don't understand the need to be on a contract :)

I guess, that's just a thing that I won't understand because I'm not American.

Isn't the Nokia 100 monoband?

I'm not sure about that kind of stuff, but it's GSM 1800 and 900 so that's two bands, right? I don't know about the CDMA versions though.

Dear telecoms: Please give me a credit-card-sized e-ink-based phone which does nothing but send and receive texts and has a standby battery life of a week. Thank you.

I'd also like an option on one that looks nice, but only does calling and a directory with no texting.

I so rarely text that I don't need that feature. However, people send me texts that I don't read, yet somehow expect me to have read them. I'd rather just have them get a message back saying my phone doesn't support that feature, so they know to call me.

I've actually owned that phone. It really, really does not work well, even for just calls. My battery life when using it was atrocious. Also, send/receiving texts was a very difficult task.

Agreed. The battery life was surprisingly short, given the epaper screen and the lack of any features. The UI was a product of a completely deranged mind. The only way to get to some really common settings is to press dozens of random buttons, like game cheat codes. It doesn't even have the ability to sync the clock from the phone network, so I constantly had to reset the clock (!). The idea is good, but the implementation sucks badly in every single dimension.

What would that look like? The peek[1], but with an e-ink screen?

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peek_(mobile_Internet_device)

How would it alert you of texts?

I still haven't joined the smartphone revolution and this appeals to me in some respects, but I wish they'd have opted for a full physical keyboard. I avoid sending texts whenever possible because T9 is such a pain in the ass compared to QWERTY.

I think Asha 210 is the phone you are looking for; featurephone with qwerty keypad:


To each their own, I love the minimalistic "candy bar" approach to phones.

Really? With the properly configured dictionary, T9 can be a treat. I regularly type 2 or 3 page texts in under a minute using T9.

T9 is really a great input if the dictionary is configured correctly, as you mentioned, and you are aware of certain words where you need the second or third choice ('font' and 'dont' were a problem for me until I forced myself to use the ' in don't.)

Touchscreen displays are great but with a lack of tactile feedback nor physical key positioning awareness (touch typing, fingers on home row, etc) I have to constantly monitor the output to ensure it is correct. The same goes, albeit less so, with Swype (or equivalent.)

Full size keyboards work well enough but you have to master typing on a small qwerty keyboard with just your thumbs which can also be problematic.

With T9 I can consistently generate my desired outcome without looking at the screen, watching my fingers make the movements, or any other silly nonsense.

Furthermore if the phone had a directional pad, as most do for menus, editing the few typos or changing the message is such a joy compared to trying to tap a small letter on a smart screen or getting the zoom to pop up for precision positioning. This could be applied to full screen keyboards as well, of course, so this point is not a gripe about them.

I held off on a smart phone for so long it became a running joke in my circle of friends, I loved T9 on that nokia 6100.

I have a co-worker who saw my dumb phone and thought it was some new cutting edge device since it was so tiny.

Good laugh for all the devs in the office.

Have you considered a BlackBerry Q10?

Read: Have a you considered a dead corpse?

I recently experienced a really good reason to have a dumbphone.

I was in the process of getting mugged. Someone was pointing a gun at me and telling me to give up my things. My hand was in my pocket, and I wanted to dial 911, but I couldn't, because all the smartphones nowadays have touch screen buttons.

In almost all cases like this, your absolute best choice is to simply give them what they want and gtfo of there. If they see you playing with something in your pocket, it could escalate things very quickly

I've often thought about "what if..." that smartphones would suck at that older phones were better at. Mostly if you couldn't see the phone (by being blinded or it's not in view).

I do notice my phone has a small 'emergency call' button on the lock screen so that's a plus. I probably wouldn't notice it in a real emergency though (I can only imagine I'd panic and forget it).

You're probably lucky you didn't get the chance to dial 911. Because after you did there was probably a 50/50 chance of the perpetrator injuring you further or running away.

HA! that looks awesome. Somewhat similar in looks to the LG Glance[1] that I had as my last "dumb-phone". Of which, I will say I loved the ergonomics, battery life, and durability of that phone. Honestly, the only real data function I require on my phone these days is maps... I would be very tempted to drop the data plan on go this direction. A bit pricey though, I would still probs go with a $25 phone over $150 anyway....

[1] image: http://i-cdn.phonearena.com/images/phones/16040-large/LG-Gla...

Honestly, the only real data function I require on my phone these days is maps...

Car GPS? The inexpensive ones cost about as much as a few months of data plan, and require no service contract.

No. I despise turn by turn navigation. With the passion of 1000 suns. and sometimes I'm not driving, sometimes I'm just walking around a city looking for the nearest subway station. Granted, paper maps will get me 70% of the way there, and I do look at googles turn by turn readout, and view the entire route on a map. But I refuse to succumb to those shitty navigation systems. I want to look at a map, a suggested route, and make my own decisions on what course to take. Also without fumbling around for 20 min just trying to plug in a specific address when all I have is a general idea of the area I'm trying to get to. I don't even need gps on a phone, I usually know the general area I'm in, or I just use cell tower triangulation.

I want to look at a map, a suggested route, and make my own decisions on what course to take.

That's what I do with my car gps. Along with snicker wickedly as I disregard its instructions, taxing its little brain.

Also without fumbling around for 20 min just trying to plug in a specific address when all I have is a general idea of the area I'm trying to get to.

They do have a map-only mode. Or at least mine does. You pick a zoom level, and it just shows you where you are on the map.

I have a prepaid dumb phone. I also have a Samsung Galaxy S4 with no cellular plan. I use OpenStreetMaps with GPS turned on. I can download the state I am interested in while on WiFi at home. Then I can navigate anywhere using my phone's GPS without even having a plan. I travel cross country on my motorcycle, and use turn by turn directions via my headphone while listening to pre-recorded music.

For those interested, full Specs of Nokia 515: http://www.nokia.com/global/products/phone/515/specification...

Here's a GSM dumbphone that's $80 and runs on a AA battery: http://spareone.com/

Are there any dumbphones that have 4G hotspot tethering as a feature? I'm not that interested in all the extra stuff that comes in the smart phone package, but being able to tether my laptop or tablet is really useful to me.


A "dumbphone that can make calls, send texts, and tether" would be pretty much perfect.

Wouldn't that kill the battery and nullify the major benefit of a dumbphone?

It couldn't kill the battery any faster than a phone with a giant screen...

Excellent: 38 days autonomy. Some people favor that. Make it ip67, and this could be a hit. There is plenty of room there in the market.

I've seen phones claim "4 weeks of standby" in the early 2000's too. They don't actually last that long. The test is most likely done on some "absolute minimum usage".

But it can probably last you about a week with moderate usage. That's how a lot of dumbphones (and even Blackberries) used to last before the iPhone, and all the touchscreen phones that arrived after it, but I think most people have forgotten that.

It's because they used very limited operating systems and small screens with small resolutions, so they don't use nearly the same amount of power as today's touchscreen smartphones, with 4"+ screens and ~720p resolutions.

I have nokia x1-01 for family & friends only number and as a phone that I use when I want to be reachable but not to worry about loosing the smartphone, with 20-40 min talk time a day it lasts for more than a week on single charge, thus 4weeks standby seems credible to me

I only remember my dumbphone lasting 2 ~ 3 days with little to moderate usage. Maybe it matters that it was a CDMA (Verizon) phone?

My Nokia C1 (GSM on T-Mobile in USA) goes for about a week between charges and it's about 2 years old on the original battery. It's my only telephone which I on average text or talk on at least once a day.

As long as coverage is decent and I have reasonable signal levels that's usual. With weak signal levels or no service when it's hunting for service the battery will go flat in a day or two.

"4 weeks of standby" means 4 weeks if left to do nothing, not even receiving cell tower signals.

> "They don't actually last that long."

Actual mileage depends on your usage. The talktime rating is meaningful for such comparisons.

I use a Nokia C3-00, and I get a couple of weeks between charges. I'm highly interested in the promise of 38 days because three or four weeks is still fantastic.

Since it has a BL-4U removable battery, this will be the phone to get for those of you who are privacy conscious. It's unfortunate it has Bluetooth, but at least no Wi-Fi.

I would have normally written "privacy paranoid" but it's clear that the spectrum has been lowered from paranoid to just conscious due to current realities.

Privacy conscious? When you first start any S40 phone, it will connect to Nokia servers and push certain data like your location. You wouldn't know because the OS is proprietary. They say this is for statistics but it could be anything. You can't start the phone before you aggree to this happening or before it actually happened. I have tried, really.

This is surprising. And unfortunate if true and unable to disable. Agree that the proprietary nature of the OS is a concern. An android or OSS OS would be preferred here.

But you can turn it really off. The moment you turn a phone on the whole world knows anyway. Or just the NSA if the fishnet order is still valid - the one with the metadata of all calls in the US.

There was some controversy [1] [2] about Nokia decrypting SSL connections for their accelerated browser. Not familiar with their platform, or whether you could remove them, but Nokia proxy certificates are certainly being trusted by default.

If you're this paranoid, build one of those laser cut Arduino GSM phones instead[3]. You could add your own discreet baseband kill switch.

[1] https://gaurangkp.wordpress.com/2013/01/09/nokia-https-mitm/

[2] https://freedom-to-tinker.com/blog/sjs/how-the-nokia-browser...

[3] http://web.media.mit.edu/~mellis/cellphone/

After the recent price drop, it ends up being only 25% cheaper than a Nexus 4, which is way more phone than this. It's not clear to me that there's anyone interested in the particular price/features intersection where this phone sits.

No, it ends up being far cheaper than a Nexus 4. For many people, the point of a dumbphone like this is that you can save hundreds of dollars on data plans, or even more with prepaid.

Right now, I pay roughly $10 a month for my phone, and I'm reasonably happy with that (the reception is a bit weak, perhaps because the phone is so cheap, or perhaps because Tracfone is bad in my area).The problem is that my phone itself is terrible. The UI and the physical design are both atrocious.

I'd gladly drop $100 on a device that was pleasant to use. I've even contemplated shelling out a few hundred for a no-contract smartphone (I have wifi at work, wifi at home, etc...)

You're comparing the price of presumably unlocked phones.

Nobody is forcing you to get a data plan with your Nexus 4.

Can't speak for other carriers, but Verizon prohibited me from using a smart phone on a non-data plan. I assume some technological breakthroughs are required to permit that pairing.

That sucks. While I was a student, I just got the cheapest prepaid SIM card for my old Nexus One and paid the $10/mo for unlimited texting. Wifi blanketing campus, my house, and my favourite bar meant I rarely missed data. I certainly wouldn't go with Verizon if that was the case.

Fair enough. I guess I was under the mistaken impression that carrier subsidies were a bigger deal with all smartphones than they really are.

Att won't let you use a smart phone without a data plan. Or at least, the reps I've talked to insist it isn't possible.

Yup. Get the same plan as the Nokia user, and then use free Wi-Fi, applications, etc...

The enormous number of people who don't want or care about smartphones, and the enormous number of people whose sticker price is closer to $1000 for the Nexus 4 because of import duties and stuff.

For the former group, I'm well aware that there are people who don't care about smartphones, but do you think there are many of those who want to be able to adjust the white-balance on their phone cameras? I think most people who don't care about smartphone features would probably do just as well with a $50 phone as this one, with less of the "fancy" stuff.

I agree that most people would do just as well with a $50 phone. The difference between this and every other option is superficial.

But the RAZR wasn't that much better than everything else either and it sold over 100 million units.

I can't find a Nexus 4 for under $300, which is double the RRP of this phone. The Nexus has a RRP of $799, so I'm sure the Nokia will also be a lot cheaper than $150 in practice.

The Nexus 4 8GB is on the Google Play (U.S.) store right now for $199, and 16GB for $249. Where did you get $800 from? It was never 800.

Afaik that doesn't say much. Amazon listings list prices are often as inflated as cell phone prices are in the first place. Amazon uses list prices as a maximum, then puts the item on sale based on how it sells. Though it's equally true that Google is selling the phones basically at cost, making money instead off the people using them.

You can buy it for $199 straight from Google: http://www.google.com/nexus/4/

Could someone explain what's the idea behind Nokias longstanding strategy of flooding the market constantly with new models with very minor differences? Nokia 301 is almost identical with this new 515, and was released only 6 months ago. They seem to be releasing ten dumb/feature phones per year. I honestly don't feel like that approach results good quality end products.

edit: Also what's with the aggressive market segmentation? Why aren't the models globally available?

> Why aren't the models globally available?

Cellular standards are completely different in different countries, let alone on different continents. Your flagship smartphone might have a quintuple-band chip in it so that you can sell the same model everywhere, but most of these smaller devices only do two or three bands, where the antenna can be smaller / they can get away with using fewer of them.

That's fine - but not all iPhone5's have the same bands either - still they're still called the "iPhone5" (with small ways of finding out exactly what model you have if you really care).

They should call the model one thing and just have small variances in model that are descriptive (e.g.: MOTOFONE F3 vs. F3c - the latter is CDMA).

Having random numbers with substantive differences in features that aren't "cumulative" just seems egregious and anti-consumer.

I've never paid much attention to model numbers when trying to buy a phone; for feature phones I usually just walk into the carrier-of-choice's shop, filter by form factor, and then look at which one has the right price point. Most of the time, a lexicographically larger model number means "bigger, better, and more expensive", which is enough of a heuristic if there are only ten models on display.

Having lots of models at different price points seems crazy for Apple, but it makes sense for just about anyone else making cell phones. Flooding the market with tons of choices at different price points happens in everything else we buy, from CPUs to cereal boxes to jeans.

Plus, if they change a part inside (say, update the CPU, or cut the RAM), the home-tech-support person in me would rather that they change the model number, than sneak in a nontrivial "Rev. 2" update. (This was a big deal with the WRT54G, when people were buying them and flashing custom ROMs that only fit in older models with more memory.)

With a camera on it, wouldn't it be more of a "feature phone"?

Looks very slick, whatever you call it.

Feature phone is a euphemism for dumb phone.

No, a dumb phone has calling and SMS only. It is distinct from feature phones, which have features like a camera or Java ME.

Dumb phone and feature phone have always been synonymous to me. That's a common theme in this thread. I don't think you can reasonably speak in absolutes on this.

Or dumb phone is a glib neologism for feature phone.

And both can be replaced with plain old "mobile phone".

This is a feature phone: http://k-tai.casio.jp/products/ca007/index.html

Waterproof, 8M camera, snapdragon chipset, full email, GPS and BREW apps, NFC, running 240 hours.

There's quite a gap with a "dumb" phone.

This sounds way more impressive spec-wise than the original iPhone, which was called a smartphone. I think the definition of a smart/feature/dumb phones changes constantly.

"Feature phone is a euphemism for dumb phone."

Or the other way around? I prefer the phrase "feature phone". "Dumb phone" sounds unneccesarily derogotary and condescending. Most of the world's population has a "dumb phone".

It's no more derogatory than dumb terminal.

I carry around an Emporia Elegance, a phone designed for old people. Great battery life, no hassles. When this dies, I'll be getting this Nokia or some descendant

The best and dumbest phone


Just a dial pad with a paper(!) phonebook that fits inside. Yum, it tickles my inner hipster.

That's roughly the same price point as Nokia's dumbest smartphone, the Lumia 520, which is significantly more fully featured. The point really must be simplicity, not price.

If you don't want a data plan, a 38-day battery life is damn appealing.

Battery life is actually my #1 complaint with smartphones by far.

Nice! I love high end dumbphones. Bad title though; this[1] is a much 'nicer' dumbphone I can buy.

radicalbyte said what I was thinking exactly: this plus a Bluetooth modem (way to share data plan between devices) plus a big phablet/small tablet would be a badass professional setup. Battery life sells it for me, but not carrying my GPS-enabled google box everywhere with me would be pretty appealing too.

[1] - http://www.aesir-copenhagen.com/ae-plus-y/

I was interested until I saw that it starts at €7,250.00!

So it's like my current phone, but with a touch screen and a decent camera? Sounds good. I could leave my 16MP pocket camera in the car and only have one device in my pockets.

Smartphones never appealed to me. They're just bad enough at all the things I want to do with a mobile device to make it a poor value proposition. I'd rather have a nice tablet. Something like the Surface (non-RT) with a few more iterations.

How should one read HN on it? :D I often thought that it would be cool to have a feature phone that has extremely long battery life and a very minimalistic and thin design. I like their approach but I think it might be too expensive considering the fact that you can get a nexus4 for 199€ without contract here in germany.

Nokia has been claiming month+ standby times for a long time. There has been plenty of disappointed people when in reality the battery life is <1 week.


Honestly, if I were getting a modern dumb-phone my top priority would be compactness and low-weight rather than battery life or build-quality. I'd want something absolutely invisible in my pocket, and any clever usage would go through a smart tablet tethered to it.

Any recommendations for a good dumb phone that can tether?

I had a Nokia 6790 "Surge" running Symbian that could do Bluetooth tethering.

I really wish more smartphones had some of the dumbphones' features: better battery life, better casing, etc. As much as I love my Nexus 4, the battery life isn't great and I'm always worried that I will drop it and the whole thing will shatter.

Well, that big screen, fast multicore SOC and huge memory aren't powered by wishful thinking...

I found the Lumia 900 to be the cure for both of these. Indestructible polycarbonate and pushing 2 weeks battery life. And the screen is great, I can even read my emails in direct sunlight.

Edit: I realize it's no replacement for a Nexus 4, just pointing out that it's definitely possible to make a decent smartphone with different design parameters than Android or iPhone have been chasing.

If this can be used as a Bluetooth 3G modem for a phablet then it would be pretty useful. Big phablet for internet + emails combined with a small phone for voice. Plus the battery last more than 5 mins so it's useful for a festival :)

It's interesting to hear so many people still use these kinds of phones. Reminds of people who used to carry their palm pilots and their phones around with them.

Hell, I used to be one. the Handspring Treo 270? Oh man I loved that phone!!

> It's interesting to hear so many people still use these kinds of phones.


I do exactly two things with my mobile phone: SMS and calls. I primarily have it around for emergencies and, due to the nature of my work, I only have access to it for a few hours per day (that is, when I'm not at work).

When I'm home I use my desktop computer and I often use my iPad for "portable computing".

How would a smartphone serve me better than my LG VX9900?

>>> Why?


"The U.S. added 31 million smartphone subscribers in the past four quarters. That represents a reacceleration of growth in U.S. smartphone penetration."

"Overall, U.S. smartphone penetration stands at 58% of mobile subscribers aged 13 and above. That's up from 54% at the end of 2012."

>>>How would a smartphone serve me better than my LG VX9900?

Ever get lost? Do you travel a lot to other states/cities? Maybe its your first time in a city and you have no idea where a decent place to eat is. Ever want to check HN on the fly? Maybe get caught up on current news events or breaking stories? Ever wonder how your favorite sports teams are doing? Maybe you want to know how hot its going to be so you know what clothes to wear or if it's going to rain at 2pm or 3pm today.

I can do all of these and more with my smartphone. Not sure you have that capability with your 9900. Although you do have a camera and can shoot video.

> Ever get lost?

Rarely. I use a GPS most of the time.

> Do you travel a lot to other states/cities?

Absolutely not. I try to spend as much time in my home as possible.

> Ever want to check HN on the fly?


> Maybe get caught up on current news events or breaking stories?


> Ever wonder how your favorite sports teams are doing?

I hate organized sports.

> Maybe you want to know how hot its going to be so you know what clothes to wear or if it's going to rain at 2pm or 3pm today.

I wear blue jeans and a dark-colored button-down short-sleeved shirt year-round, regardless of the weather. I also keep an umbrella in my car.

Looks like this can't do email. Is there such a thing as an otherwise dumb phone that can just do email (specifically Gmail)? I can live without all the other smartphone features, but email would be nice to have.

Gmail works pretty well with all kinds of older devices. Up until last year I was using Gmail with a Nokia 6820 (an S40 phone from 2004). Arguably almost as good an experience as on the iPhone. :/

Does not it look fat to you ? I would expect such a phone to be much slimmer than today's smartphone. I do get that the battery takes space, but still. Wasn't the RaZor much slimmer ?

You could buy this phone today and not need to charge it until the second week in October.

I'm assuming this is dependent on you not actually using the phone though.

My wife would love this, a stylish feature phone. She just wants text and calling, but all the phones out there like this are crappers. 38 days battery life is pretty awesome too.

Was hoping for one without a camera. The camera ruined it. :(

It looks nice, but I think it' a bit thick. I feel like they could have made something half as thick as the Razr.

A 38 day battery life and 2 sim ports? Sounds like a good company-provided phone for PagerDuty.

Make it run spotify, have good sound quality, and wifi, and I'm sold.

Simple enough, even my parents wouldn't mind

For $50 more you can get a Nexus 4. Wow!

How much is it?

It says at the bottom that it's 150USD. No word on prices in other markets.

In Finland Nokia has announced that the "official" price will be about 115 eur.

If it supports corporate Exchange and Tethering, I'm sold.

According to the product page [1], the Nokia 515 includes Mail for Exchange and does support tethering (Internet sharing) at up to 3.5G speed.

[1] http://www.nokia.com/global/products/phone/515/

Now I just have to wait for my contract to expire or have them buy it out..

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