"$4" cellphone "suprisingly decent"


The Ringing Bells Freedom 251 phone "costs" $4. Among its qualities are a 4" IPS display, 1GB of RAM, front and rear cameras, a 1.3GHz quad-core processor, and Android 5.1 Lollipop with no extra bloatware. It's "surprisingly decent," writes Manish Singh. Read the rest

SpareOne: emergency cellphone powered by AA batteries


SpareOne Emergency Phone is a basic cellphone powered by AA batteries. This gives it a relatively short time on a charge, but means that it will have a charge after being stuffed in a drawer or glove box for months.

I came across this during my search for the perfect basic phone, but be warned: it has no display, and therefore no text messaging. It has a glow-in-the-dark keypad, a 10-number phonebook, and an "SOS" button that sends texts to 5 contacts with your location.

The AT&T GoPhone model is 3G and costs $60 at Target stores, or $50 at Amazon. Some users report that AT&T doesn't really understand the gadget; be sure to activate it according to the handset instructions, not AT&T's instructions, which require you to receive a text message.

A 2G GSM model, requiring only a single AA battery, is officially available only in the UK, for some reason. Perhaps because it's a pain to activate on an off-brand carrier and US carriers periodically expire your minutes on SIM-only plans. But it's offered in the US for $30 on Amazon if you fancy your chances.

Something tickles me about the first-aid medical design. Read the rest

How to buy and use a burner phone


Do you need a phone that's difficult to track and trace? Brian Brushwood and Jason Murphy (host and producer of NatGeo's Hacking the System) show you how to get an $8 dumb phone and load it with minutes using cash. Read the rest

FCC trying to stop phone companies that rip off prisoners' families


The private phone companies that charge prisoners' families up to up to $12.95 for 15 minutes' conversation are not the worst prison profiteers, but they're pretty high up in the rogues' gallery of greedy, immoral predators who view the poorest and most vulnerable Americans as penned-up wallets. Read the rest

Inkcase is an e-ink display for your iPhone


Inkcase is exactly what you just guessed it is: a phone case with an e-ink screen that provides a simpler, more economical view on your communications. Read the rest

Punkt MP 01: a simple, but not uselessly minimalist basic phone


With its plain, understated looks and classy black and white UI, the Punkt MP 01 looks like everything a smartphone addict might want to kick the habit: a gadget focused on communication without the distractions of a pocket supercomputer. Read the rest

Amazon Fire Phone on sale for $130 (includes a year of Prime worth $99)


I thought I was getting a good deal when I bought an unlocked Amazon Fire phone in July for $159, which includes a year of Prime (worth $99), a nice pair of headphones and a USB charger. But Amazon is selling it today for $130. So if you are a Prime member or want to be one, $30 buys you a decent spare phone, music player, Netflix streamer, Kindle reader, and more. Read the rest

OnePlus 2 cheap-phone overhyped but OK, say reviewers


Hailed as a flagship-killing bargain, the OnePlus 2 is just OK and not even that cheap. Read the rest

Why modern phones are so awful


Just today, I endured a typical 2015 phone call. My caller's voice was a warbling digital mess that cut in and out. Latency had us constantly talking over one another. After a few minutes of this, we switched to IM.

At Boing Boing, we have a weekly online meeting with several editors on the line. Most of these meetings are spent asking one another if we can hear one another, or telling one another that they're cutting out, or otherwise being confused and frustrated by the irremediable awfulness of VoIP.

How timely, then, that The Altantic's Ian Bogost reports on the stunning decline of the general experience of telephony in the age of pocket computers, where the worst phone apps connect to worser infrastructure operated by the worst telcos in the developed world. Read the rest

Are you addicted to your phone?


Footage went viral of a young woman suffering a meltdown, on a train, after her phone dies. It looks like it might be just another amusing YouTube tantrum, at first, but her anguish is so extreme as to be immediately troubling.

Perhaps it's because she is "all of us", writes Chris Matyszczyk: addicted to the magic box and increasingly unable to look away.

I defy anyone whose phone has suddenly died to claim that they haven't felt like this woman, if not expressed themselves exactly as she did. The video was shot on the Hong Kong subway, the MTR. My contacts in Hong Kong tell me that she simply wails over and over again that her phone has died.

I replaced my smartphone with a basic dumbphone recently. And I let that run out of charge about a week ago, because it turns out I don't actually need a phone. I had a pocket portal to all human knowledge and Twitter. It's genuinely difficult to not have that anymore, and it doesn't feel like an achievement to have quit. The moments where I would compulsively whip out my iPhone to "check" it have become these weird glitch-in-the-matrix reveries, where the mind spins briefly in search of a missing gear. Read the rest

Amazon Fire Phone for $159, includes one year of Prime


On June 23, I posted that an Amazon Fire Phone (32GB, Unlocked GSM) was selling for $179. I almost bought one, because it includes a year of Amazon Prime, which I pay $100 per year for. That meant the real cost of the phone was $79.

Today, Amazon is offering the same phone for $159, including the same one year of Prime deal. That did it for me. I bought one. I'm going to use it as my international travel phone (my iPhone is locked by AT&T so I can't use another carrier's SIM card) and a replacement phone for when my daughter drops her iPhone in the toilet. Read the rest

Amazon Fire Phone for $179, includes one year of Prime

It's unlocked and it includes a year of Prime, which costs $99 a year.

Man happy after cheap smartphone downgrade

When his fancy, high-end Sony smartphone died, Abhishek Anand decided to replace it with a cheap $75 model. He's much happier, not least because it actually lasts a day on a charge.
If my ₹ 5000 Moto E lasts even for 6 months, it would have a much better ROI than my previous phone. Now that I have used both phones for a bit, with my usage patterns, it is simply not worth it to buy an expensive phone. Also, in pure economic terms, money invested is better than money spent on a depreciating asset ☺, so the gap between the two prices widens even more.
Read the rest

Exploding the Phone: the untold, epic story of the phone phreaks

Phil Lapsley's Exploding the Phone does for the phone phreaks what Steven Levy's Hackers did for computer pioneers, capturing the anarchic move-fast-break-stuff pioneers who went to war against Ma Bell.

Nokia 100 phones: £5

The workhorse Nokia 100 phone is now a mere £5 without contract from Carphone Warehouse. Now, that's a cheap burner -- either manufacturing robots have come way down in price or there's some very unhappy people chained to machines in a factory somewhere. Either way, it's a pretty sad end for a giant whack of conflict minerals like coltan mud. (via Red Ferret) Read the rest

Google's Project Ara: a click-in/click-out modular concept phone

Modular mobile phone design feels important; I've been excited about the idea since Xeni posted about Phonebloks last September. Now, Google and New Deal Design have floated a concept for a modular Android phone ecosystem called Project Ara that's got me even more worked up. Project Ara lets you swap modules (batteries, radios, cameras, screens, etc) around between "exoskeletons." They call it an "ecosystem" because third parties are meant to be able to supply their own modules for an open spec.

A good overview in Wired discusses the possibilities this opens up (night vision, 3D imaging, biometrics) but I'm more interested in the possibilities for surveillance-resistant open source hardware, and hot-swapping modules that lock phones into carriers. Plus, as a serial phone-shatterer, I love the idea of being able to click out a busted screen and click in a fresh one. Read the rest

Is Gresso Azimuth the Sony Ericsson K850 killer we've all been waiting for?

Packing exclusive materials, handicraft and attention to detail, the Azimuth is luxury phonemaker Gresso's bid to take on Sony Ericsson's K850 at the premium end of the cellphone market.

The slim candybar packs beefy Dual SIMs, but lacks the reigning champ's Memory Stick Micro slot and 5.04 megapixel CMOS camera with Xenon flash. No word on polyphonic ringtones.

Like its rival, which was discontinued seven years ago, the Azimuth opts for svelte metal buttons for a "pleasant tactile perception" and a brushed metal casing evocative of the DeLorean DMC-12, the most popular sports car among men who claim to have killed Jon-Benet Ramsay. Unlike long-defunct Sony Ericsson's flagship model, though, it's assembled by a single craftsman to allow the titanium casing time to mature.

Sporting Nokia's cutting-edge S40 operating system, the Azimuth should offer a snappier experience than even the beefiest and most packing Symbian handsets, but business users might not be so quick to give up their BlackBerry Pearls.

The Gresso Azimuth is just $2000 and may be ordered directly from gresso.com Read the rest

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