The tiniest touchscreen "phone" of them all

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VPhone is a wee "phone", surely the most wee of them all. It has a 1.54-inch touchscreen display, Bluetooth, FM radio, pedometer, 128MB (megabytes!) of storage, a heart rate monitor, some social network-monitoring apps, and a choice of "simple and stylish" black or silver trim. The radio's quad-band GSM, so if you can get your hands on one it should work on T-Mobile and ATT in the US.

Yes, there's also a 3.5mm phone jack. The Verge's Ashley Carman:

Some of you might read these stats and think they’re sad. I kind of agree, but I just really love how little this phone is, so it cancels out depressing spec reality. ... The S8 appears to only be available in China, so we, once again, will have to keep dreaming. I’m trying, everyone! I think if we dream hard enough we can force these cool phones to appear in front of us. Will it.

Agreed! It's a curious device that seems more a chunky call-enabled smartwatch than a fully-featured mobile--and the English is a bit ropey on the product page, so it's not really clear if it can make voice calls without a BT connection to another device. Carman points to this 2.45"-screened crapgadget as the smallest bona-fide smartphone on offer; the ancient Sony-Ericsson Xperia X10 Mini, despite its age, is probably a better bet in the 2.5"-ish range. Read the rest

Samsung gives up on exploding cellphone, withdraws Galaxy Note 7 for good

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The Wall Street Journal reports that Samsung is to withdraw the Galaxy Note 7 cellphone for good. Subject to recurring reports of fires, even after replacement, the dodgy smartphone's burned through users' pockets to threaten the Korean brand itself.

The New York Times describes it as a "a humbling about-face."

The demise of the Galaxy Note 7 is a major setback for Samsung, the world’s largest maker of smartphones. The premium device — with a 5.7-inch screen, curved contours and comparatively high price — won praise from consumers and reviewers, and was the company’s most ambitious effort yet to take on Apple for the high-end market.

But Samsung has struggled to address reports that the Galaxy Note 7 could overheat and catch fire because of a manufacturing flaw. Last month, the company said it would recall 2.5 million phones to fix the problem. But in recent days, Galaxy Note 7 users emerged with reports that some devices that had supposedly been repaired were overheating, smoking and even bursting into flames. And on Monday, Samsung asked Note 7 customers to power off the phones while it worked on the problem.

Previously: Southwest plane evacuated after Samsung Note 7 catches fire. It was a recall replacement. Read the rest

Air vent magnetic phone mount for $4

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This magnetic phone mount is $4 on Amazon when you use code MHE52LAQ. It's usually $9, but occasionally the price drops to $4.

I started using a magnetic phone mount for my car over a year ago, and I think it is the best way to secure my phone to the dashboard. I've tried lots of other kinds of mounts, and this is the most convenient. The only downside is that you have to apply a thin metal plate to the back of your phone or phone case so it will stick to the the magnet on the mount. But the plate is very thin and it's not a bother.

The magnetic mount attaches to an air vent on your car. This could be another downside, but since I live in Los Angeles, I'm almost always running the air conditioning so it keeps my phone from overheating when the sun is on it. That makes the air vent mount an upside for me. (With other mounts, the phone would get so hot that the safety shutdown would sometimes activate to prevent damage to the phone.) Read the rest

Google's Pixelphone leaked, is just another boring phone

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UK retailer Carphone Warehouse broke Google's embargo on its much-awaited Pixel Phone, revealing it a day early.

Both devices will be powered by a Snapdragon 821 CPU clocked at 2.15GHz, with 4GB of RAM and with either 32GB or 128GB of internal storage. They have AMOLED displays with Gorilla Glass 4, at 1080p for the Pixel and 1440p for the Pixel XL.

The battery size on the Pixel is 2770mAh, just a bit larger than the 2700mAh cell found in the Nexus 5X. The Pixel XL has a larger 3450mAh battery, identical to the Nexus 6P. Both devices run Android 7.1 out of the box and have fingerprint sensors, as well as nanoSIM slots for cellular connectivity.According to the listing, both have 8MP front and 12MP back cameras with optical image stabilization

It looks just like all the other smartphones. Great work from the Subcommittee For Avoidance of Negative Reactions. Read the rest

Best sweaters of British television in the 1980s

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Curious British Telly has done the work, finally, to assemble the penultimate collection of 1980s fashion errors and exaltations: 22 of the Most Hideous Jumpers on British TV in the 80s. Noel Edmonds is the presumptive winner, of course, but there are many more in store for aficionados of the era after UK scientists learned the dark art of fluffy polyester. [via Metafilter, where Devonian notes the sad omission of legendary British yarnlord and former politician Gyles Brandreth, imaged below by a probe orbiting dangerously close to the cultural event horizon.] Read the rest

"$4" cellphone "suprisingly decent"

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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)

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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

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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

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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?

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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

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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

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

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