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.
Hailed as a flagship-killing bargain, the OnePlus 2 is just OK and not even that cheap. Read the rest
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
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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
This undated ad for the Erotica, a pornographic land-line telephone, was supposed to make its owner feel like Hef every time he (or she) clamped a badly rendered, unwieldy sculpture of a naked woman to his (or her) head. I think it probably underperformed relative to the promises made in the ad, and yet it represents a fascinating glimpse into a theory of action as embodied by an optimistic manufacturer in days of yore.
[Video Link] Burner is an iPhone application that lets you generate temporary phone numbers. This would come in handy, for example, if you are selling something on Craigslist, and you don't want to give out your permanent telephone number. The app costs $1.99, which gives you a "burner" number that's valid for 7 days, 20 talk minutes, or 60 texts, whichever comes first. You can buy additional credits in the app.
Government Attic's latest FOIA haul is a compilation of FBI documents concerning the security of telephone services, 1952-1995. The collection is posted as a single 66MB monster PDF. Get cracking! On reading the PDF, I mean.