Stepping off the cellphone upgrade cycle

I got my first cellphone in 1997. It was a chunky Ericsson GA628. The one with the external antenna which was designed to break off the first time you sat down with it in your pocket.

I loved that phone.

It had about three features (making and receiving calls were two of those) but it oozed “cool”. It also didn’t have a retractable aerial like some of the Nokia phones so you didn’t look like a field operative in a bad war movie every time you made a call.

Naturally, technology improved and I upgraded (I think it was a Nokia 6110 next) and so the years passed as I skipped from one phone to another. I was also lucky in that I was a technology journalist, so frequently had a collection of the latest and greatest mobile phones to test.

That all ended earlier this year when I finally returned the last of the review phones, the fantastic HTC Hero.

Unfortunately, by that time I had donated my own phone (a Nokia E71) to my wife. She needed it because my son had adopted her phone after he managed to submerge his phone in a few litres of water. Naturally that reduced the number of working features on his phone to just two, neither of which were making or receiving calls.

As a result I borrowed an old phone from my parents, just temporarily, you understand, until I could upgrade my contract.

Being 70+ my parents’ current phones are pretty basic. The one that I borrowed (a Motorola something; the name is mostly missing), the one they were happy to get rid of, is worthy of a mobile phone museum. It has a super basic menu system that does not very much and a screen that is almost impossible to see when there’s even a glimmer of sunlight. 

It also has what must be one of the first phone cameras ever. I’m not sure that megapixels is an appropriate measure of the camera’s capabilities, because it must fall into the 0.000-something megapixel range. The quality of the pictures rivals only the earliest of the pin-hole cameras and it makes every picture look the same: A landscape in a thick fog.

Despite that it’s been an interesting couple of weeks with a phone that does little more than make phone calls. The biggest change is that my phone now stays firmly in my pocket until it rings. I don’t use it to check Twitter, post Facebook updates, browse the web. So instead of sitting at restaurant tables looking at my phone I spend time talking to the people I’m with. Which would be good for quality family time if they weren’t all busy on their cellphones. 

It can only last for so long, however. Eventually I will get over this and want a new Android phone with all the bells and whistles. But, for now, I’m quite enjoying being a neo-Luddite.

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Stepping off the cellphone upgrade cycle