Category Archives: cell phone articles

The Rise and Fall and Rise of the Dumb Phone

The “dumb phone,” a cellular device primarily designed for use as a phone, might just be sticking around longer than Samsung or Apple would have predicted. Nowadays, earnest bloggers refer to them as “Feature Phones,” but that hardly communicates the charming simplicity of the technology. In the era of the sleekest, most voice/touch-sensitive multi-purpose devices drawing lines of midnight shoppers, the old standard for cell phones is still managing to retain some relevance.

These devices have proven themselves to be surprisingly reliable and straight-forward in their focus on a few useful tasks. Whether you’re tired of the “always connected” nature of current devices, or simply need an emergency solution that won’t lose its ability to make a call because of your addiction to instagram, a “dumb” phone could be just what you’re looking for.

What is CDMA?

That’s an easy question to answer: Code Division Multiple Access.

Alright, alright. That doesn’t explain much after all. Really, it’s the name of a radio transmission protocol. Like an operating system for the airwaves, the standard uses a particular set of tech standards for communicating information through radio waves. The benefits of such an approach are fairly obvious: You can build a single, interconnected network that can be accessed by any device using the same protocol.

Now, the differences between the different protocols can be a bit esoteric, but you might consider, say, the difference between an Android and Apple smartphone. Each has qualities particular to its strategy, as well as the related downsides. Since these cellular protocols are all utilizing the same general spectrum of radio waves, the coverage of the network itself is often more important than the brand.

What is the difference between CDMA and GSM?

GSM is the standard for 90% of the rest of the world. In 1987, Europe issued a mandate for its adoption, and it quickly spread out from there. As these communication technologies expand, the cost is driven down, accelerating that expansion. Indeed, AT&T and Sprint both use GSM networks in the United States.

The difference in capabilities hinges on one key issue: CDMA cannot transmit voice and data at the same time. GSM, as a standard, demands this capability. And again, the current environment is best explained with the operating system analogy. Back in the 90’s, cellular carriers had to decide upon a new standard for building out their networks. The CDMA standard of the time had better features than GSM did, so the infrastructure followed suit. GSM eventually countered, but the commitment was already made. It should be noted also, that since one of the other benefits of GSM is the ability to swap a SIM card to any phone you choose, the locked-down nature of CDMA allows the kind of walled-off approach that American tech companies favor.

So while GSM eventually proved itself the more-capable technology, in the United States at least, CDMA has a robust and extensive radio network for the dumbest of phones to utilize.

How to tell what network a phone requires

The simplest answer is to buy direct from a network outlet or online. However, since one of the benefits of using old technology is taking part in its recycling, you may want to head to eBay or a local thrift shop. Of the items quickly parted with between upgrades, cell phones have established their own sort of currency at resale. The key to finding a phone that functions on the network you want is to simply….take a smartphone to the store to look up each devices’ capabilities. Alternative, you could use the old “pen v. paper” strategy, and do the research later. It might be good preparation for you if you’re downgrading intentionally.

The primary thing to remember is that phones generally won’t cross well with the more basic protocols. A smartphone has a range of “G’s” to select from, as well as new LTE options. A basic phone will not. A CDMA phone used exclusively on that network will not be able to communicate with a GSM network like AT&T and T-Mobile. However, many phones have been produced with CDMA and GSM variants, so it’s even more important to get a handle on any used phone you intend to buy. You should be able to find all product information and relevant codes under a battery pack. If not, simply power it on, hit the nearest “menu” button you can. An option for “Info” or “About” will usually be located at the bottom of the menu, and should lead the way to the information you need for a quick and successful internet search.

Now you just need to find one…

The 10 “Best” CDMA Dumb Phones

A quick explanation: “Best” in this case relates to their reliability and usability in the business of making phone calls and sending and receiving basic text messages. The rise of smartphones absolutely lowered the cost of sturdy, long-lasting electronics, which these options reflect.

  1. Nokia 515
  2. LG Rumor Reflex
  3. Samsung Intensity 2
  4. Motorola Razr2 V9
  5. LG Lotus Elite
  6. Motorola i866
  7. Casio G’zOne Ravine 2
  8. Nokia 106
  9. LG CU500
  10. Samsung Jitterbug

Where to buy unlocked dumbphones?

Amazon, Ebay, and Best Buy all feature unlocked phones, and do carry plenty of feature/dumb phone options. If you’re planning to stick with a particular carrier and buy in-store, they also should have a range of new and pre-owned/refurbished devices for you to select from at the store. You’ll get some extra assurance of quality, will probably save a few bucks when buying as part of your service contract, but might also wind up getting talked into unnecessary charges along the way.

If you are interested in finding a phone first and a carrier second, just remember to focus on those tips for deciphering what network it uses, because you will be tied to the options for each. An old Verizon model should absolutely work on any other CDMA network, while an old AT&T/T-Mobile device will only work with those two carriers.

Craigslist is another option, albeit one with more serious drawbacks than the extra insurance you’ll get at Verizon. Thrift Stores and Pawn Shops have some obligation to track where their goods are coming from. Craigslist puts that responsibility in your hands, while dealing with someone who might be the greatest, coolest person ever….or might be the person who stole that phone.

However, the risk has its own rewards. Prices are terribly low, and the sellers are usually motivated. If they weren’t, they’d be on Ebay, which is one of the better options for buyers. You get something between Craiglist and a potentially-shady Pawn Shop, with as much accountability and tracking as you could hope for in the resale market.

You’ll still need to be careful about the details of the phone being offered, but Ebay’s infrastructure is already overwhelmingly tuned to delivering that information to you in detail.

Amazon isn’t perfect, but at least they try to work with reputable sellers and ferret out the scammers. They also offer hassle-free return policies, but as with any online sellers, you should make sure you understand the return policy terms before making any purchase.

Final Tips

Avoiding the trappings of fast-paced technology is perfectly reasonable, but don’t let yourself miss out on modern developments in safety either. The rapid ascension of smart phones has standardized a lot of basic emergency services, completely separate from what each carrier offers. If you have a working cell phone, it will make 911 calls. However, if you get too excited by the novelty of antiquity, that comfortable old phone might not have the network options to make the call. Modern dumbphones strike a comfortable balance between function and simplicity. A used, formerly-state of the art dumbphone could very well hit the same balance, but you’ll need an internet-enabled something to make an educated decision.

Good luck!




When Was The First Flip Phone Invented And Who Made It?

The Evolution Of The Clamshell Cell Phone

The clamshell phone is often known as the flip phone, and it was the first serious type of cell phone that anyone could carry. It was so popular that it is still in use today. People can find flip phones everywhere, and anyone can find them for free from some carriers that offer services to the public.

This is a pretty interesting thing in technology because most stuff goes out of style about five seconds after it comes out, but the flip phone is still around. There is a lot to learn about the flip phone, and it is something that is still interesting to this day when people start to look into it.

The Style

The style of the flip phone is something that was really functional for people. It was so functional that they could just stick it in their pockets, and it is a basic phone that anyone can use. Grandma can be taught how to use the phone, and the little kids in the family can learn how to use these phones in emergencies. They do not have all the capacity of the phones of today, but they are still simple. They make sense, and they will do most anything that is needed.

The Flip

The flip is the classic way to hand up a phone call today. It has been seen on so many TV shows that people cannot possibly miss it, and everyone has flipped the phone really hard when they hung up on someone. The whole idea of flipping the phone to end a call is something that is popular in pop culture, and it looks almost wrong when people do not flip their phones on TV and in movies today. The flip is that iconic in terms of how it looks when it is being used.

It Could Come Back

The flip phone is such an iconic thing that it could come back with authority. There is better technology today that people will be able to use to make sure that they can make the phones worth buying, and there are many companies coming out who do not want their customers to have to buy cases for their phones. The beauty of the flip phone is that the screen will not break. People deal with broken screens all the time now, and those broken screens can be solved just by flipping the phone closed.

Companies like Motorola are still out there making phones, and they are prepared to go back to making flip phones. Flip phones are practical, and companies like Motorola, Ericsson and Nokia were making amazing flip phones long before anyone else had anything to show. They could come back because they are easy to make, and the phones will have all the technology that is needed with full keyboards and Internet access. It would be like being in the 90s all over again, but it would be with all the technology that people take for granted today.

The First Models

Motorola MicroTAC 9800x: the world's first mobile flip phoneReleased April 25, 1989, the Motorola MicroTAC was the first analog mobile flip phone (and it sold for $2,500 to $3,500!!!), and it was followed up by something that GTE Labs had a patent for for a long time. Some say it was based on the space-age communicator gadget featured in the Star Trek TV show way back in the 1970s, but did you know there was also a landline flip phone?

motorola razrAnyway, GTE Labs would eventually be either bought out or split off and became many other telephone companies in the future, and that patent persisted until 1993.

The Motorola RAZR is probably the most popular flip phone that ever existed (it was basically the iPhone of its time, in the 1990s), and it persisted for a long time while Motorola was at the top of the market.

Nokia also had many small flip phones, but they did not actually use the clamshell design until much later. Most people would not know the difference, but there is a slight difference if someone were to look really closely at Nokia versus other phones.

Why Did Celebrities Go Back To Flip Phones?

Hackers have been leaking nude pictures using smartphones for some time, and a flip phone only has a camera that can see anything when the phone is upside down. The new phones could be made with a front camera, but the camera is covered when the phone is closed. This is a very important thing for anyone who is concerned about privacy, but it just makes the phone more practical overall.

It can be hidden anywhere, and it is going to take up much less space overall. There will probably be a whole industry that comes up just to make covers or stickers for the phones, and these phones could be en vogue soon after they come out.

Should Regular People Go Back To The Flip Phone?

They are much easier to use, and they make it very easy for people to save money when they are picking out a phone. A flip phone is going to be cheaper just because of how it is made, and it could become the new affordable way for people to get the phone they want. A nice flip phone will probably come with full keyboard, and it will likely be something that people can carry around easily. Guys can slip them in their pockets easily, and ladies can drop them in their purses without any worry.

This is the practical side of cell phones that has been lost with smartphones, but it’s possible that smartphones will soon be introduced with clamshell designs to offer a really nice alternative that people are going to love. This is a very easy way for people to get the results that they want, and it is an even easier way for people to get the results they want when they are trying to make a change in how they use technology.

There are a lot of people who might think that they will not go back to a flip phone, but a flip phone will be a really good way for people to get the phone they want for less money. The flip phone is pretty safe, and it will have all the tech that people have wanted in the future without giving up their security or worrying about getting their screens cracked at the worst time.

Flip phones aren’t just a thing of the past; they’re the future, whether people want to use them or not, and it just depends on how fast people are going to get onboard when these big companies start coming out with flip phones that have all the things that the smartphone has on it right now.


Your Smartphone Sucks! 19 Reasons Dumbphones Are Better

  1. Dumbphone owners don’t need to bring their charger with them wherever they go.
  2. I can put my dumbphone in the same pocket as my keys and not freak out.
  3. I dropped my big old dumb phone, and the floor cracked.
  4. I can see oncoming cars when I cross the street.
  5. I don’t wake up in the middle of the night because of some app telling me it’s time to kill zombies.
  6. My dinner never gets cold while I’m arranging everybody’s food for my Instagram status.
  7. Couples with dumbphones actually speak to each other during meals.
  8. Dumbphones only need to get charged like 1-2 times per week, tops.
  9. Dumbphone owners don’t decide where to eat lunch based on which restaurants offer free wifi.
  10. Nobody gives me dirty looks when I’m standing in the welfare line.
  11. My teenager NEVER asks to borrow my phone.
  12. Or my charger.
  13. Or my USB.
  14. Or my AUX.
  15. Or my earbuds.
  16. I never have to spend all day searching my teenager’s room for my phone, my charger, my USB, or my AUX, or my earbuds.
  17. Nobody ever accuses me of taking THEIR charger, their USB, their AUX, or their earbuds.
  18. A husband, wife, and two teenagers will save about $200 to $300 a month using dumb phones instead of smart phones. No data plans. No monthly insurance fees. No app downloads. No data overages.
  19. With their extra $200 to $300 a month, The Dumphone family can afford a Caribbean cruise. Every single year.

Why Dumb Phones Are Smart

For many years my family and I have been using cell phones. I think they’re awesome. Throw in a decent built-in camera, and life is just peachy.

But then we got into smart phones. My wife got one. Then I got one, and our older son was soon to join in on that. Then we followed that up by getting our first tablet. Then a year later, we got three more. And then one more the year after that.

Oh yeah, we have three iPod Touch on top of that.

So altogether, our family of five is currently using…

  • 3 smart phones
  • 3 iPods
  • 2 iPads
  • 3 iPad minis
  • 2 dumb phones

That’s a lot of tech. And we love them all.  Well, the iPods don’t really get used much right now, but I’m keeping them for the future, because I know that we’re going to want them before too long.

These smart phones and data plans are just killing me. If I were to add up all the money I’ve spent on smart phones and data plans over the past 4-5 years, it would be enough to buy a brand new car! That is no exaggeration.

Dumb Phones Are Way Cheaper Than Smart Phones

Over the past year alone, I’ve spent over $3,000 for cell phone service for my family. That’s 3 smartphones and 2 dumbphones. Throw in the 3 tablets that we got “on sale” with data plans…and it’s well over $4,000 in just 12 months.

Holy mother of god that is a crap load of money that I will never have back in my checking account. If I was smart, I would’ve just bought dumb phones and iPads for all of us and no data plans…and I STILL would have over $2,000 of that money in my pocket. And that’s just ONE YEAR. We’ve been using smart phones for over 4 years now.

How smart is that?

We pay for Internet and wifi at home anyway.

We have free wifi available at almost every store and restaurant we go to.

Why the heck do we need to pay $300 for data for 6 devices when 90% of our web surfing is done on wifi anyways?

That makes no sense.

That is just plain dumb.

Dumb Phones Don’t Suck Your Brains Out Like Smart Phones Do

Having that constant Internet connection and dozens of apps in your pocket 24/7 does something else to you besides just sucking the money right out of your pocket. It also sucks your brain right out of your head.

Here’s a fun experiment…

Go out to the mall or something – maybe even a restaurant – and just sit there and watch the people around you for an hour or so. How many of them are stumbling around like brainless zombies, eyes glued to their devices, barely even noticing the world around them? How many almost get hit by cars walking through the parking lot or stepping out into the street? How many sit there at a table with friends or family, totally oblivious to the other person sitting two feet away?

How did we become so insane?

How did we become so out of touch with the world around us?

I love my Internet as much as the next guy. Hell, here I am at my laptop, connected to wifi and banging out another blog post. So I get it. The Internet is cool. I like it too.

But there’s more to life than your IG feed. There’s a whole world of interesting people in your own home, your own workplace, and in your own neighborhood, but when your attention is locked into your smart phone day and night…you’re missing it.

Dumb Phone + wifi = Best of Both Worlds

I have an iPhone and I love what it can do. But after a year and a half, I’ve finally realized that it’s just not worth the money I’m paying for it every month. I’m stuck halfway through a 2-year contract, and I want out really bad.

I held out for a few years before getting my first iPhone, and I loved it immediately. I wondered how I ever survived without it.

But that was before I started keeping track of the cell phone bills.

Now, I can’t wait to get out of this contract, downgrade to some cheap, rugged, little flip phone, and then dust off my iPod and just use that to take pics and surf the web when we’re out and about…if at all.

I also have that iPad tablet. So I mean, why do I even need a smartphone? I could just carry my dumb phone and iPod around with me, and maybe bring my iPad along too when appropriate.

If I have my wife and kids take the same approach, that’s almost $300 a month that we will be saving.

I am SO looking forward to that.

Paying $300 a month for a service that you can get for free is just not smart.