Writing about mobile phones means people constantly ask me silly questions such as: “What’s the best phone then?” and “What phone should I get?” It’s akin to asking Jeremy Clarkson what kind of bloody car you should buy. Sort of.
Anyway, a strange thing happened recently while talking to an array of entirely random and unrelated people. Er, when I say “an array of” I actually mean “three”, but they all independently said they craved an old-school Nokia. Bizarre-o.
It seems that - as far as Joe Average is concerned – there have been two peaks in the history of mobile, most recently with the iPhone, and some 12-13 years ago with the Nokia 3210.
Of the aforementioned three people, person the first was my optician. Strange, I know. She asked what the “best” phone was (in an oddly condescending tone, despite being several years younger than me), and I lazily said the iPhone. Look, it’s not like she was up for an iPhone 4S vs. Samsung Galaxy S II vs. HTC Sensation XE vs. Motorola Razr debate, alright? I took the easy way out.
“Oh, I’ve got an iPhone!” she said. No surprises there. Until she added: “I hate it. I miss my Nokia 3210.” What the…? I think that was probably the first time I’ve ever heard someone with an iPhone say that they dislike it. “You hate your iPhone?” I asked, somewhat puzzled.
Turns out my optician simply resents how much she relies on her iPhone, and admitted to “freaking out” if she doesn't have her phone with her. Fair enough; so she doesn’t actually hate her iPhone. Quite the opposite.
Person the second was, uhm, Mel…ody. Yes, my friend, Melody. Despite working in broadband tech support for several years, she is – ironically – a complete technophobe. She had a BlackBerry for years and didn’t go anywhere near BBM, email or even the mobile interweb. Go figure.
Melody recently bought a new phone, a Samsung Galaxy Ace, but wasn’t impressed. She moaned: “I don’t know how to work it. I just want my Nokia 3210 back.” Sigh.
Ok, so far we’ve got resentment and lack of technical prowess.
Person the third was my good friend, er, let’s call him Rob. Like my optician, Rob grew to resent the amount of time he spent looking at his smartphone. Oh, actually, this is a good time to plug Yes, I’m glued to my phone. So what?. Rob inspired said feature when he challenged my abundant phone use.
Where were we? Ahh yeah. Rob’s resentment was further fuelled when his years-old HTC Desire started playing up, turning him against all Android phones (silly, I know), and – since he refused to give Apple any more money – he threatened to go old-school with a feature phone.
“I hate phones. I just want to be able to send text messages and make the occasional call. I’m getting an old-school Nokia.”
Ultimately, Rob opted for a BlackBerry Bold Touch, as it “just works”. Not a bad choice, actually, despite being driven by apparent insanity.
To be fair, I do understand Rob’s resentment concerning our reliance upon smartphones. Incidentally, when I was on the train home last night, I noticed that more than half of the 20-or-so people in my carriage – myself included – were sitting staring at their phones. I kinda miss the days when we would’ve all been reading books instead.
When I was a kid, we didn’t have mobile phones; no one did. If you wanted to find your friends, you had to go out and find them. It was freakin’ great. Or was it? I suggested to Martin the other day that you tend to forget the crap stuff as time goes on. That applies to holidays, relationships, school… maybe it’s the same with mobile phones.
Yeah, we all had great fun playing Snake and discovering polyphonic ringtones and what have you, but imagine not being able to jump on Google or Amazon or Facebook – wherever your are – with the tap of a button. Not to mention the myriad of other features we all take for granted.
Nah, I’m not convinced. Stick your resentment and your lack of technical ability and your nostalgia up your bum. I like my smartphone.