Phone help needed

Despite my frightening net addiction and general interest in techy stuff, I am a bit of a Luddite when it comes to mobile phones. I got my first phone only three years ago, which probably made me among the last ½% in the country. I have only owned two phones, including the one I currently use. I have never bought a phone — my first was a gift, and the second is a hand-me-down.

By and large, I’ve been fairly happy with the situation though. I can’t believe the way most people go through phones. Seemingly many people go through them at the rate of about two a year, or sometimes even every other weekend when they forgetfully drop their phone down the drain in a mad binge drinking-fuelled bum-bum performance.

In a way, I’m like one of those insufferable people who go, “OH, I just can’t set my VCR!” People who boast that they can’t set their VCR are stupid posers who really need to find something better to be proud about.

Me? I just go around saying, “Look! My phone doesn’t have a camera on it! It takes me half an hour to send a text! I don’t phone anyone cos I can’t be bothered to top it up!” Yes, I’m one of those terrible people who almost takes pride in how rubbish their phone is. I mean, this is probably three years old, which in mobile phone terms makes it a proper dinosaur. I mean, no camera!

But a certain website has come along and changed my phone habits for the better / worse [delete as applicable]. Yes, that Twitter nonsense means that I now receive about a dozen (probably more — believe it or not, I don’t count!) texts a day. This can be a bit embarrassing. I now receive such a large amount of texts that it suggests that people want to talk to me, when in reality I’m am just getting loads of tweets complaining about hangovers.

Also — I don’t know whether this is down to O2 or Twitter, or just the way that phones work — but often my messages come in clumps of about a dozen or even more. When I’m sitting there in a dull lecture, my pocket is sporadically buzzing away like a short circuiting dildo. All I can say is, thank goodness I don’t have a really annoying ringtone.

Actually having to use my phone has made me realise how clunky and slow it is. For instance, I can’t believe the fact that I run out of memory after about 50 texts. I assume today’s phones can hold a few more messages on them. Also, because of Twitter, I have come to appreciate how handy a mobile phone can come in. And I have occasionally felt out of the loop.

Counter-intuitively, Twitter might be making me less of a geek. (Well, it might be fostering a new era of net addiction for me. But I just like to see it as “engaging with society”. Of course.) Because of my busy modern hectic 24 hour lifestyle, on many days I might not find my way onto a computer all day until well after 9pm. Beforehand, I don’t think I really noticed. It didn’t bother me too much — besides, it’s probably good to stay away from the computer for most of the day.

But now with Twitter, I am being constantly reminded that stuff is happening, and I am missing out on it. What if there was a vaguely important email sent to me this morning? I might not see it until late on in the evening. An interesting blog post? I might miss it entirely. Important news event? My face will be nuked off before I know about it.

As somebody who, over the past few years, has been a bit of a “news junkie” and pale blogger, the realisation that I am actually not informed has unsettled me. And the sporadic stream of texts that I receive via Twitter has made me appreciate that this stupid thing in my pocket could actually come in useful.

Also, I didn’t really get anything interesting for my birthday, apart from money. It feels wrong to have turned 21 and only have the Borat DVD (thanks Gordon!) as a memento. I could get an iPod (and believe me, this is a particularly good opportunity for me to get an iPod), but since I just wrote the other day about why I’m not getting an iPod that would be silly. I mean, my iRiver still works…

So, a phone it (probably) is. But, as you might have guessed from what I have written above, I do not have the first clue about phones. So what’s what? Are there any particular good phones that I should go for? Any dodgy things I should know about?

I don’t want anything too swish — after all, that would make me look like a poserish iPod owner / Porsche driver. But I am looking for something that will allow me to check my email, Google Reader, maybe Facebook mobile and the odd news story. And I suppose I should join that mob of happy slappers and get a camera as well (although I don’t imagine you can actually buy a phone without a camera these days).

Of course, I could do the research myself, but I have actually tried and I really don’t know what’s what. Most of it goes straight over my head. So I would be grateful for any suggestions, should anyone be so kind as to pop into the comments.

Update: (Working my way through all the blog posts that I missed during the week) Blood & Treasure: i am a lonely node


  1. I love my Sony Ericsson, but it’s primarily my MP3 player, not my phone. Even so, once you install Opera Mini, you can get to pretty much any site. No idea if Google Reader has an HTML view, if so, you can check that, I check my Gmail on mine regularly, and my friends page, and a number of blogs. I comment all over the place using it if I’m bored and away from a PC.

    Most modern phones can handle Opera Mini, but essentially the higher spec the better. Plus, it’s actually possibly worth paying attention to thespecs of the camera; I never bother to take my actual camera out, but use my phone camera a lot now I’ve got it, especially wondering London or out with friends.

    I have a contract, it gives me a new handset annually if I want one, and the technology proceeds so fast it’s almost certainly worth it. Up to you of course, but I suspect we’ll have fully functional browsers very soon. Or just get a PDA phone; they cost a bit more, but they are mini PCs with added phone goodness.

  2. Disclaimer: my agency represents T-Mobile, so I feel I should tell you that up front.

    Having recently made the switch, though, I can recommend it, for two reasons – (1) £7.50 for UNLIMITED data is cool (my phone supports HDSPA – about 4mbps wireless broadband) and (2) the customer service experience has actually been pretty good.

    The second thing I’d recommend is getting a Windows Mobile device. I’ve been using these for years and love the flexibility they have. There are TONNES of third party apps, including RSS readers written for them – Google Reader mobile works on them (not sure about Facebook, but assume that it will work with the nerfed version of IE that comes on those things) and more. They also Sync with Outlook (provided with the phone) and have other awesome features. I have the T-Mobile MDA Vario 2 at the moment, which has the fault of being big, but is otherwise a phone of awesome beauty and power.

    Hope that helps!

  3. Don’t buy anything that’s not a Nokia. Twice I’ve been temped away and regretted it within days.

    Actually, the boy just started using a Nokia E65 wich seems very attractive and has decent sized keys… a few extra pounds spent on memory and he’s also stuck 2GB of music on it.

  4. Thanks for the suggestions!

    Mat, Google Reader has (I think recently) introduced a ‘mobile view‘, which I presume would do the trick. It looks basic enough.

    Armand, £7.50 — is that per month or what? If so, sounds fairly good. Of course, I have no idea how it compares to other offers though.

  5. I’ve had both Nokia and Sony Ericssons are find them much of a muchness, although the battery life is better on the Sony I find.

    Having a camera is quite handy (never know when you might need it) and texting is useful, but I guess the ability to make and receive calls will win out for me every time…