Tech junkies will loathe OwnFone.
Parents and seniors will likely love it.
There’s no texting, no camera, no social media, no games and no apps. That means no sexting, no cyberbullying, no timewasting, and no bill shock.
The OwnFone, which launches in Australia on Wednesday, is about as simple as a mobile can get.
It’s a 40g plastic body, about the size of eight stacked credit cards, with a handful of buttons including volume, “answer” and “end call”.
The remaining buttons have but one function: to call whomever’s number has been pre-programmed into each – be it mum, dad, a friend, a sibling, or triple-0. It can accommodate up to 12 numbers.
And that’s it.
For kids, it’s an easy way to keep in contact with friends and family.
If, for instance, they need to be picked up from swimming practice, they need only press the “mum” or “dad” button. To make things even simpler, the phone can be ordered to feature a photo on each button.
If they happen to lose or smash it, as kids sometimes will, a replacement costs $77, and there is no risk of losing personal data. Nor is there much in it for thieves – unless of course they fancy a chat with a victim’s friends and family.
The simple interface will probably also appeal to seniors overwhelmed by the complexity of smartphones.
It also means the battery lasts longer than a smartphone’s. It will last for up to three days on regular use. Most smartphones will last a third of that.
OwnFone claims that if you place a fully charged handset into a special “shutdown” mode, leave it a drawer for a year and then turn it on, it will still make and receive calls. In this way, it would likely be a good phone to have on hand as an emergency backup.
Simplicity does, however, have its downsides. There’s no voicemail function or caller ID, and if you want to change a number on the phone, you must return it to OwnFone in an envelope for reconfiguration.
The absence of texting might also irk some people who prefer it as a regular means of staying in contact with the kids.
There is also no way to check usage on the phone, though alerts are sent via email or texted to an alternative mobile number when 50, 85 and 100 per cent of monthly calls have been used.
Handsets are $69 or $79 depending on if you want words or pictures, and plans, which run on the Vodafone network, start at $20 per month for 45 minutes of calls, though cheaper options are available if you’re willing to lock in for six or 12 months.
Simple feature phones with rudimentary screens and texting capabilities, such as the Nokia 106, go for as little as about $40, and will also give you the option of any number of telco providers.
But if you’d like to limit your kids’ ability to get into cybertrouble, the OwnFone is your best bet.
* The OwnFone is available from Wednesday from ownfone广西桑拿,广西桑拿网, or 1300 69 63 63.