The Motofone F3. For one thing, it’s an act of dissidence, like entrepreneurship, so I like it a lot in that way: it’s been called the anti-iPhone. It’s the opposite of the culture obsessed with texting and constantly communicating with little of substance to say.
What it’s not: I use my phone as a phone. I don’t need it to take poor photos and play bad music. It’s not a hobby, it’s a tool. I plan to be on it when I have to, and not when I don’t. I don’t have a land line – I can’t see the point, since I need to keep my business with me, and I like sim card technology (pull the brain, dump the phone, put the brain in a new phone), so I need a truly portable phone that seriously rivals land line capability.
What it is:
- High durability – no glass and it’s practically armored, but scalpel-thin. You can drop it, throw it, stand on it, run over it repeatedly on gravel, toss it off a roof, then pick it up and make a call. No joke. Youtube videos abound putting it through just such abusive paces. It’s like the old 20-pound Bell phones (which were great for clobbering burglars), but this is the shuriken of phones.
- High visibility (read it in direct sunlight). It reads like writing on paper. Shine one of those Homeland Security lights in your eyes and at least you can call your lawyer.
- High battery life (if you get the GSM model – if you’re stuck in a CDMA contract, I’m sorry, but at least there’s a version for you). The battery life is due to the same reason (it’s got a display based on e-paper*, which only uses battery when the screen changes, so it’s always on, but with no video drain)
- High call clarity – the best there is – sounds like you’re next door (I don’t need my clients and I to pay more attention to reception than to each other)
- Flexibility – I got the unlocked version, so it’ll work on nearly any sim card provider in my part of the world (either a plan like AT&T or T-Mobile or pay as you go, in case you’re on the lam – or just prefer to live like it – no ties, ready to drop and go at any time)
- Economic justice: it’s under $40 – it runs what a decent landline phone might cost in a discount store. It costs less than a month of service from most providers, and you own it. After all, why should I carry around the crown jewels, or have my equity, debt, or wealth tied up in telephone? Why should a phone cost as much as a mortgage payment, and need a contract to secure? Live light where you can – not to is a grave thing.
In short: it’s got everything I need for business (and nothing I don’t) – especially true if you’ve already got a computer where you work or carry one with you (for you backpack entrepreneurs). I see those Blackberries. I just can’t get hip to needing a holster in case I get a call. If I’m going to wear a sidearm, it’s going to go blam blam – not come with an Usher ringtone. Of course, I carry a filofax, but I still think those are more useful than a Blackberry, for much the same set of reasons. And… my scalpel-thin Motofone F3 fits inside my filofax nicely (or the smallest pocket I’ve got). For you tough guys in t-shirts, roll it up in the sleeve like a cigarette pack in the 80s. Shoulders make a man look like a man, anyway. Or so I’m told. There are all kinds of creative places you can tuck a phone like this.
Other benefits: No menu (it’s not a computer, it’s a phone): for you uber-geeks, can you imagine Spock having to go through the average cell phone menu on a tricorder? Set your phasers on snooze. Physical signal and battery meters: I don’t have to touch my phone to know the charge and signal strength. Super loud ring, or you can set it to jiggle. Candy bar style with keylock: minimal moving parts, and nothing to flip or slide open. A single jack (for power, earpiece, etc): that’s right, no bluetooth, but excellent speaker phone, and so light and thin I can just hang it around my mirror, set it on the dash, or balance it on my head in a conversation.
* e-paper, in case you don’t know, looks and flexes kind of like ordinary x-ray paper, or a film negative – but it’s a computerized display – in other words, it’s literally “computer paper”. You might think I’ve been smoking too much Star Trek, but I remember in 1997 when I drew an example from nanotechnology in a room of young university scholars and they wouldn’t believe there was such a thing – now even the junior colleges are offering courses on the ubiquitous subject. “I have seen land… it does exist!” –Waterworld. In short, the Motofone F3 is the ultimate high-tech low-tech phone. So when someone says, but “You don’t have a camera or mp3!” you can say, “Yeah, but your phone still has a little glass screen, doesn’t it? That’s adorable – so retro. Got menus? Yeah, I thought so. I just can’t see carrying around a kiosk. Not into antiques, but to each his own.” Enjoy being a smart aleck – I do. One of my ’employment’ benefits.
** One web comment says there’s no indicator that the battery’s about to die. Actually, when the drop dead meter reaches maximum, it starts blinking to let you know you’ve got maybe one call left. But given that the meter is always visible, without even touching the phone, it’s hard to see an issue.
Update: And now it’s available even cheaper still ($19.95) as New Egg deal: Motorola F3 Unlocked GSM Bar Phone with Speaker Phone – OEM
Update 6/2010: Still going strong. I still love this phone.
- Nanotech opportunities abound in Oklahoma
- Four Oklahoma researchers attain nanotechnology grants
- Nanotechnology is being integrated into school programs
- State’s nanotechnology to be on display
- Five nanotechnology projects to receive funding from the Oklahoma Center
- State gives companies $1.5M for nanotechnology growth
- Why not nanotechnology?
- State starting to grasp nanotechnology applications
- Norman company garners $3M for research
- I must have mentioned it first in 1996, of course
- But it started to get mentioned by others 10mo later