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The Feature Phone Is Dead: Long Live the 'Basic Smartphone'

Soulskill posted about 6 months ago | from the phones-of-middling-intelligence dept.

Cellphones 243

zarmanto writes: "The numbers have been telling us for a while now that (formerly expensive) feature phones have been slowly displaced by more feature-rich, high-end smartphones. Thus, it should come as no surprise that the other end of the market is also receiving active encroachment by low-end smartphones. Now, ARM is suggesting that it's actually quite conceivable for OEMs to produce a 'smartphone' for as little as $20 — as long as you compromise a bit on those things which actually make it a smartphone in the first place. So, is this just more graying of the line between smartphones and feature phones? Or is this an indication that the feature phone (as we used to know it) is finally well-and-truly dead?"

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Toad phone is next (1, Offtopic)

For a Free Internet (1594621) | about 6 months ago | (#46931219)

Phones are spying devices. They will only be useful afer the workers have smashed the capitalist state and established their soviet dictatorship, opening the road to socialist revolution!

First! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46931251)

First comment

WTF Is A "Feature Phone"? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46931257)

Or is this an indication that the feature phone (as we used to know it) is finally well-and-truly dead?"

Assuming we've heard of this term "feature phone" in the first place.

Re:WTF Is A "Feature Phone"? (1)

tomhath (637240) | about 6 months ago | (#46931335)

It's based on a Gartner analysis. You don't expect them to give meaningful information, do you?

Re:WTF Is A "Feature Phone"? (1)

mark-t (151149) | about 6 months ago | (#46931411)

Feature phones are cell phones with additional "features", especially the ability to run different applications that a user can decide to install on it.

Re:WTF Is A "Feature Phone"? (5, Insightful)

interkin3tic (1469267) | about 6 months ago | (#46931999)

From wiki [wikipedia.org] it sounds like the term is basically just "not a smartphone." Dumbphones evidently fall into that category. I'm guessing "feature phone" is simply a stupid marketing term that sounds better than "dumbphone."

Re:WTF Is A "Feature Phone"? (4, Informative)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 6 months ago | (#46932291)

They're much more popular in areas where computers are not much of an option like Africa. When I was there, you could stop at little wooden booths on the street and buy Feature phones and calling cards for a few dollars right along with various junk food and mystery meat on a stick. Due to the US cellular market being such a disaster no-one from the US's phone would work there unless you were an AT&T international plan. As a result everyone from the US would get off the plane and immediately buy one of these for $5 and enough minutes to call home.

Are they dead in the US? They were never a "thing" here to begin with. In Africa and other very rural areas with poor infrastructure, they are basically the only computer you can get and are hugely successful. People run full blown businesses off the things. So no, they aren't dead. Most people in these areas have a hard time coming up with the $5 for the phone. The average wage where I was at was $7/month. So the difference between $5 and a fancy $20 smart phone is 3 months salary. Don't get me wrong, these people had wealth (land, livestock, clothes, etc...) . It just wasn't easily transferable to US currency. They bartered a lot.

Re:WTF Is A "Feature Phone"? (1)

ZorglubZ (3530445) | about 6 months ago | (#46931473)

I think I have a "Feature Phone"... it's an LG Optimus 3D, the 'feature' being 3D camera and 3D display (I don't use either feature; I might've used the 3D Camera if I had a proper 3D TV...).

Re:WTF Is A "Feature Phone"? (1)

TechyImmigrant (175943) | about 6 months ago | (#46931511)

What makes a 3D TV "proper"?

Re:WTF Is A "Feature Phone"? (1)

Stormwatch (703920) | about 6 months ago | (#46931597)

Not using anaglyph glasses, maybe?

Re:WTF Is A "Feature Phone"? (2)

ichthus (72442) | about 6 months ago | (#46931913)

The best scene release 3D TV? The opposite of a "nuked" 3D TV?

Re:WTF Is A "Feature Phone"? (1)

Mr D from 63 (3395377) | about 6 months ago | (#46931519)

Finally, the fabled future of the feature phone is found to be fabulous.

Re:WTF Is A "Feature Phone"? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46931531)

Redundant, eh? Riddle me this then, how can the very first instance of this question be called redundant?

Re:WTF Is A "Feature Phone"? (2)

Sigma 7 (266129) | about 6 months ago | (#46931591)

Technically, a feature phone is a class of cell phone half-way between conventional smart phones and cellphones that only allowed dialing.

It's also a back-dated definition.

As for programming software for one - don't bother. There's so many variants that it's easier to aim for an Android or iOS.

Re:WTF Is A "Feature Phone"? (1)

csnydermvpsoft (596111) | about 6 months ago | (#46931979)

As for programming software for one - don't bother. There's so many variants that it's easier to aim for an Android or iOS.

Also, there's no money there. The people that own feature phones have them because they either can't afford a smartphone, or they don't want to learn how to use one. Neither market segment is particularly prone to purchasing apps, and they're not as valuable to advertisers.

Re:WTF Is A "Feature Phone"? (1)

rogoshen1 (2922505) | about 6 months ago | (#46932195)

i think you left off a third demographic "people who reject the need for being CONSTANTLY connected/tracked"

I make enough money for a smartphone, i know full well how to use one .. i just don't want to be constantly within nagging range of email or texts. And i definitely want nothing to do with social media, or stalking/snooping apps.

If there was a compelling reason for a smart phone and/or app (other than social media nonsense, or the aforementioned email/texts) i'd buy a smart phone. but right now, it's just about tracking users and this irritating social media bubble that cannot pop soon enough.

Re:WTF Is A "Feature Phone"? (1)

DutchUncle (826473) | about 6 months ago | (#46932237)

I'll add a fourth demographic: people who don't want to be bothered. My wife has an iPhone, I have a 4-year-old flip-phone that makes calls and that's about it. And I like it that way.

Re:WTF Is A "Feature Phone"? (1)

koreanbabykilla (305807) | about 6 months ago | (#46932241)

I know how to use an iphone, I know how to use an android device. I'm well able to afford a smartphone. I use a feature phone because while I like having data available to my laptop on the go, as well as a browser on the phone to use while shitting, I don't need all the bullshit like having to charge it everyday.

Re:WTF Is A "Feature Phone"? (1)

Echemus (49002) | about 6 months ago | (#46932023)

Feature Phones are devices that were designed around a specific purpose or feature. Examples of the Feature Phone are: The Nokia 6800, its feature being fold out qwerty keyboard and email. The Nokia 5310, with music controls. Nokia 8800, style and quality over function. Realistically the original iPhone was a "Feature Phone" with its feature being touch-screen input.

The idea is that users buy a device based around the feature(s) they are most interested in. In the days before carrying touch-screen computers, it is a reasonable idea to target devices in this way. Compromise the general purpose of the device a little to accentuate other features. With a large touch-screen and more powerful processors such compromises aren't needed to be made as the UI is not limited to the standard 4x3 keypad with a small screen.

Re: WTF Is A "Feature Phone"? (3, Informative)

Vairon (17314) | about 6 months ago | (#46931803)

From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/F... [wikipedia.org]
"A feature phone is a mobile phone which is priced at the mid-range in a wireless provider's hardware lineup.[dubious – discuss] The term "feature phone" is a retronym. It is intended for customers who want a moderately priced and multipurpose phone without the expense of a high-end smartphone."

In my mind there's 3 general categories to mobile phones:
1. basic phone - Can make and receive phone calls. Example: Jitterbug phone
2. feature phone - Supports limited browsing of web, changing ringtones, very basic games or applications and makes/receives phone calls. Example: Nokia 6020.
3. smart phone - Runs an OS like Android or iOS with an application pool of thousands of applications to do similar functions as a PC along with making and receiving phone calls. Example: Samsung Galaxy S5

Re:WTF Is A "Feature Phone"? (1)

steveha (103154) | about 6 months ago | (#46931905)

A "feature phone" is a phone that does more than just let you make calls, but is less not as powerful as a smartphone. I'd say that the key difference is that a smartphone lets you install apps, while on a featurephone, the only "apps" you get are the ones that came pre-loaded. You get what came with the phone and nothing else.

Also, everyone expects a "smartphone" to have a multitouch screen these days. In the early days of smartphones, some phones didn't have this (e.g. the classic Blackberry had no touch screen at all, just a trackball!). Feature phones are less expensive than smartphones because they omit the fancier components like a multitouch screen.

There are a few people who want the simplicity of a feature phone... for example, some people really don't like it when their phone locks up or spontaneously reboots. (I don't like it either, but I'll put up with it happening from time to time in return for things like a web browser.) But in the long run, it will be cheaper and easier for the mobile carriers to just offer smartphones. Why pay developers to write custom "apps" for a phone, when you can just slap Android on the thing and pre-install a few Android apps?

Re:WTF Is A "Feature Phone"? (1)

koreanbabykilla (305807) | about 6 months ago | (#46932275)

Most feature phones let you install j2me apps. Ever one I have had since my first RAZR has supported them.

Re:WTF Is A "Feature Phone"? (1)

wcrowe (94389) | about 6 months ago | (#46932015)

That was my question too. I'm glad I'm not the only one. More pretentious bullsh*t from Gartner masquerading as useful information. Do you care? Does anyone care? Perhaps the manufacturers care, but surely they are well aware of their sales numbers and are capable of populating a simple spreadsheet as well as Gartner can.

Gartner: experts at telling you what you already know -- with charts.

Re:WTF Is A "Feature Phone"? (2)

squiggleslash (241428) | about 6 months ago | (#46932037)

Back when Feature Phones were "the thing", we called them "Camera Phones". Then, for reasons that don't make sense, after the iEverything came out, we started calling them Feature Phones.

No, I don't understand either. If it's because both generally had cameras then (1) It's not as if every touchscreenappsphone needed to have a camera by definition, and (2) it's not as if touchscreenappsphones didin't have features.

I can vouch for the article, FWIW. I'm about to switch back to a feature phone, and use a small tablet for my Interwebs needs. When I swear off a technology, it usually means it's about to take over and nobody is going to even be given the choice of not using it any more. You heard me right: everything from Windows to Blu-ray is my fault. At some point I'll figure out how to use this power for good.

The only features ... (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46931263)

... I require of my phone is that it make calls and sends/receive texts. My Tracfone costs me about $120 bucks a year. I'm not paying that much per MONTH for a smartphone for the added benefit of playing Candy Crush and watching cat videos on YouTube.

Re:The only features ... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46931455)

That is what 'merkans call "dumb phones", like memaw's Jitterbug. A feature phone is the in-between model that brings in basic vendor addons like messaging and gaming apps and ringtone downloads, but no (or limited) internet access.

Re:The only features ... (2)

NotFamous (827147) | about 6 months ago | (#46931495)

I would leave off the call feature - big waste of time for me.

Re:The only features ... (0)

TechyImmigrant (175943) | about 6 months ago | (#46931585)

>I would leave off the call feature - big waste of time for me.

Yup. I tend to avoid the whole call thing. People calling my phone is an asynchronous interrupt which doesn't fit with my life and work style.
So my phone is on silent all the time.

My phone needs to, in order of decreasing importance
1) Play Ingress.
2) Support decent web browsing
3) Let me send and receive messages in a whitelisted messaging service (E.G. G+ or FB Messenger or GroupMe).
4) Let me send a receive texts to more loosely connected people.
5) Let me send and receive email.

I can live without the voice calls.

Re:The only features ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46931721)

Why even bother having a phone.

Re:The only features ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46931911)

Why even bother having a phone.

Can you suggest another compact computing platform that fulfills those requirements?

Re:The only features ... (1)

pluther (647209) | about 6 months ago | (#46931937)

Why even bother having a phone.

What other device can you carry around in your pocket that can do everything he lists?

For me, pretty much the same - texts, messaging, web browsing, and I'd also add playing audiobooks, music, and podcasts.

The voice calls aren't a feature I use often.

Re:The only features ... (2)

vux984 (928602) | about 6 months ago | (#46931969)

I can live without the voice calls.

I routinely engage in 5 minute phone calls that would take hours to resolve via text messaging.

I like email and text as much as anyone, but the speed and efficiency of two-way information transfer over either is far lower than a voice call -- even if the voice call does force both parties to engage simultaneously in realtime.

I prefer to do as much as I can via email etc myself, because i prefer the written record, and the asynchronous nature -- but to suggest a voice call is unnecessary completely, ever, is ridiculous to me.

Re:The only features ... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46932247)

Cool story, granddad.

Re:The only features ... (1)

BitZtream (692029) | about 6 months ago | (#46932149)

People calling my phone is an asynchronous interrupt which doesn't fit with my life and work style.

My phone needs to, in order of decreasing importance
1) Play Ingress.

I can live without the voice calls.

From the sound of it, its a safe bet you don't have any friends who would call you, you seem to be pretty antisocial.

Re:The only features ... (5, Insightful)

mopower70 (250015) | about 6 months ago | (#46932225)

>I would leave off the call feature - big waste of time for me.

Yup. I tend to avoid the whole call thing. People calling my phone is an asynchronous interrupt which doesn't fit with my life and work style.

The most ironic part of it is, it's the one piece they just can't seem to get right. Phone calls on a cell phone suck. Period. They're awful. I was at someone's house the other day and talked to someone on an old AT&T Bakelite phone over POTS and I was shocked at how beautiful the sound was. I have never, ever - not even once - had a cell phone call that came anywhere close to that. Cell phone call quality is the audio equivalent of a Jackson Pollock painting: anyone who claims they can understand a damn thing is just lying.

Re:The only features ... (1)

Herder Of Code (2989779) | about 6 months ago | (#46931589)

Well, even if you're only interested in making/receiving calls with your phone, you have to admit that *in general*, it's much easier to manage contacts, call logs, sens SMS, etc when using a smartphone than with a dumb phone or a feature phone. Sending SMS on those feature phones used to be a total nightmare and I would do it only as a last resort.

Heck my dad, my uncle and my father in law ( all above 60 y/old) used to barely be able to make/take calls on feature phones. Now they have the cheapest refurb iphone and without having to teach/show them they use contacts and call logs, according to them it "changed their life" for the better having those contacts on hand at all time.

Re:The only features ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46931611)

The only feature I 100% demand from my phone is tethering support. The reason is very simple: the cost of a data plan for a phone is 1/4 the price of wireless broadband in Sweden :)
It's a feature if calls are dropped. Then I don't have to hang up on purpose. The lack of a dedicated hang-up button makes smart-phones annoying when your mother-in-law calls.

Re:The only features ... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46931799)

I have an Android phone on T-Mobile's $30/month, 100 min, unlimited texts and data (throttled at some point. I rarely use my 100 minutes, I don't really like talking on the phone. I am usually on WiFi, but when I'm traveling I like to be able to check email & google stuff sometimes, and while driving in DC traffic I find Waze useful. Plus there's streaming Pandora in the car, etc. I'm a cheapskate, but I find the extra spend on data worth it overall.

I have used pretty low end Android devices in the past, and they were generally frustrating. Personally, I wouldn't get a device with lower specs than what i'm using right now (Galaxy SII); luckily, some of these low-end devices will probably match that in a year or two. (Ok, maybe not at $20.)

Re:The only features ... (2)

rogoshen1 (2922505) | about 6 months ago | (#46932021)

you don't want to waste gobs of money in order to join the facebook zombie army? sad.

Way to NOT define 'feature phone' (0, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46931273)

We could guess, or infer that it's the set of phones which are not "smart", but go ahead, Editor, leave out the definition of 'feature phone'. Also, TFA never really spells it out, so it just highlights how divorced from reality Gartner is.

Re:Way to NOT define 'feature phone' (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46931933)

A smartphone is one that can load and run native programs/apps. A feature phone is one that can't, though it offers at least some functions beyond just dialing and texting.

Pretty much every non-smartphone phone on the market right now is a feature phone, short of senior-targeted niche products like the Jitterbug. This has been for at least the past half decade or so.

Note: J2ME apps do not count as native, since they run in a VM and don't interact with the OS. If a phone can only run those, but not native programs/apps, it's a feature phone.

Re:Way to NOT define 'feature phone' (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46931985)

We could guess, or infer that it's the set of phones which are not "smart", but go ahead, Editor, leave out the definition of 'feature phone'. Also, TFA never really spells it out, so it just highlights how divorced from reality Gartner is.

While we're at it, why don't we define "smartphone", "OEM" and plain old "phone". Or, you know, we could rely on people knowing decade-old industry standard terms. If you've been isolated so much you don't know the term, maybe you should do the same everyone else does when they encounter a word they don't know, look it up.

Not the phone (4, Insightful)

dpilot (134227) | about 6 months ago | (#46931287)

I suspect the real desire has nothing to do with the phone itself. The telcos just want to move everyone they possibly can from merely-slightly-expensive voice plans to very-expensive data plans.

(Then call that "broadband internet access" for regulatory purposes.)

Re:Not the phone (0)

macemoneta (154740) | about 6 months ago | (#46931525)

Data plans are no longer expensive. I use a Moto X from Republic Wireless, no contract. Unlimited voice, text/MMS and data (5GB/mo, then throttled) is $35/mo for 3G and $40/mo for 4G. We've been with them two years, and they're not the only option around this price range. The only reason to pay more is because you want to, not because you need to.

Re:Not the phone (0)

macemoneta (154740) | about 6 months ago | (#46931625)

Data plans are no longer expensive. I use a Moto X from Republic Wireless, no contract. Unlimited voice, text/MMS and data (5GB/mo, then throttled) is $35/mo for 3G and $40/mo for 4G. We've been with them two years, and they're not the only option around this price range. The only reason to pay more is because you want to, not because you need to.

Sorry, that should have said: Unlimited voice, unlimited text/MMS and data (5GB/mo, then throttled) is $25/mo for 3G and $40/mo for 4G.

Re:Not the phone (1)

CauseBy (3029989) | about 6 months ago | (#46931653)

I was in the early rounds of recipients for the Republic Phone. I returned it during the evaluation period because it dropped about 30-40% of my calls. Has your experience been better than that? (I've ended up with prepaid service for a cash-bought cell phone.)

Re:Not the phone (1)

afidel (530433) | about 6 months ago | (#46931995)

Yes, the Moto X basically never drops a call, they made the default to be very aggressive towards preferring CDMA if they detect any potential disruption on WiFi (unless you're in an area where you know you have poor Sprint coverage, then you can set that AP to never auto handoff). It's basically been completely invisible to my wife that she's using WiFi for voice calls.

Re:Not the phone (1)

LearningHard (612455) | about 6 months ago | (#46931779)

Republic uses the Sprint network which is absolutely awful in most of the country. Unfortunately for me if I want decent coverage I need AT&T and Verizon networks which are pretty much awful expensive. The reason my family doesn't use a smartphone is I refuse to pay the extortionist fees they bill. I worked in cost management for Alltel and Verizon Wireless and I'm painfully aware of how cheap it is for them to provide data service to us.

Re:Not the phone (2)

macemoneta (154740) | about 6 months ago | (#46931841)

At least in my area, Sprint is great. They've also been doing a massive buildout over the last year, so you may want to check again. Republic Wireless also offers free roaming onto Verizon and local carriers. So you get coverage if you have WiFi, Sprint, or Verizon. Many people are even using the phones overseas - any place you have WiFi, you're connected. Unlike VoIP apps, you use the same incoming/outgoing number no matter how you're connected.

Re:Not the phone (1)

El Rey (61125) | about 6 months ago | (#46931983)

FWIW, Android phones on Tracfone are on Verizon and you can bring your own phone. You can get the ones they sell on Amazon for $50. Unfortunately the only not running ICS is heartbleed vulnerable (4.1.1).

Re:Not the phone (3, Informative)

used2win32 (531824) | about 6 months ago | (#46931967)

Have have a cell plan (non prepaid) with four phones. Three are feature phones along with one older non touch screen smart phone working as a feature phone (of sorts)

All four phones together are less than $60 per month (talk, text and some data). That is $15 per month per phone. Hard to beat. $180 per year per phone. I know people who pay more than that in a single month with ~one~ smart phone...

Re:Not the phone (2)

macemoneta (154740) | about 6 months ago | (#46932045)

I'm currently on Republic Wireless $10/month plan (unlimited voice and text/MMS, WiFi data only). I always have WiFi available; our cable company has even lined all the major highways with access points. All major retailers (and even some minor retailers) have free WiFi (via AT&T). The nice thing is that Republic Wireless lets you switch the plan from the phone with immediate activation twice a month. So if I need data, I can turn it on, and it's prorated on a daily basis.

So if you have four smartphones and reasonable access to WiFi (who doesn't), all four will cost $40/month.

Re:Not the phone (3, Insightful)

radarskiy (2874255) | about 6 months ago | (#46932029)

"Data plans are no longer expensive"
Compared to voice they are. In *your very own example*, voice and text are unlimited while data is throttled.

Re:Not the phone (0)

macemoneta (154740) | about 6 months ago | (#46932061)

"Data plans are no longer expensive"
Compared to voice they are. In *your very own example*, voice and text are unlimited while data is throttled.

It's throttled after 5GB/month. They don't stop the data flow once you hit 5GB, they slow it down; it's unlimited.

Re:Not the phone (-1, Troll)

BitZtream (692029) | about 6 months ago | (#46932175)

Unless the speed is infinite than you can not possibly have unlimited data. You in fact have a very specific amount they just don't tell you, based on what they limit it too.

You are naive.

Re:Not the phone (1)

macemoneta (154740) | about 6 months ago | (#46932253)

What's so hard about 5GB at full bandwidth and whatever else at reduced bandwidth? A limit implies that they will cut you off; they don't. It's unlimited.

Re:Not the phone (3, Informative)

NewWorldDan (899800) | about 6 months ago | (#46931541)

When I think about it, I really don't need a data plan anymore. 95% of my data is coming over WiFi networks anyway. My phone is already set up for data at home, work, the coffee shop, several restaurants, and my kid's school. The only time I really need data is if I'm lost and I need a map.

On the other hand, I'm probably not all that typical. All I'm using for data is mostly email and weather. I don't play games on the phone and I'm not an app junkie. But even if I was, I think I could get by without an actual data plan.

Re:Not the phone (1)

CastrTroy (595695) | about 6 months ago | (#46931643)

When I think about it, I don't really need a voice plan anymore. The only thing I use my phone for is to send text messages and look up information on websites. I find that my phone is much more useful as a mobile internet appliance than it is as a phone. The few times I do make a phone call, something like Skype could take up the slack if it was possible to get a phone without an actual voice plan. I guess you could just get a data only plan, but where I live, getting a data only plan is the same price or more expensive, most likely because they assume you'll hook up a laptop to it and use a larger amount of data than the typical phone user would.

Re:Not the phone (2)

mrchaotica (681592) | about 6 months ago | (#46932217)

I guess you could just get a data only plan

T-Mobile has a special plan (only available online or at Wal-Mart) that costs $30/month for unlimited data (5GB of 4G) but only 100 voice minutes. It's the closest thing I've found to a cheap data-only plan (at least a 4G one... 3G data-only plans can be even cheaper).

Re:Not the phone (1)

afidel (530433) | about 6 months ago | (#46932077)

Get a Moto X or Moto G on Republic and use the $10/month unlimited voice/text plan and an offline map package (Google maps can easily save an entire metro area for offline use, if you want more than that there are paid apps with full continent maps and POI databases). If you find you want to use data at some point you can switch twice a month so turn on data and get it at a prorated $25/month for just as long as you use it.

Re:Not the phone (2)

swv3752 (187722) | about 6 months ago | (#46932097)

Actually, I think you are like most people. You're usage profile matches my own and most people i know.

Re:Not the phone (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46932131)

Verizon absolutely requires a data plan for every smartphone and their basic phones are overpriced.

Why not just use a Verizon MVNO like PagePlus? Because Verizon restricts what phones can be ported over. No iPhones and no Pay As You Go (includes basic and a few smartphones). Some people have reported getting the iPhone ported over, but the mere fact Verizon would set these rules is absurd.

I know they're CDMA and GSM, but apparently there exists such a thing as "CDMA cards" (in China of all places), so Verizon could potentially allow any device on their networks (hell, they could do that without cards, they're just assholes).

Synching calendars and contacts well (1)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | about 6 months ago | (#46931297)

That's all I ask. Even on the crap Android 2.2 phone that was my original smartphone, being able to easily manage my calendars and contacts was HUGE. It was such a step up over the feature phones I'd previously had...

I know the world is all about apps - but I could live with a basic smartphone that just did those two things (on top of the phone things - calling and SMS/MMS of course). Especially since I find my iPad Mini to be the perfect size for most other mobile tasks.

Re:Synching calendars and contacts well (1)

oldmac31310 (1845668) | about 6 months ago | (#46931359)

Hey, you know what 'feature phone' means! Care to share?

Re:Synching calendars and contacts well (2)

TechyImmigrant (175943) | about 6 months ago | (#46931637)

>Hey, you know what 'feature phone' means! Care to share?

Ringtones. For a fee.

Re:Synching calendars and contacts well (1)

CauseBy (3029989) | about 6 months ago | (#46931723)

Most people on Slashdot know what 'feature phone' means because we've all used telecommunications in the first world during the last two decades. What time or place are you from? Do you use the terms "rotary phone" and "corded phone" and "cell phone" and "smart phone" in your placetime?

A feature phone is like an intermediary step just before full-blown smart phones, capable of a much more limited set of operations, but more functional than a cell phone which merely does talk and text.

In the future when you don't know a term used in an online forum you can often find it on Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Synching calendars and contacts well (1)

BattleApple (956701) | about 6 months ago | (#46932201)

If you have a feature phone with more capability than the first gen iphone, what would you add to it to make it a smart phone?

Re:Synching calendars and contacts well (1)

compro01 (777531) | about 6 months ago | (#46931815)

It's a phone that does more than just calls+texts, but isn't quite an all-up smartphone. The category is fairly ill defined. Most of Nokia's S40 devices (pre-Asha anyway) would be considered feature phones today.

All I need... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46931527)

....and this thermos!

Re:All I need... (1)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | about 6 months ago | (#46931583)

and my dog!

Re:All I need... (1)

the_skywise (189793) | about 6 months ago | (#46931635)

RAAWWRRR...

I don't need my dog...

Re:Synching calendars and contacts well (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46931699)

The standard calendar app on Android 2.2 was atrocious, much worse than on the old Nokia I came from.

It's slightly better now in 4.4, but I still haven't figured out a way to import the birthdays, anniversaries etc. I exported when I switched.

what is basic smartphone? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46931331)

never heard of that phrase. I have heard of a dumbphone, but not a basic smartphone. I still have my old flip phone that is dumb. It is so old that it only has 1900 and 900 MHz GSM and G2 WAP capability. lol

Cue the vintage-nazis (0, Flamebait)

nashv (1479253) | about 6 months ago | (#46931343)

This story will now be flooded by the "I am so retro-cool because I own a Nokia 1100 with a 1-incg monochrome LCD and it does all I ever need it to do" crowd.

Re:Cue the vintage-nazis (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46931505)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:DynaTAC8000X.jpg

or maybe just:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Model500Telephone1951.jpg

Re:Cue the vintage-nazis (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46931575)

I am so retro cool because I would consider a Nokia 1100 (c. 2003) to actually be quite modern. My arsenal of phones includes the Nokia 8290 (c. 1999) and the Motorola Microtac Select 2000e (c. 1996)

Re:Cue the vintage-nazis (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 6 months ago | (#46931773)

This story will now be flooded by the "I am so retro-cool because I own a Nokia 1100 with a 1-incg monochrome LCD and it does all I ever need it to do" crowd.

Puh-LEEZ.

You're not cool unless you own a bag phone like this one. [wikipedia.org]
 
... Which I do, thankyouverymuch. [insert cocky, derisive hipster laugh]

That's a little harsh. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46931787)

I miss my Sanyo Katana. Very easy to use one-handed without looking at it.
If it rings, open it up and talk, and close it when you're done. To call home or
the wife, open it and use the nice physical buttons to locate 2 or 3 and hold
it down. Again close when done. Much easier.

Re:Cue the vintage-nazis (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46931875)

Slashdot is full of those idiots.

Re:Cue the vintage-nazis (2)

OzPeter (195038) | about 6 months ago | (#46932123)

This story will now be flooded by the "I am so retro-cool because I own a Nokia 1100 with a 1-incg monochrome LCD and it does all I ever need it to do" crowd.

Nah .. I'm so retro that I own a Razr .. and that my typical yearly bill is about $200 max.

Given that I sit in front of multiple computers for most of the day I see no need to carry the internet in my pocket.

Incomplete Analysis (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46931347)

The analysis is ignoring everyone who can't use a smartphone because of environmental factors (feature phones are much more resilient to dust, sand, impacts/falls, moisure, etc.) or techophobia (it's difficult to teach people a new UI, especially a non-tactile one, beyond a certain age).

Feature phones will continue to be with us for a long time to come.

iPhone is even sometimes "free" (1)

The New Guy 2.0 (3497907) | about 6 months ago | (#46931371)

All things smartphone are getting cheaper, and the phone company subsidies are still there it seems. And any iPhone launch event seems to have leftovers of the previous generation with "free" signs for the lowest model of that class. Seems like there's always a smartphone available... and is last year's iPhone worth nothing when the new one comes out to you?

Re:iPhone is even sometimes "free" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46931647)

Subsidized phones are not free.

Lack of choice in form factor (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46931407)

Where is the Android flip phone in the US?

Re:Lack of choice in form factor (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46931809)

Few Android phones come with hardware keyboards, and of those that do, all that I've seen are slide-behind-the-screen types.

You can buy hardware keyboards from third-party manufacturers for popular smartphones (I've seen models for iPhone 4, iPhone 5, iPhone 5S, iPhone 5C, Samsung Galaxy S2, Samsung Galaxy S3) that slide to cover the screen, in an approximation of the flip phone form factor.

I don't think you're going to find anything better, short of some niche Chinese product that even I haven't seen -- and I've seen a lot of what the market has to offer.

This can only happen if we avoid mobile OS bloat (1)

richtopia (924742) | about 6 months ago | (#46931487)

It is easy to claim that Android can be used on these types of devices, however these devices will have little memory to keep price down. If you could load Android 4.x onto the original HTC Dream then by all means bring on the low end phones.

Still waiting to see how FirefoxOS compares, as they are going after the low end market but I know that Firefox on Android is not the best with limited memory (I believe that Opera Mobile takes that title, so naturally it is discontinued).

Market Speak to Sell Phones (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46931593)

If your phone is made for $20, it is not a smartphone. Even if it can check email and vaguely browse the web, it is not a smartphone. It's a feature phone. Deal with it.

No, I don't care that it runs a pared down version of Android. That still doesn't make it a smartphone. Just because manufactures want to sell them and have figured out that people want smartphones and don't want feature phones so calling them smartphones helps sales does not make them smartphones.

Obligatory car analogy: Hyundai could call my Accent a sportscar and, just like a sportscar, it has an engine and rolls around on four tires, it isn't a sports car, no matter how much Hyundai wants to increase sales by tapping into sports car demand nor how much I wish I owned a sports car rather than an Accent.

They aren't smartphones.

Deal with it.

Re:Market Speak to Sell Phones (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46931751)

A smartphone is one that can load and run native programs/apps. A smartphone designation says nothing about any other spec of the phone.

A phone could be 2G, come with a WAP browser, and theoretically still be a smartphone.

Re:Market Speak to Sell Phones (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46931813)

I will believe it when I see it...

Needs WiFi (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46931621)

Since I don't really use mobile data (2G, 3G, whatnot), any basic phone I buy would need WiFi.

I suppose the Nokia Asha is a "basic smartphone" the $100 price. Problem is, there are Android smartphones in that price range. They may not be able to store or run a ton of apps, but they sometimes have higher resolutions than the Asha (not sure about build quality, though).

The cheap Firefox phone might be a problem for this reason. My understanding is that it uses web apps. Web apps use data which costs money. People buying a cheap phone will likely go for a cheap service like an MVNO. That means no data or limited use of data. It seems an Android device would be better for dataless users (run VLC and connect to WiFi for everything else).

Word verification: flagged

What? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46931677)

I don't understand this summary.

If smart phones are "feature rich", then what is a feature phone? If a feature phone is a phone with features, but not a smart phone, then surely a low end smart phone is a feature phone? What constitutes a feature anyways? My old motorola flip phone with pull out antenna had snake on it. that seems like a feature?

No standard meaning of smartphone (1)

damn_registrars (1103043) | about 6 months ago | (#46931763)

The concept of a "smartphone" seems to change at least twice a year. I seem to recall that some time ago it was just a phone that was also a PIM. Then Apple and others told us that a smart phone had to store and play music. Then Facebook told us the smart phone had to natively give them all our personal infomation. Then we were told a phone can't be smart without a 12 megapixel camera with zoom. Then we were told any phone that accesses the internet wirelessly slower than a cable modem isn't smart.

Now, I have no idea what consittutes a smartphone. It apparently is just whatever our carriers tell us (and of course whatever makes them the most money in contract and sales fees).

do we get to vote on that? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 months ago | (#46931801)

never mind http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=fake+elections+wmd+cabals 'waste of paper' http://rt.com/usa/157152-kerry-congressional-subpoena-benghazi/ at least we know that now too?

How is this news? (1)

avandesande (143899) | about 6 months ago | (#46931831)

I have a year and half old LG that I paid 45$ for that does most of the things I want and has a real keyboard. I bought a new battery for it on it's anniversary but I haven't had the urge to spend any more on a phone.

It's All About The Data Plan (3, Insightful)

snookerdoodle (123851) | about 6 months ago | (#46931847)

Speaking as someone the rest of you might consider a Luddite because I have a feature phone (it's a Samsung with a touchscreen, I don't know the model), the devil's in the details of what the carriers require of you to connect the phone to their network.

Verizon requires you to have a data plan to even use (e.g.) an iPhone. Even if you never use the data service. If Verizon considers your phone a "Smart Phone", they require you to have and pay for a data plan to use it. My understanding is that the other carriers have the same policy. The people that are buying these phones are paying these monthly fees.

If you knew me, you'd know I'm not really a Luddite. For example, when I play my guitar, I don't play with a tube amp, but use a device that models a tube amp that is then plugged directly into a P.A. I pay for said device (a Line 6 HD 500) with the money I save by not paying for a data plan. I prefer to say I'm frugal.

Also, what others have noted: It's Gartner. Seriously?

Re:It's All About The Data Plan (2)

BitZtream (692029) | about 6 months ago | (#46932283)

Its fairly easy to have them mail you a simcard and take you off the data plan. Tell them you lost your phone and have some simple phone that doesn't use data, check their website for models they have. Call them up, have them mail it to you, put it in yourself, no smart phone pricing and you can still use whatever android or iOS device you want.

but use a device that models a tube amp that is then plugged directly into a P.A

That just makes you a wanna-be. You're trying to pretend you understand why a tube amp is used ... and then not using it and trying to synthesis it. You've been conned into buying something you don't understand for reasons you don't understand. Just use a normal solid state amp, I seriously doubt you can tell the difference.

Using a tube amp doesn't make you a luddite, and the word isn't capitalized, its not a name. You might want to actually lookup the definition of the word, it doesn't just mean you 'prefer older technolgoies'

Welll..... (1)

TemporalBeing (803363) | about 6 months ago | (#46931891)

...it's not like the carriers don't make it hard to get a dumb-phone or feature-phone. You have all of a selection of 0-5 in a store carrying 60 some phones.

And no, the store doesn't get to decide what to carry. Corporate does; which is why you get insane things like stores in the Washing D.C metro area carrying all phones with cameras when 50% of the working population (a fluke of the W.D.C area) isn't allowed to have a camera (let alone a camera phone) at their desk at work.

So Corporate has decided to sell Smartphones instead of feature phones; and they have made it really hard to get anything less. No wonder that's what shows up in the statistics.

Now I do quite agree that smartphones do have some good features - I switched my Motorola v180 for a NexusOne specifically for the contacts, calendaring, and data synchronization features - anything else being gravy, and no I didn't (and still don't) want a data plan. I'm happy using it with WiFi only for all data.

Battery life (2)

QuietLagoon (813062) | about 6 months ago | (#46932155)

The feature phone's biggest feature for me is the battery life. I charge my phone once every couple of weeks, if that much.
.

The smartphone's biggest detriment to me is all the data that resides on it, and how much the apps track your every move.

And battery life suffers. (2)

Dzimas (547818) | about 6 months ago | (#46932213)

My wife still carries a 4 year old Samsung feature phone with a slider keyboard. The reason? She doesn't like having to charge a handset every day or two. Her little phone will go for several weeks without charging, so she can just leave it in her shoulder bag most of the time. Her service is also dirt cheap because she doesn't have to worship at the altar of data -- she pays about $12/month. I really wish I could do the same and cut the strings; I'd probably save about $500 a year by going data-free.

The two problems remain (2)

ThatsNotPudding (1045640) | about 6 months ago | (#46932229)

Smartphones = hugephones. I would be much more amenable to switch from my creaky Env2, if there was an actual Android phone that fit into human-sized shirt pockets.

The second issue is more serious: $40 per month soaking for the 'data plan', for a phone that will mostly remain off during working hours per policy.
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