In Defence of Cellphones / "Dumbphones"


I used a cellphone for a few weeks. Do I believe they're still worth it? In my world, yes, absolutely. Here is why:

How it began

At Christmas of 2018, I bought myself a Sony NW-E394 Walkman MP3 player. It's nice, but I do not like the price I paid for it, they sell the RRP at £75! (according to Amazon) for a measly 8GB. It only supports MP3, WAV, and AAC, so no FLAC for you audiophiles, but I don't care about this too much since I have a PC. However, this MP3 player also had a couple of problems I disliked, including:

So, I had to see what else I could find, and this is where I discovered...

The Cellphone

Looking around on eBay, I remembered Sony making the Sony Ericsson Walkman series of "smart"phones that were made in the 2000s and really early 2010s. This is when I discovered a W660i for £15, working perfectly, battery new, only scuffs on the shell. This was a good bargain, if only the shell wasn't as overused.

I was delivered the phone, however the signed packaging was a bit overkill, especially as I barely had any information to give the post office. When I got home, I got greeted with the reddish-pink cellphone, in its small little size. Holding the cellphone for the first time felt familiar, like I knew I had a phone like this for a long time, even though this was sadly not the case. I guess it just fit with my small hands.

The cellphone itself had a tiny 16MB internalspace, its crazy how phone operating systems just fit in such tiny space back then... Anyways, opening the OS for the first time greeted me with the Walkman app, a web browser, a 2MP camera, A calendar, and some games that I can't play (Special thanks to Three for being an MNO that still supports these kinds of phones!). The game problem could easily be sorted. Sadly, the memory is extremely small on it's own, and this phone is sort of useless as a music player or anything else right now, so I guess that means its time to start...

Upgrading the Cellphone

The upgrades I needed for this cellphone were improvements to memory, support for headphones, apps, games, and customisation. Little did I know, almost all of this was possible, and for cheap or for free, which still made it cheaper than the NW-E394.

To begin, I ordered a 8GB Memory Stick Micro (M2) card that could store the music and games I wanted to play. That and I could also add the photos I took on the camera into the card (with an adapter for the PC of course). 16GB versions of the cards exist, however they are extremely rare and sell in the £50-£100 range. This card had fit really well into the new project and I also managed to install a couple apps onto the thing.

Next was apps. The apps I installed for the cellphone was just small apps like a file manager and Opera Mini 8 for Java ME. Opera surprisingly works really well! And sites like YouTube still work thanks to the power of the 3GP. (Fun fact, brett.icu works on this platform too). The games I installed was Lumines Mobile and Tetris, there are a huge library of Java ME Games that I have not mentioned. Take a look on J2ME game sites for yourself!

The customisation was the second to last option on my lists, where you can see I installed a custom theme based on The White Stripes, I don't listen to them much, but red/white/black is my favourite colour scheme. One thing I noticed when seeing the themes was that most of them were anime or the CRUSTIEST jpeg pictures of all time. The theme I chose also didnt look an eyesore, so im glad for that, maybe i'll even make my own?

Other accessories I have purchased include the Sony Ericsson Powerport to 3.5mm headphone jack. Some accessories I considered was a speaker dock or the desk mount that exists. I wish the adapter for headphones wasn't that loose. But, in conclusion, you all want to see my defence of cellphones, so...

Why a cellphone?

I believe in a world where only JUST more than half of the world only have the access to the Internet, a cellphone is still worth it for the lesser half that still do not have the internet or access to technology that could change the future.

A cellphone in the first world is also useful, especially as a burner, back-up, or miscellaneous device, like what I am using it for. A cellphone also still functions in all the ways I want it to, this includes YouTube, small games, music, and communications. RSS reading is also avaliable on these devices, people need to start using these more!

Don't destroy your tech, just let someone who knows what to do have them, maybe someone could be it's new owner, like me with my W660i. I may also write more about my journey with my cellphone as time passes and I find out more about it.