iPhone to MOTOFONE: An iPhone One Week Fast

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The Best but Distracting I think the iPhone is one of the best phones in the market. With thousands upon thousands of apps to choose from there is almost nothing you can’t do. Visual voicemail… how could we have lived without this for so long? Google Maps: a limited-GPS and lifesaver when you’re lost (and doesn’t cost you extra). Of course the one in the 3GS is a very capable GPS. iPod! A great Internet browser in Safari. Email. I can go for a bit more but you get my point. All this encased in an elegant design coupled with a touch experience that is bar none and the iPhone stands on top as the best phone on the market today. But you pay a price. And I’m not talking about the $199 or $299 you had to fork over to get the iPhone. What I am talking about is the monthly data plan and something more important: the iPhone can be a major distraction if you lack self-control.

Expensive It is $30/mo for the iPhone 3G and 3GS. The original iPhone is just $20/mo. The cost to have this unlimited data plan (it is actually limited at 5 gigabytes per month) for a year is $360 and $720 for the life of the contract, which is normally two years. That’s a considerable sum. In some cases this data plan can be more than your much-faster DSL at home! A lot of us have to make a dollar go further during these difficult times and I am thinking that I can live without the iPhone and the $30/mo unlimited data plan. I’ll save $30/mo, $360/year and $720/2-year contract. How will I do this? That’s where Motorola’s MOTOFONE comes in.

E Ink Motorola’s MOTOFONE was designed inside and out focused on the Indian market. The company wanted to get the price down to make it eminently affordable and bring down the number features to the bare minimum–so no one gets confused, though this phone can get confusing at times. The MOTOFONE even incorporates E Ink‘s display technology to reduce power consumption. E Ink technology is used in Amazon’s Kindle and does not require power when the display does not change; it only consumes power when the information on the display changes. I hear it can last up to seven days without a recharge!

Simple & Limited I’ve been testing the MOTOFONE for the last couple of days. The MOTOFONE is best at doing just two things: taking calls and making calls and in that order. You press the green button to take the call. To make a call you can simply type in the number or you can use the address book. Adding entries into the address book is a chore precisely because of the keypad. Another interesting ‘feature’ about the address book is that it is alphabetically sorted. I was expecting it to sort by the entry number starting from 1, but that’s not the case. If you have a lot of contacts you want to enter, set aside a good chunk of time and muster up a lot of patience–you’ll need both.

Text? Don’t Even You can receive and send text messages but I wouldn’t recommend sending text as the keyboard is your regular mobile phone keyboard; it doesn’t have a QWERTY keyboard. Because the MOTOFONE is not officially available in the US, it is not listed on AT&T as one of the options. And that is why I don’t get voicemail notifications nor can I receive text messages. I’m sure there is an AT&T-approved phone that uses a similar system on the MOTOFONE but I haven’t found it yet. Without voicemail notifications or the ability to receive text messages the MOTOFONE might be too limited.

LOW Price With such limited features the MOTOFONE better have a low price to match. And it does! I bought mine from eBay for just $25 shipped. Now mine didn’t come with a manual, but I did find one online so that was no biggie. You can get lucky get one for even cheaper than I did. If you don’t want to mess with eBay and buy from an reputable retailer Amazon has it for $42.

Problems Yesterday while I was shopping at Target with the family, I had to run off and go to the bathroom. Coming back I didn’t know where my wife and kids were so I called my wife. Just as I dialed and put the phone to my ear I saw them so I clicked the red button a few times. Problem. The MOTOFONE went blank. And it wouldn’t respond to the buttons. So I took the battery cover out, took the battery out and then put it back in. Still nothing. So I forgot about it and focused on getting stuff for my kids to prepare for a new school year. After a while, I checked the phone and it was asking me to set the time and date. So it was working but it was also annoying that I had to set the time and date–you’ll have to do this every time you take the battery out.

Two Bars Down Today while eating lunch with my church friends, I shared about my “iPhone Fast” and they interested in the MOTOFONE. A couple of them couldn’t figure out how to do anything on it so I unlocked it and told him to press the ‘up’ button to get going or the address book icon to get to my list of family and friends (it’s a very short list!). Before I gave the phone to him I had five full bars of power. After he played with it for about one minute, I was shocked to see just three bars of power. Weird. As I am writing this at around 10:45pm there are still three bars. I’m guessing I’ll get at least five days of use before I have to plug it in.

Two Days So far after two days, I think I am not going to be able to live without my iPhone. But I’m going to give the MOTOFONE a fair chance: seven days. There is just too much that I miss. But I do like that I am not constantly doing something on my iPhone. I actually go to the bathroom without my phone!

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