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Simple cell phones today - worse than what they used to be?

Posted: , by PhoneArena Team


Simple cell phones today - worse than what they used to be?
During the course of the last few years, we have seen tons of innovation that practically redefined the wireless industry with cell phones like the iPhone, Instinct HD and DROID. These are all perfect examples of high-end beasts that push the limits of technology. Such devices however inevitably come with features and functionality that not every user needs. In fact, there is a great deal of users who would rather stick to a traditional and simple cell phone – a device that can just handle their calls and messages… and maybe also sport a calendar, just in case. However, as manufacturers are putting more and more effort into making powerful, multifunctional smartphones, such simple  phones are getting much less attention. As a result, they seem to have become of lower quality, than they used to be a few years back. Or, at best, they haven’t moved an inch further.

And this brings us to the subject of the email one of our readers, Mr. Ryan Brune, sent to us a few days ago. Here’s what he writes:

“Hey PhoneArena,

I love coming to your site all the time to see what's new in the world of phones. I am a Verizon customer and I have been frustrated for the last four years or so about how they are treating their low-end customers. A year ago I had an LGVX8600 flip phone, which I really liked after two years of ownership. After it broke I was sent a newer phone, the Motorola W755, as a replacement, and I noticed it is not nearly as good of a phone.

Over the past few years I've been trying to look for a phone that lives up to what I found with my old phone, but I've been simply astonished at how it seems that the new phones that are coming out FOUR YEARS after the phone I liked before are technologically inferior. They are thicker, have worse cameras, cheap buttons, small front screens, and don't even look cool anymore. And now with Verizon's new "Enhanced Multimedia Phone" category, it seems they are even further ignoring those who simply want a decent phone with some decent features on an inexpensive plan.

I was wondering if you could write an article about this phenomenon so that others could be made aware of this problem that seems to be only getting worse. I'm not sure if the same thing is going on with other carriers, but if nobody starts to comment on this problem, I don't think it will ever get solved. Verizon will keep forcing their useless data plans on us with worse and worse phones.

LG VX8600
Motorola RAZR

LG VX8600

Motorola RAZR

Doesn't anybody else think it's a little strange that almost no flip phone on the market now is as thin as the RAZR was? We shouldn't be buying phones that look worse than the phones from the early last decade. That is just wrong.

We all love the technology we see in new phones, but some of us just can't afford the plans right now. There should be at least the degree of technology available to low-end consumers that was available 5 years ago.

Ryan Brune”

To tell you the truth, we feel the same. Manufacturers don’t seem to care about the design and usability of their basic phones as much as they used to. So, it’s your turn now, phoneArena readers – Do you think the development of technology has actually left us with a disappointingly poor catalog of affordable, ordinary cell phones? Feel free to speak your mind in the comments section below.

And should you have a similar idea you would like to share with us, do not hesitate to write at tips@phonearena.com.

  • Options

posted on 20 Oct 2010, 01:45

1. Kappy (Posts: 108; Member since: 14 Dec 2009)

totally agree

posted on 11 Mar 2010, 06:57

2. Jyakotu (Posts: 844; Member since: 12 Dec 2008)

Manufacturers should never forget where they started. There are many out there who just want a basic cell phone with maybe a few extra features (Bluetooth, VGA camera, etc). But, the most important thing they need to remember is that a cell phone is just that, A PHONE!!! It's disappointing when a cell phone can excel in multimedia, messaging, and web capabilities, but it lacks in it's calling capabilities. Remember, phone first, feature packed headset next.

posted on 11 Mar 2010, 07:05

3. ilia1986 (unregistered)

I think it is inevitable and was to be expected. When people switched to cars from horses a long while ago - horses gradually got less and less attention to care-wise. Same here. People need to realize that cellphones as we know them are going to be our personal computer in several years. We will use to to surf the web, listen to music, take pictures, lock or unlock our car or your apartment, purchase goods the same way we do with credit cards today, sync our location with the schedule of public transport, arrange and rearrange meetings and conferences - not just in the calendar - but in real time. It will replace our TV' because there will be no point in a centralized TV network anymore, because all the content will come from the web, and everyone will choose what suits him - similar to youtube. It WILL be our be-all end-all device. And its happening right now. It is called advancement in technology which will bring upon advancement in our lives. And the sooner the manufacuteres AND the consumers understand it - the better. The days of a phone being for calls, SMS, music and camera only are long gone - they ended with the iphone. And to the person complaining in the article - I'm certain that regardless of where you live - you can find a pretty good affordable touch screen phone which will usually have 3.2 MP camera, and will be capable of doing all the things your LG did - not to mention quite a bit more - oh and it will probably also be quite thin.

posted on 11 Mar 2010, 09:03

13. scottmbolt (unregistered)

"The days of a phone being for calls, SMS, music and camera only are long gone - they ended with the iphone." ... I couldn't agree less. Nothing will replace voice to voice communication. Yes there are alternatives, but it will NOT be replaced.

posted on 11 Mar 2010, 11:27

26. whocares (Posts: 235; Member since: 19 Dec 2009)

mind melding will replace voice to voice... :D

posted on 11 Mar 2010, 07:25

4. BigRed83 (Posts: 144; Member since: 19 May 2008)

It's kind of a double-edged sword. As a technology involved person, I love seeing the next "shiny object" that seems to come down the pike seemingly every 20 minutes. Making coffee on your smartphone will probably debut at this year's CTIA show. Carriers and manufacturers collaborate on what gets released in order to maximize profits. The US cell market is so saturated, that there are very few customers that don't have a cell phone, making it harder for carriers to be profitable. Sure, there are carriers like MetroPCS or psuedo pre-paid services like Boost or Straight Talk that offer low cost services, but you get far less than what Verizon, AT&T or the other majors offer. What do customers want? Cheap, reliable service. How does a carrier stand out to the average consumer? Flashy ads, phones that make the afore-mentioned latte as well as providing MORE. "Mr. Customer, SURE, you want cheap, reliable service, we can do that. By the way, wouldn't you also like to... [fill in the blank here]? A large segment of the buying public want to STAND OUT. The RAZR. The Treo 600. The iPhone, Blackberry, DROID, etc. Carriers are serving that need, in addition to creating more of it at the same time. 1GHz processors? Who REALLY needs more capabilities of a desktop computer from 10 years ago in their pocket? I don't use all of the capabilities of my smartphone, but I like it, and have a hard time seeing myself going back to a Touchpoint flip phone like I had in the late 90's. Who wants a basic phone nowadays? People that are not overly technical, the older segment of the population, and the very young user market. There is one basic problem in that market model; NO PROFIT!. How much does a manufacturer get from a carrier on the back end on a dumbphone? Pennies (if anything) as compared to their latest & greatest "NewOS" wonderphone. It comes down to GREED. Technology is moving forward, not backward. Companies and stockholders want to make money, simple as that. Customers want the latest shiny object that comes out. As long as this business trend continues, any remaining dumb phones will get cheaper, uglier, and less useful. Sad? Yes. This is my opinion. If it's wrong, I'd be grateful, but I don't think I am. What do you think?

posted on 11 Mar 2010, 08:38

12. callipygian7 (Posts: 3; Member since: 11 Mar 2010)

I am completely of the same opinion that there are no reasonable basic phones in existence. I, in fact, still have the VX8600 as my current phone, and have been waiting... and waiting... and waiting for Verizon to market a phone of decent quality, without an excess of features that I don't need. What makes it more painful is that data packages are being hurled at us, whether we need it or not. I'm sorry, but I don't feel that I should have to pay for a data plan in order to have certain phone models (for example, the LG VX8360, Samsung Alias2, and other slightly better phone models REQUIRE a $9.99 or higher data package) I should also point out that I am a 20-something, very tech-savvy customer. Heaven forbid I'm not looking for a touch screen phone (which has been the focus of practically EVERY new handset for over a year) or a piece of junk. I don't spend my life on my phone, and I think it's absurd that my choices are limited to an expensive headset that I don't need, or a flimsy POS that I don't want. There is clearly a market for it, as other carriers have produced great balanced entry-level phones (Nokia 6303, Nokia 3720, Samsung Shark S5350)

posted on 15 Mar 2010, 13:47

44. Diesel44 (Posts: 1; Member since: 15 Mar 2010)

Verizon does offer good simple phones. Check out the Samsung Convoy for one of the most reliable, toughest, best sounding, and non battery draining phone on the market. Consistently rated tops by users. No, it's not the thinnest, smallest phone on the market but it works and works well for what it is meant to do.

posted on 11 Mar 2010, 07:27

5. crappypunk (Posts: 131; Member since: 15 Aug 2009)

my old vx 8600 had an awesome camera I loved that phone lol

posted on 11 Mar 2010, 07:27

6. crappypunk (Posts: 131; Member since: 15 Aug 2009)

now I have the crappy old droid :(

posted on 11 Mar 2010, 08:10

7. nancyfuqindrew (Posts: 32; Member since: 07 Jan 2010)

Totally agree with this guy. Not everyone wants to walk around with a giant brick in their pocket. Why can't there be a middle ground between piece of crap kiddie flip phone and trapper keeper sized smartphone???

posted on 11 Mar 2010, 08:11

8. totes_magotes (unregistered)

What this guy is complaining about makes sense, but this guy is providing examples of the "free" phones he upgrades too. If he spend more the $50 upfront that he just gts re-imbursed, he might not have such a problem with the quailty.

posted on 11 Mar 2010, 08:17

10. nancyfuqindrew (Posts: 32; Member since: 07 Jan 2010)

I'm on sprint, and it really doesn't matter how much I spend. Every phone has a huge drawback.. either size or quality. Pixi might be the best compromise, but really.. a 2mp camera?? It's driving me nuts.

posted on 11 Mar 2010, 09:06

14. scottmbolt (unregistered)

A camera is going to deter you from liking your phone? A Camera!? Really!?

posted on 11 Mar 2010, 09:36

18. nancyfuqindrew (Posts: 32; Member since: 07 Jan 2010)

As far as functionality goes, after the phone's ability to make clear phone calls the camera is the second most important feature to me. I use it constantly.

posted on 11 Mar 2010, 09:56

20. totes_magotes (unregistered)

It drives me nuts listeing to people complain about the camera quality on thier PHONE!. Its a phone, not a camera, you want good megapixels go buy a DIGITAL CAMERA, somthing that was designed to take pictures.

posted on 11 Mar 2010, 10:27

22. nancyfuqindrew (Posts: 32; Member since: 07 Jan 2010)

You sound like a pretty reasonable guy, being driven nuts by consumers voicing a desire for convenient products.

posted on 11 Mar 2010, 10:38

23. nancyfuqindrew (Posts: 32; Member since: 07 Jan 2010)

Also, how old do you have to be to argue that it's a phone not a camera? You're posting on phonearena.com, so you should be aware of all the other uses people have their phones besides just making calls. Yet this seems shocking for you. You're going to shit bricks when you discover your calendar.

posted on 11 Mar 2010, 08:12

9. CHEFJEFF (Posts: 143; Member since: 22 Sep 2009)

It's all about the money. High end phones come with expensive monthly plans, so why would a carrier give a damn about it's lower end phones, they don't make money off those customers. A simple cell phone plan for a low end phone is about 40 bucks a month, compared to a smartphone plan, which is about 100 bucks or more, so which phones would you prefer to have in your lineup if you were a carrier?

posted on 11 Mar 2010, 08:36

11. rwolf1984 (Posts: 530; Member since: 06 Jun 2009)

Keyword in the letter to Phone Arena...He was "SENT" a W755...Did he use his upgrade? Lesson Learned:Never under any circumstances order a phone through any companies call center. It is very likely that this was a refurbished replacement phone. The W755 was one of my best selling phones, I sold hundreds of 755s. Its an EV-DO phone loaded with features. One of the only complaints customers had was battery life. Regarding the worship of the RAZR...It sold very well because of its look, but its actually one of the worst phones ever made. Especially the Verizon and Sprint versions because they altered the software so much it hurt the performance. If you had a RAZR on AT&T they really didnt tinker with the phone's software and it performed much better. The hinges and battery doors were prone to issues and once your hinge is loose its only a matter of time before you lost your screen. In my experience 9/10 times 3G phones offer the best calling experience over less capable 1x phones manufactured by Samsung and LG on Verizon and Sprint as well as G and Edge phones on AT&T and T-Mobile. Don't be the guy that walks into the store or up to the kiosk asking for a free phone. You're going to unhappy and walk home with a POS phone. Fast forward to 2 years later only to repeat your mistake... The good news is that you can still get a quality phone from all 4 nationwide carriers, but its gonna do more than what you want and it wont be so basic. Bad news, Verizon considers most of its 3G flip phones multi-media phones that require a 9.99 data plan. The best thing a customer can do before they speak with a sales agent is to do some research on the phones they are interested in. Get the name of a phone and find customer reviews and specs. Phone Arena and Phone Scoop are the best review sites. Everyone here probably knows this, but everyday ordinary people don't.

posted on 11 Mar 2010, 09:08

16. scottmbolt (unregistered)

I agree... the RAZR was probably the worst phone ever made!

posted on 11 Mar 2010, 23:39

33. Sniggly (Posts: 7305; Member since: 05 Dec 2009)

The Razr was one of the worst phones ever made? Really? Okay. My dad just stopped using his RAZR (Verizon) last summer when his company forced him to upgrade to an ENV2 because it can do workforce manager. Previous to this he used it for THREE YEARS. In that three years he never had a problem with it. Only at the end did he notice that once in a while a voicemail would arrive late. How did he manage it with this *super crappy* phone? He took care of it. Now he's had the ENV2 (which in my experience is a REAL POS) and it's been okay too. None of the typical problems. Again, he takes perfect care of it. I've seen people complain about the best phones. The W755 wasn't that bad. Sure, it was a bit laggy, and Motorola makes some questionable design choices, but it was a solid phone overall with a tolerable failure rate. I will agree that any phone which is considered "simple" anymore is not nearly as attractive, fun, or different as they were even a couple of years ago. Especially Verizon's. They're boring. And when they're not boring they break all the time. And battery life has gone out the window too. I used to use a Moto V195s through T Mobile, and that sucker could last almost a month on one charge, even being used sometimes. Even now its battery will last at least 8 days on standby. Tell me any phone these days that can manage that. Anyway, I now have the CLIQ and love it to pieces. (In case you can't tell, I'm a Motorola fan.) But for people like my parents, simple phones which work and are unique in a good way are long gone.

posted on 11 Mar 2010, 09:07

15. Legacystar (Posts: 131; Member since: 31 Dec 2009)

You get what you pay for. Spend 30 dollars on a flip phone and you got a 30 phone. Spend $80 on like a chocolate touch and you start getting a nicer phone. Do you guys really think they should still be putting time into cassette tapes just because. You like them? And by the way I think verison has some nice slider phones, basic phones. I think one was called the samsung sway maybe? All metal it feals nice

posted on 11 Mar 2010, 15:26

28. ace1122 (Posts: 237; Member since: 23 Mar 2009)

The sway was a piece of junk. Just saying.

posted on 22 Mar 2010, 17:42

53. indirectagent (Posts: 7; Member since: 22 Mar 2010)

yeah, the samsung sway was a peice of junk. so is the rogue

posted on 11 Mar 2010, 09:23

17. jsd0108 (Posts: 19; Member since: 11 Mar 2010)

There is a flaw in the argument from the person that wrote the letter. He complains that the W755 is a "technologically inferior" phone than the Lg 8600, but the thing is that the features of the 2 phones are almost exactly the same....camera, bluetooth, mobile web, mulitmedia capabilities, and I think they even both have navigation capability. I KNOW the W755 has it which would make it one up on the 8600 if it didn't have it (I can't remember for sure if the 8600 does or doesn't have navigation capability). Anyway, my point is that the 755 and the 8600 are both comparable phones technologically speaking. What he is complaining about is really the aesthetics of the phone. He wants a thin, shiny phone...something that LOOKS expensive, but doesn't want to actually spend the money for it. That is the real argument he is making. So, in my opinion, the person that wrote the article is just upset because he doesn't have the money to keep up with the Jones'. There are many things that I can't afford to buy, but I don't blame the companies that try to sell me those things. I accept it and buy something that I can afford.

posted on 11 Mar 2010, 09:38

19. nancyfuqindrew (Posts: 32; Member since: 07 Jan 2010)

Or maybe like he said he wants a good phone that isn't a huge smartphone.

posted on 12 Mar 2010, 19:06

40. ianboon (Posts: 3; Member since: 04 Dec 2009)

Hey, this is Ryan here, the guy who wrote the letter. I guess I should have made it more clear when I said what I said. I'll agree with you that the features listed for the two phones discussed are very similar, but the W755 is by no means a better phone than the VX8600. You could talk about some new navigation feature it might have, but it's not like most people use that stuff anyway, so it doesn't really matter. I sure know I don't. What I would specifically point out to tell you that the VX8600 was better is the fact that the W755 is thicker, has an ugly, uneven hinge like one that is found on so many of today's flip phones, has a smaller front screen that doesn't even show the date when the phone is on vibrate or you have a message, has a much slower response time when pressing buttons, doesn't have the ability to check text messages when the phone is closed like the VX8600 did, and takes pictures that look much worse. But this specific case was just my personal example; it doesn't capture the bigger problem here. I will agree with you that I am complaining about the aesthetics of the phone in part. It would be great to own a thin shiny phone that looks nice and doesn't cost a lot, like you said. You may think this is a pointless wish, but it really isn't because that is the very wish I had fulfilled when I purchased the VX8600. It didn't cost over $100, looked nice, and performed well. If I was able to fulfill this wish in 2006 I would think I would be able to do the same in 2010. So far, though I have remained disappointed in my choices. And it's not the cost of other phones that deters me from purchasing them. Even before Verizon rolled out their mandatory data plans for enhanced multimedia phones, nothing in their selection really impressed me enough to want it more than my clunky W755. I'm not a person who needs a smartphone or a data plan of any kind, but I still feel I should have a reasonable degree of technology available to me to choose from if I don't want those plans. Verizon's latest awful flip phone they released, the LG Accolade, is a prime example of how simple feature phones today are being released that are technologically inferior to what we had a few years ago. If you look at the specs you'll notice that it has a shoddy 1.3 megapixel camera, a "tiny-as-possible" front screen that doesn't show the date, no front buttons for music control or viewing text messages, a hefty thickness of 0.72 inches, and the same years-old user interface that's been plaguing phones since the early 2000's. My old VX8600 had just as good of a camera, a large front screen, touch music controls and text viewing while closed, a slim profile of 0.58 inches, and a cool rotating menu interface. I don't feel like I'm asking a lot here, just for some degree of progression of technology in the simple feature phones. If you would have told me in 2006 that they would still be releasing camera phones in 2010 with 1.3 megapixel cameras I would have told you you were crazy. I would have thought by now the worst camera on a new phone would be at least a 2.0 megapixel one. And it surely seems the phones keep getting thicker. Am I the only one who refuses to buy a phone because it's going to take up too much space in my pocket? It's often a dealbreaker for me. In any case, I hope this article has created some useful discussion about the low-end market of cell phone availability. If we can make more people aware and upset about this problem then hopefully the companies will start to see that they should be offering more to their customers.

posted on 13 Mar 2010, 10:56

42. knuckleballer34 (Posts: 119; Member since: 27 Jul 2009)

Ryan, Thank you for posting an update to the letter that you sent to PhoneArena. I wish I would have read this before I posted my comment several notches below, as I now have a much better understanding of your argument. Time will do that for someone as ignorant as myself. The phones I mentioned in my post to your original comment below were for the most part, not flip phones. Carriers are still putting some time and effort into their "basic, entry level" phones...but not "basic, entry level flip phones." Currently i'm with T-Mobile, and the latest entry level flip phone they came out with, the Samsung T-139, is a horrible downgrade from the T-439 and T-639 I had in the recent past...both of which I got for free! Like you, i'm afraid that carriers have put flip phones on the backburner and forgot about them. While there are still good "basic" phones available, the same cannot be said for flip phones. Please excuse my remarks below, as I misread your letter that PhoneArena posted. Your follow up cleared things up for me.

posted on 14 Mar 2010, 00:32

43. ianboon (Posts: 3; Member since: 04 Dec 2009)

Oh hey it's no big deal really. I read your comment below and meant to reply, but I ran out of time. I know I did not say everything I wanted to say in my original letter, and I didn't really know they were going to use what I said word for word. But my comment above gave me a chance to say all what was on my mind. In any case, I agree with your comment that the flip phones are definitely the ones being ignored for the most part, and while I only know about the situation with Verizon phones, it's not good to hear that other carriers are subjecting basic phone users to this same kind of mistreatment. Regarding your comment below, I will also agree with you that at my time of purchase, the VX8600 was likely considered a "mid-range" phone, as it had pretty decent specs for the time. Nevertheless, today's "mid-range" phones of this form factor really don't compare that well. It's hard to find any mid-range phone out now that beats the thin profile found on the VX8600 or even the RAZR. The new simple feature phones may indeed have some software features that were not available on the VX8600, but they are likely features nobody uses (unless you can point some good ones out to me?). Also, as I said above, the data plans aren't even the essential problem for me. The phones Verizon used to offer outside of data plans never really seemed appealing to me, mainly due to the thicknesses, poor cameras, and strange operating mechanisms. The enV series, for example, never has appealed to me, since it just looks like a huge brick. The uneven hinge also annoys me, and when you open it to type, it's like the screen isn't even at a good angle to view what you're typing. And just for the record, I wouldn't even want to own most of the touchscreen phones that are on the market today even if the data plan wasn't required. Most of them have resistive touchscreens which I consider to be TERRIBLE for doing anything, even dialing phone numbers. I get immediately frustrated every time I try to use one of these phones. Having a touch screen for the sake of having a touch screen is not a good reason. If it doesn't work well it shouldn't be there. I won't be owning a touch screen phone until capacitive technology is the standard. Ever try out an ipod touch? That's capacitive. That is the only kind of touch screen people should want to use on their mobile devices. I would be willing to shell out some extra coin for phones with properly functioning touchscreens. Thanks for replying, and let me know if you want to discuss anything else.

posted on 11 Mar 2010, 10:27

21. Homotechual (Posts: 65; Member since: 27 Oct 2009)

Flip Phones have evolved you just aren't looking in the right places. I use to work in the technical support department of Verizon retail stores and let me tell you, you NEVER buy a Motorola unless it's Android. Anything released by them prior to the Droid and Cliq WAS crap. The 8600 was a good phone so was the 8700. Once I joined the Verizon sales department the ONLY basic phones I sold was LG. Verizon LG phones are much more superior to other brands. 90% of my customers getting a basic phone walked out of a Verizon store with a LG phone. Working for T-Mobile now, and let me tell you I was very surprised by their basic phone selection compared to Verizon.http://reviews.cnet.com/cell-phones/sony-ericsson-equinox-tm717/4505-6454_7-33809299.html Sony Ericsson Equinox this is the first phone I show people when they walk into my store looking for a basic upgrade.

posted on 11 Mar 2010, 10:43

24. nickjoedotcom (Posts: 1; Member since: 11 Mar 2010)

I think this post hits the issue right on the money. Just yesterday I was looking to add a line to my Verizon account only to find there isn't a single phone that captures my interest for the intended need. I was looking for a cool flip phone that didn't look like a cheap piece of crap that wouldn't make it the intended two years of the contract. After reading all the comments I feel like I should say that I'm not a basic user. I have a Droid Eris and a netbook both in full use. But let's be honest I can't rely on my smartphone for making calls, the battery life is that bad. In my search I discovered a few things. With Verizon you can't pick a phone based on looks anymore. The closest model I found that could suit my needs was the LG 8360. But that data plan is ridiculous. I wouldn't get on the internet with that phone to save my life, especially since I have a phone that is clearly meant for that. I also looked at the Pearl Flip because if I'm going to be forced to pay a data plan it should at least be on a phone I think would be worth it. The problem that arose was the need for two smartphones. I don't have that need. What happened to the slick phones they used to make I wondered, so my search turned to eBay. There I found exactly what I was looking for, a decent midrange phone without a keyboard, a touch screen and most importantly a data plan. The LG 8700 stood out the most. As I recall it was a good phone, decent battery life, good build quality. I haven't decided on a solution just yet. I'd like to think the era of a phone being just that hasn't ended yet. Like I said before I'm not a simple user, but I have discovered a need for a simpler phone. In the push to have the latest and greatest I think both the carriers and the manufacturers have lost sight of their largest customer base. It just seems pretty pathetic that I should be looking for a phone that came out two or three years ago because neither carrier nor manufacturer understands or respects their customer.

posted on 11 Mar 2010, 11:24

25. knuckleballer34 (Posts: 119; Member since: 27 Jul 2009)

I am sure the PhoneArena staff has received more than just one e-mail regarding this issue, but for the purposes of what was included in this article, I ask the following question: Do the majority of customers from the other "Big Three" carriers who purchase "simple cell phones" believe that the phones which they have today are worse than the ones they had 3-5 years ago? Considering what constitutes a "simple cell phone" today, i'm not sure the quality has decreased all that much. Four years ago, when Mr. Brune purchased the phone he liked from Verizon (note: he never mentions which phone it was), a simple cell phone would have been a Nokia 6030 or a Samsung A560. At that time, devices like the LG VX 8600 would have been categorized as "mid-range," not "simple." Consider this: the Samsung Intensity from Verizon and the LG Rumor 2 from Sprint are two of the "simplest" phones each carrier offers. Four years ago, how simple would those phones have been? "Simpler" phones today offer more features than the simpler phones of four-five years ago. Mr. Brune's reasons for believing that "simple" phones today are of inferior quality compared to four years ago are also somewhat off base. He states that they are "thicker, have worse cameras, small font screens, and don't look cool." These are totally bogus arguments. It is common knowledge; cell phones that are "thicker" are usually narrower in height and width, it's a trade off and nothing more, and certainly not something that makes phones today "of inferior quality." Worse cameras? Did the old Nokia 6030 have a camera? Did the RAZR have an especially good camera? Albeit there are a few "low end" phones today that have only VGA cameras, most "simple" phones have at least a 1.3 mp camera on board. This is ludicrous. Smaller font screens? Outside of Nextel, very few phones have some of the smaller screen sizes of "simple" cell phones from four years ago. Don't look cool? First, this is a subjective statement, and certainly not one that should impend the quality of a "simple" cell phone. Remember, all you want a simple cell phone to be is "simple," not cool looking. If you want cool looking, give the iPhone or Blackberry a try. Second, which looks cooler: the Samsung A560 from four years ago, or the Samsung Trance of today? Not all of today's cell phones look "cooler" than the ones from four-five years ago, but the majority of them do. Time does not permit me to list more of these comparisons. Finally, "the early last decade." Are you kidding me? I thought you wanted a simple phone, not a cool looking phone. Make up your mind! Mr. Brune sounds more like he is bitter with Verizon for not allowing him to get the phone he really wants due to their mandatory data packages, not someone who thinks "simple" phones today are not as good as they were four-five years ago. If that's where his beef is, that's the complaint he should have sent in. To compare "simple" cell phones of today and from four years ago in terms of looks and style is useless, the "simple" of that time is not the "simple" of now. Furthermore, if customers like Mr. Brune would like a simple, cool looking phone, they should do their research first. If you can find phonearena, you can do comparisons and find what you really want/need.

posted on 11 Mar 2010, 13:40

27. spoonb1 (Posts: 77; Member since: 02 Jan 2010)

sorry for those of you folks on verizon or sprint or any other cdma carrier for that matter... in the rest of the world of gsm there are plenty of very nice, very well equiped "basic" phones... case in point the nokia 6700, 6220classic, 5630 or 6600 slide or 6500 etc.. or sony ericsson w995, c905 or c902 or w902 (each paired with either a camera or music focus)or c901 or even lower end w302 or c510 or even most of nokia's Nseries models or the samsung ultra models such as the s8300 or s7220.. . most of which are not 'smart phones' but all of which are more in line with your "basic phone" as far as looks and physical function.... quit crying and do some research and quit accepting the garbage that was given to you for replacement of the borderline garbage phone you had before... there are plenty of non-smart, basic but well equiped models out there(thin, great camera, music abilities, etc).. you just might have to switch to a gsm carrier to be happy with a phone, since verizon is so in bed with lg and samsung that most of the phones they offer are middle of the road at best with only mediocre features.... which goes back to the gent above that stated "it all about money"... cheap phones cost the carrier less with their current archaic susbsidy model so that is where they buy most of there phones--the middle and low end. ps... cheers to Phonearena.com staff for keeping up with a very comprehensive list of phones--- and for the gent with the issue that started this post--a very nice search engine that simply allows for you to put in what you want to in your phone and searches :-)

posted on 17 Mar 2010, 01:02

47. reales1016 (Posts: 1; Member since: 17 Mar 2010)

I totally agree with this. Unfortunately for the CDMA crowd on 2 of the 4 largest wireless carriers in the U.S., they are stuck with only carrier branded phones and have no other option. I have an unlocked N series Nokia on AT&T...Who has an unlocked phone on CDMA? Nobody, that's right. I have a smart phone with a 5MP camera, navigation, office suite, Wi-Fi, and anything else you could want, but do I pay for smartphone data at $30 a month? NO. I have Wi-Fi and that's good enough for me. I don't pay for ANY data. Poor AT&T and their profits. GSM is the superior technology, that's probably why it's the technology of choice for 80% of the worlds population. It provides at least some level of choice. CDMA = Total carrier control. I think the point the gentleman that wrote the article is trying to make, is that there is a large segment of population that wants a great phone without having to pay for things like mandatory data that they don't use(shame on Verizon). Would you subscribe to cable if you didn't have a TV? That is exactly why I would never even think of subscribing to a CDMA carrier. You want choice? Get on T-Mobile or AT&T and get whatever phone you want. In all fairness spoonb1 - Here in the U.S., those of us that know better can get "very well equipped "basic" phones" like you said, but the archaic subsidy model prevents most people from doing so because of high upfront costs. I've noticed that most European carriers offer even very expensive phones for "free" on contract, and those plans provide much more for less money. If we buy an unlocked phone here and break free of the subsidy cycle, we still have to pay the same for our service, which has built in subsidy costs... and you don't get your money's worth. I take the most expensive "free" phone I can get from the carrier and sell it... That's my way around it... I guess all of what I'm saying is pointless to those on CDMA carriers though. Ouch. ;) Of course they are going to make low end phones that don't force you to buy more monthly services less and less desirable. You don't make money that way. Forcing you to buy services you don't use, in order to have a decent phone is. If you want a choice, go with the technology that gives you choice. Don't be manipulated with low phone prices that serve to squeeze more cash out of you on services you'll never use. Spend the money upfront on YOUR phone, and get what you want and deserve.

posted on 11 Mar 2010, 17:44

29. PhoneWar (Posts: 25; Member since: 11 Mar 2010)

I agree. Cell Phone companies are losing touch with consumers that truly need a phone first. Now granted there may not be many of us that use a cell phone for just talking, but there are certainly enough to warrant a decent handset for just that, talking. In my experience, the LG LX370 has been a great phone for talking and just that. Yes it has a few bells and whistles that come with the Sprint service, but overall I think its a great phone for just talking. Albeit the font size is tiny. The RAZR, well not exactly the best phone for most, but if taken care of and handled right, I think a very reliable phone. My dad had one and used it for 3 years without any issues or flaws with it. www.phonewars@blogspot.com

posted on 11 Mar 2010, 20:55

30. corporateJP (Posts: 2431; Member since: 28 Nov 2009)

Get out of here with this yambag.

posted on 11 Mar 2010, 20:58

31. idiotwind13 (Posts: 80; Member since: 29 Dec 2008)

I can tell you that the basic flip category has definitely suffered, but I would say the construction of almost anything other than smartphones has as well. The build quality is not the same. My case in point are two phones that Verizon had back in 2006- early 2007, the Samsung a930 and LG-VX8300. They were not the thinnest phones, but they both had microSD, 1.3 MP cameras, music players, etc. They were both probably the toughest non-construction grade phones I have ever seen, they were absolute tanks for durability, great reception, super reliable, no software problems. I haven't seen anything in the basic phone category that compares to those two from any manufacturer on any type of network. I would agree that phone companies and manufacturers are putting more focus into data phones and service, I just hope they don't completely ignore customers who want a good solid phone, because it seems that is what they are doing.

posted on 11 Mar 2010, 22:15

32. DB1 (Posts: 1; Member since: 11 Mar 2010)

Funny. I wholeheartedly agree with this. I still fall back on my Samsung A930 when all my newer "thinner" phones break, crack, or stop working. Most recently I was looking to grab the Chocolate touch and pay a bit more up front to get it. However Verizon then instated that mandatory data plan. I don't use my phone for data. I certainly don't care to spend a extra $120 annually in a monthly plan to own one. I choose to avoid this new "subscription" phenomenon. That said, I don't see why if I choose to avoid the extra feature of a data plan on my phone that I have to be pigeon-holed into one of three phones left to "basic service". I should be able to pay more for any phone I want (note that I would pay for a thinner, well made, well performing phone). Honestly, I have decided to let my current contract run out and jump to another carrier simply because of this negligence toward a whole customer demographic. Verizon doesn't want me as a customer type anymore...fine I'll give my "pennies of profit" as another poster coined it to somebody else. Those pennies turn out to be quite a lot of cash with large volumes of subscribers.

posted on 11 Mar 2010, 23:51

34. behold--me (Posts: 650; Member since: 22 Jun 2009)

Phone: from the whole word of telephone. What's a telephone??? VOICE COMMUNICATIONS. If your phone can't even carry out that simple function than it should have a different name. It's amazing how some phones *cough. iPhone. Cough*. Can't even carry out modern day basic features of even some low end cell phones like MMS and video capture??? I think that's kinda sad but this is true: the technology age is rapidly increasing in EVERY ASPECT of electronics. From those basic nokia phones at $20 to something like the HD2 and TOUCHSCREEN development

posted on 12 Mar 2010, 09:00

35. dannyboyau (Posts: 1; Member since: 12 Mar 2010)

i been looking for over a year now for a flip smart phone. i dont understand why they cant make a some smart phones that are in the clam shell design. If they had made a razr smartphone i think motorola would have had a winner. i know so many people that want a decent flip phone with some of the features available in the new phones but nothing been released recently. Just hundreds of these damn candy bar phones that for some of us are just a screen waiting to get cracked.

posted on 12 Mar 2010, 11:15

37. knuckleballer34 (Posts: 119; Member since: 27 Jul 2009)

There's the Blackberry Pearl Flip...although I wouldn't recommend it.

posted on 12 Mar 2010, 11:17

38. knuckleballer34 (Posts: 119; Member since: 27 Jul 2009)

My mistake in not stating this before, but I completely agree with your argument about the demand for flip-smartphones. I would like to see a few more of the myself.

posted on 12 Mar 2010, 11:04

36. runin2music (Posts: 14; Member since: 11 Mar 2010)

I agree with PhoneArena and Ryan when he says, "There should be at least the degree of technology available to low-end consumers that was available 5 years ago." If we compare chronological phone lineups, however, we find just that. For example, Ryan said that today's low-end phones are "technologically inferior. They are thicker, have worse cameras, cheap buttons, small front screens . . ." Five years ago nearly all low-end phones had external intennas and thick housing, and a camera on a phone was the exception, as was an outside display screen. Consider these and compare them with today's low-end phones: Don't most of today's low-end phones have thinner, smaller housing, all accomplished with internal intennas? Aren't nearly all of today's low-end phones equipped with an outside display screen (with color!) and at least a VGA quality camera? Not to mention Bluetooth, voice-dialing, and far better internal phone memory for more contacts and pictures. I don't think I see a problem. Technology has clearly improved across the board. In fact, it's a challenge to find a "low-end" phone today without all of these features (which also helps explain why today's batteries don't last as long as yesterday's....today's plethora of features on a single phone suck way more juice). If we were including all these features in a phone five years ago, we'd be examining a higher-end phone of 2005. Ryan, it seems to me that you're comparing the quality phones of 5 years ago with the "low-end" phones of today, and obviously seeing similarities. Nonetheless, perhaps I misunderstand your concern. Please correct me if I'm off target. Also, I don't think carriers are in the wrong for charging data plans on certain phones. Those phones are all higher quality . . . Vendors sell them to the carriers at a higher price. So carriers have two choices: sell them to consumers at a high price without any way to get the $$ back, or sell them with a lower sale price and include a date package for what they were designed---multimedia and internet usage. Data revenues have increased substantially for all major carriers in the past year alone. Of course they're going to pair data packages that fit the demands of the consumer who is willing to pay more month to month in exchange for a lower sale price. All major carriers have plenty of quality phones that don't require those data packages. It's just the way the industry is developing. If you want the latest and greatest, then your monthly bill is gonna be a bit higher. But if you want a quality phone without the latest and greatest, i.e. a "low-end" phone that is way better than the "low-end" phones of the past, then you can still purchase one (or in most cases get it for free) and maintain a lower bill. That being said, I'd like to see cheaper voice plans with less minutes for people who want to get the latest phones, are willing to pay for the data, but will rarely use any minutes. I know some carriers offer such plans, but usually with an activation fee regardless of the phone type. That part doesn't make much sense to me.

posted on 12 Mar 2010, 11:37

39. runin2music (Posts: 14; Member since: 11 Mar 2010)

. . . and I just found Knuckleballer34's post. Kudos and ditto!

posted on 12 Mar 2010, 23:43

41. jpvan2 (Posts: 1; Member since: 12 Mar 2010)

Now that my RAZR is falling apart, here is my wish list for my next cell phone: Drag & drop music, pix, movies, etc. via USB (no proprietary software required), 3.5mm headphone jack, texting, durable body. No more waiting or navigating menus to get a quick camera shot. My taped-up RAZR was usable but lacked a secure earpiece connection, couldn't be charged while using the earpiece and was a pain to transfer music. It's still more practical and faster( it's a shame) to keep my pocket camera, MP3 player and get a Jitterbug. Extras are okay but I'm not paying $60 and up per month for features or services I don't use or care about. Any ideas?

posted on 16 Mar 2010, 13:29

45. runin2music (Posts: 14; Member since: 11 Mar 2010)

jpvan2, My MotoROKR has all those features. Love the phone . . . minus the occasional power cycle when the phone memory reaches its max; but that seems to be common problem when that happens, no matter the phone. But yeah if you don't mind a slider phone, then you can get all those features that you mentioned on it. Reception is great too.

posted on 16 Mar 2010, 18:50

46. sherjo311 (Posts: 3; Member since: 24 Jul 2009)

As an independant Verizon retailer, this sort of convorsation really encourages me. I am a smartphone user of all OS's and shapes, and the Apple-like locking down of phones on VZW's behalf has always irked me. Sometimes I'm too much of a consumer right's activist to be sitting on this side of the desk :). The new data package requirements on Verizon's phones are really hurting us in this general demographic. I can't keep going to a Samsung Knack or LG Accolade every time someone tells me they don't need anything fancy. I've personally lost clients that were so offended by the additional requirement for the ENV3 after having used the ENV2 for a couple years. And I can't blame them. Now it's not to say that any of the simple featutred aren't quality phones (as mentioned before the Samsung Convoy is a beast!), it's just that the stereotypical "free" phone is now becoming more of the stereotype. We sell Smooth's all day long but I'll be damned if that ain't just a little freebie phone!

posted on 18 Mar 2010, 17:22

48. rhomaion (Posts: 187; Member since: 23 Sep 2009)

I couldn't agree more. It seems like the only good phones I have ever boughten were smartphones... except Motorola smartphones.

posted on 18 Mar 2010, 23:28

49. mkl4466 (Posts: 53; Member since: 25 Sep 2008)

I too had the 8600, while working for Verizon corporate retail store. That phone, like the RAZR, was a love-it or hate-it phone. Not the most reliable across the board. But you are right about your main point. The "mid-range" feature phones are dissappearing. I actually got a chance to speak with a Moto rep at a convention. I asked him about their handset strategy, since there seems to be a gap in the Moto lineup. My wife has a RAZR2 thats been replaced once. I'd like her to get something new, and she LOVES itap, and is very resistant to try T9Word, so she wants a motorola. There has not been 1 moto flip phone since the RAZR2 that was as good of a phone. The entice W766 wasn't bad, but its certainly not much of an upgrade from the RAZR2, offering no improvements except an onboard headphone jack. The moto rep basically said that as far as their VZW lineup goes, its all about smartphones. There aren't any midrange feature phones in the roadmap from Motorola anytime soon. Midrange phones don't help a company stand out in the competitive landscape. Now that the data plans are mandatory on most "mid range" phones, you might want to look at phones that are around a year old or so. I'd suggest the Nokia 7205 Intrigue. That or the Samsung Renown, or the casio exilim; all recent-enough phones, with better cameras than the LG8600, The Nokia is especially nice and thin, and none of them require the data package. They haven't been flagship handsets, but they should do a decent job for you. The LG8370 looks like it will be a good phone, but probably will require a data package. All I can say to people who don't want to pay for data is this: Don't think of it as paying for something you won't use. If you want the phone, pay the $10/month and learn to use the cool things the phone can do. Using more of the cool internet-related features will make you love the phone even more, and then you won't be paying for features you aren't using, you'll be paying for features you didn't use to use, but soon won't be able to live without. We now pay much higher sticker price on cars than we used to, but we got used to that. How did people first feel about paying more for a car with electric windows? Did some people say "I've never used that, I just roll my window down by hand". Sure, you never used it, because your old car didn't have it. When you are buying something new, its not very sensible to disqualify the features of a new product because you never used those features before. If you only wanted something that had the same capabilities as your old product, then you would be shopping for an OLD product, not something new. Its an attitude change, that's all. Verizon wants you to be happy, but they also want you to pay more. They want as much of your money every month as is sustainable. They don't want people paying hundreds in overages every month, because you won't do that for long before you jump ship. They want to slowly but surely jack your bill up about $10 per month every time you upgrade. It started with text, then VZ nav, then vcast videos, now mandatory data. You can refuse to pay more, and be unhappy with low end phones, or you can learn to like new features that cause you to pay more; then you are happy and they get more money. Either you win together, or you lose together... Or you get a knack.

posted on 19 Mar 2010, 18:47

50. bluehorseshoe (Posts: 17; Member since: 08 Jun 2009)

Sexy simple phones take away the possible option of consumers giving in and purchasing the "smartphone" device with the extra $29.99 data tag that goes along with it. Carriers want to drive everyone in that direction for $$$. Even those that aren't interested.

posted on 22 Mar 2010, 09:40

51. dha_george (Posts: 54; Member since: 27 Jan 2010)

my response can only be on at&t phones cause that's what i know, but right now i am looking at three really nice "feature" phones that require no monthly data charges. They are the pantech breeze, nokia 6350, and the nokia mural. The mural is really thin like a razr, the breeze is a perfect basic phone for the older folks(big screen and big buttons and large font) or someone who just needs a phone, and the nokia 6350 is a classic clamshell design with alot of great extras like gps and mobile email. i have to say that they do have a lot of junk phone out there too, but most of those you find on at&t's website ( i am looking right at you mister motorola em330!) and the basic section is shrinking every year and the messaging and smartphone sections are getting bigger, but so is the customer base that uses those products. And for the record the moto v3 the original that launch on cingular back in i think '03 was a great device, but as demand increased moto threw quality control out the window!

posted on 22 Mar 2010, 17:15

52. indirectagent (Posts: 7; Member since: 22 Mar 2010)

I work at verizon and i totally agree with this article. Everyday people come in looking for just a basic phone, The biggest problem is that all of the basic phones are really ugly! i mean, look at the samsung smooth for example, same thing with the lg 5500, or accolade, motorola entice, lg 8360, ect. Why can't they at least make phones that look cool? i used to have a lg vx8700, and i got nothing but comliments on the design. Even the phones that are considered multi media devices are ugly. I dont understand how they go from making a beatiful phone like the razor 2, to the motorola W755, and then to the entice, they just keep getting thicker and uglier. I think verizon needs to get a team of fashion designer's to help them make new phones, because they are really going downhill. A phone is nothing more than a fashion accesory to a lot of people. Whoever comes up with these designs must have no sense of style whatsover. Basically what it comes down to is verizon need an IPHONE!

posted on 10 Sep 2010, 09:35

54. gabby (unregistered)


posted on 17 Sep 2010, 09:43

55. robrunner (unregistered)

Totally agree. My LG VX8100 is 5 years old and I still love it. Just stopped working yesterday for no explicable reason and I went to Verizon for a replacement. Other than smartphones and the $9.99 multimedia's, I was offered a choice of about 3 models, all of which were inferior in quality, screen size, felt flimsy, etc.

posted on 15 Jan 2011, 12:28

56. Tom M (unregistered)

I am in the process of "upgrading" from a blackberry curve to a Nokia 1208 and a Sylvania Netbook (aka: Smartbook[tm]). If you have frequent access to WiFi you can lose your data plan and get most of what the smartphone was offering with a bigger screen, bigger keyboard and less cost (the Sylvania Netbook is slightly over $100). Full disclosure, I moderate a Sylvania Netbook Yahoo group and a "reduce your cellphone costs" Yahoo group.

Tom M

posted on 22 Aug 2011, 14:51

57. rtyecript (unregistered)

I really liked the article, and the very cool blog

posted on 02 Oct 2011, 22:29

58. Cellphonecity (unregistered)

The best place to sell your cellphone is at Cellphonecity.comget your quote now!

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