Egyptian blogger from Cairo.
Revolutionary Socialist.
Partner & Creative Director at ThePlanet.

The Lifetime of Cell Phones

It is a shocking fact of life that the telecommunications industry behaves quite differently to similar markets in terms of what is offered to the consumers. It seems like investing in a cell phone immediately places you in an awkward situation where it is not always best to throw in huge sums of money. Sometimes it is wiser to buy the cheaper product, even when you have the resources available for its top-of-the-line counterpart.

When purchasing a digital camera, the more expensive models tends to offer the stability of a few years with exceeding performance. A $400 camera will always be around five years after purchase, while a $200 model could last just half of that period, and never offer the features and functionality brought forward by the former. The same applies to notebooks. While Acers (a personal favorite) offer advanced characteristics at very reasonable prices, you cannot expect a lifetime that competes with a Sony Vaio that has cost more than double. It is generally best to invest the maximum amount possible to guarantee that you will be profiting from a significantly long lifetime, while enjoying advanced functionality.

As water-tight as the plan may seem, it is not always possible to buy the high-end products. If you can only pitch in with 700 dollars for a notebook, than you simply cannot afford the Vaio that boasts the specs that you are requiring, while brands like Acer, Dell and Toshiba satisfy your needs. Therefore, when making a purchase, you automatically place a budget depending on the maximum amount that you can pay, before you search for the best available option in that price range.

Having said that, it becomes evident that mobile phones do not follow that trend: Investing in a high end phone, means that the phone is a lot more fragile and susceptible to damage, more likely to have software failures, and will most probably disappoint you with a sorry lifetime. A cheap Nokia 1112 may not be fancy, nor will it offer any sort of eye candy, but it certainly boasts the following:

  1. Very low price
  2. Virtually unbreakable, survives swimming pool accidents no problem
  3. Battery lasts up to a week or more
  4. Never freezes, very quick software response time
  5. Generally allows you to use its limited features very efficiently
Nokia 1112, your basic needs

Nokia 1112, your basic needs

You might not be able to browse the web or check our email, but you’ve got all of the basic functionality you would need from a cell phone. If we were to compare the Nokia 1112 with the Nokia E71 (which I had discussed in an earlier post), you would immediately notice the following:

  1. Extremely expensive
  2. The sound of the sea waves means it instantaneously starts falling apart
  3. The battery will last up to 3 days, which is considered to be a revolution amongst similar-category phones
  4. Inevitably causes software freezes and issues over time
  5. It can take you ages to change settings like a ring tone, and SMSs are anything but a swift experience
Nokia E71 - bit off more than you can chew?

Nokia E71 - bit off more than you can chew?

But it looks cooler, and gives you the possibility of doing things you never thought were possible with a small device that you keep in your pocket. To top it all off, a low-end cell phone like the Nokia 1112 will easily give you a handful of years without any problems whatsoever (and even if anything arises, it’s fixed at no cost, and on the go). On the other hand, you can consider yourself lucky to carry a high-end mobile device such as the E71 for two years, and you will have seen the best of it merely six months after purchase.

Thus, when you buy a car, bet on the best one within your desired budget. When investing in a laptop, make the most out of the money available. But when you are about to buy a cell phone, you might want to use only a small percentage of what you have available, as it could be the wiser choice.

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2 comments

Makarona

August 27, 2009

There’s a lot to disagree about here. Mainly, I think these are false analogies you’re using. Though I doubt that a Sony Vio would necessary out last an Acer in terms of life expectancy (especially with Sony’s exploding batteries in the past), even if that were true, you are still effectively comparing one modern laptop with another here. So it’s fair game.

But comparing the Nokia 1112 with the E71 is not. These are not two mobile phones that merely vary in their ability to effectively make and receive phone calls. In fact, this particular functionality is almost more of a side dish in the overall functions of the E71.

So I think highlighting any benefits the 1112 has over the E71 is similar to comparing one of today’s laptops with one of those tiny late 80s laptops (the ones that could take a good thrashing but still effectively and quickly present you with DOS upon turning it on).

So yes, the E71 and its sisters are slower, far more expensive, and far more prone to hiccups – but best to think of them not as a new generation of cell phones, but as entirely new gadgets offering a cool amalgam of services. And in the meantime, being the young inventions that they are, they still suck!

Tarek Shalaby

August 27, 2009

That’s very true, it’s not exactly a fair comparison. But if you take into consideration the price of each, as well as what the average user is looking for, then it makes sense to throw them in the same pool.

It’s great that you can print directly from your E71 to a network printer, or use it to send a fax. It’s comforting to know that via a small device that fits in your pocket, you can view and edit office documents of the three main formats. That is, until you purchase the phone, and realize that you’re not making much use of these features at all.

The average cell phone carrier would want to communicate easily and efficiently. The 1112 does exactly that. Take into consideration the difference in price, and you would realize that you should at least be granted a phone that can last a couple of years.

You know what they say, never buy the 1.0. So if we were to consider the new gadgets of the past 4 or 5 years the first generation of such an invention, then you’re right, the future is bright. In the meantime, let’s not invest too much money, and we must avoid raising our expectations.

I’m personally all for efficient functionality, reasonable pricing, and usability. Unfortunately, phones like the E71 are far from that.

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