Most of the reviews I do of mobile phones focuses on feature sets – cameras, music players, internet connectivity, GPS map, the ability to play video or video games, display photos or run office applications. Mobile phones have become status objects, and the various manufacturers have utilized a lot of engineering talent to pack an ever-expanding feature set into an ever smaller package.
I recently had to get a mobile phone for my mum, who’s in her late 70s. She’s had the same number on her landline in Southwark for ages, and had resisted getting one of those “new fangled contraptions” for years. The driving factor was that she’s getting infirm enough that having a way to call the doctor no matter where she was was important. The fact that her old micro-cassette driven answering machine had finally bit the dust was another.
Now, with writing mobile phone reviews, I’ve probably got more mobile phones than any three sane men can use; most of them, I return to manufacturers and to donation centres for recycling. In looking at the ones still in boxes in the den for one for my mother, the chief concern was “How much of my time am I going to spend teaching her how to use this thing?”
And most of them, suitable to myself or my daughter, or to my technically inclined friends, were completely unsuitable. So I started looking for one for mum, and sent out some requests to my contacts with manufacturers, looking for “inexpensive” without “cheap” being part of it. I wanted large buttons, a large screen for mum’s eyes, and the minimum feature set possible. Long battery life was definitely a plus.
Nokia sent the 2310 to me a month ago, shortly after its release to the common market. It’s a candybar style phone that’s about the right size for my mother’s purse. It’s got large buttons, it’s got large print on the buttons, and a nice, bright screen. It gets good mobile phone coverage, which is good, and it’s very loud, which is even better. Even the speakerphone is quite usable.
About the only added frill was the FM radio, which I took the time to use before passing it on to Mum, programming in her favourite stations (and putting several numbers into her speed dial, most notably her doctor’s office and my mobile and work numbers). I then budgeted the time over a weekend visit to teaching her how to use everything, telling her that no matter what, it wasn’t too complex for her to use.
The battery life is excellent – we got a good 6 hours of talk-time and FM radio time on it, and mum is good about plugging it in every evening. The main drawbacks are that the 3.5 mm socket for the headphones are a bit small and recessed and fiddly for her fingers right now, so sometimes it takes a few tries to get it plugged in.
My wager is that mum will find it adequate to her needs, and won’t be bothered by a desire to upgrade. If I’m wrong, we can find something better with ease.