A week ago, I spent time in San Francisco using an AT&T SIM card on my iPhone 6 Plus. That meant that my Singapore SIM card had nowhere to go, because I didn't bring a spare phone. I usually don't require a spare phone because the overseas prepaid SIM card normally goes into my Huawei mifi router, but this AT&T card didn't want to work with my Huawei. Damn American telcos.
This made me think, "I need a second phone as a backup when I travel." And just prior to my trip, my boy lost his Nokia phone while cycling. It dropped out of his pocket, it seems. He was duly chastised for it.
So I had more than ample reason to look for a non-Smartphone. I walked into many telco shops but the lowest end model they carried was a Xiaomi. The 7-Eleven stores had some feature phones but they were some unknown brands.
At the Funan Microsoft Store, which used to be a Nokia shop, I found what I was looking for.
I ended up with the Nokia Asha 305 semi-Smartphone, the one on the far right in the photo above. It was $49 bucks, on offer for purchase-with-purchase because I bought the Nokia 225 Dual Sim for the son as a replacement, which cost me $89. I know, I know, the 225 cost more than the more advanced 305, which is odd. I guess they were clearing stock.
In the end, I got a replacement SIM card for the son ($37.50, ouch) and made him use his older camera-less, music-less Nokia (the one on the far left) because I thought it didn't seem right to reward carelessness with a newer phone model.
So that's how I ended up with two brand new dual sim Nokia feature phones running the Symbian OS. Me, the man who owns a drawer full of smartphones from Apple, Samsung and even Nokia Lumia. Then again, I still have another drawer full of old Nokias, like the N95, N96 and the venerable 8210.
I charged the Nokia Asha 305 and powered it up. The Asha 305 charges via the traditional Nokia charger, or via micro-USB, which is nice if you just want to travel with one less charger.
It supports 2.5G and wifi, has a 2 megapixel camera, plays mp4 videos and has a capacitive touch screen. Pretty flash for a feature phone. There are apps for Whatsapp, Facebook and Twitter.
I looked at the specs online: "Maximum standby time with dual SIM: 22 days."
22 whole days. You can't even get smartphones to last 22 hours these days, let alone 22 days.
I connected the Nokia to my home wifi (2.4Ghz band only, no support for the 5Ghz band), and fired up the Twitter for Nokia app, then typed "I am tweeting this from a Nokia Asha 309 not-Smartphone, via the Symbian Twitter app, and typing with predictive text. Talk about retro. B-)".
You can tell I wasn't lying because Twitter reported that the tweet was made with "Twitter for Nokia S40".
I had to type that out using predictive text, you know that old input method that clustered ABC and DEF together. It took me a long time to type the 140 characters. Maybe I am rusty. I used to be able to touch type an SMS on a Nokia numeric pad with one hand, and without looking at it.
Then I tried the Nokia Explorer browser, which told me the application had been replaced by Opera Mini, and do I want to download the update? Sure! I always want the latest tech, who doesn't, right?
And after Opera Mini was downloaded and installed, I tried my blog. It worked!
It was quite quaint looking at my site on a 3-inch WQVGA screen that is all of 400 x 240 pixels.
All this high tech low tech is moot since I only plan to plonk my SIM card in it and use it for receiving and making phone calls when I am traveling. But it was quite fun to see the state of affairs in the Nokia sphere.
Since Microsoft swallowed up Nokia, you cannot even find a Nokia smartphone anymore. It is called Microsoft Lumia now.
Even my mother has a smartphone now, a Samsung A5 that recently replaced her string of Nokia feature phones she used for years. She is now a Facebook fan and is starting to get the hang of Whatsapp. She is even commenting on my Facebook posts. Be afraid. Be very afraid.
And as if to rub my nose in it, the day I bought these two Nokia phones that only support 2G, I read that the local telcos will discontinue 2G voice and messaging services from April 2017. It is happening in the States too.
Thanks ah. I now have only two more years to use these phones. Looks like my days of holding off smartphone use from my kids are numbered.