In this world of large AmoLED touchscreens and multi-megapixel camera phones with face detection stands John’s Phone — the world’s simplest mobile phone.
I discovered John’s Phone at Amsterdam’s Schipol airport on the way home from a recent business trip, and I was instantly beguiled by its cheap, plasticky finish and stark appearance. Of the five colours available in the shop I went for brown — or Tree, to give it its official name. It’s also available in Snow, Grass, Sweet, Business, and Bar (pics on their website).
What could be simpler? No touchscreen (no screen), no camera, no keyboard, no internet. It doesn’t even do text messages. Well, that’s not strictly true but John’s text messages are a little, shall we say, old school compared to the ones you’re used to. But more of that later. With nothing more than numbers 0-9 and buttons for “hello” and “bye” all it does is make and receive calls.
The only other controls are switches down the left-hand side for on/off, silent/loud, and call volume. Yes it looks silly, but it’s definitely a conversation piece and it does make and receive calls very well indeed. Oh, and the battery can last for three weeks on standby.
Another unique feature is its address book which, the manual is proud to state, can always be accessed, even if the battery dies.
That’s because it’s made of paper and stored on the back of the phone in a recess behind a transparent door. You store numbers by taking it out of its little cubby hole and writing them down, with a pen (included). The address book has another couple of nice touches, such as the last few pages saying, “Write your text messages here” and the Games section being a single page of noughts & crosses grids. You’ve got to admire their cheek.
Serious phone or silly novelty item? I guess you’ll have to judge that for yourselves. I bought it because I like to be the first kid on the block with the latest gadget so I can show off, but most people I’ve showed it to have actually said, “Wow, that would be PERFECT for my <insert name of aged dotty relative>.”
So, if you’ve got an old codger in the family who doesn’t know their megabyte from their megapixel, or if you just need to own the naffest phone in existence, get yourself a John’s Phone.
Just remember to tell all your friends they can’t text you anymore.