Down to the basics

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 09 October, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 09 October, 2005, 12:00am


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There are two sides to every story and this holds true in the gadget business.

On the one hand, manufacturers are trying to put as many new features as possible into their latest gear so they can keep prices high and make more money.

On the other side of the coin, there are gadgets that have been stripped down to the bare bones in order to keep prices at a minimum.

It's all well and good to rant and rave about the latest features, but sometimes it's good have a look at products which suit people who believe that 'less is more'.

While Motorola is better known for its super-thin Razr and iTunes-enabled Rokr models, it has always had entry level models. It recently launched five new models for the entry level, and has made a commitment to produce ultra low-cost handsets.

The five models are C118, C139, C168, C257, and C261. With the exception of the C118, they all have a colour display. The C257 and C261 are the only two that come with an integrated camera (VGA-quality).

All the phones are quite basic in every way, and that is what you should expect from entry-level phones.

What is interesting about them is that they are part of Motorola's commitment to an industry organisation called the GSM Association (GSMA), which launched the Emerging Markets Handset Programme to promote the production of cheap (less than $240) mobile phones.

The programme is based on the idea that mobile phone communication in third world countries will spread faster if cheap handsets are available.

And the GSMA is actively urging all mobile phone makers to make cheap handset models.

Of Motorola's five new handsets, probably only one or two (the ones with cameras) will make it to Hong Kong since there isn't a great demand for low-end phones. And they won't be priced at $240.

However, if the low-cost trend continues, you might well see a disposable phone - along the lines of the disposable camera - very soon.

PROS: cheap, no nonsense phones

CONS: none, unless you don't like cheap, no nonsense phones