The View

Terrified of ever being unconnected? Find yourself staring at a tiny screen, ignoring your dining companions? Then read this...

You’re showing the early signs of becoming a ‘smartphoneista’ – but help is at hand, in the shape of the (non-exploding) HK$200 Samsung Anycall

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 02 November, 2016, 9:47am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 02 November, 2016, 10:41pm

Schadenfreude is not a commendable emotion but it sure is irresistible. Never more so when this proud owner of a Samsung Anycall mobile telephone surveys the mayhem out there in the hi-tech world of smartphones and other hand-held devices.

The honest citizens who literally forked out something like 30 or maybe 40 times more than the cost of an ever-reliable Anycall for a Samsung Note 7 smartphone will probably have already returned these potentially lethal devices to their dealers.

I could, at this point, be magnanimous enough not to furnish examples of a whole string of other hi-tech duds, but, frankly, why resist the temptation? So let’s be reminded of past mobile device blunders, such as the “wonderful” Blackberry Play Book device that was supposed to be just great for high-definition videos but proved to be useless for all the other things that smartphones are supposed to do. Unlike the Play Book, Amazon’s 2014 Fire Phone did not manage to kill off the company but it was a spectacular dud, somewhere on a par with Google’s Nexus Q, launched two years earlier that was supposed to ‘make media consumption more social’.

Frankly, I don’t even know what that means.

The list of duds is much longer but I reckon that readers will have got the point, unlike myself who is frequently and patronisingly told that I just don’t get the point of all these hi-tech devices, moreover I am, apparently missing out on all sorts of just wonderful smartphone benefits.

I remain dubious and would like to place on the record the many, many advantages of keeping mobile telephony simple.

I would like to place on the record the many, many advantages of keeping mobile telephony simple

First up is the obvious issue of economy: a Samsung Anycall or similar can be purchased for around HK$200, less than the price of a meal in Central.

Secondly, these phones have really great (and non-exploding) batteries that last forever and don’t need constant recharging.

Thirdly, and little mentioned, is that the sound quality of these phones, is even good enough for use in broadcasting, something I do quite a lot for overseas radio stations.

Fourthly, these phones are pretty theft-proof, or to put it another way: have you ever heard of anyone stealing a Samsung Anycall?

Fifthly, and little noticed, I really like the calculator feature on this phone, most useful.

Sixthly, I can get around much quicker with my Anycall as I never feel the need to pause as I am walking, thus disrupting the traffic while I check the screen for the latest update.

Seventhly, it is small, what I would describe as genuinely pocket-sized.

Despite listing these advantages, and exercising restraint in not listing more, it is possible that some of you smartphoneistas will not be impressed.

You will, no doubt, be scratching your heads with exasperation, saying to yourselves, ‘what’s wrong with this guy, doesn’t he get the need for connectivity in this modern age?’

But you are wrong; I do get it but don’t like it. I see no need to have a facility for answering emails or whatsapping or maybe even instantgraming (whatever these things are) at all hours of the day and night.

I see no need to have a facility for answering emails or whatsapping or maybe even instantgraming (whatever these things are) at all hours of the day and night

I am mightily relieved not to be subject to the tyranny of Facebook and all the rest. I don’t need thousands of ‘followers’ or feel I have to convey my truly insightful thoughts to the world with little tweets.

Moreover I am quite able to share meals without ignoring dining companions due to the tyranny of being glued to the phone.

Yet my working life straddles both business and media work – which, so I’m told, have a vital need for instant communication.

This poses the question of urgency. Have you noticed how the perils of instant communication have made it difficult to distinguish between what is really urgent and vital and what amounts to very little indeed?

If something is really urgent people can call meor send an SMS (a much sniffed at form of communication). If a more detailed matter requires attention an email, that I will pick up when I am next at my computer, can be carefully considered and dealt with.

Frankly I think we could all slow down a hell of lot more and benefit from so doing. The worlds of business and the media have, of course, benefited from more advanced means of communication but they come with pitfalls, which are given far too little attention.

Meanwhile good luck with the next big thing in mobile communications, I hope it does not explode and I trust that you have plenty of spare cash because the next big thing won’t last that long and before you know it you will be called upon to fork out for the next, next big thing.

Stephen Vines runs companies in the food sector and moonlights as a journalist and a broadcaster