Going Off-Grid: How About a Feature Phone Life ?

going off grid

Do you remember back in the day when your phone was used for just calling and texting? In fact, all it could do was text, make calls, play games like Snake and listen to the radio. Listening to the radio, ironically, taken away from us much to Dean’s dissatisfaction as he revealed on the Goos3D podcast.

What about the battery? The battery could last nearly a month. Yes, a whole month! Today, these are now commonly called ‘feature phones’. They had no internet or, at most, limited Internet connectivity. Connecting to the Internet, sending emails or booking Ryanair flights all had to be done on your home computer or in work when the boss wasn’t looking.

There is a lot of interest lately in getting back to the simple days of these feature phones. This is often referred to as going off-grid. The modern smartphone can play videos, take great pictures, download apps, check Facebook/Twitter/Instagram feeds and much much more. However, a movement has sprung up lately for a return to simpler and less connected phones. RTÉ’s Ryan Tubridy has recently been highlighting the risks of children using their smartphone and apps like KIK messenger, unwittingly interacting with dangerous individuals. Tubridy has also gone off-grid and is using a feature phone while documenting his experience and seeing how well he can re-adjust to a phone life with just being able to send SMS messages and make/receive calls. That said, team Goos3D did something very similar not too long ago for charity.

A current Kickstarter project to create a new feature phone called “The Light Phone” has raised double their goal, highlighting the huge interest worldwide for simpler feature phones amongst those who perhaps seek a simpler, social media less life. Sure heck, maybe a feature phone retreat for few weeks has benefits. Plus, let’s never forget who’d win in a drag race…

So, we’ve been looking into this and below is a list of some of our favourite cheap and very cheerful feature phones with just the basic features. All of these phones can be purchased from mobile operators on basic monthly or pay as you go contracts. Usually at reduced tariffs also, which is an extra reason to go with a feature phone! You could, of course, purchase these phones directly yourself (e.g. eBay, Amazon etc) and use your existing sim card. Remember to request your mobile operator to reduce your package rate to reflect that you don’t need a 3G/4G data allowance anymore.

Nokia 3310

Originally released in 2000, the original Nokia 3310 became one of the worlds most popular phones, selling over 126 million worldwide. Re-released in 2017 as a faithful recreation of the original with an updated screen, colour user interface and a battery that still last a month! Packed with old-school features such as the ability to send SMS texts, make calls, listen to FM radio and play the legendary snakes game. It’s a modern phone with all the great old school features you or your parents will remember. There is a 3G version of this phone but of course, that wouldn’t really be playing fair with your inner back to basics self. Carphone Warehouse and Vodafone currently have this on sale for €59.99, pay as you go contract.

Nokia 150

Another recent release from Nokia (2017), this feature phone has all the build quality and reliability you would expect from a Nokia phone. It features a 31-day battery, camera and flash, FM radio & MP3 player, SMS texts and voice calls.

Carphone Warehouse and Vodafone currently have this on sale for €29.99 on pay as you go.

Alcatel OneTouch/10.54

Simplicity at its best. The Alcatel One Touch/10.54 comes with an FM radio, camera, games, SMS texts and voice calls. Comes with a great battery that’ll last you 30 days standby time and a tasty price to boot. This phone can be picked up for €19.99 in Vodafone and Eir on pay as you go. Sure, what more would you need?

Alcatel 20.08

Another no-frills feature phone from Alcatel. Featuring an FM radio, MP3 player, camera and the ubiquitous ability to send SMS texts and voice calls. Long life battery is also a beneficial feature. This phone does actually offer very basic 2G Internet connectivity but don’t worry, the connection will be far to slow to surf modern web pages with any degree of comfort or patience. The big features on this phone are Hearing Aid compatibility and extra large keyboard buttons. So for those in need of such features, this could be a godsend. Available for €29.99 from Vodafone on pay as you go.

Are you tempted to go off-grid for a while?

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Neal is a massive gadget and movie fan. If he’s not pushing his beloved Apple collection to the max or wandering around Skyrim on his PS4, you’re likely to catch him reading about tech or watching a Scorsese classic.


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