I don’t consider myself to be a Luddite (one who stands in opposition to technological ‘advances’) but I DO, as a general rule, prefer technical devices that are singular (no pun intended) in their purpose. That is to say, with the conspicuous exception of my multi-function printer/copier/scanner/fax machine, I prefer devices that focus on doing one function and doing it well. This preference has developed over the years as I have often experienced the results when the function of individual elements seems to have become compromised for the trade-off benefit of creating some kind of multi-function package. I like simple. This is an increasingly difficult preference to act on in today’s world, as more and more items available on the market become increasingly complex in their default, or readily available consumer state. For example, automatic transmissions used to be an add-on option for a new car; now one more usually has to pay extra to retrofit a car with a standard shift. It’s even difficult to find any but the lowest of the low-end cars that do not come with electric windows, air conditioners FM radios and CD players as default installations. And it isn’t just cars. Try to find a good quality large screen black and white TV or somewhere where you can get black and white photos quickly and well developed and printed. I could go on with many more examples, but this review isn’t about a lot of examples. It is about one specific cell phone, one which has optional activations available that make it more than a simple phone, but which does not require their activation for use. A cell phone that functions quite nicely as just what it is – a simple portable cell phone. It is the last of its type available from my current carrier, Cingular/ATT and was made available to me as a free upgrade, only as a special request.
It meets my needs quite nicely and it is the Nokia 6030.
The general trend in electronics, including cell phones, is to make things smaller and smaller – a good thing to a point – and more complex. When my most recent contract with Cingular was due to expire, I was eligible for a new ‘upgraded’ phone. I was surprised to discover that their website listed NO phone option that did not have built in, at least, a still low megapixel digital camera. Most also included video cameras, text messaging, email and general internet access, FM radio and MPEG music players. The unit offered as the standard free upgrade was a ‘flip-phone’ – a design I eschew because of its increased vulnerability toward breakage, given the hinge. I can be kind of hard on my things and require maximum durability. This most simple model included a camera, the ability to capture video clips, storage of music and a number of other features that I neither wanted nor needed. In discussions with Customer Service, they discovered that they had a limited remaining supply of this 6030 – a phone they no longer routinely offer. They agreed to send me this one as my new replacement in exchange for the usual contract renewal agreement. Nokia DOES continue to manufacture them and they ARE available (at very low cost) from other sources and as GSM/GPRS 850/1900MHz phones, they CAN be activated on the Cingular/ATT network or on any other such system.
The Nokia 6030
As you can see in the image posted at the top of this page, this is not a flip phone. It is what is often referred to as a ‘candy bar’ phone – flat and open with no moving parts. It does not have a built-in camera or video capture ability. While it does have the capacity for text messaging, internet access and even FM radio, these features do not require activation.
There are features of this ‘basic’ cell phone that are definite improvements over my both most recent ‘old’ one, the Nokia 6010 as well as over my home corded and cordless units.
It’s size and convenience make it VERY easily portable (4.1″ X 1.7″ X.7″), it’s 500 number/name memory (on either/or/both phone and SIM card memory), the Caller ID feature included, as it usually is at no additional fee on most/all cellular phones and the portability of it’s voicemail capacity – a feature that I am using for the very first time on any cell phone.
Its basic features are quite easy to use, although the manual was, apparently, not written by native English speakers and contains more than a few errors that I needed to call Nokia to get straight. For example, according to the manual, to activate the key pad lock, one presses MENU then within 1.5 seconds, the forward arrow (>). This didn’t work, and the code is actually MENU followed by pressing the Star (*) key. The online manual is more accurate than is the printed one as it is done by NokiaUSA. I don’t know where the hard manual is written, but it is printed in Mexico and is written in both English and Spanish. I cannot comment on the accuracy of the Spanish rendition. It also has a ‘speakerphone’ feature that is functionally worthless and smart to leave ‘off’ as its amplification is not adequate for car use nor is its microphone sensitive enough to work well from more than a foot away. Headsets are where to go. This phone is NOT Bluetooth compatible.
The MENU is organized similarly to other Nokia phones I have owned and used including a handy Organizer section that gives you access to a Calendar (which has a storage capacity of up to 500 entries), Calculator, Radio (should you want to use it, you need to purchase an additional headset accessory), and Alarm Clock – a real boon to travelers. Unlike the 6010 that operated on 3 channels, this phone accesses a total of 299 of them, so signal loss is FAR less frequent and the reception is quite clear and steady in most locations – including some where the 6010 experienced ‘dead’ zones. The problem is not always the system and it’s placement of cells – it is sometimes the phone itself!
Frustratingly, all of the accessories I had accumulated for the 6010 are not compatible with the 6030 – the similarity of the numeric designation of the unit notwithstanding. The batteries are different (and, of course, smaller with less talk time – Standby time is listed at 300 hours, Talk time at 5 hours); the charging stand I used with the 6010 does not work with it, nor does the plug-in charger. (Interestingly, there is NO charging stand manufactured for this particular model by Nokia.) On the other side of the coin, the headset(s) and car charger ARE fully compatible. I suggest that when shopping for a new cell phone, something to carefully review is the compatibility of accessories you may have invested quite a bit in with the new phone(s) you are considering – rather than being surprised after the new unit is delivered. Also, the information given to me by Cingular when I ordered it was that the SIM card was compliant and could be simply moved from one phone to the other -This was simply wrong information and I needed to bring the new phone into a Cingular retail store to have them move the stored numbers from the old SIM card to the new one. But that is a problem with the system and the company – not with the phone itself.
After a couple of weeks of daily use, I am quite pleased with it. As with all electronic devices, it has it’s idiosyncrasies that only are learned through user experience – but none of them are terribly complicated.
So, a (relatively) simple phone – one of the last of its kind and the very last one available from Cingular/ATT at this time. I prefer to use a still camera to take photos, a digital Camcorder to take videos, and a real sound system to listen to music. I have made my own biases quite explicit as I believe consumers should be able to buy what they want and need and need to be willing to shop for/negotiate for ‘work-arounds’ when told what they want is not available. If you agree and find the other add-ons unnecessary nuisances, you may want to check out this cell phone.
It works for me!