HOLD THE PHONE

Hold the phone. No, we don’t mean Apple’s iPhone, which has received enough publicity to qualify as a galactic event. It’s a cell phone for making phone calls. What a radical thought.

With no more suspense, it’s Samsung’s Jitterbug. This came out several months ago, but hasn’t had much in the way of press coverage. It’s not sleek, it’s not sexy and it’s not even slim, but it sure is easy to use. (And by the way, unheralded in all the iPhone coverage is that Samsung makes both the main processor and the memory for Apple’s $500 gadget.) At the moment the Jitterbug is available only in the United States, but that moment will expand.

We don’t need a phone that takes pictures or plays hit songs, and we don’t need the world to know we just saw the cutest gal or guy ever. We think cell phones are for making phone calls.

We’d had five cell phones, ranging in price from $39 to $420, and they all work — more or less. Some of them were so confusing we couldn’t figure out if we had messages. Our Virgin Mobile phone, made by Kyocera, starts by pushing a red button. A red button for starting? Most of the world associates red with stopping. Oh, well. We have a Sony Ericsson phone that takes pictures but requires something like seven steps to do it. Heaven help you if you want an emergency photo of the person attacking someone (maybe even you).

Which brings us back to the Jitterbug. It doesn’t take pictures, browse the Internet, show movies or play iTunes. A clear display on the outside shows us the time and whether or not we have messages. If someone is calling, it displays who it is if the person is in our stored list. You answer just by opening the phone, and the screen tells you to press “No” if you want to hang up.

You can order the phone with five contacts already on it and ask the operator to add more, or just fax the company a list. An up/down switch increases or lowers the volume, and if you press it up twice rapidly, the Jitterbug becomes a speaker phone. The battery is good for four hours of talk time and 11 days on standby.

You can dial anyone on your list by speaking a keyword. Say “home” and it dials home. The keypad on our model has large, easy-to-read numbers and buttons labeled “yes” and “no.” Their use is obvious.

Another version of this phone has no numbers, just three buttons: “911,” “Tow” and “Operator.” 911 is for calling the police and “Operator” connects you to an operator. The button that says “Tow” is for towing your stalled car, but you can order the phone with something else on that button, like “Dad.”

This is obviously not for your average teenager. But it is just right for people who are either too young or too old to bother with endless options or just can’t be bothered, period. The phone costs $147 from Jitterbug.com and service plans start at $10 a month. Voice mail is an extra $3. Other plans are on the Web site. This is going to be our phone; if we need pictures, we have a camera.

One Response to “HOLD THE PHONE”

  1. Super-Duper site! I am loving it!! Will come back again – taking you feeds also.