Hang Up: Dumb phones are the smart phones

Apple are releasing a new phone guaranteed to always be in people’s hands: the iphone SX Max.

Why will they always look at it?  Because it won’t fit in anyone’s purse, never mind a pocket. “XS” usually means “extra small”, but apple decided that the name of a seven inch long phone should be “XS”. And the cult members will buy it, because they’re told to.  The piece of crap will cost up to US$1500.  I’ll bet when 5G networks are the standard, the 5G iphone will cost 5G, i.e. US$5000.

In January 2019, Taiwan is switching off all 2G, 3G and 3.5G phone service except for emergency numbers. People will have no choice but to buy new 4G phones to have any functionality.  The only 4G phones on the market here are overpriced smart phones, the cheapest of which is a three year old phone for NT$7500 (US$244), many newer ones running NT$12000-15000 for Taiwanese brands (Acer, ASUS) and more for others. Good luck to the poor affording that when minimum wage is NT$22000/month.

This isn’t “planned obsolescence”, it’s enforced obsequiousness.  People are being forced to buy new phones for the benefit and profit of corporations.  Unlike landlines and grandfathering, service will be denied to those who can’t afford to pay.  And that’s before we address the environmental waste of enforced consumption, millions of still functioning phones being thrown away.



There are several 4G feature phones (aka dumb phones) and a smartphone on the market in other countries, but none are for sale here. I’m sick of smart phones, I want something small that makes and takes both calls and messages, even if it means living with a two inch screen. My current “smart phone” is dying after less than two years’ use, and I don’t abuse my phones.


  1. Curt Sampson says

    I’ve owned a 7 inch ‘phablet’ and currently own a Kindle; both fit fine in the back pockets of my trousers and jeans and will fit fine in most purses. While I don’t like a lot of stuff Apple makes, I don’t think it’s fair to criticise them for making a slightly larger phone. Some of us who aren’t so young any more find it a lot easier to read on the larger screens and I think it’s well past the time Apple offered an option for this.

    It seems odd to me that there are no cheap 4G phones in Taiwan. Here in Japan we have several models for under USD 100 new and of course you can get used ones for half that price. 4G has been around for years now, so it’s not unreasonable that the older networks get removed at some point. How long do you want to keep spending significant public resources (radio spectrum) on maintaining these older systems, which use the spectrum less efficiently and thus give the population overall less access for the same amount of spending? (I’m not saying that this particular cutover is being well done, just that in the long run doing this is in the public interest.)

    • says

      Except, as I said, they’re not being removed. People with 2G and 3G phones can still call emergency numbers, they just can’t call or sent texts to friends, their workplace or businesses.