Every week, we hear someone mentioning how their kids want a mobile phone. Whether it’s because their friends have one, or they just want a touchscreen media player, this is becoming a thing that parents have to deal with.
But the question is where do you draw the line, and will it become something for the kids to focus on instead of doing their work?
One solution is to provide a phone that offers the ability to make and take phone calls only when they’re needed, skipping the whole touchscreen revolution until you believe the child is ready for that responsibility, but still making sure they’re secure with a custom phone.
With that in mind, OwnFone has launched in Australia, building a device for kids and seniors who don’t need all the bells and whistles, but are still looking for a way to keep in contact when it’s needed.
“OwnFone was specifically designed with kids and seniors in mind,” said Brad Scoble, Ownfone’s Director for Australia and New Zealand.
“Without a screen, users can only make and receive phone calls. It is Australia’s simplest mobile phone with no texting, internet, apps, games, video, or camera.”
The handset is a bare basic device, physically lacking a screen of any kind, but still supporting buttons, but not of the sort you’re probably used to. There are no conventional dial-pad buttons on these handsets, with prebuilt buttons set to dial specific phone numbers from the beginning.
For instance, if you want to give a phone to your child but want to make sure they only call you, your significant other, maybe a brother and sister, you can get a series of buttons built with either their names or photos on them and the phone numbers pre-mapped.
Up to 12 phone numbers can be built into the phone, and this happens at the factory, so the phone arrives in your mailbox preset and ready to go, with buttons for answering and hanging up, as well as switching the phone on and off.
Every phone includes a number for calling emergency, so even if one of the preset phone numbers can’t be reached, the authorities still can be.
The handsets are charged over a standard microUSB port and should offer battery life of around three days, making it one of those things you can leave in a backpack and take out in the middle of the week for charging.
Possibly the best part of the phone is knowing that because the phone numbers are preset at the factory, stealing it is a touch pointless for anyone going after it since the phone numbers can only be programmed and set at the factory, and you can’t use it to make random phone calls to just anyone.
“It is perfect for people who want a safe, low cost, and low risk mobile phone to keep in touch,” said Scoble.
There is one catch, because aside for needing to order it from the OwnFone website and never being able to change it yourself, the phone plans are handled at OwnFone’s end, with no way of throwing in your own SIM card.
As such, monthly plans start at $20 and include 45 minutes of calls, while prepaid packs start at $30 for 80 minutes with an expiration of 90 days. The service relies on Vodafone’s network.
Prices for the handset start at $69 for text labels and $79 for photo labels, with braille phone buttons coming soon. Buttons for volume changing are automatically included, and depending on how many phone numbers you need, the price changes.
Availability is roughly now, though because you have to order and wait for it to arrive, this needs to be factored into the purchase when ordered.