Thursday, 26 March 2009


For a while I've wondered why my 10-year-old Nokia 7110 phone still looks pristine and shows no signs of giving up, where my children's phones are temperamental wrecks after one year.

Admittedly, the 7110 is built like a warship (hey, but it does have that exciting pop open bit at the bottom over the keys, and a variant of it was used in the Matrix!) and the modern phones seem to be made of tissue paper. But it's not just that, it's the way they're treated. I look after my phone - they throw theirs around like hair straightners (which also die after a year, but that's a different story).

On first thought I wondered if it was late adopter syndrome. You know the kind of thing. Most people my age are slightly hesitant with computers, because they weren't around when we were at school. This doesn't apply to me, because way back in 1984 I was programming PCs and they're now second nature. Mostly when someone asks me how to do something on a computer I don't know, but this background means I just muck in and try, rather than be scared of the thing. It's that fear of doing something wrong that holds many back.

But it's not quite that with the phones (and, for that matter digital cameras and other small, portable electronics). The difference, I think, is that I respect them as compact masterpieces. You shouldn't be able to cram all that stuff into that small space - and when you do, it needs some respect if it's going to keep functioning. It's not that I see phones as some strange new object to be handled fearfully, I'm just aware what's in them and how fragile it all is.

Chuck your phone around the place like a hairbrush, and you'll get the results you deserve.


  1. Whereas I am inclined to agree, Brian, manufacturers rely on built-in obsolescence to stay in business (the 'Man In The White Suit' syndrome) as well as the fickleness of teenagers who are always after the latest model anyway. As for me, I tend to abuse gadgets not because I want to, but simply because I am big and heavy handed, so I appreciate decent construction. The fact that most gadgets are designed for people a fraction my height, mass and crushing power is a source of distress. Clearly, I do not feature very much in any advertiser's demographic!

  2. The built-in obsolescence is definitely true of hair straightners (see main text - I guess your girls aren't old enough for these yet, Henry, but the horror of it will come), but the concept was nothing new when Nokia made my phone, and they still managed to make the 7110 solid.

    I bought a new little camera last year, mostly for blogging. After several months and much pocketing, it was still pristine. Then one of my children 'borrowed' it. It now large scratches on the viewing screen. Nuff said.

  3. Hair Straighteners. Oy. Gee Minor has some. I think us manly chaps can say this between ourselves, but women are living proof that entropy exists. They may look lovely and neat, but just look into their bags, bedside cabinets... Victoria Wood once did a super routine about the contents of her handbag. At the very bottom, she said, was her 'emergency tampon'. 'It's been there for 17 years', she said. 'If I'm mugged, I'll reach for it, pull it out, shove it up his nose, and he'll die of toxic shock'.