Motorola’s MOTOFONE F3 is about as basic as a handset can get, with voice calls, texts and alarms summing up its feature set.
It has a price to match. For example, as I write, Phones4u is selling it on T-Mobile, Orange and Virgin Media pay-as-you-go. Choose the latter and the phone costs a total of £29.95 which includes £10 of airtime.
If you really do just want to make voice calls, send text messages and have a portable alarm clock, then it is pretty appealing price to pay. Surely there must be a catch? Well, this phone has some great features and is truly innovative, but yes, there is a catch – this phone is the devil itself to use effectively. I suspect it will be challenging for the mobile phone novice or reluctant user who must, surely, between them be a major part of the target market. Those in less developed countries looking for low cost mobiles might also be interested, but they too will have to deal with the problem of actually using the thing.
When you turn the F3 on you have to set its language – my choices were English, German and Italian, and it talks to you in each language, telling you to press 1 2 or 3 to make your selection. It can then continue to give you what it calls ‘Voicehelp’ to set the time and date and can carry on telling you things at various points during handset use. Or you can choose not to have this help.
In terms of design the MOTOFONE F3 has the distinctive look of the Motorola flat keyboarded candybar handset about it. Think SLVR. The number pad keys are separated by white horizontal lines and are backlit in darker conditions. When you press one you get a tone, and this coupled with the fact that the keys are quite large, makes them easy enough to hit successfully at speed.
Above the number pad is a silver navigation pad, Call and End keys and a pair of softmenu keys. The navigation pad has no central press-to-select section. Instead you make choices by pushing the navigation pad up or using the left softmenu.