I HAVE TWO YEARS of user data to confirm that when you can totally control the behaviour of your mobile phone, you can keep phone costs to one euro a week. Our grandparents are doing that with no data services.
You won't be able to constrain your running costs to five euro monthly (the average pay as you go charge my father-in-law incurs) unless you constrain email services totally to operations across wifi. And if you're a power texter or a Facebook addict, you have no hope of keeping your running costs so low. There's no Facebook in the lives of my in-laws because they prefer to deal with tightly-wrapped social collateral (i.e., viewing images and videos along with listening to occasional audio snippets on the handset). The Nokia E7 is a workhorse. I used it for several years as my daily phone--often getting more than two days between charges--and I still prefer its call handling and QWERTY keyboard over my Nokia Lumia. That's also the personal preference of the in-laws. The keyboard gives a greater sense of control over a touchscreen. The flip-up screen provides a tabletop focal point when using the phone on conference calls.
However, there is a major drawback when comparing the Nokia E7 over all other handsets my father-in-law has owned.
The biggest drawback is the E7's inability to print at photo kiosks. With earlier phones, the grandparents could take the memory card from their phones to the chemist and tap on the images of photos they wanted to print. There is no memory card on newer Symbian phones (or on iPhones or on Nokia Lumias). I have to sync photo galleries from the phone now, then burn the images onto CD for printing. That's a problem for people who prefer to hold and view photographs. In fact, this "problem" is probably one of the strongest reasons that self-service photo printing remains a strong cash cow for chemists in Ireland. Older people can see printed images better on photo paper than they can on a small screen. And when you have grandparents who refuse to update their spectacles with stronger lenses, real photographs become an imperative.
I expect the Nokia E7 will remain in service with the grandparents through the year 2015. Because of that, we're looking at ways of upgrading the grandparent's television set to enable slideshows and videos to play via HDMI.
I watch these developments with great interest because frugal pensioners with older techologies represent more than 20% of the Irish population. They often remain bemused by the growth of online social networking and couldn't be bothered connecting to the Twitter firehose because they know they will pay more than five euro a month for online nattering. They'd rather have a more personal interaction with closer family circles and for that they have their handheld memories tucked inside their phones.
No data required.
Image of Nokia E90 and Nokia E7 shot by my Sony Ericsson Xperia Arc.
Nokia Conversations -- Nokia sells 1.5 billion Series 40 phones