Berlin - If you just want a mobile phone for making calls, then you don't really need a touch screen.
touch screens are not strictly necessary for a lot of popular
activities, whether it be surfing the web, taking pictures or listening
to music. What you might want is a multimedia mobile. However, the
market for these devices is shrinking fast.
That's because for
many people, mobile phones are becoming anything but phones. Ads focus
on how quickly they can go online, display high-definition video or let
you access graphic-intensive games. Mention of telephone features can
almost seem an afterthought.
But, when it comes to multimedia
mobiles, making calls and sending text messages remain two of the key
functions. Internet access and playing MP3 audio files are also
available functions, but are of much lower importance.
question is whether these mobiles are worth it for a class of customers
who simply want to make phone calls. Or should they just join the
Michael Wolf of Stiftung Warentest, a
German consumer products testing organisation, said a mobile needs to
fulfil four basic functions to be considered a smartphone.
internet surfing, it needs a certain display size and fast internet
access via UMTS or wi-fi. Additionally, smartphones have an open
operating system that can be expanded with apps," he said.
last requirement is a keyboard with letters. But that doesn't mean a
physical keyboard. The widespread virtual keyboards seen on so many
touch screens more than fit the bill.
"The borders between smartphones and multimedia mobiles move a lot," Wolf added.
After all, a lot of mobile phones can go online, many even with UMTS.
course, it's not as much fun with a smaller display and without a touch
screen. Still, a lot of manufacturers offer some programmes and games
to download onto older mobiles.
"But there's no comparing that with the offering from Android or Apple devices," Wolf warned.
The wide variety of apps and games is one of the reasons for the widespread success of smartphones, he said.
the meantime, even older people and those less open to technology are
opting for smartphones, because they want a phone with a good MP3 player
or a good camera," Wolf noted.
Plus, anyone who can deactivate
the mobile broadcast function and download apps via a wi-fi connection
can, theoretically, use them for free.
"Smartphones advanced past
regular mobiles a long time ago," said Roland Stehle of the German
Society for Entertainment and Communications Technology (gfu). "And, in
the coming years, they're only going to build upon their lead."
But mobiles without apps and all the bells and whistles won't die out, he thinks.
"There will always be a certain clientele that prefers these kinds of gadgets," he said.
Better battery life
That wouldn't be a surprise, since multimedia mobiles still maintain a few advantages.
to the smaller display and the weaker processor, they enjoy longer
battery lives. And, once you are used to it, many find typing on a
physical keyboard much easier than typing and swiping on a touch screen.
Wolf said a lot depends on the device and the taste of the user.
"Multimedia mobiles are not necessarily new-user friendly. Sometimes the buttons and the controls can be fussy," he said.
another advantage with multimedia mobiles. Compared to smartphones, a
lot of models are cheaper. But there's not a huge gap in prices, said
Rafaela Moehl of the German telecommunications website teltarif.de.
can get a sensible, affordable Android smartphone for €100 to €150; for
a new mobile with a lot of functions, I pay €80," she noted.
But not a lot of new multimedia models are making it to market.
"Most of the models on sale today are already one or two years old," Moehl said.
Those sometimes sell for only about €50.
In general, those interested should have no problems with multimedia mobiles, according to Stehle.
technology is pretty exhausted in these kinds of devices. Classical
mobiles won't be making any big technology jumps anymore," he said.
the new ones being developed are showing some innovation in some areas
like design, since manufacturers are often inclined to change the
materials for cost or efficiency reasons.
However, customers shouldn't expect the quality levels to remain the same, according to Wolf.
look at the comparison tests and product reviews is worth it, as
always. There are also quality differences with multimedia mobiles," he
You might also want to consider getting a flat rate for
data transfers if you opt for multimedia, since a lot of classic mobiles
also have internet access, Moehl said.
"Even with a regular mobile, I can call up mails or browse," she said.