phones: switching from the nokia 6300 4g to the sonim xp3+ (11/29/23)

around august i officially transitioned from a smartphone to a keypad/feature phone, which i had been planning to do for almost 8 months at this point. i had already been totally disconnected from social media for a while, and i also had the internet disabled on my smartphone. that said i had a habit of redownloading and deleting apps that were harmful for my mental health, so i felt that getting a "dumbphone" was the next logical step. i settled on the nokia 6300 4g because of the price (50 usd used), attractive candybar form factor and ability to hotspot, which i was sure i would need at the time. i did not necessarily think the thing was going to last me three years; i wanted to go cheap to make sure i could do it before comitting to a more expensive phone.

i had to switch from at&t to t-mobile to use the 6300 4g. although it's on at&t's "whitelist" of usable phones as far as i remember, it doesn't actually have the technological capabilites to accept an at&t cell signal because of the specific bands they use. (i am not an expert, but i think that's a dumbed-down explanation of the situation.) once the t-mobile service started there were no hiccups, and i loved using the phone at first.

the phone is very light and small and fits easily in your pocket. when you drop it, it bounces instead of breaking, and the battery often comes out. the keys don't click down very far. the screen is very, very small, which i love. the phone uses a micro-usb charger, but the charging port is really short, so cords other than the one that came with the phone don't work very well.

it runs on kaiOS, which is kind of like android but worse. it comes pre-loaded with a bunch of shitty apps that you can't delete because the us version of this phone doesn't have access to the developer options that you would need to do that. as a result of the bad os and all the bloatware, it runs super, super slow. it has a browser, which you won't be able to use. it has maps, which you won't be able to use. messages can take an age to load, and the same message thread will sometimes get duplicated 2 or 3 times. when typing, you have to press 3 times on every message thread to enable T9, and every time you add a new word the phone automatically assumes that's what you want to type every time you press that key combo. there's also no real predictive text. this phone felt like it was designed for people to buy for their elderly parents with absolutely no regard for quality or usability.

that said, i absolutely loved it. for the first time in my life, my phone felt like a cute little toy that i played with instead of an antagonist. honestly, i probably could have gone on using it forever if it weren't for THE NAIL IN THE COFFIN, which was that it lost its ability to charge last week. i tried cleaning the charging port, replacing the battery and the charger, but none of it worked. i probably could have fixed the charging port if i tried hard enough, but i reckoned that the thing was so cheap to begin with that i might as well just get a new phone. so i did!

enter the sonim xp3+, a rugged flip phone designed for workers in harsh conditions, as far as i know. it's a huge, heavy, chunky, rubbery thing that's like half a foot long when you open it up. it goes without saying that it's significantly heavier than the nokia.

after only a few days of use, it's hard to give a thorough review. but i can say that so far i am fucking loving this thing. it runs a version of android, so it's a lot smoother and faster. there's only really one piece of annoying bloatware- an app tmobile preinstalls- and because it's an android phone, i should be able to remove that using adb (android device bridge, basically i can plug the phone up to my computer and run commands on it.) it has everything i need except a maps app, which i'm looking forward to trying to install from the T9 works a lot better too, and i've been able to type way faster. i've also been able to use group messages with no hassle, something the nokia couldn't do.

overall i'm super happy with my choice. i might post another review after 3 months of use. hopefully this one will be sticking with me for a long time!