Andrew Marsh - one of our mid-50's Company Directors - discusses the current use of mobile phones, and its associated terminology.

We still refer to our mobile device as a phone don’t we? “Where’s my phone?” we exclaim in exasperation, frantically collecting our keys, wallets/purses as we dash out the house. “What phone have you got?” we ask when we compare with the Joneses. The truth of the matter is that with modern day usage a mobile phone is not just for calling or texting anymore, however we still refer to it as a phone.

Some generations of mobile phone users deploy their phones for, almost literally, everything except calling or texting. Yes, I know, I’m a mid-50s Dad, but can I ever get hold of my teenage kids on their phones when I call or text them? The answer is, of course, an emphatic ‘No’ even although their phones are rarely more than six inches away at all times, day and night. It transpires that my teenagers hardly ever make or receive calls on their phones. This is an alien concept to them. And when I text them they tell me to message them instead. They use their phones constantly, but then that’s on message boards, social media, taking photos, ordering takeaways or taxis with equal ease and proficiency, making or watching videos and even streaming TV programmes or films. For this generation their phones aren’t phones at all. But they still regularly implore me with the mantra known to all parents, “Dad, I need a new phone”.

So what inspired me to pick on this topic? Well, I felt that it was my moral (and technical) obligation to speak up for the mid-50s masses who still use a phone as a phone in response to my colleague Sophie’s (our resident 25-year-old Account Executive) rather scathing review about the revived Nokia 3310. See her article here.

It got me thinking. This was a typical case in point where the mid-20s and younger still use the word ‘phone’ when an actual phone is practically the last thing they need.

"a truly simple, well-designed and reliable piece of kit"

In the office Sophie was somewhat sceptical about Nokia’s re-boot of their all-time classic model mobile phone, stating (off the record, you understand) that it’s a rubbish phone and she doesn’t see why anyone would buy it. According to (25-year-old, don’t forget) Sophie, the phone in question doesn’t do this and doesn’t do that. In effect, she was zeroing in on what it doesn’t do and all the things it lacks compared to the state-of-the-art smartphones we’re all using these days. It was pretty negative stuff I thought, rather than focussing on the real raison d’être for this piece of equipment: a truly simple, well-designed and reliable piece of kit… for when all you need is a phone to actually call and text. In debating the Nokia 3310 I highlighted the fact that it seems to be a really good phone, with robust build, good connectivity, long battery life, and it’s simple and uncomplicated. And as phones go it’s also very cheap.

So all in all an excellent phone and I feel that it will have many more users than Sophie pointed out in her article: the elderly, festival goers, phone detoxers and simply Nokia fans.

Purely because it seems to be a good old phone, then yes, the Nokia will have a wider range of users than perhaps at first expected, including users who want a reliable telephone, that doesn’t store very much personal and financial data, that they can use cross-borders without the risk of confiscation and that doesn’t compromise their personal identity and security. In this age of clever hackers we shouldn’t overlook the attraction of protecting our omnipresent identities.

I’ll come back to my original conundrum: why do we still refer to our phone as a phone? So what should we call this magical piece of equipment that we port around with us everywhere we go? This all-encompassing mobile device, performing the full suite of functions of a computer, with touchscreen interface, camera, Internet access, messaging facility to (almost) the entire global population and an operating system capable of running any form of downloaded apps you could possibly choose. I think the Nokia 3310 is a phone in its traditional sense. But the kit in everyone’s hands is far from being merely a phone. Although ‘mobile device’ seems a precise descriptor, even I would agree that those are four clunky syllables rather incongruously strung together. And ‘phone’ rolls off the tongue rather more easily…