[FoRK] looking for a secure dumbphone

Stephen Williams sdw at lig.net
Wed May 29 14:26:16 PDT 2013

I doubt the feature phones are actually more secure than mainstream 
phones, assuming you don't load malware.  There were many early bugs in 
bluetooth etc. that provided full access to some of those.

Soon, there will be no such thing as a dumb phone if you don't include 
low-end Android in "dumb phone".  A year ago, certain companies were 
producing phones with older / minimized processors that were targeted 
for $100 without subsidy.  That's likely gone way down, plus there is 
likely a flood of now-obsolete phones for nothing.

Keyboards wear out and use a lot of screen real estate. Capacitive touch 
screens don't.  There are many bluetooth keyboards, perhaps that is a 

There are some waterproof phones and tablets.  Sony is about to start 
selling a waterproof tablet in India.

Tracking the sweet spot of low-price vs. functionality would be interesting.

For many, a mobile phone is their communications / computer / Internet / 
banking / government access.  At some point, they are going to be 
willing to spend at least as much as they do on transportation and a 
significant fraction of housing and food to be enabled.  This does not 
point toward continued barely-usable feature phones.


On 5/29/13 5:56 AM, Eugen Leitl wrote:
> On Wed, May 29, 2013 at 07:06:40AM -0500, Ken Meltsner wrote:
>> I went through this with son #2 last year.  Lots o cheap phones out there
>> -- entire continents of non-smartphone users, in fact (Africa and Asia, I
>> believe).
> Actually, perhaps paradoxically, there are smartphones in Africa -- in
> fact multiuser ones (one shared among a group), and capable
> of online payment (M-Pesa).
>> The hard part is finding one which is optimized for sending text messages
>> (those kids!) since there's no data plan subsidy for the full keyboard,
>> larger screen, etc.
> Yeah, a good (metal?) keyboard would be important.
>> If full keyboard's not a requirement, Nokia seems to be the most popular
>> cheap phone product these days.
> Nokia 100 is a possibility, 6303i would be nicer but not so cheap anymore.
> It would be nice to have a secure, ruggedized system, but that's
> probably a produce niche reserved for intelligence field guys.

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