Smartphone hard, dudes, like it’s the end of the world!
I like a party with 78% N and 21% O
Something for the Weekend, Sir? Welcome back. Just think, it’s been a week already since glum users began reluctantly re-occupying seats that had been blissfully empty during most of Christmas and New Year.
No doubt your Monday was spent dealing with forgotten-password requests, Tuesday helping the same users who had already forgotten the replacement password you gave them on Monday, and Wednesday resetting their logins a third time because they changed Tuesday’s replacement password to one of their own but have forgotten what that was too.
On Thursday, I’m guessing you spent most of the day explaining to the hapless deskbound masses how to filter their 20,000 unread emails that turned up over the holiday break. And now on Friday, I expect you have put the phone on divert and are counting the seconds to the first proper beer o’ clock of 2016. Roll on the weekend, I say, and pretend it’s still the season to paaaar-tay!
Not in the mood? Perhaps this will change your mind.
Oh, did I mention the video above is NSFW? Come to think of it, it’s NS anywhere. Still, you have to admit, those faux-80s American rockers know how to belt out a party song.
Here’s how we do parties in Britain:
Assuming you haven’t stabbed yourself in the ears with a blunt pen “to make the hurt stop”, listen as I explain why I am still in a party mood. Yes, I know you wouldn’t normally need your ears to read but I anticipate that some of my male readers will have gone blind after watching the Steel Panther video 20 times.
At the end of last summer, I was sent a review model of an entry-level smartphone, whose manufacturer and model shall remain nameless lest The Reg bullymeisters deem that I have stooped so low as to actually review such a thing. The manufacturer – who I shall not name, remember – must have been having difficulty persuading any self-respecting journalist to do a write-up because they obviously moved on to the list of journalists with no self-respect and called me.
Sure, I’ll take a look at your crappy little cheapo smartphone, I said. By the time I had phoned around my contacts, only to discover that magazines and websites are no longer interested in reviews of affordable, entry-level kit, the wretched product arrived by courier. What the heck was I going to do with the thing? Send it straight back?
I read the spec sheet: a 4in 480x800-pixel display, barely 3GB of spare internal storage, and a microSD slot that is only accessible by taking the unit apart and removing the battery. Oh dear, that’s not exactly going to win Product of the Week, is it? Besides, the words of my contacts were still buzzing in my head: our readers are not interested in cheap stuff, they told me, but do please call us back if you can review the kind of gadget we prefer to cover, such as one that involves a nine-month waiting list before purchase or one that our readers cannot actually afford to buy.
Next week, I shall review the Large Hadron Collider for Gizmodo. The star rating is going to be easy enough – I’ll give it four stars plus one ‘anti-star’ (for its slow bootup) – but I fear the product comparison table is going to be a bit of a bugger.
Given your lack of interest in this forlorn little smartphone, I won’t bore you with the details. It has cameras, it has a weight and size, it runs apps and it makes phone calls. No sexy curved screen, no slimline profile, no phablet pheatures to phuck about with.
Six years ago, it would have been hailed as a triumph in engineering and product design, and remote villagers would have burnt it at the stake for being a witch. Today, it feels like a very ordinary mobile phone indeed.
This seems a shame because it costs £65 without contract.
Hang about, an Android 5 smartphone the same price as a tank of petrol, a single ticket to a Premier League football game or a cream tea at an English Heritage site? How do they do that? And why?
Inevitably, the product has a promotional video featuring lots of healthy looking young people having lots of fun, but of course I can’t show it to you without divulging its identity. Instead, scroll back up and watch the Steel Panther video one more time: it’s pretty much the same as the smartphone promo except with more cocaine. And boobs.
Anyway, what struck me was the way the promo refers to the device as a “party phone”.
Some years ago, it was commonplace to buy disposable plastic film cameras to take on holiday or stuff in a pocket before going to a party. Later on, you would hand the entire camera over a chemist’s counter or pop it in the post to get its film developed or, more likely, wonder what the heck you did with that camera you had in your pocket but oh never mind it cost me only a few quid.
I’ve been to weddings and awards events where disposable cameras were provided on every side plate at dinner. At some parties, the host would toss these plastic cameras around the room to all and sundry, and you’d end up accidentally kicking several across the dance floor as the evening went on. Yet you could still pick them up and take a couple more shots before the casing split and the flash battery expired.
So what [insert name of mystery manufacturer here] has done is design a smartphone that serves a generally similar purpose for the young, self-obsessed, hedonistic, hipster generation, and indeed for the even younger but morbidly obese, snot-nosed, entitlement generation that is hot on its fashionably naked, espadrilled heels.
This is not a smartphone that you would normally been seen dead using at work, at home or on the daily commute. Rather, you slap in a random PAYG SIM from whichever mobile phone company is offering a special deal that week and take the [insert name of mystery product here] with you on a night out, to a festival or on a road trip.
It’ll put up with a bit of dropping, kicking and being tossed across a table, and if it ends up scratched, drenched and caked in mud, or even lost altogether, who cares? It’s not like it cost you several monkeys, like a proper smartphone does.
The photos it takes aren’t brilliant and I doubt I will get rich from the cat videos I’ve tried taking with it, but these things don’t matter – it’s a party phone! Instead of constantly worrying about my expensive iPhone getting a dink or slipping overboard, I can just chuck the [mystery product you're not interested in] in my bag and fearlessly whip it out in all weathers, and I’m much less likely to worry about someone snatching it out of my hand while I hold it up to film Benedict Cumberbatch being an over-rated toffy-nosed twat on the London stage.
I have begun using it as an e-reader while being jostled on busy trains – something I would never have risked with my iPhone – and have stuffed the 32GB microSD card with music and videos so I don’t have to dick about preparing playlists, like most iPhone owners have to with their pissy little non-expandable memory.
I’m effectively using it as an iPod, I suppose, albeit much cheaper than an iPod plus the ability to phone for a minicab home at 3am or, if I was feeling lucky, hail the nearest psychopathic serial killer using the convenient Uber app.
With so much music on the device, it could play music all night without a single repeat, nor require any Internet connection to keep going. Better still, it’s an Android phone, which means you’re not seriously tempted to stream using the patently shite Apple Music app.
Apple Music victims will be aware of the mobile app’s, ahem, “limitations”. With Apple Music, songs you download to the device go missing and re-appear on a whim. Playback stops and starts whenever it likes. Sometimes the iPhone likes a song so much that it enables Repeat Play all by itself, usually just as you turn on to the motorway and 100 miles from the next service station, thereby driving you insane. On other occasions, it gets bored with your playlist and chooses to play something else entirely.
The last thing I want is to be hosting a 2016 summer barbecue party with a playlist, carefully selected to show off how cool and alternative my tastes are, that suddenly switches over to Russ Abbott’s greatest hit.
The crappy little party phone got sent back to the PR this week, unreviewed, unpublicised but certainly not unloved. During the holiday season, it remained an Apple-free zone, representing carefree fun and laughs, while my serious communications device – the expensive corporate iPhone – remained at home in its precious little protective case, resting on silk cushions and surrounded by laser-armed anti-burglary devices for fear of it getting tarnished through use.
Proper smartphones – the type that get reviewed – are fabulously expensive devices that keep owners in a constant state or terror that they might be lost, broken or even just a little damaged. Owning an iPhone is like constantly having to look after a £650 piece of tissue paper, and I’ve just about had enough.
Sod that, let’s party!
Alistair Dabbs is a freelance technology tart, juggling IT journalism, editorial training and digital publishing. He still wonders why he was asked to review a cheapo smartphone that, as well as being unfashionable and therefore nameless, is not apparently available for purchase anywhere. He hopes this will encourage other manufacturers to send him products whose existence will be known only to himself. On that note, he observes that someone has left a card on his doormat: apparently the postman tried to deliver a Large Hadron Collider while he was out.