By December 14, 2010

John’s Phone review

PRESS_PHOTO_PENThere is a massive battle between platforms at the moment, in case you were not aware. Apple are pushing for elegance, Microsoft for logic, Google for intelligence, RIM for organisation and the rest are attacking whatever is left over for a few sales. There is one target audience that the all the efforts of the above companies cannot ever hope to capture – the uninterested.


John’s Phone specifications:

  • Dimensions: 105 x 60 x 15 mm
  • Weight: 95 g
  • Display: LCD display
  • 16 page external Memory
  • 10 Speed-dial numbers
  • 1200mAh battery
  • A ringtone


The device is quite busy. On the front is a generous T9 keyboard with well indicated speaker and microphone holes. The are large start and end call buttons. The interface is simple howe3ver,it would have been very nice to have more of a textured button to and the Start and End call to have more of a traditional logo on them.minimalissimo-johns-phone-1-400x400

The top has a limited black and white LED display. Quite while the LED display is on the top is anyone’s guess as it making dialling a number a bit of a chore as you have to check you have entered the number correctly by turning the phone to an angle were you cannot see the buttons.minimalissimo-johns-phone-2-400x253

The right is a black side with only an indentation for the slide out pen.

On the left is a volume rocker,a Sim card drawer and two slider buttons, the first for the three stage ringtone settings and the second a keypad lock.minimalissimo-johns-phone-3-400x433

The bottom has a micro-USB charge port

On the back is the most interesting feature. Just under the John’s logo, behind a door is physical phone book. Initially this seemed a gimmick but very soon became almost too jokey. The little booklet has enough space for roughly 100 contacts however the sections for Text messages and some grids for tic-tac-toe under a section called Games are impossible to take seriously. A side out pen is also present and is similar to your typical stylus from a Windows Mobile phone from years gone by.minimalissimo-johns-phone-4-400x393


  • Minimalistic approach
  • Sense of Humour
  • Rather well built
  • Extreme battery life


  • Difficult input method
  • Badly planned feature buttons
  • Poor Screen Quality
  • Bad aerial


When is actually comes down to it, there is very little to say about the phone. It makes calls. The call quality is satisfactory and there’s very little else the phone does. What this does come down to is the approach, who the phone is for and why.

The approach is a good first attempt however it needs a few refinements. The screen is neatly presented on the top of the device however it’s not useful to have there. It would much more useful to see on the front. The point of the screen seems to be more of checking an incoming call in your breast pocket than for checking that you have dialled correctly. Therefore this is not for the visually impaired. The size of the screen is not an issue then. A plus point is that there are a couple of little animations that will remind you of Nokia’s back in their heyday.

One the side the sliding buttons are not that simple to use and are a little confusing. The markings are very, very small and even I struggle to make them out. True, they are difficult to push from left to right and are not going to move by accident, but some of the markings do not make sense. The lock slider had three settings, “On”, “locked” and “Off”. The instructions inform you that you should not “slide straight through from the bottom position to the top position, or vice versa, in one motion.” I think I might be looking at this the wrong way and over complicating things, that just doesn’t make any sense and we might have to call in Stephen Hawkins or Carol Voderman to help us on that one.

The volume rocker is great. You push it up and the volume goes up. I’m not sure if I should even go to the lengths to explain that if you push it down, the volume goes down or if that would just be a waste of my time and yours. Okay, I will. If you push it down, the volume goes down.

The dial pad is large however and the number illuminate well. I was pleased at the limited buttons as there could be some mild confusion for an elderly user had they added in redialling, shortcuts to answer phones and other such functions. And therein lies the problem. This doesn’t feel like it has been designed for those with deteriorating eye sight. It’s beginning to feel more like a fashion phone. The pen is also fiddly and the phone book’s games section would make more sense being passed around a group of quirky friends than in the hands of someone with macular degeneration.

John’s Phone is a clever idea. It’s a phone that doesn’t really have any other preconceptions than to make and receive phone calls and  from that point of view it is pretty cool. On the other hand the humourous approach to the phone and the cute animations take away some of the credibility this has earned when set in the hands of a pensioner or some with a visual impairment. The style and design wouldn’t really fit someone who wants to avoid tech. There is no simple way to suggest these consumer areas go hand in hand.

I can’t imagine who this phone is for and who will be waiting patiently for it to be delivered. However, there are people out there who want it. I want to know how you are and how this appeals to you. Oh and how that On, Off and Locked set up works.


It’s hardly for the masses but it’s a refreshing approach to a phone. Without having to pick up an ageing dumb phone to avoid apps, widgets and data connections John’s Phone is for those who are happy to stay away from a text message and instead call the person back and have a conversation, much like we did in biblical times. Scrawling your friends and families names in a booklet and having to use your memory for a speed dial. This will probably find it’s way into becoming a trial for someone to ditch their Blackberry/iphone for a week and go back to a time were communication was me calling you and having a right old natter.

Review by: Gareth

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About the Author:

Seasoned tech blogger. Host of the Tech Addicts podcast.
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