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Mo­torola, $99 mo­ ★★★

WARN­ING: us­ing this mo­bile phone may cause early noughties flash­backs. Mo­torola’s lat­est phone re­lease is not what you might ex­pect. It’s an in­ex­pen­sive pre­paid hand­set with se­ri­ous retro styling.

The Mo­torola Gleam looks a lot like one of the com­pany’s first RAZR phones — the flip-out hand­sets that dom­i­nated pock­ets in the early 2000s.

This phone of­fers the same body style, with newly rounded cor­ners, and its nu­mer­i­cal key­pad even looks the same, with a me­tal fa­cade and a four-way nav­i­ga­tion pad in the cen­tre to call the shots.

Strangely, even its menu sys­tem is a re­minder of past mo­bile phones. Its ba­sic 2.4-inch colour screen of­fers a 12-icon menu that will take you back to pre-touch­screen days when you had to dive deep into a phone’s op­tions, click­ing and hop­ing. Chang­ing the phone’s back­ground im­age, for ex­am­ple, takes nine se­lec­tions.

All the ba­sic mo­bile phone fea­tures are present and op­er­a­tional in the Gleam, how­ever. Its two-megapixel cam­era is slow, but func­tional. It of­fers an MP3 player, FM ra­dio and stan­dard head­phone jack, plus there are tools in­clud­ing a cal­cu­la­tor and alarm.

This phone can even con­nect to the world­wide web, al­beit in a very ba­sic way.

Mo­torola has added a cou­ple of mod­ern ex­tras, in­clud­ing an LED dis­play on its shiny face and a Mi­cro USB charger, but this phone is oth­er­wise gen­uinely retro.

Con­sumers who sim­ply want to make phone calls should ap­pre­ci­ate the flip phone’s come­back. There’s some­thing com­fort­ing about hav­ing a phone stretch from your ear to your mouth and be­ing able to phys­i­cally hang up on a call when you’re fin­ished chat­ting.


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