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Are you thinking about a buying portable phone? Save yourself hundreds of pounds in network and call charges with these low-cost, feature-packed mobiles...

 

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Fake cellphones are selling faster than real ones, according to one market stallholder we spoke with, whilst researching this feature: 'I saw one guy in a pub pull out a phone I'd sold him, and actually make a call on it, the bird he was with was most impressed'... It seems that toy mobile phones are just as likely to end up in the hands of big kids, as little ones, some of them are so convincing you would be hard-pressed to tell the difference, without actually pressing the buttons;  what's more, they cost a fraction of the price of the real thing, and there are no call charges!

 

We've trawled the street markets, car boot sales and toy shops of Greater London to bring you this exclusive review of phoney phones. We found at least half a dozen models, some designs turn up in different packaging, or have different sound effects, but this should give you a good idea of what's available. We submitted each one to a rigorous bench test,  in a local hostelry, to see if they fooled anyone, and on the basis of the results obtained, awarded each one a 'phoney factor' rating. All of them are manufactured in China, and with one exception, are powered by a couple of 'AA' type pen-cells. These do rather better than most hand-portable batteries, lasting on average several weeks. By the way, most of them are sold as toys though we doubt if any of them would last more than five minutes in the hands of an average five-year old...

 

CELLUPHONE

Typical price 2.99

Power supply 2 x AA cells

A cross between a Motorola Classic and Micro TAC II, with maybe a smattering of  Fujitsu Commander thrown in for good measure. The lack of a pretend display panel looses this one brownie points, and the aerial is a bit weedy, but it has an eye-catching, winking LED. A good range of effects though spread around the keyboard in a rather haphazard manner. For example, pressing numeric key 4 produces two tones and a tinny voice saying 'hello'; button 9 is even more bizarre, there's a burst of tones, the words 'emergency, emergency', followed by a police siren. The 'CLR' button delivers a seven second blast of Beethoven's 'Ode to Joy' and some other, less well-known tune, on the 'RCL' button. Not terribly convincing.

 

REALISM                  **

SOUND EFFECTS    ***

PHONEY FACTOR   **

 

 

CELLUPHONE IC SONIC

Typical price 2.99

Power supply 2 x AA cells

An excellent copy of the Motorola Independent, though closer in size to the 8800X, in either case it would probably fool most people at a distance. The numerical keys have three different tones, which, if you play them backwards, do a passable rendition of God Save the Queen. A pathetic winky light but good 'dialling' tone sequence;  loud 'ring' and 'line busy' tones, but the squeaky 'London Bridge is Falling Down' hold melody spoils the effect somewhat.

 

REALISM                ****

SOUND EFFECTS   ***

PHONEY FACTOR  ****

 

 

ELECTRONIC SUPER PHONE

Typical price 2.50

Power supply 2 x AA cells

Clearly inspired by the Motorola Classic, you could probably get away with this one in a dark pub or party. Good key tones, excellent ring plus 'London Bridge is Falling Down' hold melody and realistic busy signal. Extra features include winking LED and extendible antenna. Similar-looking phone also available with voice messages.

 

REALISM                  ****

SOUND EFFECTS    ***

PHONEY FACTOR   ****

 

 

MOBILE PHONE

Typical price 1.50

Power supply 2 x button cells

Smaller even than the Sony CM-R11, a scaled-down flip-phone with our old-friend London Bridge is Falling Down hold melody. Realistic ringing tone but rather too quiet to kid anyone. Neat little retractable antenna and blinking red LED. The only phone to come with pre-installed batteries, the button cell's alone must be worth a couple of pounds... 

 

REALISM                 *

SOUND EFFECTS   ***

PHONEY FACTOR  **

 

MY MOBILPHONE

Typical price 3.99

Power supply 2 x AA cells

Definitely the star of the show, poser-wise! A passable imitation of a Panasonic car-phone, with the batteries installed in the companion holder. The cardboard box it comes in says it all, hopefully with tongue firmly in cheek: 'The My Mobilphone gives you that special look of importance... a person in touch with the movers and shakers of business, politics and society'.  It gets worse; 'We have eliminated maintenance and costly repairs by eliminating the advanced solid-state circuitry'. A familiar assortment of effects, including 'London Bridge...etc., and that very plausible ringing tone. Install this one in your car and just see how long it takes to get your windows broken, at least you'll have the last laugh...

 

REALISM                 ****

SOUND EFFECTS    ***

PHONEY FACTOR  ****

 

 

NOBLE PHONE

Typical price 2.99

Power supply 2 x AA cells

The most blatant Micro TAC II copy, even down to the slanted slots around the earpiece, and distinctive antenna mount. Cute crocodile on the box makes no effort to disguise the fact that this is a toy but most people would be fooled. Top features include a fully extendible aerial, winking LED and voice sound effects with messages such as 'operator, may I help you', and 'information'; also plays an extremely irritating tune. All numerical keys produce dial tones (all the same) plus, ringing and busy sounds.

 

REALISM                 ****

SOUND EFFECTS    ***

PHONEY FACTOR  ****

 

---end---

R.Maybury 1993 0311

 


 

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