What Cellphone






Make it a cellular Christmas with our round-up of telephonically-oriented gift idea





Come on, the special person in your life must be worth more than a tenner? To be honest there’s not a lot of cellphone-related goods in this price bracket. We’ve trawled through the accessory catalogues come up with a few ideas, including a water-resistant plastic bag from Nokia, designed  for their phones, but we’d guess it’ll fit others too. We’ve also found  a couple of emergency battery cases selling in local phone shops. They can be filled with AA-type dry cells, to get mobile phone users out of a hole, if they’re not carrying a spare. It’s important to make sure you get the right one, though, and that applies equally to all cellphone accessories, so you might have to make a few discrete enquiries, before you do your Christmas shopping.


Of course, you could always give someone a phone as a present, and yourself some peace of mind, if you’re a parent. There’s no end of low-cost deals (free even...), but be warned, you’ll have to pay for the line rental and call charges  -- for the first year at least  -- as it will prove very difficult, if not impossible, to arrange to have the bills sent to whoever is going to use the phone.


If you forget to buy a present for someone you know has a GSM phone you could send them a festive greeting on the day, using the system’s SMS (short message service) facility. Unfortunately it only works on the Vodaphone network at the moment. Their system is called Respond, it’s fully automated and you will need a computer, with a modem, and preferably Winfax communications software, (other comms packages work as well, use 7 data-bit, odd parity, 1 stop-bit modem settings). The number to call (using your PC) is (0385) 4999999; calls are charged at BT’s M-rate, which works out at 33 pence per minute. Cellnet are still evaluating their SMS service but hope to have something up and running by the end of the year. Theirs will probably be agency-based, with a real live person on the end of the line to take your message, we’ll keep you posted.


£10 to £20

That’s a bit more like it, show them you care. There’s soft carry-cases galore for under £20, to be honest most of them are pretty boring black jobbies, but there’s some really natty designs if you’re prepared to look around. We particularly like the two-tone designs from PJ Leathercraft, the Satchel range are quite distinctive, and Nokia’s own are very good value.


As you know we’re big on battery care at What Cellphone, and one of the best ways to ensure a cellphone battery leads a long and healthy life is to treat it gently by trickle-charging it. Trickle chargers can be brought at most cellphone accessory shops for less then £20.


£20 to £50

If you’re prepared to spend a little more on a case then there’s some excellent examples for less than £40. The classiest ones have to be the chunky Vega holsters, hand crafted in thick, delicious-smelling leather. They do some really smart-looking shoulder holsters too, for £50 or thereabouts. If that’s out of your price range then check out Phone Safe’s shoulder holsters, they’re a little cheaper at £40 or so. Kondor make some really wild coloured leather cases, orange ones -- for Orange phones -- are very eye-catching. If you know someone who’s into rubber, or a hard-line cellphone-owning vegan then Bandridge have a range of snug-fitting black latex slip-ons, that will also stop the phone being badly damaged, if it takes a tumble.


Replacement batteries are always welcome. Decent quality packs mostly cost between £25 to £35. Our recent battery tests identified several good makes, including those from Allgon, Andrew, Ora, Twinchoice, Uniross and Yokohama.


Talk and charge car adaptors are extremely useful for anyone who wants to stay in touch, whilst they’re on the move. There are dozens to choose from, with prices starting at around £30, but it’s worth spending a little extra on kits that come with a dashboard phone holder or cradle.


£50 to £100

It’s back to batteries again, this time with desktop charger/dischargers. Heavy-duty mobile phone users will really appreciate one of these as they can prolong the life of frequently used batteries, and revive packs that have succumbed to the dreaded ‘memory’ effect. Check out our battery care feature on page XX for more details.


Several phones can be fitted with simple ‘walk-and-talk’ hands-free kits. They’re really useful little gadgets, that plug in to the phone’s accessory socket. They normally consist of an earphone and tie-clip microphone, allowing the user to make and take calls, with the phone in their pocket, whilst they get on with something else. The cheapest ones actually sell for less than £50 but expect to pay a little more for phone manufacturer’s own branded accessories.


Most  accessory companies have cellphone starter packs for £50 or less, that include a case, talk and charge adaptor, and phone holder. They’re ideal for anyone who has just brought a phone, and hasn’t got around to kitting themselves out with basic accessories.  


£100 to £400

Hands-free car kits are high on every mobile phone owners wish-list. Basic DIY outfits start at around £100. Online do one that’s easy to fit, and it works well, but it doesn’t come with an aerial; that can add around £15 to £30 to the price. Andrew do a really good kit that includes a glassmount aerial for £230. It can be fitted in a couple of hours by almost anyone who can wield a screwdriver. Incidentally there’s a few very cheap ‘universal’ car kits on the market but they look really weird, and don’t perform all that well as they rely on the phone’s built-in microphone. Top-end car kits sell for anything between £250 and £500, and they require specialist fitting which can add a further £100 to the price.  


£400 plus

If money is no object then here’s a couple of ideas that are guaranteed to make you extremely popular with someone this Christmas. The first is a bit specialised and will only be of use to owners of digital phones and laptop computers. It’s a PC data card, a nifty gizmo that connects the phone to the computer, so it can send and receive faxes, e-mail or let users surf the Internet when they’re out and about. Prices vary but reckon on spending between £400 to £600, depending on the make and model of phone. If they haven’t got a laptop computer you could always get them one of those as well.  Machines with a good-sized colour screen and fast processor costs from about £1500 or so, but if you really want to make a splash then nothing less than a full multi-media spec PC will do, a snip at three grand.


Our final suggestion is the Hagenuk SP1600 satellite telephone and before you ask, it costs £10,000, ish... This briefcase-sized blower works anywhere in the world, no need to worry about being in range of a local cell-site, or network, this one links directly with a network of orbiting satellites. The case lid is the aerial, just point it at the nearest satellite (the kit comes with instructions...) and dial away. Calls are expensive, around three quid a minute, but who’s quibbling, this has to be the ultimate mobile phone gift this Christmas. Available now from your nearest branch of Carphone Warehouse. Happy Christmas.



Ó R. Maybury 1995 1210



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