It’s easy to get caught up in the newest phones on the market. There’s always a bigger, better processor, a clearer screen, smaller RAM modules and a thinner profile. It’s part of what makes tech in general so exciting: constant and (often) radical change.
But in that waterfall of information and alteration, we sometimes forget that the primary purpose of a phone is supposed to be, well, a phone. Right? The ability to browse the internet and do your taxes and record a movie for the Sundance Film Festival are really just optional extras. For a certain sort of user those features are just distractions that they don’t know how to properly utilise.
For those people there are still options that don’t involve touchscreens and pilots licenses. Options like the Alcatel OneTouch 20.04c which, appropriately enough, looks as though it was transported here from some time in 2004.
The OneTouch 20.04c is a bare-bones device that looks like a hermit-crab of a feature phone crawled inside an old-school BlackBerry and set up shop. There’s a basic colour screen on top of a seriously oversized keypad. You’re not going to see any dainty QWERTY here, the keypad is instead ideal for use by those who have difficulty using fiddlier buttons. So the elderly or people with motor-control issues will find the 20.04c to their liking.
Similarly, the onscreen text is massive. Users with poorer eyesight will find that the 2.4-inch display will confer information more easily than larger screens just by virtue of the gigantic font. That’s reason enough to want to use the 20.04c on its own but it would also serve the average user nicely as a backup handset; something to keep in the car in car of emergencies. But that’s the price, the simplicity and the lengthy battery life talking.
Light And Bouncy
Aside from the small screen, large font and oversized keys, the Alcatel 20.04c is all plastic in its construction. It’s extremely lightweight, coming in at exactly 80 grams with the battery fitted. The battery is removable, which is how one gets the SIM card in place, and the top of the handset features a headphone jack as well as an LED light which acts as a torch.
At the base of the phone is a connector that is used to charge the handset in a little plastic cradle. It’s been a few years since we say a serious attempt at one of those. On the lower left is a microUSB connector, for more conventional (these days) charging. On the upper left side is the volume selector and on the upper right is a manual keypad lock. That’s also where you’ll find the torch switch – a long press will turn it on and a short one will turn it off. Beats fumbling with a software-activated torch any day.
There are no apps here. At least, there are no apps in the sense that you know them. The 20.04c has sections for SMS, for an FM radio, alarm, camera (there’s a small rear shooter which serves its purpose) and then there’s the single actual app – a weather app which warns you that it will consume data. There’s also a Tools section, something that we had thought we’d seen the last of since it conjures up images of Windows 95. Basic settings, Bluetooth and a calculator reside there.
Inside the Settings menu, which is very different from Tools, are the usual tweakers and something else – a feature called Assistance. Assistance lets users program a custom message which is sent to one or more contacts in the event of an emergency. Just a long press on the SOS key and your message can be sent. Handy, again, if the user is elderly or otherwise impaired. And just a note on the keypad – it has one of the most annoying tones known to man. But, and this is important, it also reads out the number you are dialling, as you are dialling it. It’s another neat touch for the OneTouch 20.04c’s target market.
That rating? Yeah, that rating is correct. A good phone doesn’t have to be the product of twelve months of research and development using the most exotic materials known to man. A good phone just needs to know what its job is and do that job as well as possible. And if the phone’s job is to keep you in touch with a grandmother or grandfather who might be confused by the Android or iOS operating systems, then the Alcatel OneTouch 20.04c is doing its job extremely well. Oh, and it will only set you back a mere R600. As if we needed another reason to like it.