OwnFone of My Very Own


by Britt Franklin

The technological advancement of handheld mobile phones has made leaps and bounds over the past few decades. What was once essentially a transmitting brick that could double as a blunt weapon has transformed into a variety of shapes and sizes, able to perform the basic functions of a phone as well as a plethora of other features.

While some of us are still in the cellular Dark Ages with sliders and flip phones, the use of smartphones is steadily on the rise and their capabilities ever-expanding. From the camera, music player, and games; to texting and the great digital sea of apps, it’s easy to get lost in the cluster, which isn’t always a bad thing—sometimes a little distraction goes a long way, and the ease of being able to instantly share multimedia is always a plus.

However, there are times when we could use some simplicity. Every now and then, I like to go “off-grid” without being completely disconnected from society, but I’m often reeled back by the allure of e-mail, even though we all know not much is going to be there besides coupons for that one store you bought a gift from that one time and never shopped at again. Another instance simplicity comes in handy? I guarantee that nine-year-old does not need an iPhone. That’s where the OwnFone comes in.

Created by Tom Sunderland, the personalizable OwnFone does exactly what a phone is supposed to do–make and receive calls. But here’s the thing: that’s all it does, taking us back to the basics of modern telephonic communication. About the size of a credit card, OwnFone allows you to store two, four, eight or twelve numbers in the device with the option of including an emergency number that acts your last contact. The phone is customizable to a point: Currently, there’s only one image and one pattern for each of the available colors, which you can also choose as a solid, and printing a name on the phone is optional.

How does it work? You design your phone on OwnFone.com. Once you set a style you like, you input your contacts, whose names will be printed on the buttons (braille and photo buttons are in the works). The OwnFone will only call the numbers you add upon purchase, deeming it useless to anyone planning to “borrow it indefinitely.” When you want to use your OwnFone, just turn it on, and a flashing blue light will let you know the strength of the network signal or if there’s not a signal at all. Each button is a speed dial. You can also divert incoming calls from your cellphone to your OwnFone. It’s also rechargeable, and in Shutdown mode, the battery can last up to a year.

OwnFone plans are 50 minutes, 100 minutes, or 500 minutes; the cheapest runs about $12 a month. The phone itself is just under $90, but at the moment, it’s only available in England. So until it makes its merry way overseas, I’ll keep trying to resist the urge to refresh Gmail on my Samsung slider. It drains the battery anyway.

Wanna know more? Go to OwnFone.com or check out this video:


  1. johnnyAugust 29th, 2012 at 2:48 pm

    This isn’t the type of product I would expect a website that is geared towards the more technologically inclined individuals to even bother mentioning. This is going backwards, technologically. I do like that you’re trying to support lesser known businesses, though.

  2. RachelAugust 29th, 2012 at 3:35 pm

    I never understood why children need an iPhone but this is actually very cool. I would buy this for my kid (if I had one) only if they absolutely needed one.

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