Smarter than dumb, but dumber than smart
January 20, 2012 7:53 AM   Subscribe

Is there a feature phone with a good email interface?

I am a Verizon customer, and I will be eligible to get a new phone later this spring. For many non-negotiable reasons, I do not want a smart phone. I currently have an Alias 2, which I love, but the email interface on it is shockingly bad. Are all feature phones like this, or are there some that have a decent email interface?

I am a very basic phone user - I call, I text, and I would occasionally like to read email on my phone. But that's really about it.

Does anybody know of a Verizon non-smart phone with a more robust email interface? I'm happy to stick with my Alias if not, but if I can get a better email experience I'd love to hear about it.
posted by pdb to Technology (9 answers total)
Unless you're willing to include Blackberries in your definition of "non-smart phone," I think you may be out of luck. Phones without touchscreens and/or keyboards are just going to have sucky interfaces, period.
posted by valkyryn at 7:59 AM on January 20, 2012

So-called non-smart phones have poor interfaces for mobile email because phone manufacturers put their development dollars into smart phones. That's where the money is.
posted by dfriedman at 8:16 AM on January 20, 2012

Verizon has limited email options for non-smart phones. According to this page, there are Mobile Email, Email for Mobile Web, and Email for Blackberry. The site can show you which phones are compatible with each.

I think the Mobile Email application is pretty much the same on every phone. It might have changed a little since the Alias 2 was launched. You can probably get a demo in a Verizon store.

Email for Mobile Web probably works for phones with internet capability, which you may not want. I know someone with an enV Touch with this feature. It's workable, but not really good.

Email for Blackberry is, of course, for Blackberry.
posted by Boxenmacher at 8:21 AM on January 20, 2012

Oh, hey. There's a video demo of Mobile Email on that site. Didn't notice it before.
posted by Boxenmacher at 8:24 AM on January 20, 2012

I don't mean to be snarky, but a phone with a good email interface is a smartphone. I don't see how the two can be reasonably separated.
posted by Magnakai at 8:47 AM on January 20, 2012 [2 favorites]

Is the separate data plan your sticking point with smart phones?
posted by mmascolino at 9:29 AM on January 20, 2012

Is there a feature phone with a good email interface?


If you could tell us what your reasons are, though, that would help us give you some better direction. If you need your email in your pocket but don't want to incur data charges, for example, maybe an iPod Touch would be useful, or a smartphone with WiFi but no data plan.
posted by mhoye at 11:17 AM on January 20, 2012 [1 favorite]

The new S40 phones from Nokia (like the Asha 303) aren't technically smartphones- no multitasking eg- but they have very nice email interfaces. Angry Birds, too.

I would get the hell off Verizon and any other non-GSM provider. In the US that leaves ATT and T-Mo. GSM opens up huge new worlds for unlocked phones for you, many non-smart.

Valkyryn, BB is the PARADIGMATIC smartphone. However there are some models (like the 9370) that are comparatively cheap and that have the best email in the industry. And they even are at Verizon.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 2:01 PM on January 20, 2012

Is the separate data plan your sticking point with smart phones?

That's a very small part of it. Mostly it's that I have no desire to be that connected. I don't travel for work, so I don't need email access on the go; I don't use or need Facebook or Twitter, my ipod nano is tiny and holds more than enough music to carry around, and I mostly don't need a thing in my pocket that will allow me to distract myself idly. I can do that just fine on my own.
posted by pdb at 4:35 PM on January 20, 2012

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