Smartphones are incredibly powerful devices, but they're also incredibly complex. For us technophiles, that's great — we love being able to watch videos, download songs, and share things on Facebook. But what's great for us is terribly inappropriate for the tiny hands of a toddler, or even a grade schooler. Enter OwnFone, a device that cuts through the smartphone clutter to focus on the most basic of phone functions: making and taking phone calls.
OwnFones are fully customizable devices: You choose the color, design, and exactly who the phone will be able to call. You need to first decide how many buttons their phone will have: two, four, eight, or twelve. Each button is like speed dial — press it, and your phone automatically completes the call. You can, of course, choose exactly who or what you want to call by filling out a form online. Right now, the buttons are text-only, but braille and picture buttons are "coming soon." The phone is very simplistic, but that helps it avoid the biggest problems of modern smartphones.
The OwnFone is currently available in England (for now), where you can choose plans between 50 and 500 minutes of monthly talk time. Because the OwnFone does nothing but make calls — no worries about text message fees or data plan allowances here — the least expensive plan comes in at the equivalent of $12 per month. The phone itself only runs about $87, which helps take the sting out of that inevitable moment when your child drops his or her phone in the toilet or forgets it in the grocery store. (It happens.)
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