The device does away with a screen or a keypad in favor of photos of those that the owner can call. Photo: AFP
Designed for safety, reassurance and ease of use, the 1stFone does away with a display and replaces the keypad with a list of images.
The same size as a credit card and weighing a mere 40g, the OwnFone 1stFone is aimed at children under the age of 11 who are already getting a bit of age-appropriate responsibility and therefore need to keep in touch with family in case of emergencies.
As such, it is a feature phone in the most basic sense of the term and can be specified on a contract, as a pay-as-you-go device or can be topped up in advance with either six or 12 months of credit. The concept behind the phone is to give children and their parents a way of keeping in touch without exposing said children to the wider problems and threats of phone ownership, such as running up huge bills, accidentally logging on to inappropriate websites, receiving explicit text messages or being called by strangers.
That's why instead of a standard keypad, the phone features portrait photographs -- for example of mommy, daddy, grandma and grandpa. Pressing one of the pictures will call said person. Likewise, only those designated people can call the device.
The UK-developed handset starts at £50 (about US$75) but the total cost depends on the number of photos required. Each front facia needs to be printed and added in advance.
The company is also using this process as a feature, because as well as photos of designated numbers, prospective owners can use the 1stFone website to choose the colors and graphical layout of their handsets before they're shipped.