Revised December 8, 2015

Using a Cell Phone or Feature Phone as a Smart Phone

          Note: this web page content is no longer updated.        

A smart phone is a pocket-sized handheld networked device that is a phone, a portable media players, a digital camera, a video camera, and a handheld computer. It can browse web sites, send and receive email, download and read certain files and documents, and often, be used for GPS navigation as well.

And though it may be hard for those of you have smart phones to believe, not everyone has a smart phone. Millions of people simply cannot afford a smart phone. Some of them use a simple cell phone, with very limited capabilities: the ability to make and receive phone calls and text messages. Some people have something that's more than a cell phone but less than a smart phone: they have a feature phone, which has some web browsing capabilities.

It's not just those who cannot afford smart phones who use cell phones or feature phones; smart phones break, and users may have to fall back to using an old-fashioned cell phone or feature phone until their smart phone is repaired or they can afford a new one. Also, smart phones are easily hacked, but feature phones aren't.

Can you use a simple cell phone or a feature phone as a smart phone? Yes! There are several free online tools that can help you use whatever phone you have interact with various Internet tools.

A cell phone as a smart phone

A simple cell phone has the ability to make and receive phone calls and text messages. That's pretty much it. It might come with some additional stand-alone features: stop watch, alarm clock, calculator, reminders, a few games, even a flashlight. There's no ability to browse the web. And, yet, it can still be used with some cloud-based tools. You won't be browsing the web with such a phone, but you can use a number of web-based tools on your computer to set up your cell phone so that it can send information to the web via text message, and so that you can receive important updates via text message.

But be careful! How many text messages each hour - or just in a day - do you really want to receive? Try one app or tool, see how you like it, and adjust it as needed before you try another.

A feature phone as a smart phone

Some people have something that's more than a cell phone but less than a smart phone: they have a feature phone, which has some web browsing capabilities. With such a phone, you can do everything that's listed under the previous section regarding simple cell phones. AND, you can do even more.

First, check your web browsing functions - try going to, say, Twitter. Some phones have web browsing functions, but they aren't very good. I highly recommend you download Opera for feature phones, even if you already have a web browser function on your feature phone - it will often perform better, or be able to access sites when the browser tool that came with your feature phone won't.

In addition:

My own cell phone and feature phone

I used to use a LG 500G feature phone. It looks like a Blackberry, but isn't nearly as powerful (or as expensive). When I was doing business away from my home office, I usually have my lap top with me, which I greatly prefer using for reading mail, writing and reading information, surfing the web, etc. So I didn't need to do much via my feature phone. Here's how I used it:

What I wish I could have used it for: to listen to the local NPR radio station affiliate live. 

You can read more about My tech: the networked technology tools I use (and have used over the years).

Also see:

Handheld computer technologies in community service/volunteering/advocacy
This was a pioneering article, published in October 2001. It provides early examples of volunteers/citizens/grass roots advocates using handheld computer/personal digital assistants (PDAs) or phone devices as part of community service/volunteering/advocacy, or examples that could be applied to volunteer settings. It was originally part of the UNITeS online knowledge base.

Microblogging and Nonprofits
Microblogging means sending text messages of less than 140 characters to several cell phones and/or via the Internet to subscribers. This resource is a no-nonsense, anti-fluff, anti-hype, practical list to help nonprofits explore microblogging and use it effectively with volunteers, event attendees and others they are trying to reach.

Resources For Users of Older Computers.
You CAN get a lot out of such older computer systems -- you can surf the Internet, send and receive e-mail, create databases, do desktop publishing, etc. This tip sheet will show you that a lot can be done with just a little technology, and where to find resources for your older computer. LOTS of links to other resources as well.

I love my lime iBook
Read how I walk my talk regarding using old hardware and software, showing that it has a much, much longer shelf life than the media and many others will admit. And, I hope, this page can help others using "older" computer tech to get more speed and power from such.

Early History of Nonprofits & the Internet
The Internet has always been about people and organizations networking with each other, sharing ideas and comments, and collaborating online. It has always been interactive and dynamic. And there were many nonprofit organizations who "got" it early -- earlier than many for-profit companies. So I've attempted to set the record straight: I've prepared a web page that talks about the early history of nonprofits and the Internet. It focuses on 1995 and previous years. It talks a little about what nonprofits were using the cyberspace for as well at that time and lists the names of key people and organizations who helped get nonprofit organizations using the Internet in substantial numbers in 1995 and before. Edits and additions are welcomed.


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