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Virtual mobile phones

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I'm starting to look for a new mobile phone to replace my excellent (but heavy and 5 year old) Nokia 3210. I've found that mobile phone shops don't have all the phones I'm interested in (i.e. can afford) and won't let me try out several working models side-by-side.

I would like a slim, light phone with a simple, usable interface. I can get the feel of a phone from the 'dummy' phones they have in the phone shops, but for the interface, I would like a website with pictures of the phones on which the buttons and screens actually worked. You'd click around the phone's interface with your mouse (e.g. sending dummy text messages) and be able to tell, for example that your chosen phone has decent predictive texting but requires a completely unnecessary 6 key presses to end the message and choose a recipient, and also that the menu font is vile and unchangeable.
hippo, May 14 2007

(?) My new mobile is lumbered with a bewildering array of unnecessary features aimed at idiots http://www.guardian.../0,,2026580,00.html
by Charlie Brooker. Sums up mobile phones quite nicely. [calum, May 14 2007]

(?) Nokia's free remote device access http://www.forum.no...okiardainstructions
Log onto a phone somewhere and interact with it [DenholmRicshaw, May 15 2007]

(?) Linux Phone - OpenMoko http://linuxdevices...s/NS7056478804.html
Article about the upcoming Open Software cell phone powered by Linux with a user-customizable interface [marc1919, May 16 2007]

Emulator https://www.youtube...watch?v=puvQ0P3QFIw
don't make tv like this these days, thank god [not_morrison_rm, Jul 14 2015]

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       My partner is visually impaired and trying to find a phone she can use is really hard without an operating phone. An internet version of the phone OS and display would be so useful.
oneoffdave, May 14 2007

       Very good idea. I foresee IP issues with the replication of interfaces, though, unless the manufacturers can be persuaded to license them. Which Samsung for one surely won't want to do, given that their interfaces are consistently dogsdinneresque.
calum, May 14 2007

       It's a good idea for the most part but the only problem is that the online version of the interface would have a shed load more processor power behind it. One of the main things that ticks me off about my phone is how slowly it takes to get from one screen to the next or think about the key you just pressed.
theleopard, May 14 2007

       There could be a dealy built into the online version to accurately mimic the phone version. It would have to fairly accurately reflect the reality of the phone or it may fall foul of UK advertising law if it was used by a retailer to promote their wares.
oneoffdave, May 14 2007

       If that'd work, and it was enforcable by advertising standards agencies, then you get a [+]
theleopard, May 14 2007

       You can download the firmware and file system firmware from most phones. From there you just have to emulate the hardware.   

       One thing I like about Sony Ericsson phones is menu continuity form phone to phone.
Giblet, May 15 2007

       There are numerous emulators out there. Not sure if they go as far as you'd like.
theircompetitor, May 15 2007

       So in 2007 we didn't have android?   

       My kids were talking last week about the time when I, their father, was a kid. They explained: In his time they didn't invent color pictures yet.
pashute, Jul 13 2015

       I don't think so - I think this idea comes from an era when the world was still ruled by Nokia, Ericsson and Motorola.
hippo, Jul 14 2015

       One problem I’m facing with my Xperia Z which I still have from several years ago when it was new, and which still works perfectly from the hardware point of view, is that it is no longer the phone I bought. The current android on there is baffling, obtuse, has many features utterly missing (no feature to create a new email; no feature to create a new contact; had totally lost my wife’s contact details; repeatedly totally losing the newly entered information of my wife’s contact; no ability to make new google docs; no way of adding a new alarm; lots of other utterly moronic feature destruction). When I bought the phone in 2013, I was quite enjoying Android. Now, with the same phone, there’s no way I’d elect to buy a phone like this. So the virtual phone service would also have to project the future life cycle of each phone to predict how obtuse it will become, and when.
Ian Tindale, Jul 14 2015

       //There are numerous emulators out there.   

       I'm in favour of them, especially the Rod Hull version
not_morrison_rm, Jul 14 2015

       Oh, and I discovered today that there’s no silent mode any more. You have to turn the whole phone off now.
Ian Tindale, Jul 14 2015

       //An upgrade to Android can well upset an old phone//   

       Surely the whole point of software development is to ensure turnover in the hardware market? Modern electronics will often last for years, if not decades, so the only way to disable them is through software.
MaxwellBuchanan, Jul 14 2015

       It’s got nothing to do with the age of the hardware. My Xperia Z is just as fast, lasts just as long on batteries, sounds just as good, takes just as good pictures, and is probably slightly less waterproof as it was when I got it. It’s just that idiot fucking google have basically fucked up Android beyond belief. The new Android 5 is unusable. Loads of basic things just missing, no way make new actions or things, constantly barraging me with a gate of slabs of little alerts of things I’ve never heard of and no idea of, and you can't get rid of this. I was trying to make a phone call the other day and the barrage of slab of notices came up, preventing me from hanging up the call, so I had to hold the power button down to shut the phone down. It’s not a question of the phone being a few years old, a mid-2015 phone wouldn’t be significantly different in capabilities, speed or power. It’s the operating system. It’s fucked. I can’t use it.
Ian Tindale, Jul 14 2015

       Likewise, my Nexus S phone - it doesn't accept Android updates beyond 4.1.2 but every update up until then seemed to slow the phone down a little...
hippo, Jul 15 2015


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