Simvalley PICO RX-80 mobile phone

By Abhijit Menon-Sen <ams@toroid.org>

2009-07-16

My long-suffering Nokia 6610i fell on its head a few days ago, and its screen died. My friend Arnt told me about the tiny Simvalley PICO RX-80 mobile phone, and was kind enough to send me one a few days later when I told him—sadly—that it wasn't available here.

There's surprisingly little information about this phone on the web. A bunch of blog posts copied almost verbatim from this one (they all have the same three or four photographs, and claim the phone has dimensions of "50x800x10mm"!), and this German video. Here are my brief but non-boilerplate initial impressions of the RX-80.

First, its real dimensions are 50x80x10mm, which makes it absurdly tiny. I put it on my credit card, and I could see the edges of the card under the phone. At 44g, its weight is also imperceptible in my hand. Despite that, it has a surprisingly high-quality screen and a lovely keyboard. The audio quality seems perfectly acceptable. The battery is supposed to provide 90 minutes of talk-time and 100 hours of standby operation. (I haven't tested this yet, but the stated times would suit me fine.)

I was concerned about what features the phone did or did not have, but I needn't have worried. It has everything I need (which isn't very much): a clock, a call log, a competent phone book (but it can't store multiple numbers per contact, which would have been nice), and an alarm (in fact, three separate alarms, which can be one-shot or weekly); and I can tell it to ring just once, softly. It has nine built-in ring-tones and three kinds of SMS alerts, all of which I hate. (I want plain old "ring ring" and "beep", which fewer and fewer phone seem to have these days.)

As someone who sends a lot of SMS messages, however, I'm just a little disappointed. Although I switched the language from the default German to English, the SMS composer starts up in "Ger" input mode, and I always have to click # a few times to switch to English. The word completion is not very usable either. It lets you scroll through a list of completions (which is neat), but there's no way to add words to the dictionary, and if the dictionary doesn't contain a word you want, it's not possible to retain whatever you've already typed and keep going. So I'll end up using the basic "abc" input mode a lot, which is a pity.

A minor glitch: when I first switched on the phone and made a call, I couldn't hear anything; nor was I audible to the person I called, and the phone didn't ring when she called back, either. I was worried for a moment, but switching to the "outdoor" profile and then back to the "standard" one fixed the problem.

Another thing: the phone's front is entirely shiny, which means I spend a lot of time obsessively cleaning fingerprints from it with my T-shirt.

That makes barely two things I've found to complain about, which means I get to feel very lucky all over again.

I love my tiny new phone. Thanks, Arnt!

Update: After a few weeks, I'm having second thoughts about the phone due to poor battery life, excessive audio feedback, and a few other minor annoyances.