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November 6, 2010
The cheap and disposable Alcatel OT-209The cheap and disposable Alcatel OT-209

It’s the mobile phone that is cheaper than a Big Mac.

Carphone Warehouse is introducing the ultimate throwaway accessory – the 99p mobile phone.

Available in a range of colours as long as it’s silver, the handset is the perfect Christmas gift for the hard-up shopper.

The retail chain claims the OT-209, which is made by French firm Alcatel, is the cheapest pay-as-you-go phone ever to be sold in the UK.

Customers, who are not tied to an expensive contract, will be connected to the Virgin network.

The only catch is they will have to buy £10 of credit to make calls, otherwise there are no other fees other than the cost of making calls and text messages.

The phone is aimed at first time users and people fazed by technology.

It has just a few features and is uncomplicated to use.

Executive chairman Charles Dunstone told the Mail it is also useful for consumers to have as a back-up phone: ‘You have to remember at Christmas the one question we get asked the most in our stores is ‘what’s your cheapest phone?’ and at 99p this is the lowest its ever been.

‘I guess it reflects just how competitive the UK mobile market has become between carriers and manufacturers. Mobile phones are such an important part of people’s lives and so many are manufactured that they have become very cheap to make.’

Consumers are facing a wave of gloom as the Government hikes VAT to 20pc at the turn of the year and the Chancellor’s austerity cuts kick in.

But Dunstone says the 99p phone is not a reaction to Britain’s battered economy.

A screengrab from Carphone Warehouse's website whcih shows the Alcatel on sale for an unbelievable 99p on a pay as you go contractA screengrab from Carphone Warehouse’s website whcih shows the Alcatel on sale for an unbelievable 99p on a pay as you go contract

‘I think if we could have produced a 99p phone in 2007 [when the economy was booming] we would have.

‘It’s not about the current economic climate but more about retailers trying to find best possible deals to attract customers and make Christmas better than the last. The 99p phone is a regular mobile phone that four or five years ago would have cost you £100.’

The budget mobile

The Alcatel 209 weighs only 65g and has large, separated buttons

You can place hands-free calls, start conference calls with up to four other people.

Charges up in two hours and gives five hours of non-stop talk time.

The fake call function allows you to place a call to your phone with just the touch of a button, and quickly excuse yourself to take it.

Built-in FM radio and mobile games

One charge gives you up to 400 hours of standby power.

The 99p phone is the latest example of Britain’s throwaway culture. Tesco started selling jeans costing £4 jeans two years ago and Ikea has pioneered the market for cheap furniture.

Trend guru Lloyd Burdett, director of The Futures Company, said the trend towards value has been around for some time but it has been accelerated by the downturn.

‘There is a general trend towards shoppers not making large investments unless it’s very special,’ he said.

‘While the iPhone is as popular as ever – people are only willing to make an investment if something really stands out. Otherwise they think ‘why spend more than 99p for something so long as it works?’.’

Carphone say its Alcatel OT-209 is a simple, lightweight phone that weighs only 65g.

In its marketing brochure it says: ‘It is ideal for sending text messages, as it has large, separated buttons and a clear, bright display.

‘The group messaging facility allows you to send the same message to up to ten people – handy when organising a meet up or rescheduling a meeting.

‘You can place hands free calls, start conference calls with up to four other people, and stay in touch throughout the day, with up to five hours of talk time.’

Unusually it also has a feature that allows users to fake receiving calls whilst already on the phone. This, the brochure says, is to help users extricate themselves from telephone conversations they are finding difficult to end.

It takes two hours to fully charge the handset, and one charge gives up to 400 hours of standby power.

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha


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