A CROWD of us - six or seven, in all - sat down in an Indian restaurant a few weekends ago.
Jackets were draped over the backs of chairs, manbags were placed under the table, and smartphones were ever-so-casually laid on the table next to each owner. One glittering, app-laden smartphone after another, each like a personal statement.
After a couple of minutes, someone remarked: "Whose is that weird little phone?"
We broke off from studying the menu to glance at an orphan little budget model, the polar opposite of a smartphone, with its inexpensive if robust plastic-and-rubber casing and its slightly gaudy blue-coloured strips at the top and bottom.
"That's mine," I said, reddening slightly.
"What does it do?", a friend asked.
"Well," I said, "you can text on it, and make calls if you get a decent signal. And you can listen to Radio 4 but the sound is really crackly."
"Web access?" asked a friend from work.
"I think so," I said. "I've had it for four years but to be honest I've never worked out how to go online with it."
"So no apps then?" he said, in the voice of someone whose life is measured in apps.
I looked at my humble phone amongst all these expensive smartphones and felt like a bloke who had driven a rusting, smoke-belching 1975 Trabant into a Maserati showroom.
I didn't want to add that my phone's camera is perfect if what you happen to lust after are comically low-tech, fuzzy, impenetrable little pictures that look as though they were taken with a thick hiking sock stretched over the tiny lens.
Nor that the phone can today be bought for all of nine quid in one High Street supermarket. Nor that one techie review said of it: "This isn't a product that is destined to stride down the technological catwalks of the mobile phone industry."
That said, it'll do me.
It does all I need it to do, no matter how dodgy the Radio 4 reception, no matter how long the phone stubbornly insists on saying, "Error: Network unavailable" when I try to go online.
Its predecessor was an iPhone, the novelty of which wore off surprisingly quickly. When somebody nicked it, I got the little orphan phone in its place.
I'm happy to stick with it. Even if it does cause my friends to suddenly look upon me as a fanatical cheapskate.
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