Review: the least expensive phone I found at a phone shop in Senegal

This phone surprised me in two ways

Review: the least expensive phone I found at a phone shop in Senegal

I am in Senegal, where for the past week I have been using a phone that sells for US$12 to US$20 - or between 6,000 and 10,000 francs CFA - depending on your negotiation skills.

While its low price might suggest an unremarkable experience, this phone has surprised me in two ways. First, I have been unexpectedly pleased to discover features that many American phones continue to lack: dual SIM card support and an FM radio receiver.

Second, and less positively, opening Facebook takes just 2 clicks and is arguably the easiest thing to do with this phone. Open the phone, click the large black button in the middle, and the Facebook icon sits there prominently. (See image below.) Click the large button one more time, and you are in the Facebook app, assuming you have a data connection.

Mobile phone with Facebook tile in center of the screen

In comparison, phone calls require between 2 and 10 clicks of smaller, off-center buttons. In the best-case (2-click) phone call scenario, click once to open your contacts list, and click again to call the first person on the list. In the worst case (10-click) scenario, type the phone number and click the call button.

From the customer's standpoint, it is unfortunate that this phone opens Facebook so much more readily than it makes a phone call. A device's most accessible functions should be those that helps users complete their most common tasks. For a cheap, simple phone, that probably means making phone calls or sending texts.

This low-grade phone delivers basic calling and texting at a low price, reliably. Despite the Facebook tile placement, and while this phone would be improved with easier access to its core functions, it does its job.