Before all these cheap wireless plans, before cellphones, staying in touch with Mom used to be about letters and phone calls. You know, land lines. Those big devices that were chained to the wall with a cord and had a handset that was similarly tethered to the base unit with a coiled wire. If you didn’t make that weekly call to check in with Mom, you’d hear about it. But it was nice to get updates on the family and the neighborhood too, even if it’s possible you didn’t need to know that the house down the street had sold, the dog had been sick after eating garbage and the toilet was backing up again.
Nowadays staying in touch with Mom is much more about texting and Facebook, especially if she wants to communicate at all with the grandkids. I don’t even like talking on the phone, truth be told. I’m happy talking in person but even with a good headset or hands-free system, I get too distracted when the other person isn’t in the same room I’m in. True confession!
Problem is, your Mom might not be a huge fan of technology and might also appreciate a budget solution for all this newfangled gadgetry and gizmos, not a $599 iPhone with a $75/mo cell plan. Heck, I’m not sure any of us need to spend so much money on our gadgets.
Fortunately Walmart has you covered in your quest for the perfect tech gift for your Mom on Mother’s Day: A new Nokia Lumia 521. With a Starter Kit and Walmart Family Mobile Plan (through T-Mobile), you’re out the door for under $150 with a splendid new device to gift on Mother’s Day, a gift that’ll let her stay in touch with you without a big expensive computer or overpriced cell plan. In fact, the Walmart Family Plan offers unlimited talk, text and data for a remarkably low $39.88. Unlimited. So she can text you and check up on your social media activities 5, 10, even 20 or more times a day. 🙂
To learn more, I swung by the local Walmart and picked up a Nokia Lumia 521. What immediately struck me was how the device has exactly the same size screen as my iPhone 5, as you can see in this rather big image:
What’s also immediately obvious is that while my iPhone 5s on the left is running iOS 7, the Lumia 521 is running Windows Mobile, aka Windows 8 Phone. It’s a mobile version of Microsoft Windows 8, but don’t let that scare you: While people complain about the usability of Windows 8 on a computer system, turns out that it’s a very straightforward system for mobile and touch devices, fun and easy to work with. You can also change the color scheme super easily, move around the tiles, add new tiles and even resize them so that the most important features — like sending you text messages — are big and at the top, while the less important things are a swipe or two down.
Of course, the Nokia isn’t the only low-cost option at Walmart. Heck, there are a remarkable number of choices. Here’s a subset:
My family, at least, has always believed in avoiding extravagant gifts so it’s great that there are so many different options for different budgets. The Lumia really rocks it, though, with its crisp screen, zippy performance and small form factor.
The tradeoff on screen size is that I hear from older folk all the time that the screens can be tiny and the data input impossible with those minuscule on-screen keyboards. What makes that work better than most people realize, however, is that you can go into the settings and increase the default font size (which you should do anyway. less eyestrain) and that the spelling correction has become quite good, so common misspellings like “teh” magically changes to “the” without you even realizing it. And, occasionally, your Mom might get to say “damn you, autocorrect” too!
The biggest point of confusion with the purchase of the Nokia Lumia 521 was actually which SIM card it needed. Just about all phones now use what’s called a “microSIM”, a tiny card that is the brains of the phone, the thing that differentiates one cell phone from another. It’s the “drivers license” and without it the phone can’t access the cellular network. Problem is, the 521 actually requires a nanoSIM, which is a bit unusual, and there’s no indication on the packaging:
Every time I go into Walmart I’m surprised by how helpful the clerks are and this was no different. The young guy working at the electronics counter was chatty, upbeat about cellphones, and happy to dig into the manuals to confirm we were getting the correct SIM card for the phone (it’s the one on the right). In fact, I think we stood and talked for 5-10 minutes about the pros and cons of different cell phones and service plans. He had an iPhone 5 on T-Mobile but his brother was sporting a Nokia and loving it.
Mother’s Day is a tricky one for me, however, because my own Mum passed away a few years ago, so while I would love to be able to gift wrap this new phone and send it to her so she could text and communicate, I’m pretty sure that cell coverage doesn’t go up into heaven.
Hopefully your Mom’s around, however, so if you’re looking for a really cool, surprisingly affordable tech present for her that’ll let you stay in touch and remind her every day what a wonderful child you are, you should definitely check out the Nokia Lumia 521 and the Walmart Family Plan. Already got the family plan? Then check your settings through MyFamilyMobile.com.
And look, we haz hash tags too: #FamilyMobile #CollectiveBias