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Nairobians will testify that we have had an influx of extremely cheap dumb phones that are being sold off the streets at a throwaway price of Kes.500. No, they are not stolen phones, from the look of things, they are seemingly genuine Nokia dumbphones that come in a box complete with accessories and user guide booklets.

Out of curiosity, we picked up one of these Nokia dumbphones, with the hope that it would serve us as a tertiary device for when things got thick. At 500 bob, the deal was a no-brainer, compared to the offers we have seen from telcos that only go as low as Kes.999. After a quick and unsatisfactory unboxing, the device booted up.

I don’t know if it’s my expectations that were floor-low or what, but I was just at peace with the build quality and experience I was getting so far but I noticed that strangely, my new Nokia “dummy” did not play the Nokia boot up tune when it was starting, it only displayed the famous handshake but I brushed this off, comforting myself that maybe the tune would have driven the price up. Impressively, the phone also featured a torch and a 3.5mm headphone jack, can your iPhone even?

All was going well until I realized that none of my SIM cards were working on the device. This was the beginning of trouble. Despite trying all my SIM cards, the phone would constantly display, “Insert SIM” and only allow me to enter the demo mode which was a satisfying game of classic snake it all it’s pixelated glory.

Nokla 2

Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

Despite the high that comes with playing snake, I decided to dig deeper into the device in an effort of finding out why the SIM would not work. After removing the cheaply made back cover, I began to notice all the little things;

  • The battery was plain black with no Nokia branding, which was weird
  • The branding sticker underneath where the battery sits spelt out Nokla, an odd typo to make for a company as big as Nokia.

Nokla 3

My investigative nature had been triggered. I was now questioning the genuineness of the dumb phone. Click, click, click, I headed to www.imei.info and looked up the IMEI code of the phone I had in hand. To my surprise, the Nokia/Nokla we had picked up from the streets was clad in a Samsung B310E GURU MUSIC 2 IMEI number. First of all, I have never heard of such a phone but apparently, it’s been around since 2013.

Nokla IMEI
The Samsung phone that the Nokla was pretending to be

After this discovery, everything was crystal. The device we bought off the streets at a hard-earned 500 bob was a fake. As much as I wanted to be disappointed, I couldn’t. I was impressed by the developer who built the software because they were able to accurately mimic Nokia’s classic look down to the handshake.

We will never get back our money (that’s a whole week of Kibandaski lunch with some change to spare for a KDF, just gone down the drain), but at least I have something to give my little cousins every time they ask whether my phone has a game on it.

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