AT&T rolls out Pantech Breeze, the simple cell phone

Not too long ago, I found myself stuck in a ridiculously long queue at a Verizon store. With nothing better to do, I started trying to listen to the reasons people had for being there. It was mainly “Oh man, the screen on my phone cracked all by itself, thats gotta be under warranty right?” type stuff, but one conversation, between a customer that looked like a lumberjack and a sales guy, interested me. To paraphrase:

Lumberjack: “I’d like to return this phone.”
Sales guy: “Why are you returning it?”
Lumberjack: “It does too much.”
Sales guy: “..Too much? Can’t you just ignore the stuff you don’t need?”
Lumberjack: “No. There is too much stuff, and it makes the menus confusing. I just want a phone and an address book. Do you have any phone like that?”
Sales guy: “I don’t think so. I think this is our simplest model.”

For those of us with technology wrapped around nearly every aspect of our lives, it’s easy to forget that there are a lot of people who feel the same way Lumberjack does. More “advanced” features are becoming standard with each device that hits the shelves, to the point that even the most basic phones may be a bit too much to handle for Joe “What the hell is a 3G?” Schmoe

AT&T and Pantech are looking to cater to this audience of people who simply want less, with the release of the AT&T Breeze phone ($50 bucks after contract and rebate). The phone is aimed at those who look at modern cell phone UIs and have a panic attack, with all but the most utilized features tucked away. It also packs in a few features to address common complaints from an older generation of users — large fonts, single purpose speed dial and hot keys, a loud speakerphone, and large buttons aim to make the experience a bit smoother for those with decreased vision.