Sunday, April 28, 2024

Touchscreen Water Resistant Android Flip Phone

The Cat S22 Flip is a 2.8" touchscreen, Android 11, 4G LTE GSM phone which is, water resistant. Originally sold for the US T-Mobile network, these phones have been unlocked and work fine on the Australian Telstra network (including Aldi Mobile). At around AU$100 through Amazon, this is a bargain, provided you can put up with the quirks of the phone. 

The phone has a big rubber phone keypad, and a minuscule touch screen. To enter text you either use the physical keyboard, or a virtual touch screen keyboard. The problem is that by default the Kika 12-Key Keyboard app, using T9 predictive text is turned on. When I tried to type on the virtual QWERTY keyboard, the predictive text system came up with weird choices, making text entry extremely difficult. Manually selecting Google's Gboard in settings and deselected predictive text helped, but some applications were still doing predictive text. After reading dozens of suggestions on the web as to how to fix this, involving modding the operating system, or installing yet more apps, I simply updated Gboard via the App Store, and the problem vanished.

The next quirk was that I had to set the APN Data Settings manually. 

This phone has a tiny screen compared to modern folding phones, but having broken several of those, I am prepared to see how rugged the Cat S22 is. I have suggested Unihertz make something similar, but with a bigger screen, and a physical QWERTY keyboard, and a smaller numeric keypad.