Motorola MOTOFONE F3

I don’t really talk to anyone, but when your newest car is 30 years old, it’s good to have a cell phone, in case on-the-road-repairs aren’t enough.

I bought an unlocked Motorola MOTOFONE F3 for about $20 at With a prepaid plan, there isn’t a contract or monthly charge, just refills every now and then.

The GSM (850/1900 MHz) MOTOFONE F3 is a basic phone that seems to be targeted at the third world market. It’s good for calling someone; don’t expect to do too much beyond that and you won’t be disappointed. I wouldn’t even use it for text messaging, though it has that capability. (Maybe if you just text, “Hi.”) It’s easier just to call the other person.

The phone has an E Ink display (Electrophoretic Display – EPD) – the same type as used in the Amazon Kindle. With only two lines and six characters per line, the F3 doesn’t even display a seven digit phone number on a single line. The display is very readable in bright sunlight and it has a backlight for the keypad and screen in low light.

The F3 also has voice prompts, an address book, 500 minutes of continuous talk time and up to 300 hours of stand-by time. For $20, the thin and rugged MOTOFONE F3 is a great deal. When you don’t want to risk trashing your Android or iPhone, take the SIM out and put it in your F3.

Wikipedia has a list of undocumented codes.

Samsung SCH-i730 Minty Boost

We bought a Samsung USB data cable from Verizon – the rep at the store said it was difficult to get. I thought we could charge our Verizon SCH-i730 with our MintyBoost USB charger. It’s wasn’t that simple.

For some reason, Samsung decided to add another plug in the middle of the cable – so you could plug in your charger! If you wanted to charge your phone while it was plugged into a USB port, you needed the charger. I thought the USB cable was supposed to obviate the need of a charger but Samsung must have a different idea.

I called Verizon tech support and they said that the Verizon stores didn’t even sell the cable. They didn’t tell me much.

After opening up the box in the middle of the cable, I traced the +5v from one end to the other. It was obvious that soldering a jumper would enable +5v to charge the phone.

Once the jumper cable was in, I reassembled the connector in the middle of the cable and plugged it into the phone. The phone icon changed to the charging icon meaning that it was being charged by the Minty Boost.

I looked on eBay, and found there were cables that didn’t need this mod for about 75% less than what we paid for this supposedly difficult to get (according to the Verizon rep at the store) cable.

At least it works.

To get your own MintyBoost charger, that works with iPods, Sony PSP, Nintendo DS/GameBoy Advance, Blackberry and a lot of other devices, go to Adafruit Industries. For a technical overview of the charger, go to