During the unboxing, the first thing I noticed was that the John's Phone display was exactly that of a beeper display, circa 1991. That sounds inline with John's minimalist philosophy, but the problem is that this beeper display rests on one edge of the phone (not on one end, on one edge) forcing you to tilt the phone to a readable angle to see if the number you are typing is correct. As for the quality of the display itself, it was of such low resolution that squinting was in order to make out the numbers. Either way, this is not basic; it's foreign and border-line unusable.
So why was such little space was allowed for the display? The answer can be found in the gigantic, cartoon-like buttons that dominate the face of the phone. While large buttons can be useful, these unwieldy buttons express no contour or subtlety whatsoever; indeed, the giant clown buttons feel as though they pivot (activate) on a central axis, making their enormous size even more troublesome, since you have to press down in the center to force the phone to register the entry. These are some obscenely, comically large, buttons.
Moreover, the device shipped to me for review was pink, with white writing on the keys, making it incredibly difficult to read the letters and numbers as they washed out completely against the overwhelming pink background. This basic design oversight can't help leave me wondering if John's Amsterdam-based designers were umm...a little glassy eyed.
Finally, the volume button, and all other buttons, felt cheap and "disconnected" to the device. For example, there was no way of knowing how much you were increasing or decreasing the volume; just a shiny, obscure knob that moves.
On the assertion by the manufacturer, John Doe Amsterdam, that this phone is basic, I must disagree. You cannot reinvent the cell phone, thereby creating a new learning curve, and claim to have a basic phone. Indeed, a basic phone would be either a clamshell or candybar phone with a simple and direct alphanumeric keypad, along with a humble display that provides basic and necessary information to the user. Instead, the John's Phone all but eliminates the display, making the user feel like they are "running blind".
This is the first phone I have reviewed in which I resolutely warn readers not to purchase. It is poorly constructed, difficult to understand, and is in no way basic.
Sorry John Doe Amsterdam, but this device misses the mark completely.