This Phone Costs $250 and Can Barely Do Anything. Here’s Why People Are Buying It
It’s not about what the phone can do. It’s about what you can do when you’re not distracted by it.
PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images
You know you have it on you. After all, without your smartphone, you couldn't do normal things we all do (you know, like breathing, apparently). But to every yin there is a yang, and now one phone could help you break your smartphone dependence for good.
Brooklyn-based startup Light is smack in the middle of a new Indiegogo campaign for a new iteration of its original minimalist phone, known by users as Light. The new version, Light Phone 2, is purposely designed to do bare-bones work. It's intended only to send and receive calls and texts, auto-reply, keep and retrieve contacts/speed dials, and give simple directions. It also has a basic alarm. That's an upgrade from Light, which only could send and receive calls.
From the purely design standpoint, the simpler a phone is, the more intuitive and efficient it can be for you to use. You don't have to spend time fishing through a bunch of menus or screens to find what you need. Fewer apps also can translate into longer battery life, as there's not a ton of unnecessary stuff running in the background all the time.
In a 2016 CareerBuilder survey, employers cited cell phones/texting as the biggest productivity killer. (Internet, social media and email were 41, 37 and 26 percent, respectively.) A bare-bones mobile device like Light Phone 2 could help workers concentrate better on their projects, even as they're still able to check in on the go. It also could help them engage in more face-to-face conversation, supporting strong teams. You also can consider the wealth of data that suggests that too much cell phone use can contribute to health issues ranging from poor sleep to spinal and postural problems. And that's before you think about easier security and worker-to-worker device transfer.
But the larger purpose behind both Light and Light Phone 2 is to get us to free us from the balloon drop of distractions technology shoves in our faces. The creators know digital and mobile aren't going away, which is why they give you the basics, but they want us to purposely disconnect and really experience life outside of a screen. And when we must turn to a screen, the goal is to keep communications focused. It's about changing the way we behave. Finding more purpose and fulfillment. Being quiet enough to figure out who we are--and then making ourselves better.
There really is no app for that.
So what do you get?
Light Phone 2 is still a work in progress, with the team considering options like weather, a calculator, waterproofing and aluminum casing for more durability. But right now, these are the proposed technical specifications, as listed on the Indiegogo campaign website:
Viewing: E-ink with B& W matte screen
Navigation: Physical up and down buttons
Dimensions: 91mm x 55 x 6.5-7.5mm thick
OS: LightOS (modified Android)
Connectivity: 4G LTE, Wifi, GPS
Memory: 1 GB DDR3 RAM / 8GB eMMC
Material: Anodized Aluminum
Weight: 80g (estimation)
Processor: Qualcomm MSM8909W
Battery: 5 days standby; A few hours talk time.
SIM Card: Nano SIM
Other: Vibrator, Loud Speaker, Headset jack
You can use the Light Phone 2 with your existing phone number, so you can leave your regular smartphone home if you want, but the creators say you could use it as your main phone, too. The team expects to finalize the features and begin shipping by April of 2019.
One last hurdle
Currently, the Light Phone 2 is discounted promotionally from $400 to $250. Considering you can get a lower- to mid-range smartphone for roughly the same cost, there's really no financial incentive to make the switch. That's a challenge for Light, especially considering there's a trend toward cheaper smartphones that are on par with what higher-end models used to offer.
Technology is fundamental to much of what individuals and businesses do. But that doesn't mean you necessarily need all the bells and whistles. While the Light Phone 2 won't work for everybody and the price tag raises my eyebrow a little, if you are in fact looking to streamline and focus, be aware that you're not alone--10,000 people bought the Light, and at the time of this publication, the company had reached 50 percent of its Indiegogo goal for the Light Phone 2. There's also still support for old-school clam-shell-style phones, not only among minimalists and retro-lovers, but also among parents who want to limit their kids' exposure to and time on technology. So think about what your goals are. Then decide what fits those objectives best. Technology always should fit the vision, not the other way around.