Smartphones are trying to be more and do more with every new iteration. This is true for most technological devices, but in an age where smartphones can already do virtually anything and everyone is desperately trying to create “the new new thing,” perhaps the last thing we need is a new app.
Perhaps innovation lies in going the opposite direction.
The Original Light Phone
In 2014, a startup called Light developed a minimal phone (aptly named Light Phone) that could only make calls, and nothing else.
Naturally, they didn’t expect you to replace your powerful smartphones for the purposefully limited Light Phone, but it worked fine as a companion phone, or as an exercise to, as they call it, “go light.” For example, if your main phone is charging, or you’re going out with friends, you could travel “Light” and only take your Light Phone instead.
It was a bold statement made with a purposely limited product. According to them, 10,000 people adhered to the Light Phone.
But now they’re taking it one step further.
The Light Phone 2
The Light Phone 2 adds just a few basic functions to the original design — it can now make calls, send texts, set alarms, and lets you save contacts. They are still considering adding more, but not too much — maybe a calculator, a dictionary, stuff like that.
But as it stands now, the Light Phone 2 has the potential to replace your smartphone for good.
In a time where smartphone addiction is such a serious problem and social networks are linked to mental health, this so-called “dumb” phone (as opposed to a “smartphone”) could be the solution to both problems.
On their IndieGoGo page, the company says:
Disconnecting is profound in a time when we have become so accustom to our existence only through hyper-connectivity.
Apart from those basic functions, the startup is open to adding a couple more, but only if those functions, in their words, “make sense.”
Why Go Light?
In a blog post from 2016, co-founders Joe Hollier and Kaiwei Tang were very clear about their intentions:
We couldn’t help but feel that the last thing we thought the world needed was another app. There were all of these products and apps coming out left and right all claiming to “make our lives better”. We just couldn’t believe any of it anymore, these products didn’t respect the user or their time. Being more connected couldn’t actually be what we needed to become happier.
It’s easy to see where they’re coming from.
The storefront for apps is awful at times - every new app claims to be the “new thing you didn’t know you needed.” And while there is a fair share of useful apps to improve your productivity and health, there are too many that rely on your addiction to stay on the market, even those that claim otherwise.
Social networks are the purest example of how this addiction works. Take the Snapchat format, later adopted by Facebook on all its properties - a format in which you create short videos or images and share them with your contacts, but only for that single day, and after 24 hours, they get deleted forever. At its best, it’s a fun and customizable way to share what you did that day, and see what your friends were up to. At its worst, it’s a way to keep you coming back every day, just to see what people shared (whether it was important to you or not) before it goes away forever - after all, you don’t want to miss anything, do you?
We’re not alone in thinking this. It’s not the first time we ponder on how “dumb” things might be better than “smart” things, and the Light Phone 2 comes in response to these modern fears we share.
But will the Light Phone 2 be successful? Only time will tell if the Light Phone will catch on, but to be honest, the concept of success is subjective. After all, this is a phone that doesn’t want to be essential, it wants to be useful.
Where Can I Get a Light Phone?
You can go to Light’s IndieGoGo page to learn more about the Light Phone 2 and pick one of the perks they offer, if you want to try it. The estimated delivery for the first batch is April 2019.
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