The Light Phone is the latest minimalist phone to launch with maximalist ambitions

The new Light Phone 2 is the latest new phone designed to offer consumers a digital detox.


September 6, 2019

There’s no need to go phone-free to experience a digital detox: Dumbphones are on the rise. 

These are a big step up from your old Nokia, but are people really willing to pay for a phone with fewer features?

How low-tech can you go?

The just-launched $350 Light Phone 2 makes calls, sends texts … and that’s about it. That’s also the point.

The original Light Phone was designed to let people leave the house without the burden of always-on email and apps. But with a phonebook limited to nine numbers, it wasn’t meant to replace smartphones. It was a means to unplug without going off the grid.

Demand was huge. Launched on Kickstarter in June 2015, it raised $400k and sold 15k units before orders stopped. Then, Light Phones went for triple the original price on the secondary market.

And Light Phone doesn’t have the market cornered 

The Steph Curry-sponsored Palm — not the ’90s tech company, but a new startup using the same name — sees itself as a smartphone complement. Other minimalist-feature phones include the Internet-free Punkt and the Android-supported Blloc.

With many people worried about screen addiction — research shows the mere sight of a smartphone lying facedown makes us feel anxious — many consumers may believe a dumber phone is a smart idea. 

After all, who among us hasn’t been guilty of mindless scrolling?

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