Putting Light Phone to the Test

Disconnecting from the "pocket computer lifestyle" with this credit card-sized device

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When it was announced in 2015, the concept behind the Kickstarter-funded Light Phone felt much like a breath of fresh air. Roughly the size of four stacked credit cards, the device proposed a mobile world free of internet, apps and even texting (unlike the Punkt. MP 01 which was announced a few months later). The Light Phone has its own SIM card and number, but it really functions to receive call forwarding from one’s primary mobile. A 10-contact database lets you know who is calling (if they’re worthy of your top 10 list). The same contact list lets you dial out with ease. Designer Joe Hollier and mobile industry veteran Kaiwei Tang (who’s helped imagine the Motorola Defy, Droid 4, and Razr) partnered on the Light Phone. Together, they’ve delivered something so minimal that it truly alleviates the great weight of constant connectivity. We put the Light Phone to use during an extended trial and found the product claims to hold true in a beneficial way.

Set up is very, very easy. The charming packaging—wherein the Light Phone arrives set into the pages of a book, complete with a Micro USB cable—hints at the simplicity. Plugging the phone into a computer allows for charging (a full charge lasts a few days). After downloading a free dedicated web app, one sets up call-forwarding from their primary phone. The app administers a code to one’s smartphone, which allows the forwarding to be turned on and off easily. At present the web app is a bit buggy but the set-up and turn on processes are so direct and quick that this doesn’t matter much.

Contacts are most important with this device. Using the web app, users add their 10 contacts (or fewer) for quick dialing out of the Light Phone. One can also dial out to any number using the keypad, though it’s much easier to remember your partner is listed as number one and your mother is number two than to remember their full phone numbers. Though, there’s nothing wrong with that. When there’s an incoming call, the number appears on the small numeric display. Audio quality is clear. Initially, only using the Light Phone takes getting used to. Reaching for one’s phone, users will only see the time—no text or email or social media notifications. One feels safe (in that calls can be made outward) and confident (that loved ones can get through) but it’s an intoxicating sort of liberation associated with a device that’s really for emergencies only. It’s worth noting that during our trial, we only made it a few hours each time using the device before returning back to our smartphone—but even then it made an impact.

Purchase the Light Phone online for $150.

Images by Cool Hunting, screenshots from The Light Phone web app