Why it matters to you
Smartphones are addictive, but the Light Phone is a different kind of device that aims to keep your attention focused on the world around you.
If you are hopelessly addicted to your smartphone but really don’t want to be, the Light Phone may be the device to sort you out.
The credit card-sized handset that launched a Kickstarter campaign more than two years ago exclusively makes and takes calls. The goal is to encourage users to better engage with their immediate environment and free themselves from all the temptations smartphones present.
It’s a phone with so little functionality that hanging out with friends may actually result in distraction-free encounters featuring eye contact and other direct interactions (if they are not buried in their own smartphones, that is).
Since production began at the end of 2016, Light has shipped about 9,000 devices and raised more than $3 million. The company is now filling orders in the United States as well as internationally. It is also attempting to secure carrier support and even planning a new version for 2018.
If the mere thought of switching to a bare-bones phone causes a bead of sweat to form on your brow, fear not. The Light Phone does not mean you will have to give up your favorite smartphone — the makers understand that would be one step too far for most users. Instead, you can easily forward calls from your main handset on the occasions when you dare to leave the house without it, although the Light Phone does also come with its own number should you take the bold step to use it as your main mobile.
Created by designers Kaiwei Tang and Joe Hollier, the elegant-looking Light Phone is only 4mm thick and weighs just 38.5 grams. It can hold up to nine-speed dial numbers and incorporates a SIM card slot, micro USB port, and very little else. Better yet, rather than coming in a box, it ships in a charming photography book.
The device’s minimal functionality means it can last for up to three days on a single charge — though Light is hoping to improve standby time with the next model. Interestingly, the FAQ page says the handset runs a “stripped down” version of Android, which allows the designers to adapt the feature set going forward
“Technology should help us appreciate life more. It should serve, not enslave, us,” Light’s About page reads. “We don’t want to buy more stuff, to be told we’re not enough by our feeds, to be tracked or reduced to some data point. We are not anti-technology, we are humans and we’re taking our lives back.”
The Light Phone runs $150 and comes in two colors: black and white. It arrives with its own SIM card, which costs $5 per month to keep active. There are separate models for U.S. and international use, though the former is currently sold out. If you are interested, you can reserve a unit in the next batch for free right now.
Update: Added pricing and availability information.