If you’re looking for an aesthetically pleasing way to curb your smartphone addiction, look not further than the Light Phone 2, a minimalist “dumb phone.” The $400 device doesn’t have apps or a camera. However, users can send texts, make calls, and set up alarms.
The first Light phone debuted back in 2014 with the purpose of simply accompanying your smartphone—take Light when you’re going out on a bike ride or catching up with some friends without distractions! It also only had text and talk features, but with its planned added features—like simple directions, weather, or playlist capabilities—Light 2 is a more ambitious product that seems eager to be a permanent stand-in for your smartphone.
For the record, I understand the appeal of this phone. First of all, it’s pretty, like the monochromatic, physical manifestation of your favorite sans-serif font. It’s like if Helvetica Neue turned into a device, and I love Helvetica Neue. Plus, there’s increasing concern about the adverse effects of constant smartphone usage, from mental health to neck strain. Nearly half of American teenagers say they are addicted to their smartphones, and studies show that teens who spend less time in front of screens are happier and less likely to become suicidal.
But if we’re keepin’ it 100, the Light Phone 2 feels more like an expensive statement than anything else?
Using our smartphones less is probably a fucking good idea. Not everything needs to go on your Instagram story (yes, this is a self drag), and your Twitter timeline won’t miss you (yes, this is a self drag). But waxing poetic about ditching one’s smartphone in many ways feels like the Millennial version of not owning a TV, and I’m pretty sure even the most rebellious Gen Xers watch a few prestige dramas. At the risk of sounding mind-numbingly cliche, it feels like the cat’s out of the bag on the smartphone front; and a device that doesn’t even have a camera on it—a basic cell phone feature since at least 2005—seems like it would have a hard time ever being little more than a novelty...at least at its $400 price point.
If you really want to free yourself from technology, buy yourself an ugly-ass-yet-totally-functional flip phone—Jitterbug, baby! Now there’s a statement. You know, there’s a growing social currency that comes along with being a Cool 20-Something Year Old™ with a flip phone. It’s a blatant attempt at subversiveness that is absolutely cloying; very few people of that demographic quietly have a flip phone, they need to make sure everyone knows about their handheld piece of antiquity. But at least we know that they didn’t break the bank for it.
The Light Phone seems to know that this type of holier than thou ethos appeals to their ideal consumer, which explains why their tagline is “A phone for humans.” It’s a wink and a nudge to those who are enlightened enough to know of the smartphones ills, and probably tell people all about it at parties.