Every day when I leave my apartment I have to remember three essential things to bring with me: my wallet, my keys, and my phone. The first two are rote essentials. Yet that glorious palm-sized computer is my steady-drip dose of modernity. I’m anxious waiting for texts, and I’m anxious if I don’t get any texts. I need to check Twitter, then Facebook, then Instagram, then Twitter again. The smartphone is my fix, but it's also my rut.
Someone is figuring out how to kick the apps while staying connected to the very basic element of having a mobile device, essentially prying the phone back from the prefix “smart.” The Light Phone, a crowdsourced project that met its $200,000 Kickstarter goal in just eight days, is a credit card-sized phone that only makes and receives calls. Its dumbed-down tech is meant to be used as little as possible. Donate $100 or to their campaign and you’ll get one of the first incarnations. No notifications, no cameras, no Google, no texts, no birds getting angry, no candy getting crushed.
It is the dumbest mobile phone in years.
According to Kaiwai Tang, who co-founded the project with another designer named Joe Hollier, the tech is meant to complement rather than replace your current gadgets. “We're not saying people shouldn't use smartphones at all," says Tang. “We're just saying that for certain moments — like taking your kid to the park, having dinner with your wife — those moments we don't really need notifications from Twitter or Facebook or anything else."
The phone links to your smartphone via an app to forward incoming calls. To call out you have to … actually … push … numbered … buttons. Slip it in your pocket or wallet and forget it until somebody calls. The battery should last all of 20 days.
Refreshingly, this is a device meant to divert your attention away from tech, and not in a kitschy way that harks to allegedly simpler times. It’s simple, contemporary tech that allows people to move at their own pace. But why stop here? Break up the smart phone. Hail be to scattered tech tools: calculators that only calculate, GPSs that give only basic directions, cameras that don’t include their own processing software. The dumber your tech, after all, the craftier its user has to be.