The Light Phone 2 is the second generation of…you guessed it, the Light Phone. Released in 2017, the first iteration of the phone stripped the smart phone to its bare bones: the ability to call in and out and store ten contacts. Yes, 10. Surprisingly its slick Kickstarter marketing campaign raised over US$400,000, which is over double what founders Joe Hollier and Kai Tang asked for. It took some time for them to release the phone, but when they did, it was eventually met with enthusiasm. But compared to the big phone giants, $400,000 is nothing. Yet somehow, the Light Phone has found an untapped niche of people that are simply tired of the modern smart phone and simply want to be untethered.
Yet the original Light Phone was plagued with one problem: people just didn’t want to use them. Even its founders sensed the limitations after using the devices for a few weeks. The first phone was essentially a nicely designed Nokia candy bar phone with fewer features and the new version is essentially a touchscreen Nokia candy bar without Snake. So why are people buying into this $350 phone? It’s certainly not the features—it calls, texts, gives directions, and calculates. There are a few other tools that can be installed, but it is essentially ad and social media free. Their site claims “The Light Phone II will never have feeds, social media, advertisements, news or email.” Essentially, the phone wants people to use it as a tool, but not a device to substitute interpersonal relationships.
This simple philosophy is perhaps what is drawing millennials to minimalistic experiences. With Marie Kondo’s hit Netflix series talking about the benefits of decluttering, the rising popularity of small houses and even #vanlife—we are living in a time where millennials are considering unplugging from the digital space rather than being constantly bombarded by information.
For good reason too. Studies have already shown how obsessive social media use can lead to lowered self-esteem and detrimental phycological issues. The first iPhone was released a little over a decade ago, but since then, the device has become an extension of the human body. With this reliance comes an overdependence on devices to do everything for us, from driving to even talking with each other.
At $350, the phone seems overpriced. But what Light is doing is certainly commendable and that’s why their crowdfunding campaign has raised over 3.5 million dollars. $350 for a phone with so few features seems like a lot, but clearly people think otherwise. I personally wouldn’t spend that much, but if spending $350 can help you disconnect, then it might just be worth it to try it out and take a break from being plugged in 24/7.