While the modern smartphone is largely about keeping the user connected to a host of social, professional and other services, the Light Phone calls to mind a simpler time, aiming to provide the user with a break from the intense connectivity of modern life. The project, which offers a back-to-basics approach to communication, is currently seeking funding on Kickstarter.
In a world of smartphones, smartwatches and smart homes, the Light Phone seeks to stand out by being, well, not very smart at all.
It's essentially a GSM cell phone with 500 pre-paid minutes that links to the user's smartphone to provide call forwarding. The idea is to leave your main phone at home, with only the most important communications – phone calls – making it through to the secondary device. Everything is handled via a companion app, and up to ten numbers can be stored on the device and accessed via speed dialling.
The handset itself appears visually pleasing, with a simple white design and looks that put it somewhere between a calculator and something out of Tron. It's roughly the size of a credit card, measures 4 mm thick, and weighs in at 39 g (0.09 lbs).
It uses Micro USB for charging (it's apparently good for around 20 days on a single charge), packs a simple dot matrix LED display and a touch module over the keypad. There's also a speaker, microphone, and volume controls.
While a retreat to a simpler time can have its appeal in today's connected world, it's also hard to see exactly where the Light Phone fits in. On one hand, it's the anti-smartphone, but on the other, it still requires a smartphone. So it's for folks who like smartphones well enough to own, but not enough to take with them outside of their homes? People so fed up with connected gadgets that they want to buy another gadget? Why not just silence your smartphone? Apart from jogs or trips to the gym, it's hard to imagine a dire need for this.
The Light Phone project is asking for US$200,000 on Kickstarter. Assuming the funding effort is successful, a pledge of $100 will secure a single unit. The company hopes to ship handsets to backers in May 2016.