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How the world’s most minimalist phone made me love my smartphone more

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When did you last use a phone that was just, you know, a phone?

For me, it was back in 2001 or thereabouts. I don’t recall the model, but I do remember that I gave it up for a Kyocera QCP-3035, which had a rudimentary built-in app store. That led me down the path through multiple BlackBerrys, Treos, and iPhones to the Pixel 3 I presently tote.

Over the past week, however, I’ve been trying the Light II. The size of a slim business-card holder, it doesn’t have an app store. Or a color display. Or even one camera, let alone several. Or anything, at the moment, besides the ability to make and receive phone calls, send and receive text messages, and set alarms.

Joe Hollier (left) and Kaiwei Tang (right) [Photo: courtesy of Light]If the Light II sounds radically stripped down, it’s because its creators, Joe Hollier and Kaiwei Tang, planned it that way. They wanted to build a phone that nobody would be tempted to check 52 times a day—because it can’t run social networks or other apps engineered to turn us into slaves to our own dopamine. (The creators of the Palm “ultramobile” set out with some of the same big-picture goals, though the gadget they ended up designing doesn’t have much in common with the Light II.)

Hollier and Tang say that some people might choose to use a Light II exclusively, but it’s fine if the Light II is your second phone, the one you take when you don’t want a gadget in your pocket calling your name. “Right now, it’s like, smartphone or old flip phone,” says Hollier. “There isn’t really an in-between. That’s where we see ourselves as an option. And we also are self-aware enough to know it’s not the phone for everyone.”

A critical mass of people think the Light II deserves a shot. Light has started shipping phones to backers of its Indiegogo campaign, which raised $3.5 million from more than 10,000 backers. (In addition, the company has scored $8.4 million from investors, including the world’s most famous operator of smartphone factories, Foxconn.) The Light II is now available for preorder to new buyers, who........

© Fast Company