Do you think you have a social media phone problem? – For sure! For sure I am addicted in some
way or another to my phone. (ethereal music) – [Eric] I’m Eric Limer, Tech Editor at Gear Patrol, and I tested the Light Phone 2. It’s a tiny little E-ink smartphone that’s designed to try to help you break your worst social media habits by literally not supporting
social media at all, ever. And we took it around to
some folks in the office to get their knee jerk first impressions.
I talked to Gear Patrol
co-founder and fellow geek, Ben Bowers, for his thoughts about it, and then I’ll let you
know the kind of deep, dark, existential questions, that using a phone like this makes you stare into the
mirror and ask yourself. (ethereal music) – Okay, very devicey. – It’s cool. It’s kinda cute. – It says, Go Light. – All right, correct me
if I go off track here. It is a phone for people who
don’t wanna use their phone, but do wanna use their phone
enough to get a separate phone that does nearly all of
what their phone does, except for one or two
very specific things? – Stripped down, old school, but new school at the same time. Kinda like it! I’m gonna hit the little button here and I’ve got phone numbers! – No social, no camera, no anything. Can I send text messages with it? – [Eric] Yes it has texts, calls, maps.
– Okay, that’s kinda cool. I remember when the original came out, it was so limited that it was– – [Eric] Just phone. – Yeah, it was so pure that it made so little sense
in terms of actual use. I think they’re going
in the right direction. – Nice little qwerty keyboard I could probably pen
something out this way. Quick touch, little feedback. Buzzing which is cool and all right, so I’m lookin’ at just phone, texts, right? No camera, no social. – I mean they’re going in the direction of becoming an actual phone, like smartphone, iPhone. But it’s cool. I can’t bash the concept that hard. – It’s probably a nice way to unplug, but stay plugged. – In initially trying to use it, I’m going to go ahead and say that I do not understand how to use it. – I would be into something like this. I could, as much as I
love checkin’ the socials, and postin’ stuff, I could be into this maybe
as a part-time phone.
Maybe it’s a weekend device. – I’m gonna guess it
costs somewhere about, (buzzes) let’s call it $200.00 bucks? – [Eric] It’s $349.00. – $349.00. The price of a fairly recent used iPhone. Maybe it’s a good stop-gap thing. Maybe it’ll be a fun dry
January-type of phone. But if you stick with this for too long, you are going to be left behind. – Okay, so $349.00 for this guy! Yeah, that’s a tough sell unfortunately. As much as I think this is cool, I feel like it would need to be a lot more bulletproof feeling. It’s a little plasticky for that amount. But I still think the concept
is cool and very valid. I would just hope that
it could be something… You know I have kids, too. I think this could be an awesome device for a young middle-schooler. But I don’t know if $340.00’s gonna work when I can get something
basically of full-fledged (chuckles) device for man, $60.00 bucks with a plan.
Tough sell on the price, awesome concept. – Ultimately it’s cool. I wish that it made
sense for me to use it. It definitely seems
better than the first one, but instead of buying a separate phone you could just delete some apps. – [Ben] My first gut
is that it feels a lot like the old Nexus 5
with this matte plastic, but I don’t know why it
needs to be so tiny! (laughs) – Yeah I know, it is so– – It’s a little hard to grip. – It is so ridiculously small. – I actually, I mean I assume the battery
life is pretty good. I don’t mind the E-ink at all. I mean overall the matteness
of it is kinda nice in an age where you get the smear-heavy fingerprint stuff.
What can this do besides call and text? – It’s got alarms right now. (chuckles) There is (chuckles) ride share and maps are coming in the future, along with some basic music stuff. So rudimentary features rolling out– – It’s got a headphone jack. Too bad no one has headphones anymore with a headphone jack. (laughing) That’s a loss. So is this still a version
where it has to require another cell phone to get internet, to get cellular service? – [Nick] No.
– [Ben] Or is it still encapsulated? – [Nick] No, it is, so yeah, so the Light Phone 1 was designed to be a second
phone and tether off yours, but this one has a SIM card in it, can text, and call directly, so it’s a fully-featured phone. – So essentially the point of this device is to be something where if
you feel like you’re addicted to your typical cell phone, you can’t stop browsing
Instagram, whatever, you can use this as a
communication device? – Right.
– I think there’s some
appeal to that today. I mean Apple, Android, they’ve both rolled out a
bunch of software updates to show you how you’re using your phone. You can even put limits
on how much time you use. I guess if you really lack self-control, you just physically remove
yourself from the phone. I really like the plastic, I just don’t– – Yeah, that’s a really nice throwback. I don’t know why…
I mean I guess just, I don’t know why (chuckles) they stopped making Soft
Touch plastic phones. – How does the screen look outdoors? Because that’s one
issue with E-ink, right, is can you get enough contrast ratio. – [Nick] Yeah, I mean it’s
looked great outdoors to me. I mean it’s arguably better than the… My smartphone has a glare on it, but with the matte screen
it looks pretty good. – [Ben] I think the idea of this phone is really interesting because
we love these things so much and now everyone pretty much agrees that we love ’em a little too much. But personally, I don’t know
if I could live with this. But I do think we’re
seeing a social movement, I mean Apple has admitted it, Google has admitted it with
these screen time apps, that think society is
waking up to the fact that we’re getting more
addicted to these devices and so there is a
movement to try to retain what got us hooked on these
things in the first place, which was communication at all times without all of the junk.
I just don’t know if that
movement is too early for something like this to succeed. (ethereal music) – [Nick] One of the most
immediately striking things about the Light Phone 2
is obviously the design. It’s really nice and
minimalist and cohesive. The black and white of the E-ink really meshes nice with
this whole grey look. It’s got this great Soft
Touch plastic on the back which is something that you don’t find in a lot of phones anymore. The weight and heft of it is really nice; it feels like a device that
was really well considered. And it works, which is always good in a phone. You can use it to send
messages and make phone calls. The texts go through, the call quality is pretty good and it works on the major carriers. While the Light Phone 2 is
definitely super appealing both in an abstract sense and when you have it in your hands, there are a lot of gripes
I have about using it which is a weird thing to get into because those are also
sort of the point, right.
For instance, the user interface is… The Light Phone doesn’t do a lot, so it’s user interface
can be pretty simple, but it’s also pretty abstract
to find your way around. When you actually go to type
text messages for example, the keyboard, which
always comes up landscape, so you have to twist
the phone to the side, is extremely small, (chuckles) it’s a small phone, which makes typing on it difficult, which is then again compounded by the fact that since it’s an E-ink screen when you make typos, and you will, and then you erase them, there’s some strange artifacting. It’s not as seamless as when you’re typing on any smartphone from
the past five years. But you can’t quite hold that against it, because that’s also the point. There’s this little bit
of a weird situation here where every time that I want to knock the Light Phone 2 for introducing more friction
to the use experience, it’s like that’s also the point, so it’s a little bit weird to engage with.
The other main thing we have to talk about when we talk about the Light Phone 2 is what it doesn’t do. Not what it doesn’t do on purpose, but what it is suppose
to do but doesn’t do yet. While for now the Light Phone 2 only supports calling and text messaging as its means of communication, there’s a lot of stuff
built in here for more: You’ll notice the Light
Phone 2 has a headphone jack. Eventually there’s supposed
to be music playback features with a interesting little
bit of a dividing line of, it will allow you to play
music that you already have, but the creators have said they’re not gonna include
music discovering stuff. The Light Phone 2 also has
Bluetooth and WiFi built-in, which again it doesn’t really use for any of its current slate of features, but that lays the groundwork
for a future feature where this phone could act
as a WiFi hotspot, right.
So instead of trying to
do things directly on it, you could use it to connect
another device to the internet. I think it says a lot
about the state of phones, the state of technology, the state of internet in
general that this exists, and it’s a good thing! There’s nothing I would like more then to have devices that
have a built-in interest in keeping me from using
them literally all the time. But when we’re looking at this, the Light Phone 2, as it exists right now, you do have to ask yourself, could I use it for me? No. And I hope that some point in the future there will be a device like this, but Light Phone something else, that either shares the
same priorities that I do, or has enough options for personalization that I think I can.
I do think that the Light
Phone could be a good fit for a lot of people, but those people are going to have to be an extremely good fit for the Light Phone. This is a device that is
appealing to a very big need, but it is serving a very
small target market right now. And if you’re in that, that’s terrific, if you’re not, I would caution you against trying to squeeze
yourself into it too hard because you might regret it..
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