Three years ago, a Brooklyn-based startup called Light set out to solve a problem: How can we disconnect from our smartphones when we need to?
The company’s solution was the Light Phone — a credit card-sized device with the ability to make calls and do nothing else. After shipping about 10,000 devices since its initial Kickstarter campaign, Light has returned with a successor that adds a few necessary features, but still rejects the bloat and feature-creep that has come to define modern communication devices.
At launch it the Light Phone 2 will cost $400, but early backers can claim theirs for $250 right now.
From its exterior, the Light Phone 2 is indistinguishable from the first model. It’s only when you turn it on that you notice the screen — which was formerly an LED readout and some cutouts for buttons — is now a fully-fledged, touch-sensitive E-Ink display.
Before you think that Light has gone soft on its no-compromise vision, the addition of a touch screen doesn’t mean you’re going to be launching apps on the Light Phone 2 anytime soon. Rather, the new display is necessary for the handful of “tools” Light is researching for its upcoming product: an alarm clock, text messaging, text-based navigation and even a partnership with a rideshare service, so users don’t have to worry about finding a way home from their smartphone-free adventure.
Light hasn’t committed to a dedicated list of new features for its phone, though it’s probably safest to think that the alarm clock and texting are the surest of those bets. Regardless, those additions are reflective of Light’s ambition for its new device.
The original Light Phone was pitched as a “second phone” — something to take instead of your smartphone on rare occasions. The team made it as easy as the industry allows for the Light Phone to share the same number as your primary handset, or at least forward incoming and outgoing calls through it. But the Light Phone 2 does a little more, which means you can also use it more often — perhaps all the time, if you're so inclined.
Beneath the plastic, the Light Phone 2 boasts more complex hardware to make its new capabilities possible. Light has added 4G LTE connectivity and USB-C for charging and data transfers. And although the company appears very cognizant of the slippery slope of adding features to a phone that’s designed to be mostly ignored, Light is also entertaining things like weather reports and music playlists.
The Light Phone 2 went live on Indiegogo on March 1, and in 24 hours it’s already 170 percent funded at about $423,000. Light plans to ship in April 2019, but as always with crowdfunded products, don’t be surprised if that date slips by at least a few months.
Image Credit: Light