Light Phone II

November 15, 2019

I will have green texts in iMessage for the next 30 days folks. I didn’t buy an Android phone, I’m not sick, I’m just experimenting with a Light Phone II.

Intro

A while ago I ran into the Light Phone II and thought it was really cool. I signed up to receive one, but quickly forgot about it since it was just a concept at the time. To my surprise, it showed up at my house the other day. I’m still quite annoyed with the interrupt driven nature of today’s smartphones, so I figured it was time to give this thing a shot.

The idea of the Light Phone II is for it to be a dumb phone that doesn’t make you look like you’re stuck in the late 90’s. Right now, it only has Phone, Texting and an Alarm, but soon they should be adding Maps and a ride service like Lyft.

First Impressions

This thing is so damn small! It feels half the size of my iPhone X, which is probably pretty accurate, especially when you compare screen size. It is rather heavy, when comparing size to the iPhone, but maybe that’s because Apple has done a remarkable job making the iPhone light.

My LPII is gray in color, matching the e-ink screen fairly closely. The mock-ups they had on the campaign made it look like the e-ink just blended in with the body, but you can see the screen very clearly, when compared to the body. Note: This doesn’t mean it’s ugly, it’s a very attractive device!

My biggest sadness is they ended up not using USB-C, which is a big annoyance for me, since everything else in my life (excluding my iPhone) is USB-C. Oh well.

Using it

My first goal was to load it with contacts, which they made very easy on the LightPhone Dashboard, if you’re an iCloud user. You simply log into iCloud.com and create an app-specific password, which you then input into the LP Dashboard. A few minutes and a manual sync of the phone later and you’ve got all your contacts!

The interface is very basic, easy to learn - which is the whole premise behind the device. I will admit, I was completely befuddled with the lack of things to setup. I felt like there should have been so much more, but I’ve been trained that a new phone takes hours to set up properly.

Starting this Saturday, I plan on using the Light Phone II and my iPad Pro only. I’ll do my best to completely disconnect from the iPad and all the apps, to solely focus on life around me.

Below you’ll find my thoughts and experience using the device, day by day.

Day in, Day out

11/16/2019: Today is my first day using the device. I have an activated SIM from my iPhone, on Google Fi, that I’m using for this experiment. I’m going to guess that I’m probably going to be running on the T-Mobile network on the LP2. The device was charged to 93% when I pulled it off the charger to leave the house, I highly doubt I’m going to have any battery issues with it. Just before we left the house, I sat down for a few minutes while my wife was talking to her mom on the phone. My immediate reaction was to pull out my phone to pass the time, but was met with the LP2, with nothing to do. So I grabbed the book on my end table and started reading instead.

After about 3-4 hours, I’m feeling less jittery, less like I need to grab my iPhone and Twit. I have found there are a few things that I would like to happen with the LP2 so far:

The phone is a bit slow on refresh of the screen, but that’s the nature of e-ink displays. I think there’s a trade-off happening between user performance and battery life - of which, I’d choose performance as long as battery life remains just above a single day. I’ll update this as I go, I may adjust, but I fear that a lot of people will be quickly turned off by the speed of the device.

11/17/2019 I’m pretty disappointed in the battery life of the LightPhone II. Yesterday, I probably sent 20-30 text messages (primarily because it was difficult to type on) yesterday, made one phone call that was <5 minutes and disconnected the phone from power around 10:30a at 93%. I left the phone unplugged overnight and found that this morning it was around 17%. This is a far cry from the 2-3 days of light usage I expected based on the campaign information. I hope this is a fluke otherwise there are going to be a lot of unhappy customers. It is because of this and the notes from yesterday that I’ve determined to stop the experiment.

The final nail in the coffin for me was realizing that I needed to plan my week and I didn’t have access to my calendar. Could I grab my iPad, sure, but minimalist experiences aren’t about needing multiple devices.

What I have learned is, I need to delete most of the apps on my phone. Which I spent about 45 minutes this morning doing. Then I need to go through and minimize any notifications, which I’ll do a bit later today. In addition, I need to spend more time during the evenings and weekends phone-free. The iPhone is a great minimalist device, if you have any sense of will-power, which I do, I’ve just been lazy. The LightPhone II is a great phone, a great improvement on the original model and I think would be a perfect fit for those who can truly embrace a minimalistic lifestyle, where their work doesn’t require so many apps and they don’t travel much.