Gentle Cellphone 2 assessment: A treatment for smartphone dependancy?
“The Gentle Cellphone 2 is a reprieve from the digital world, and it really works, however its excessive value is off-putting.”
Compact, seems to be fairly
Straightforward sync for contacts
Three-day battery life
Helps you go off the grid
Works as a stand-alone or secondary telephone
Ghosting, small textual content, keyboard autocorrect could be good
A bit too fundamental in the intervening time
Micro USB charging port
Calm with a touch of hysteria. That’s what I initially felt as I used the Gentle Cellphone 2, a function telephone meant to strip away all of the apps and notifications that devour each waking second of our lives. That nervousness finally left me, and I discovered myself extra current and engaged in what I used to be truly doing.
The Gentle Cellphone 2 is a 4G function telephone (or “dumbphone”) with an E Ink display, and it could place calls and ship texts. That’s it. The issue is that it’s stupidly costly at $350, particularly when yow will discover function telephones for lower than $100. Nonetheless, there’s one thing concerning the Gentle Cellphone 2 that has me enamored. Use it for just a few days and also you’ll really feel the necessity to always verify your telephone depart your thoughts. It’s a break from the digital world that works by yourself phrases.
A wiser function telephone
Gentle’s first telephone — aptly named the Gentle Cellphone — seems to be stunning, however all it could do is place calls. In a world the place messaging is king, it’s pure that the Brooklyn firm’s follow-up provides texting performance. However that’s not all that’s deliberate for this Indiegogo-funded telephone.
The Gentle staff understands there are particular conveniences many people depend on every single day, from ridesharing apps and Google Maps to music streaming and even utilizing a calculator. These companies don’t hold us absorbed in our telephones like Instagram or Fb, however are end-to-end experiences.
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Tendencies
“These are positively not distractions; these are nice instruments,” Gentle CEO and co-founder Kaiwei Tang instructed Digital Tendencies. “We’ve our personal precept for what instrument is smart; we don’t need e mail, we don’t need social media, no leisure.”
It’s why there’s additionally no digicam. Tang mentioned there have been inner discussions on outfitting a digicam on the Gentle Cellphone 2. Whereas cameras may be nice instruments, the corporate discovered them to be “disruptive,” as individuals take images of all the things, add them to social media, and depend the likes that are available in.
In the intervening time, the options on Gentle OS are fairly … nicely, gentle. You may make calls, ship texts, and set an alarm. However further “instruments” are on the best way, probably by the top of the yr. These embody a calculator, sizzling spot, a Discover my Cellphone service, third-party ridesharing apps, turn-by-turn instructions, and an MP3 participant (there’s a headphone jack).
The MP3 participant is likely to be a Spotify integration — or one other music streaming service — that permits you to play tracks from a single playlist, as a substitute of permitting discoverability options. That approach it prevents you from spending an excessive amount of time on the telephone trying to find music.
“We don’t need e mail, we don’t need social media, no leisure.”
Sadly, none of those options can be found but, however I’ll replace this part as they launch later this yr. Gentle mentioned there’s a likelihood different instruments will come to the telephone as nicely, together with voice memos, notes, a calendar, a climate app, and a dictionary, however there’s no assure.
However, this is without doubt one of the most fascinating elements of the Gentle Cellphone 2. Most function telephones don’t have entry to companies like ridesharing apps or maps, and those that do — like Nokia telephones operating KaiOS — even have apps like YouTube and Fb, which don’t assist with the issue of proscribing display time. The Gentle Cellphone 2 offers you one of the best of each worlds.
Utilizing the Gentle Cellphone 2
Gentle OS is useless easy to function. There’s a lock display — you’ll be able to add a passcode if you need — and in the event you faucet the center button on the appropriate edge, you’ll be greeted to your apps, which in the intervening time are Cellphone, Alarm, and Settings.
You’ll want to move to the Gentle Dashboard on a pc to activate your telephone throughout setup although, which disrupts the method somewhat. It’s right here which you could join your iCloud account to sync contacts. Android house owners can obtain a VCF (Digital Contact File), or vCard file, from companies resembling Google Contacts and add it to the Gentle Dashboard. My contacts synced to the Gentle Cellphone 2 inside minutes; it was seamless.
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Tendencies
You need to use the Gentle Cellphone 2 as a standalone telephone, or you should utilize it as a secondary system and join your cell quantity to it via provider companies like AT&T’s NumberSync. Gentle can be providing a Gentle Cellphone plan in the event you don’t need to take care of carriers, and it’ll price $30 a month for connectivity.
Again to the telephone, the working system jogs my memory of Home windows Cellular, because it’s purely text-based with just a few icons. It seems to be elegant, fashionable, and it’s efficient. Faucet on a contact, and you’ll see a dialog thread with choices to name the particular person or to kind a message. Tapping something on this E Ink display is somewhat gradual, so you must be affected person. Even waking the display takes a second or two longer than I’d like, however these are minor inconveniences.
Name high quality is powerful, although the speaker doesn’t get as loud as I’d like — you’ll need to hope the particular person on the opposite finish isn’t a smooth speaker.
Texting somebody will drive the display in panorama orientation, which is the way you kind, and typing is a gradual endeavor. Not solely are the keys small, however because the contact response can be gradual, it’s straightforward to mess up. There’s no draggable cursor or autocorrect, so in the event you make a mistake after writing an entire sentence, you’ll have to delete your approach again to the error to right it. It’s annoying, however after utilizing it for just a few days, I’ve gotten used to purposefully typing slower than regular. You can also’t see photos, although emojis are truthful recreation (you simply can’t ship them).
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Tendencies
There are different quirks. The textual content is small, and there’s no choice to resize it; individuals who enlarge their smartphone screens might have issue studying right here. There’s additionally a great deal of ghosting, which is once you see faint photographs and artifacts from a earlier display. The display flashes typically, making a clear slate for the E Ink show to take away these artifacts. Whereas the ghosting didn’t impression my use of the telephone, it may be distracting.
Having a louder speaker, a barely bigger display to allow bigger textual content (and a much bigger keyboard), and a cursor you’ll be able to reposition would have gone a good distance in creating a greater expertise.
It’s not all detrimental. The very best half is the Gentle Cellphone 2’s dimension, weight, and appears. It’s tiny, simply becoming within the palm of my hand, and barely takes up any area in my pocket. The angular look is fashionable and smooth, even when the bezels across the display are thick. The polycarbonate physique is a bit slippery, however it doesn’t really feel low cost as there’s a pleasant weight to it, making the telephone really feel substantial.
The Gentle Cellphone 2 lasted me three days on a single cost. That’s good in the event you’re evaluating it to a smartphone, however dangerous in the event you take a look at the battery life on different E Ink gadgets; a Kindle can final for weeks, for instance. Nonetheless, three days of juice is greater than sufficient for me. On standby, Gentle claims the telephone will last as long as seven days.
I do assume Gentle ought to have added a USB-C charging port as a substitute of a Micro USB port. My smartphone, laptop computer, and mirrorless digicam can all cost with a USB-C cable, however I’ll nonetheless want to make use of a Micro USB cable simply to cost the Gentle Cellphone 2. There are smartphones with USB-C that price $160, so it actually shouldn’t have been a lot hassle for Gentle to incorporate one right here.
It could sound like I haven’t had one of the best expertise with the Gentle Cellphone 2, largely stemming from the quirks of an E Ink display. Whereas the problems are actual, I nonetheless have loved my time with the telephone because it accomplishes its mission: Curb my smartphone dependancy so I can give attention to the individuals and setting round me. The telephone’s minimalist design and visually interesting interface all add to that have.
I can’t use the Gentle Cellphone 2 as a smartphone alternative — it merely wouldn’t work with the character of my job. It’s additionally not the best choice for individuals who hardly use SMS to talk with family and friends — assist for third-party messaging apps could be a boon.
Julian Chokkattu/Digital Tendencies
For me, it’s excellent as a weekend telephone once I need to disconnect. I’ve nonetheless been texting on it a good quantity with my girlfriend, associates, and household, and even took just a few lengthy telephone calls. Not having different notifications always popping up on the telephone once I’m out and about is satisfying, and it additionally makes coming house to a smartphone crammed with notifications extra gratifying.
However in the end the largest flaw with the Gentle Cellphone 2 is its value. The $350 price ticket is much too excessive for what you get in the intervening time. Whereas most function telephones don’t look as engaging, they are often purchased for filth low cost if all you need to do is textual content and make calls, and you should utilize them as a second telephone if you wish to curb your smartphone utilization.
However in the end the largest flaw with the Gentle Cellphone 2 is its value.
There are additionally methods to limit display time in your current smartphone via options like Display Time on iOS and Google’s Digital Wellbeing on Android. The newest model of Android even has a Focus Mode that permits you to block out notifications from explicit apps. Whereas these instruments aren’t as efficient — and require a little bit of willpower — additionally they gained’t set you again $350.
However it all hinges on how nicely the upcoming “instruments” work and what number of arrive. If Gentle can pull off including options like entry to ridesharing apps, turn-by-turn navigation, and different important instruments with end-to-end experiences, the Gentle Cellphone 2 will likely be providing one thing you gained’t discover on a dumbphone with privateness and digital wellbeing in thoughts.
Value, availability, and guarantee info
The Gentle Cellphone 2 is $350 and is obtainable to order from Gentle’s web site. Indiegogo and Kickstarter backers are getting their items now, however new orders will ship in mid-October. The system works on AT&T, Verizon, and T-Cellular, however Dash subscribers are out of luck.
You should buy a $30 monthly Gentle Cellphone plan from Gentle for connectivity in the event you don’t need to take care of your provider, however you gained’t be capable of sync the telephone quantity along with your private one.
Gentle provides a regular restricted guarantee that covers manufacturing defects for one yr from the date of buy.
The Gentle Cellphone 2 is a promising function telephone that’s held again by its excessive price ticket, however its worth is ready to extend as Gentle releases extra apps for it.
Is there a greater different?
There’s no scarcity of function telephones you should purchase, from the LG Exalt LTE to the Alcatel Go Flip V, however none look as engaging because the Gentle Cellphone 2.
The exception is telephones from HMD International, which makes Nokia-branded telephones. Its function telephones, just like the Nokia 3310 and the Nokia 8110 4G, look good and have sensible options — they usually’re much more reasonably priced. Sadly, they’re not bought straight within the U.S., and whereas you should purchase them on Amazon, they gained’t assist most U.S. networks.
The Punkt MP-02 ought to be thought of because it prices across the identical value and has an identical emphasis on a digital detox, with some sensible performance. There are VoLTE points within the U.S., although, however the firm is engaged on getting provider certifications.
How lengthy will it final?
The Gentle Cellphone 2 will possible final your round two to a few years, perhaps extra, earlier than you begin to have points with battery life. It’s IPX3 rated, which suggests it’s splash-proof and will likely be effective within the rain, however it gained’t survive a dip in a pool. Its lifespan may also depend upon the frequency of updates from Gentle, which nonetheless has to show itself right here.
Do you have to purchase it?
Not in the intervening time. I’ll have to see how nicely the upcoming instruments, like ridesharing and turn-by-turn navigations, work — and it’s possible my advice will change for the higher by then. It’s the Gentle Cellphone 2’s saving grace as a result of a visually interesting working system and engaging telephone design aren’t sufficient causes to purchase it at $350. There are far too many considerably cheaper choices in the event you simply desire a telephone to textual content with and make calls.