Life moves pretty fast. Ferris Bueller was onto something when he said if you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it. With the modern day reality that smartphones are essentially an extension of our bodies, that statement feels even more true than ever. One saving grace is the digital detox, or at least a pared down version of limiting your technology to only what you actually need.
I decided to put this idea to the test by putting down my own smartphone and picking up the Light Phone II from Huckberry. Bueller himself could have developed the Light Phone II. It takes out all the extras modern phones have and provides a minimalist approach to smartphone technology with only the essentials: calling, texting, alarms, contacts, and hotspot capabilities.
If you’re like my kids, your first reaction is to say, well just turn on focus functionality on your current smartphone. That’s like saying if you don’t want to eat that big piece of chocolate cake, then just put it in the fridge. If it’s there, you can’t help but think about taking a bite (or, in this case, a swipe).
The Light Phone II is about the size of a credit card and sits comfortably in the palm of your hand. The small, sleek, dark gray design is the definition of simplicity. It comes in a simple black box with easy instructions to get you started. The website, like the phone, is simple to use and walks you through set up in just a few steps so it’s ready to use in minutes. You can choose to use the SIM card provided and set up a new phone number, or swap in your current SIM card and have instant access to your contacts.
You’ll need a phone plan, which starts at about $30 a month. For those who quickly will say they don’t need the extra monthly bill, I’ll ask this: If you could have a minimum of two hours a day of uninterrupted peace and quiet with no distractions for $1 a day, would you do it?
Specs: Light Phone II
- Size: 2.25” by 4.75”
- A universal SIM card that you can activate with T-Mobile, Verizon, AT&T, Mobile PCS (or the option for the Light Service Plan that offers full coverage in the USA for a low cost)
- Talk, text, alarms, contacts, calculator, music, and hotspot capabilities
- Optional streamlined podcast player
Putting the Light Phone II To the Test
I decided to use the company’s SIM card and put in the contacts of my immediate family and business partner. I set up a focus message on my full phone that said if you needed to reach me, call my Light Phone. If you had the number, you knew where to find me. If you didn’t, well, that’s the point.
Here’s what it was like to use the Light Phone II in my daily life for a week.
Day 1: Being Present
My wife and I decided to go to a local brewery for dinner, and I ditched the smartphone and picked up my Light Phone II. Once you don’t have your “other” phone, you realize how often you would pick it up, swipe, and scroll mindlessly. Surveys have found that Americans check their phone somewhere between 96 and 344 times a day — meaning anywhere from every 10 waking minutes to about every four. That sounds right.
Instead of treating the drive to the brewery as downtime to check my phone, I paid attention to the drive itself. We live in a beautiful area filled with farmland that leads to a small quaint town with great restaurants. I had no idea we had this many deer! I was more focused and present, and felt my heart rate slow as I appreciated the beauty of where we live instead of paying attention to a constant stream of notifications.
At dinner, I felt the same peace. No longer was I picking up my phone during moments of silence, but instead was more in tune with the conversation and picking up cues that I would never notice otherwise. I was saying hello to more people walking by. I focused more on the food in front of me. Hell, I even realized for the first time that the breweries had pool tables in the far corner. Did this all happen because I didn’t have my big smartphone and all of its distractions? I think so.
Day 2: A Reevaluation of Time
At lunchtime, I walked into town and picked up my food with my Light Phone II. I spent my time looking up and around instead of down at a screen. I’ve walked this route for food countless times, and now realize someone is putting in a new coffee shop near work. I struck up far more conversations and hellos with people along the way than usual. I noticed the nice weather and enjoyed the quiet sounds of my sneakers hitting the pavement. The walk felt longer in a good way, like my lunch break was twice the time as usual.
Day 3: A Better Night’s Sleep and Following Morning
At night, I swapped out my phone with the Light Phone II. Out of the 344-or-so times I check my phone each day, about 10 of those are through the night. That’s insane. With the Light Phone II at the bedside table, I stopped checking for who knows what on my phone and went back to sleep. The simple design of the Light Phone also eliminates much of the harsh phone light that disrupts sleep.
I also tend to look at email and the news first thing in the morning, and that’s often more than just negative light to start the day. The Light Phone allowed me to skip the doom scrolling and set a positive tone for the morning.
Day 4: A Better Game Day Experience
I sat and watched an NFL football game. Does anyone remember back in the day when you would sit and watch an entire game and not miss key plays because you were staring at your phone? Instead of picking up my phone and sending a stupid meme about a bad play, I tuned in to the game and the wing, guac, and chips, and tuned out the side commentary online. Whether your team wins or loses, an uninterrupted three hours of enjoying the game without distractions is a victory.
Day 5: Actually Tuning Out
I went to my studio and painted with my Light Phone 2. I like to paint because it keeps me focused and present and eliminates the noise and distractions of my phone. Do you know what tends to break that flow? When I have my regular phone and check it. For no reason, I’ll pick up my phone and then wonder how oil paint got all over it. With the Light Phone II in hand, I was far more dialed into actually painting and the original intention of tuning out.
Day 6: Better Quality Time
I sat with my son and put together a LEGO set with only the Light Phone II at my side. I put together LEGOS from time to time for the same reason I like to paint. I encouraged my son to put his phone away as well and the conversations were far more engaging than normal. We talked about soccer and how life was at college, and I learned more in that LEGO session with no distractions than I would have learned in 10 LEGO sessions had we both had our regular phones in hand.
Day 7: Getting Lost, But Finding a Solution
I went to dinner with my kids. Like night one, I was completely engaged, but when I left the restaurant and couldn’t find my car. I picked up my Light Phone 2 and called my daughter to remind me of the cross streets. It was simple to make a call and the sound quality of the phone was excellent.
The Verdict: Is the Light Phone II Worth It?
After a week of using the Light Phone II, I was calmer, more engaged, and realized there was a hell of a lot of life going on around me when I stopped staring at my phone. Is the Light Phone II a life changer? I wouldn’t go that far. There are things I wish it had so that I could use it even more, such as maps or Spotify. But I suppose if you add more and more, it becomes just another smartphone — though navigation and rideshare capabilities are said to be on the horizon in subsequent updates.
I will say there is a lot to love about it. Simplicity, for one. Texting is challenging, but the microphone is great, allowing you to dictate messages to contacts easily. You have just enough for what you need and not for what you don’t.
Beyond the idea of simplifying my life, this phone should be the first phone that any parent gets for their child. If a child needs a phone, the Light Phone II gives you the connection and eliminates the distractions they don’t need at an early age.
I absolutely recommend this phone as a holiday gift — what a way to give someone their life back. You can easily find a few hours a day where this phone is more than what you need, and you’ll realize there is far more to life than staring at a screen for an initial payment and a few bucks a month.