Many of us fantasize about life without a smartphone. Sure, navigating the world without Google Maps would be a pain. But no push notifications, no social networks, no squinting at 4-inch screens, either. It could be a worthy trade-off! The only problem is, even if dumbphones are the obvious solution to an overconnected world, they simply aren’t practical for those of us who have to answer email after 5 p.m. We have jobs to do, and jobs to keep.
But a new phone from Punkt may have finally found a workable compromise between connection and disconnection. Its new model MP02, designed by minimalist demigod Jasper Morrison, gives you access to the internet–it’s just that, to paraphrase Punkt on the topic, it doesn’t let the internet access you.
Punkt is the Swiss manufacturer that’s been part of a dumbphone comeback of late. It’s not alone. Nokia has re-released its uber successful 3310 (originally year of release, 2000) and 8110 slider (1999!) you may remember seeing in The Matrix on DVD. You can still get a Motorola RAZR because it appears that Motorola never actually stopped making them. Meanwhile, even Samsung and LG have both introduced new dumbphone models within the past year, while Google is dumping tens of millions of dollars into dumb OS. These companies seem to sense that there is some new, viable market for antiquated technologies in a world where 5 billion people have phones, however large or small it proves to be.
Much like its predecessor the MP01, the MP02 is a minimal black slab, more closely resembling a calculator than a phone. It’s not a candybar, but a wedge, meaning it has better ergonomics for making calls. The wedge gives the speaker just a bit of distance from the table, for clearer speakerphone calls, and it’s more comfortable to hold in your hand, assumably because its weight falls toward your palm rather than toward the floor. I also imagine that, holding the phone old-school-style against your shoulder works a lot better in a pinch. Remember these?
What’s new is that the MP02 runs Android OS, with Blackberry Secure messaging. This means you can have threaded text message conversations, with the sort of security a lot of Fortune 500 IT departments demand. But the bigger shift is that while the MP01 had old, 2G internet speeds–basically ensuring it’s so slow you can’t browse the web–the MP02 has modern 4G.
Why give the dumbphone internet access? The internet isn’t really intended for the phone. The internet is intended for devices you attach to it as a hotspot, like a tablet or laptop. The idea is that, with the MP02 in your pocket, you can still get heavy-duty work done on the go. But you can’t really do it from your phone, with its lack of apps and black and white screen; you’ve got to pull the big-boy machines out of your bag, first.
Yes, it’s only a slight point of friction that Punkt is adding, but it’s an important one. How many times have you picked up your phone just to check the time, only to get sucked into the particle accelerator of apps–Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Gmail, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Gmail? By forcing you to work on a larger machine, at the very least, Punkt is preventing your phone from ruining dinner.
The MP02 is available now for $350.