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Kyocera’s new business card-sized phone is the thinnest ever

It’s the latest contender in the dumb phone wars–and a sign of the times.

Kyocera’s new business card-sized phone is the thinnest ever
[Photo: Docomo]

I’m impressed. With its 0.2-inch metal body the size of a credit card and its e-ink display, the new KY-01L is a sight to behold; a black monolith that promises intelligent use of digital resources and a healthy life almost free of distractions. It looks like just what I wanted and yet, I find myself thinking: Is too simple just inadequate?

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[Photo: Docomo]
I’ve been hoping for a simple phone for long time–one that’s thin, light, and efficient, and can do all the basics, like calls, messaging, GPS, and appointments. A slew of smartphone makers are now obliging, most recently Palm, which launched a tiny smartphone with a similar angle earlier this month.

On Friday, the Japanese electronics manufacturer Kyocera and carrier NTT Docomo debuted their own take on digital minimalism: the KY-01L. At 1.6 ounces, it claims to be the thinnest and lightest in the world. With LTE speeds and a 2.8-inch e-ink display, its 380mAh battery will power the phone for days. The cost? $280.

It all sounded great to me until reality set in. First of all, the KY-01L doesn’t have a camera and, since I’m one of those dads with a baby, I can’t live without one. Then there’s the issue of apps: This phone runs Android, but you can’t install applications–which means no banking or car sharing, for starters. There’s a web browser, but that’s about it.

[Photo: Docomo]
Then again, living without those conveniences is part of the point. Perhaps I can live without them–and perhaps not. There may be a point at which digital minimalism becomes more of a nuisance than digital well-being is worth, and it will be up to us to decide where that threshold is. In the end, I think that digital well-being is less about limiting our devices, and more about pushing our minds to be more focused.

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About the author

Jesus Diaz founded the new Sploid for Gawker Media after seven years working at Gizmodo, where he helmed the lost-in-a-bar iPhone 4 story. He's a creative director, screenwriter, and producer at The Magic Sauce and a contributing writer at Fast Company.

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