The Light Phone is a cellphone that was released last year with an interesting premise: strip away all the extraneous, distracting pieces of modern smartphones — like internet, texting, email, and photography — to leave the distilled essence of a phone. It could make calls and store nine phone numbers, but that was about it.
It was an interesting idea, promising a life where you could remove the distractions of a regular smartphone while not cutting off the rest of the world entirely, but it was ultimately a little too limited.
The Light Phone II is the successor to the original Light Phone, and it takes that same minimalist idea but adds a few more features to make it more feasible to use as a regular phone.
The Light Phone II shares the same matte design of the original, but instead of an illuminated 10-digit number pad, it has an E-Ink touchscreen. It also has 4G support and a few new features, including the ability to send text messages. Light is also exploring adding some more advanced features, including basic maps, music, or hailing a ride through a company like Uber.
Unlike the original Light Phone, which only worked with phone calls and was easier to forward things to from your “main” phone, the Light Phone II is meant to be more of a standalone device. I’m a big fan of the concept, even if it’s not the sort of phone I can see myself using full time. (I’m too tied to the internet on my smartphone, for better or for worse.) I could absolutely see myself using it when I want to be a little less connected, like when I’m on vacation or at the beach.
The Light Phone II is still pretty early in the process; the company is still finalizing specifications, features, and hardware, and it doesn’t even expect to ship the phone until April 2019. (It’s also worth keeping in mind that Light promised a May 2016 delivery date from its original 2015 campaign for the first Light Phone, which didn’t end up shipping to backers until January 2017, so that April date may be optimistic.)
It’s also a crowdfunded product, so the usual disclaimers about using your own discretion before backing still apply (although Light has shipped a working product before).
The Light Phone II is available to back on Indiegogo for $225, an early bird price off of a planned $400 price tag.