You do not have to look far to discover a motive to disconnect from all of the difficulties that the trendy web throws our approach. Between the fixed pings, countless feeds, and numerous issues we have to get completed, there’s all the time a motive to verify your cellphone. That is the place the Gentle Cellphone 2 is available in, a barebones cellphone that has extra in widespread with cell telephones from the early 2000s than trendy tech. You need to use it as a second machine, or in case you’re feeling daring, you’ll be able to put down your smartphone and make the Gentle Cellphone your each day driver.
You may surrender issues like entry to your financial institution app of option to pay payments, no option to verify in with your pals exterior of a textual content or name, and no option to stream any tunes you’ve got saved on Spotify or Apple Music, however that is that time. At $300, although, it is not less expensive than many funds telephones that may do much more, so you actually must decide to the Gentle Cellphone’s philosophy of utilizing your cellphone as little as doable.
$299 at gentle years
An easier cellphone
The Gentle Cellphone 2 is barely taller than a pack of playing cards and appears like a mixture between an iPhone and a Kindle Paperwhite. On the highest of the machine there’s a energy button and a headphone jack (the Gentle Cellphone helps music playback, however you’ll be able to’t stream something), and on the precise facet there’s a quantity toggle and a menu button for the machine OS.
The amount rockers had been a bit odd as a result of as a substitute of the up and down buttons being proper subsequent to one another, they’re separated from the menu button. This will really feel unusual at first, and earlier than I bought used to it, I discovered myself hitting the menu button after I meant to show down the amount on a name.
The display screen, which is just below three inches diagonally, is considerably smaller than the display screen you’d discover on any trendy smartphone, nevertheless it additionally does not have to indicate practically as a lot info. Like Amazon’s Kindle e-reader, the Gentle Cellphone makes use of an e-ink show that appears extra like ink on paper than dots on a grid of lights.
In contrast to the extra subtle screens on Amazon’s readers, nonetheless, the Gentle Cellphone’s show suffers from occasional ghosting (artifacts or small items of earlier pages) and many gentle bleeding. In rooms and not using a ton of sunshine, it is easy to see the cellphone’s backlight by means of the highest and backside of the show, and whereas it is not horrible, it is not what you’d count on from a $300 machine.
The cellphone is sufficiently small to carry in a single hand, however the smaller dimension has a serious disadvantage: It isn’t nice for making calls. As a result of the machine is brief at just below 4 inches tall, you’ll be able to’t simply sandwich it between your ear and shoulder like you can a bigger smartphone.
This additionally signifies that the microphone just isn’t as near your mouth as it will be with different gadgets. In observe, name high quality is generally good, even with a spotty connection. In my take a look at, the particular person on the opposite finish might hear me simply effective with a single bar of service, however I had hassle listening to them a number of occasions throughout an extended name.
Again to fundamentals
Once you activate the Gentle Cellphone, which takes a little bit over a minute to totally boot up, you are greeted with a barebones interface that allows you to navigate between the Cellphone app, Alarms app, and Settings. In the event you’ve synced podcasts or songs to your machine (which you’ll be able to solely do by way of the corporate’s net portal), these will even seem.
There are additionally apps for navigation and a hotspot characteristic, though they must be activated by means of Gentle’s net dashboard, so you’ll be able to’t use these options proper out of the field. Setting every thing up was straightforward sufficient, however there may be an additional step concerned that makes it much less streamlined than every other trendy machine.
Once you allow the hotspot characteristic, the excellent news is that it really works surprisingly properly. Connecting is as straightforward as turning off the characteristic, going to your Wi-Fi settings on one other machine and connecting as you’ll every other community. Speeds range relying in your plan and your service’s protection, however on Easy Cellular (which connects to T-Cellular towers) in an space with first rate protection, my iPhone has no drawback connecting to the Gentle Cellphone hotspot.
Navigating the Gentle Cellphone interface can be a breeze. Urgent the menu button on the facet will take you to a menu of all of your put in apps so you’ll be able to simply swap between them. The Cellphone app means that you can place calls from a dialpad, add new contacts to your deal with guide, search your contacts or arrange a brand new SMS.
Composing these messages is difficult although: the e-ink show is not notably responsive, so there is a little bit of a lag between while you contact the display screen and when it registers within the system, so in case you’re a quick man, you would possibly find yourself making extra typos as you might be used to.
Thankfully, for individuals who discover the typing expertise on the Gentle Cellphone painful, there’s a voice-to-text characteristic that works properly sufficient. In my testing, it picked up every thing I stated with out a lot hassle, however there have been some funky little hiccups that you just will not discover on an iOS or Android machine.
For instance, saying “Hey there, how’s it going” on an iPhone would produce the next textual content: “Hey there, how’s it going?” However, doing this on the Gentle Cellphone produces a message that “Hey there. How are you query mark?”
Relying in your service, organising the Gentle Cellphone 2 as a secondary machine while you wish to flip off the flurry of notifications out of your smartphone is usually a painful endeavor. Regardless of Verizon’s web site claiming that the Gentle Cellphone is supported, some Redditors have famous points with Verizon’s Quantity Share service. To Gentle’s credit score, they stated they requested Verizon to replace their web site with the proper details about compatibility with the Gentle Cellphone, however that does not appear to be occurring but.
Since I could not join my Gentle Cellphone to my current cellphone quantity, I selected a pay as you go plan from Easy Cellular. It labored completely, and I by no means had issues connecting to the community, however the lack of compatibility with my main service’s service defeated the aim of getting a secondary machine that would nonetheless maintain all my messages and calls. As an alternative, I ended up with two telephones with two separate numbers, and tried to persuade my associates to textual content the sunshine cellphone quantity as a substitute of my iPhone, typically to no avail.
Nevertheless, Gentle sells its personal cellphone plans that run on AT&T’s towers: $30 monthly for limitless calls and messages with 1GB of information, and $70 monthly for limitless calls and messages, and knowledge for hotspot use. It’s also possible to switch your cellphone quantity to its service (I wasn’t in a position to take a look at this characteristic), so if you do not have AT&T and do not thoughts leaving your community, you will have a a lot simpler time getting the Gentle Cellphone 2 arrange.
The way it felt to truly swap off
Throughout the first few days of carrying the Gentle Cellphone round, I felt refreshed. The pull to verify my social media feeds or learn one thing attention-grabbing to keep away from boredom turned much less frequent, and I solely textual content associates after I actually really feel like speaking or assembly. It felt good to not see an countless stream of notifications.
After just a few days, nonetheless, the cracks began to indicate. I could not shortly Google the reply to a query scratching in the back of my mind, scan a QR code to see a restaurant’s menu, and even do a fast search to discover a place to eat. Not solely did I escape the worst elements of a pc in your pocket, I missed all of the conveniences that the identical machine offers nearly each hour.
You possibly can alleviate a few of this by conserving your smartphone close by and solely utilizing it by way of the Gentle Cellphone’s hotspot when you should verify one thing shortly, however then that sort of defeats the aim of the cutout – you are simply giving your self extra steps to get what you want.
In the event you use the Gentle Cellphone as your each day driver, one can find your self within the face of inconvenience as typically as you used to verify your Instagram. However, utilizing it along side a smartphone defeats the aim of actually being separate, and it simply takes up more room in your pocket or bag.
The ultimate verdict
There’s loads to love about what the Gentle Cellphone 2 presents: It is a compact, easy cellphone that does not bombard you with fixed notifications. It excels on this, nevertheless it additionally turns into instantly clear how tough it’s to use the idea. Issues like spotty navigation, a laggy display screen that makes texting tough (plus subpar voice-to-text), and an absence of helpful third-party apps depart you with simply the fundamentals, and few choices to increase with out taking one other machine with you put on
In the event you’re dying to tune out the digital world, the Gentle Cellphone 2 presents a approach to take action with out utterly disconnecting, however you would possibly end up wanting little issues like a digital camera or doing a fast Google search to see what the Tom Cruise film was proven The Lego Batman Film. For $300, you are giving up greater than what the Gentle Cellphone 2 offers again.
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Costs had been appropriate on the time this text was printed, however might change over time.