No-Apps Phone Could Cost $799

John Lister's picture

The makers of a low-tech phone say they want people to use it as little as possible. But they've added a "proper" screen that brings the price up to $399.

The third incarnation of the Light Phone continues to raise questions about exactly who the intended users are, though the makers say sales have topped 100,000. (Source:

Previous versions had virtually no features: the Light Phone 2 made phone calls and accepted text messages, but had no Internet browser or installable apps. Instead it simply performed a few basic built-in tasks such as playing music files, giving driving directions and storing calendar information. It had no camera and an e-ink display similar to that seen in devices like Amazon's Kindle.

It was a slightly bizarre proposition as it didn't appear suitable as a primary handset. Most people would consider it lacked key features, while those happy with a bare-bones phone could find considerably cheaper "dumb phones" on the market. It seemed the main audience was people with enough cash to buy a second handset to use when going through a "digital detox" or trying to avoid distraction, but still wanting to be reachable.

Cameras Added

The Light Phone 3 makes things even more confusing as it adds several features that users reportedly couldn't do without. This includes a new screen that, while still black and white, uses a more traditional OLED panel rather than e-ink, meaning the refresh rate isn't as visibly slow.

It also has front and rear cameras, though with no on-device editing facilities. Instead its designed for basic screenshots and scanning QR codes, though it can theoretically make video calls. The new model also has an NFC chip, though doesn't yet have any associated software for making payments.

Price Will Double

The question of why anyone would buy this instead of a smartphone (or to use alongside a main phone) comes back into focus with the pricing. $399 is simply a pre-order price, with a plan that the standard retail cost will be $799 unless sales are large enough to reduce production costs. (Source:

Ultimately it seems the main audience is still people who want some of the key features of the modern phone but without the distraction of countless apps and notifications. Why they can't simply buy a normal smartphone and control what apps they use and their notification settings may be more of an issue with the user than the device.

What's Your Opinion?

Would you want to use a "distraction free" phone? What features and tools on a phone are truly must-have for you? Can such devices really help people who feel addicted to apps and notifications?

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Dennis Faas's picture

You can find much cheaper dumb phones for considerably less on Amazon that have more options and a color screen (for as low as $25). I can't imagine anyone in their right mind wanting to pay $799 for a phone that doesn't have the capability of using apps from Google Play or the App Store.

ronangel1's picture

depending on what it has which can't be seen without seeing the full spec, if has no GPS and Bluetooth, it could be for people that don't want to be tracked or of the type that uses burner phones for this reason.

kitekrazy's picture

Some time ago there was an article on the Register with a similar flip phone. That site is what a lot of tech people subscribe to. They prefer these type of phones in their work environment. I'd never want to use my own phone for work.
For some the imitations are benefit. Not at $799.