Reality check: How often do you use your phone to actually make a phone call? There was a brief time where phones were about utility, but thanks to the glut of apps we’ve all downloaded they’re mostly about distracting us, diverting our attention, filling every quiet moment at the expense of human connection. (Not to mention the risks involved in giving a young child a phone and hoping they don’t bump into inappropriate content, send inappropriate pictures or communicate inappropriate things).
You know I’m out here loving technology, but there’s a lot to be critical of.
So like many of you, I’m always on the hunt for phones that can help us be on them less, and connect with human beings more. I’ve talked about light phone on the blog before —a striking, yet extreme option for digital minimalists— and I’ve worked with Gabb Wireless in the past, who offer a nice option for kids. But here’s something that I think would appeal to many more people: The Wisephone by Techless.
A phone that respects your privacy and honors your human connections, but keeps you connected intentionally.Shop Now
Wisephone looks like a regular phone, because it runs on one— your hardware will either be a Moto e or a Google Pixel 4a, depending on the model you purchase. This means you can easily buy cases for it, and you’ll be incognito among friends while you enjoy your new minimalist phone experience. In addition to being “a phone, pure and simple,” you’ll have a few other utilitarian features: Messages, contacts, a calculator, maps and a camera (music & podcast features are in development).
That’s it. No social media, no games, no Postmates, Uber, Amazon… imagine it. Bye-bye ads. So long, distractions. It lets you stay connected, without being distracted. You get your life back. The interface is lovely: creamy backgrounds and serif fonts are more New York Times than Times Square. Even the notifications are pleasant— and infrequent. I know that I often leave my phone out on the table at lunch “in case my kids call,” but I end up being called to look at the screen numerous times for ridiculous reasons that aren’t at all urgent, and… I’m sorry what was that you were saying? Your IRL connection was broken.
For parents, there’s a hub that lets you monitor calls, texts, location history and more. Kids can’t delete messages they’ve sent or received. In case you guys don’t know how I feel about “your kid’s privacy” at these young ages, here it is: They shouldn’t have any. Knowing that their parents can see anything they write or receive is a good way to make this a training device for a future phone… everything becomes a teachable moment, and they learn good digital citizenship skills from Day one (the portal is $99/year).
Plus no all-day tracking, games, or video streaming means the battery lasts a ridiculously long time and you need a teeny fraction of the data your phone would normally demand (Wisephone is compatible with most well-known cellular networks, and they recommend only 1GB per month to start).
If you’re looking for your phone to bother you less (many of us are) but not make it difficult to stay connected in the ways we’ve become accustomed, Wisephone seems like the right balance.