This $300 Phone Made Me More Present Than My iPhone Ever Could

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The Light Phone 2 doesn’t highlight the highest specs like Apple’s iPhone 13 Where Samsung Galaxy S22. Instead, its best features are actually what it lacks. It deliberately lacks many familiar phone tools like a camera and an internet browser because it’s designed to be used as infrequently as possible. As a smartphone-weary girl who spends too much time online, I was immediately intrigued by the deliberately basic phone and I knew I had to try it. So I said goodbye to my iPhone 11 for a week and used the $299 Light Phone 2 instead. I wanted to see if it could become my new everyday phone, and it almost can.

There’s no email, web browser, news or camera and no social media apps like Instagram or TikTok. The only feature I initially missed was social media, but that was quickly replaced with more comfortable using my phone – which is the whole point of this phone. I loved how much more I was present with my friends, family and those around me. What this phone didn’t end up being my favorite part of using it.

The Light Phone 2 has an E Ink screen.

Jessica Fierro/CBS

What’s in the Light Phone 2?

The phone is available in two utility colors: light gray and black. It can call, send SMS, be used as access point and alarm. Tools for music, podcasts, navigation and calculator can be added. Additional features, such as a voice memo tool, are planned for the near future. Unlike most modern phones, it Is have a headphone jack. There’s also Bluetooth support for connecting wireless headphones and an e-Paper or E Ink display similar to what you’ll find on eReaders.

light phone 2 tools and headphone jack

The Light Phone 2 works with select US carriers or with its own service plan.

Jessica Fierro/CBS

Depending on your location, you can choose between a US or international version of the phone. It comes unlocked with 4G LTE connectivity, and while it’s compatible with select carriers, Light also has its own service plans for US users. Since this phone is not compatible with my current smartphone carrier, Xfinity Mobile, I opted for the $70 per month Light service plan with unlimited talk, text, and data. There’s also a $30 per month plan with unlimited calls and texts and 1GB of data. Additionally, if you sign up for a one-year Light service plan, you can purchase the Light Phone 2 for $99.

Unlike using an iPhone or Android, you oversee your Light service plan, add phone tools, contacts, and up to 1GB of audio files to the phone from a website called the dashboard. Once files are downloaded through this interface, they appear on the Light Phone within minutes as long as you are connected to Wi-Fi or LTE.

light phone back 2

It doesn’t have a camera on the back, so I had to use my current camera to take pictures instead.

Jessica Fierro/CBS

What can Light Phone 2 do?

Although it is location dependent, in my experience LTE and hotspot tethering work seamlessly. When I connect my laptop to my personal Light hotspot network, I can stream videos just as easily as when connected to Wi-Fi. The phone’s 4G LTE works well for quickly applying updates, importing dashboard files on the device and access directions.

I also enjoyed the music experience on this phone. 1GB of audio is enough to store music for a week, and I really liked the focused listening that comes with not having a seemingly endless library at hand. It made me more intentional when selecting music to download and more present when listening to songs. Since I knew they were all I had, I listened more carefully and, as a result, enjoyed the music more. Songs appear in a playlist, but the search bar makes it easy to find specific artists and songs. New podcast episodes are automatically imported once a series is selected in the dashboard if the device is connected to Wi-Fi or LTE.

As for battery life, with regular use, I spent a day or two before needing to recharge. However, if I was doing something more data-intensive, like importing files from the dashboard over LTE, I would have to log in twice a day. As for directions, Bluetooth, alarm and calculator, these tools work well and exactly as you expect.

The one feature I never really got used to was texting because of the phone’s E Ink screen. For one thing, this screen doesn’t emit blue light and can be read outdoors because it doesn’t create glare, which I love. After all, looking blue light can cause stress on the eyes and can adversely affect your sleep.

lightweight phone 2 texting

Typing on the Light Phone 2 is slow.

Jessica Fierro/CBS

But the E Ink screen is also less responsive than that of a regular phone, and I couldn’t get used to its slower typing pace. Sending simple text became quite time-consuming as I waited for each letter to be typed, and there are no auto-correction or copy-and-paste features to help compose messages faster. However, the phone’s voice-to-text option is very accurate, which helps speed up texting if you prefer talking rather than typing.

The Light Phone 2 currently sells for $299, which is much cheaper than my iPhone but more expensive than many budget phone models. Unless you’re really looking for a simpler type of phone, Samsung’s Galaxy A series has several options well below $300, like the $250 Galaxy A13, which includes support for 5G. And if you’re not ready to give up your smartphone but want to use it less, maybe consider turning it on screen time checks.

light phone 2 and iphone

The Light Phone 2 and the iPhone 11.

Jessica Fierro/CBS

I loved using the Light Phone 2 because its features are generally solid and what it didn’t let me experience in the moment in a way I’m not used to using my iPhone. That being said, it doesn’t really make sense for me to make the switch permanently because I work in social media and need some form of mobile access to apps like Instagram and TikTok to stay up to date with trends.

While it’s not possible for me to use Light Phone 2 exclusively at this point, this challenge got me thinking about using Light Phone 2 as my primary phone and my iPhone as my secondary phone. If nothing else, it’s helped me be more intentional about how I interact with my smartphone. Less time spent scrolling aimlessly on TikTok, and more face-to-face time with my family, friends, and the world around me.

To learn more about my time with the Light Phone 2, watch my video trying out the phone in my daily life.

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