I’m a happy iPhone user and have been ever since I gave up my quixotic preoccupation with Blackberries.
Still, I also long, sometimes, for the pre-smartphone era. A time when phones were used mainly to make calls. Not even text, even though they had the crude capacity to do so.
Occasionally, I think as far back as the pre-mobile phone age, regaling with children with tales of leaving home with four quarters in your pocket and no real plan.
The payphone age is dead and gone, but I’ve certainly found myself studying some of the basic, el-cheapo feature phones and wondering if I’d want to roll the clock back. I have an old Motorola Razr flip-phone. I could get it switched back on and JUST MAKE CALLS AGAIN!
But the Razr, state of the art though it once was, looks dated. And all the other anti-smartphones are U-G-L-Y, and they ain’t got no alibi.
Enter this sleek black phone from Swiss design firm Punkt. Designed by Jasper Morrison, the MP01 does calls and texts and that’s it. And at about $300, it costs far less than a Vertu (it’s also sold out through January, according to Punkt’s website).
It’s designed to use a low-tech 2G wireless network, so I gather it will work in lots of places.
I’ve read that it’s a bit smaller than an iPhone, but thicker. Frankly, the MP01 looks exceptionally compelling for all the things it isn’t. It’s a two-colour device: black and white. The screen has no touch functions. The battery probably lasts for days. It answers every complaint about smartphones without bothering to address them.
It also looks very, very cool, partaking of a strain of 20th-century design thinking that strips away all extraneous detail and focuses on function dictating form. Ironically, the iPhone is also an industrial-design object in this vein. But once you get past the thin rectangle of aluminium and glass, with that single button on the front, you’re invited to dive deeply into a world that’s anything that’s stripped down, through a bottomless abyss of apps, apps, apps.
Mind you, the MP01 is one of those contrarian objects that could work better in conception than in action. I have to remind myself how often I need to use the full functionality of my iPhone in everyday like, from paying bills to taking photos to recording sound to watching videos. Then again, I’m not opposed to using my phone to distract myself when I could be using the grey cells for more productive undertaking, or simply profitably disconnected from the internet and doing something that will enrich my inner life.
In any event, it’s at least a pleasant fantasy for me to consider moving through life in a late 1990s bubble. In fact, it might even be worth dropping the $300 on an MP01 to have that options: a beautiful device that doesn’t permit you to do all that much with it besides contemplate its beauty.
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