Minimalist Phones

Category: Technology/Innovations


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. in-between / ˌɪn bɪˈtwin / (adj.) – having the characteristics of two different things

    She couldn’t decide whether to have a formal event or a casual party, so she decided to do something in-between.

  2. as (something) as it gets / æz əz ɪt gɛts / (idiom) – often used to describe how extremely good, bad, etc. someone or something could be

    In my opinion, relaxing on the beach while sipping margaritas is as good as it gets!

  3. text / tɛkst / (v.) – to send a short message by mobile phone

    Please text me when you get home

  4. at the end of the day / æt ði ɛnd əv thuh deɪ / (idiom) – considering everything, after everything’s done

    I can give you advice, but at the end of the day, it’s your decision.

  5. stripped-down / strɪpt daʊn / (adj.) – reduced to the simplest or most essential parts

    I love the stripped-down version of the song. With only vocals and one guitar, you can really feel the emotion behind it.


Read the text below.

Smartphones are getting bigger, more expensive and packed with more high-tech features. But if you want a simpler digital lifestyle, they might be too much.

You could try a feature phone. Today’s feature phones can do a lot of things, but not very well. They’re mainly just for calling people.

But maybe you want something in-between. Something like the Light Phone II. The original Light Phone, released in 2017, was as basic as it gets: You could use it for phone calls, but that was it. It was the size of a credit card, with glowing white numbers on a smooth plastic case.

The updated Light Phone II can do a lot more. It can tell you how to get someplace. It can play music or podcasts. It has simple apps like an alarm and a calculator. It comes in black. But it’s still a minimalist phone. There’s no camera or web browser. No social media.

The screen is e-ink. That means it’s gentle on your eyes, and that’s good. But the screen is slow when you’re texting, and that’s bad. Still, at the end of the day, you’ll spend more time calling people rather than texting. And that’s very good.

In the end, the Light Phone II is great if you want to take a break from your smartphone. You can enjoy the world outside the internet and still feel safe knowing that people can call you if they need to. At around ¥58,000, though, it’s a lot to pay just to lighten your digital load.

If you’re looking for a cheaper alternative, there are plenty of tiny feature-light phones. They can be as cheap as a few thousand yen up to around ¥30,000. These stripped-down phones may not do much besides make calls, but they may be perfect for minimalists — or as a child’s first phone. (T)

This article was provided by The Japan Times Alpha.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

  • Smartphones are getting bigger, more expensive, and packed with more high-tech features. What smartphone features are a must-have for you (ex. high-quality camera, internet browser)? What features can you live without? Why? Discuss.
  • The author says that with the Light Phone II, you’ll spend more time calling people rather than texting. However, in recent years, it seems like many people prefer texting over making phone calls. Why do you think this is? Which do you personally prefer? Discuss.

Discussion B

  • The Light Phone II costs around ¥58,000. Do you think it’s reasonable to pay that much for a phone with no camera, web browser, or social media? Why or why not? Discuss.
  • The author suggests that stripped-down phones may be perfect as a child’s first phone. Do you agree? In your opinion, when should children get their first phone (ex. when they start elementary school, not until they’re a teenager)? At what age did you get your first phone? Discuss.