Giving The Dumbphone A Whirl

It's quiet uptown ... or anywhere else you don't take your smartphone.

Less has really started to seem like more for me lately. In a pique of frustration over how distracted and low-key anxious I have felt, I deleted my social media accounts (except for one, which I need for work) and switched to a dumbphone. It hasn’t been life changing, but the feeling has been something akin to stepping outside of a crowded building and taking off your COVID mask to breathe the crisp, autumn air. I’ve sort of eased into it over the past few weeks, but right now I don’t miss it.

The particular phone I settled on was the Punkt MP-02. It’s an elegant device, the VoLTE capability of which is supported by my carrier. It also supports tethering. A dumbphone that supports tethering fills a pretty valuable niche in my opinion, since it allows me to connect my laptop to my cell provider if I’m in a pinch. The killer feature, though, is that their most recent software update has added support for secure messaging via Signal. (Their implementation is called Pigeon, although it interoperates with the same Signal service smartphone users are familiar with. I assume the name was changed because the app was done by Punkt.) Because it’s a dumbphone, this turns out to be the only way to do group messaging on the MP-02.

The only other thing I’ll say about the phone is that complaints about the software quality, while they may have been accurate at the time, ring hollow today. Presumably they’ve managed to work out a lot of the early bugs, the device having been out for well over a year now. I’m not expecting much in the way of new features, but that is itself a feature.

If not for the MP-02’s Signal compatibility, I likely would have ended up with the much cheaper Nokia 6300 4G. I’d be curious to hear from anyone using that phone about their experience, as I’d like to be able to recommend something to folks bit by the same bug I’ve caught, but who don’t find Signal compatability worth thrice the price.