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Wanted: A Cell Phone That's as Simple as Possible

John's Phone is a rebuke to all the smartphones out there that ooze useless special features.

Wanted: A Cell Phone That's as Simple as Possible

At a time when smartphones seem poised to supplant laptops, John's Phone looks like a risky proposal: It's a cell phone that makes and accepts calls. That's it.

As the designers, John Doe Amsterdam, tell it, the idea here is to restore a modicum of simplicity to modern communication. Your average cell phone has more special features — cameras, GPS, ringtones galore — than most users know what to do with. Paring it down to the most basic service and doing it up in an ultra-basic, almost toy-like interface with an oversized number pad and graphic call and hangup keys makes cell technology accessible to everyone, whether an 8-year-old kid or an 84-year-old granny. And the price is right: John's Phone costs 70 to 80 Euros ($90 to $105), which is cheaper than most smartphones (especially when you factor in elaborate monthly plans).

[Adding to the appeal for older users, the phone includes a paper pad and pen for jotting down numbers and addresses]

The question is whether John's Phone can find a market beyond kids and grannies. We reckon so, but it's limited. John Doe have smartly designed the phone to work anywhere in the world, giving them an in among tech-savvy users frustrated at all the rigmarole they have to go through to get their smart phone to work abroad. John's Phone could be a temporary fix in the same vein as the pay-as-you-go phones you buy at airports. In other words, it wouldn't replace smart phones — people are too attached to features John's Phone happily eschews, like text messaging and email — but it'd be a handy second line for travelers.

The catch: John's Phone doesn't fill orders in the United States, owing to "custom and insurance formalities" — whatever that means. Of course, you can always have it shipped to your great-aunt in Canada. But watch out: She might wanna poach it for herself.

[Images via John's Phone]