By Alex Davidson
BoringPhone – Get out of your phone and into your life
A minimalist smartphone with all the useful stuff, none of the distractions
Get out of your phone and into your life!
The BoringPhone is a minimalist smartphone with all the useful stuff, but none of the distracting stuff.
It has the essential smartphone tools that we’ve come to rely on: Calling, texting, a camera, maps, music, podcasts and more.
The key difference is what the BoringPhone doesn’t have: No social media (FB, Twitter, Instagram), no browser and no email.
And there is no way to install those distracting apps.
Why is this a thing?
The BoringPhone is for people who want to spend less time on their phone, and more time doing the things that matter to them.
Smartphones are great, but by design they draw us into spending more and more time on them. What seems like occasional moments checking our phones can quickly add up to a significant chunk of our free time.
There are alternatives, including the old style phone + texting only options, but that involves giving up a lot of useful functions, and also means anytime you use your phone in public, your phone can become a talking point (“Oh, I didn’t know people still used those”, “What is that?”, etc)
There are a whole bunch of good things that can happen if you cut down your smartphone usage
It’s pretty common for us to spend ten, twenty or even thirty hours per week on general unfocused smartphone use. That time can be freed up and redirected towards whatever it is you choose – reading actual books, getting out and exercising, learning something new, starting a side hustle – it’s all there if you have the time.
This one is a little less obvious. Every time you stop a task to check your phone for notifications, you lose focus on what you are doing. The Boring Phone doesn’t have social media or email, which reduces notifications. You’ll still be available for calls or important messages from friends and family, but you won’t be interrupted because a picture of an egg is trending.
We’ve all been guilty of it: Half listening to someone while waiting for them to finish so we can check our phone, or just out and out looking at our phone while we’re talking to people. It’s not the end of the world, but it is nice to be able to really be present with our friends, family and partners. Removing the smartphone can remove barriers and allow the space to truly connect with the people that matter to us.
Privacy and Cost Saving
Smartphones these days are set up to suck up as much data about us as possible. Multiple apps track not just their own usage, but our location and any other data that can be accessed. The BoringPhone slows this deluge down to a trickle. Less data also means less cost. With a BoringPhone you’ll need less data, so you can cut down on your mobile data.
How does it work?
We’ve built the BoringPhone using existing stuff in a new way. We’ve chosen a good solid handset – nicely built, with a decent camera and a good battery. On to that we’ve put a customized Android operating system. Then we’ve selected the best free and open source software. Finally, we’ve removed options for installing new apps.
Each element is well tried and tested, it’s the way we are putting them together that’s a little different. That means that the technological risk for this project is very low. We’ve deliberately gone small scale so that we can put each BoringPhone together manually and check everything is working before sending it out.
Who are you?
We’re based in New Zealand (yes, Lord of the Rings – we’re still getting mileage from that). Friends since we were little, we’re both keen to create useful, positive stuff in the world.
Alex Davidson works as an insurance lawyer, but in his spare time likes to do more exciting things, including film making, music and keeping up to date with technology.
Jasper Mackenzie is a data scientist and part-time mad professor. From electric cars to big data, all technology deserves some focused tinkering.
Risks and challenges
For this project we are using existing stuff, combined together in a new way. The generic handset that we are planning to use has been commercially available for some time with no issues reported.
The software we are using is also is in active use by over 1.7m users, and well supported.
The first prototype we have put together has been running smoothly for months.
We have chosen a relatively small, limited run. This allows us to hand build each unit and check it before shipping. The small number also means we can provide personalised technical support in the event any users need a bit of assistance.
Any hardware project carries some risk. However, by using existing hardware and software, we are confident that we can produce a successful product for all our backers.