Punkt. MP01 Mobile Review: My Disconnected, Reconnected Weekend
Let’s Give it a Try
Against the sometimes questionable but always well intentioned advice of my mates, I picked up a Punkt MP01. Perhaps you’ve heard about this lo-fi new gadget or even read about it in our preview. It looks like it’s from 1995 (in a good way), but it’s actually a brand new mobile phone that will make and take calls and text messages, but will not, under any circumstances whatsoever, run apps, take photos, or play games. It’s meant for communication. Period.
Punkt MP01 price when reviewed: $295.00
Of course, my friends thought this was crazy. Why, in our app-driven world, would you ditch your smartphone for something that does less than a Blackberry? What if you need to Google something? What if you need directions? What if you need to post a Facebook update or Snapchat that girl you’ve been talking to or kill some time by playing a level on Candy Crush? Then what?
My friends, we are about to find out.
The 48 Hour Punkt Test
had become an
extensionof my arm
Could I survive a weekend without my trusty iPhone 6? And, an even bigger question: could I survive visiting a new city for 48 hours without the modern convenience upon which I’ve come to rely the most? This was my challenge. I activated and charged my new Punkt MP01, left my iPhone on my nightstand, and boarded a train for a short weekend holiday to an undisclosed but popular and well-populated tourist destination.
I have to admit: I was twitchy at first, right out of the door. I guess I always knew that my stupid smartphone had become an extension of my arm in recent years, but I never truly realised how much I had come to rely on my shiny little retina display toy. Once on the train, I found a seat, settled in, and wondered how far we had to go. Immediately, practically by instinct, I reached for…nothing.
I didn’t have anything to give me that kind of information. Other passengers pulled out their phones and started tap-tap-tapping away. I pulled out a novel (the real, paper and glue, non-ebook old fashioned kind) and started chapter one.
Re-acclimation to Real Life
About halfway through my two and a half hour ride, I started to feel more relaxed. I noticed that I had finally stopped reaching for my iPhone; it had sunk in that it wasn’t there in my pocket like it usually is. And you know what? It was actually kind of nice.
I didn’t have the social media withdrawal that I thought I would. What was going on with my Facebook friends? What was new in my Twitter feed? I really didn’t care. I certainly didn’t have anything tweet-worthy or update-worthy to say. If I had had my iPhone on me, I probably would have posted another one of my snark-filled pseudo rants or done some virtual high fiving, but I started to realise that none of that was necessary. I had a good book, some interesting scenery, and some time inside my own head. I was also a lot less blinky than I usually am.
Calls and Texts Were Still There
The great thing about the Punkt MP01 is that even though I didn’t have my iPhone with me, my friends and family were still able to get a hold of me. Yes, it’s a real phone, and yes, you can send and receive texts on it. My dad called later in the day on Saturday to talk about a family matter, and I was able to exchange a few texts with that girl I mentioned earlier.
I was still in the communication loop, but everything just felt a whole lot less urgent. Like, I didn’t have to respond to every text immediately, and I wasn’t in a hurry to finish up my phone call so I could check Instagram. Everything could wait a few minutes.
I should also mention that the Punkt MP01 user experience is very up to date, even though the device itself looks outdated. The buttons on the numerical keypad were very responsive, and I could easily see everything on the two inch LCD screen. Texting the old fashioned way was a bit clunky (there’s no pop-up touch screen alphanumeric keyboard), but it all came back to me in a minute or two.
Other Punkt. Pluses
The MP01 is small at around 2 by 4.5 inches and extremely lightweight (and lighter than my iPhone) at just 88g, making it easy and effortless to carry. More impressive, though is its battery life, which lasted for my entire trip. Sure, I threw the charger in my travel bag, but I didn’t need to unpack it. I never would have gotten away with that if I had brought my iPhone!
As mentioned, the two inch LCD screen was big enough to see my text messages and the number of whoever was calling me (just my dad — who calls anyone anymore?), but not so big that I felt compelled to play with my phone just to pass the time. And anyway, why pass the time with technology? I was in a cool new place with lots of real stuff to see. I felt like I truly made the most of my weekend away, rather than squeezing in a few sights between social media checks.
What I Missed… And Didn’t
I would be lying if I said that I didn’t miss a few things about my iPhone. For starters, a map app would have been immensely helpful. So many people have smartphones, so it’s hard to find an old fashioned paper map in a shop these days! I was able to find my way around thanks to my above average sense of direction, but I did take a few wrong turns along the way.
Also, not having my iPhone meant I couldn’t look up the train schedule at the last minute. I missed the train I intended to catch by ten minutes, which meant I had to wait around another hour for the next one. It was annoying at first, but I figured I’d make the best of it. I sat down at the bar, ordered a Belgian ale, and struck up a fascinating conversation with the bartender, who told me about his younger days as an amateur boxer. Just like in the movies!
It felt like I was living in a Hemingway story, and it was an experience that I never would have had if my iPhone were in my pocket. Thanks to the Punkt MP01, which I took instead, I met an interesting character and had a great face-to-face chat.
The Photo Thing
A big drawback for a lot of people is the Punkt’s lack of a camera. I knew I relied on my iPhone for quick photos — it really does take great snapshots, it’s lighter than my bigger camera, and it’s so easy to upload them to Instagram or Facebook. I knew I wouldn’t have the iPhone for this trip, so I made a point to grab my trusty DSLR out of the closet before I left home.
And I quickly remembered: I love to take photos! I mean real photos with a real camera and a good lens. The images I took on this trip are so much better than the ones I’ve taken recently. We tend to forget that even an average DSLR will always beat today’s smartphone cameras.
I thought about composition, depth of field, and more because I had the time and the ability to do those things. Sure, I couldn’t share them instantly, and I didn’t take any selfies, but so what? When I got back from my trip, I put my photos on my laptop and shared them all the same. So, if you’re worried that having a Punkt instead of an iPhone will limit your photo opps, it won’t. In fact, as long as you have a good digital camera, you’ll definitely end up with better photos.
Back to Reality
So the big question is, would I use the Punkt MP01 every day? I have to admit, I really like the idea of using dedicated devices — they just do their one job so much better than the all-in-one gadgets we’re all accustomed to toting around with us. And I also liked looking up again, rather than looking down all the time, as well as that relaxed feeling that comes with not feeling like I always had to check on my online presence. There were no virtual itches to scratch.
The convenience of the iPhone can’t be beat, but when you think about it, it’s not truly necessary. We want the important people in our lives to be able to reach us, but do we need 24/7 Google access? Probably not. Plus, it’s important to remember that we can do all of our Googling and social media checking when we sit down at a computer with a larger screen. With the Punkt, I felt like I had my real, non-virtual life back.
Ready to Slow Down?
The Punkt MP01 is now available in London, and it will soon be out in a wider coverage area. At £229, it’s not exactly cheap, but if you’re serious about a more present lifestyle and a digital detox, the price may be worth it.
I had a great weekend, thanks to my Punkt mobile phone, and I will definitely be using it a lot more. My friends may think I’m crazy for leaving the house without my iPhone, but I think a day or two with an MP01 will convince them that it’s really nice to not be constantly connected to everything and everyone.
There’s a whole world out there just waiting to be seen, and all of it can’t fit on a retina display.
Punkt MP01 price when reviewed: $295.00
Punkt. MP01 Tech Specs
- Size: W116.5mm; H53mm; Thickness 14.5mm
- Weight: 88g
- Network: Quad band GSM (2G)
- Battery: 1000 mAh, talk time: 290minutes; Standby time: 500hours; Charge time 2hours
- Display: Full-colour 2.0 inch TFT LCD; resolution 320RGB x 240; Gorilla Glass 3 anti-reflection and anti-fingerprint coating
- Connectivity: Micro USB for phone book sync, charging and headset; Bluetooth v3.0, HSP and HFP support
- SIM: Micro-SIM (3FF)
- Simple and Liberating; No instructions needed
- Small-Talk Starter
- Timeless design
- No Camera (yes)