Punkt MP01 Mobile Review

Punkt. MP01 Mobile Review: My Disconnected, Reconnected Weekend

9
Get-Your-Life-Back Phone

Let’s Give it a Try

It’s meant for communication. Period.

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

-CHECK CURRENT PRICE-

Punkt. Mobile details

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

Smartphone
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.


No apps
Calls and texts
Lightweight


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

Everything just felt a whole lot less urgent.

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.
Punkt. Mobile sunset
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!
Punkt MP01 ほぼ日手帳
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.

Punkt. Mobile package

This is a test unit in reviewer’s packaging. Final Design will be different.

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.

Related: The Importance of Being Unplugged: Why it’s Good to Occasionally Disconnect

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

-CHECK CURRENT PRICE-

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)

Good Things

  • Simple and Liberating; No instructions needed
  • Small-Talk Starter
  • Timeless design

Bad Things

  • No Camera (yes)
  • Price

The Breakdown


Features
8
Design
9
Battery
9
Connectivity
8
Mindfulness
10




There are 18 comments

Add yours
  1. Mark Sunday

    How pleasant to read such a well written actual review! I had some reservations initially, but now I would seriously consider this. The thought of disconnecting from Apple and their cult compound ecosystem is most appealing, especially since studies indicate a loss of short term memory among smart phone users. And no battery anxiety? No cloud storage requirement? No constantly upgrading the OS?

    Were you able to use the speakerphone function? And I would like to hear the alarm and various ringtones.

  2. Mark Sunday

    Further investigation has revealed that 2G service is being shut down here in the USA. Punkt informs me they’re planning a 3G version, so that’s good.

    I’d love to see an aluminum version with concave buttons. Or better yet, a limited edition wood case with concave metal keys.: It would resemble something from the Victorian era.

    • jv

      My issue is the nano-SIM from my husband’s phone didn’t fit the micro-SIM-ready mp01… so no easy way to transfer contacts, or use your current cell phone number when you want to “unplug” for the weekend. :/

    • Kevin

      Did they say when the 3G version would be out? I’ve been looking for something like this for some time, but the unreliability of 2G and generally poor coverage via T-Mobile the minute you leave the beaten path has me holding off.

  3. Mark

    My local phone shop transferred the contacts from a large full sized SIM card to a smaller one once. The phone number transferred too. A good shop may be able to help.

  4. Alex

    Hello,
    not long ago, I became aware of how internet has its responsibility in the warming up of the planet and pollution. Did you know that sending an e-mail with an attached picture is like having a light on for 1 hour! Did you know that a famous browser based their servers in Virginia where coal energy costs less (they actually destroyed most of the hills around to get the coal!)?
    We are taken in a distroying circle and anything that can halp us slow down this drift is very welcome. If the MP01 can help people reduce their use of internet (avoid concret warming up of the Planet) and if the MP01 battery is longlasting and reliable (avoid concret pollution and issues due to lithium deposits), then this phone should be declared of Public Utility!

  5. Richard

    An excellent review on a mobile that fits my lifestyle except for one point. In this age of nuisance calls a call blocker facility for me be a major consideration. Any plans for such a functions. Additionally the restrictions of G2 is of concern.

    Otherwise the concept, design and functionality gets my vote.

    • Tom

      I believe that the “smart” way of using an MP01 is to keep your iPhone, and have it forward calls to the MP01, for which a minimal contract (e.g. Giffgaff’s £5 a month – must be something similar in the US) should be fine. That way you can keep your existing blockers in place, and also you don’t have to give out the MP01’s number or fiddle with swapping SIMs. For real unconnectivity, you then have the full option of *not* forwarding your calls, so only those few people you choose to give the number of the MP01 can reach you.

      Of course, you could do this with a cheapo handset, but the MP01 looks quite stylish.

      The review would be better if it also covered practicalities like synchronising contacts, typing texts on the numeric pad, speaker and mic clarity, etc, by the way, but thanks!

  6. Ivan

    I love simple uncluttered design. Thanks for the nice review. I stare for a long time on this model. uniquely as an opportunity – to take a couple of your touch.
    I’m on one of the photo noticed a book on sewing. Tell me what kind of book? I will be eternally grateful.

  7. Eli

    I’m also excited to hear there’s a 3G version in the pipeline. My Nokia 515 supports 3G, but apparently not the bands/frequencies that ATT/T-Mobile is using because they’re reusing those for newer LTE gear. So the 515 will be a brick on ATT in December and hobble along on T-Mobile after that. This looks like what i wish the system 40 phones could have continued their life as, a simple, stripped down elegant communication device.

  8. Mark Doherty

    I love the idea of this phone and think i would be a happier person without a smart phone. I am in UK, and on an 02 contract. Would i be able to switch to this on a 02 network? What network would this phone run on in the UK?

  9. Ivan2

    Hello what are some real life examples of battery life. Maybe list some times used and times on standby. Maybe some signal strength too.


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