Kriston Capps is a staff writer for CityLab covering housing, architecture, and politics. He previously worked as a senior editor for Architect magazine.
Introducing a phone-shaped block that does nothing—except free you from smartphone shackles.
There are exactly 27 people who were not waiting with bated breath for Apple to unveil the iPhone 6. These people weren't impressed with today's Apple release, despite its near-global holiday status. In fact, they counter-programmed it.
Three of them—Ingmar Larsen, Ben Langeveld, and Van Gould—are the Dutch designers responsible for the NoPhone, a product that's a lot like the iPhone, minus all the functionality. The other 24 are the backers contributing to the Kickstarter campaign for the NoPhone.
The NoPhone is mobile methadone. The NoPhone has the shape and the heft of an iPhone—and that's it. No screen, no phone, no keys. No Snapchat, no Instagram, no Dots. No selfies. But it will fit in your pocket; you can stash it in your purse. The NoPhone is there to ease your mind.
The device is aimed squarely at the Mac adherents that have been lined up outside Apple stores across the nation (or the folks who desperately wished they were). The benefit is plain: freedom from the helplessness of addiction. For those who hold their mobile devices as if they were Frodo clutching the Precious, the NoPhone is the promise of Mount Doom. You can almost hear Cate Blanchett purring the promo. Cast your burden off, Frodo. You don't need a computer watch.
"Phone addiction is real," the Kickstarter campaign reads. "And it's everywhere. It's ruining your dates. It's distracting you at concerts. It's disrupting you in movie theaters. It's clogging up sidewalks. Now, there is a real solution."
With more than $900 pledged and almost a month to go, the NoPhone founders are just about $87,000 short of their goal. (UPDATE: The NoPhone team canceled its inaugural KickStarter after finding a cheaper manufacturer. People who pledge to the new campaign can get a phone that does nothing for $12.) Should they achieve their target, they'll begin manufacturing this phone-less phone. The 3D-printed prototype already boasts a lot of the features that the NoPhone will eventually deliver. For example, it does not contain a battery, so you will never again have to fret about battery life. It is also completely waterproof.
Backup procedures and security measures may be the best solution for what some describe as smartphone-loss anxiety disorder, the fear that losing your mobile phone means losing the control and organization over one's life such devices provide. But what about just losing your shit when you don't have your phone? While there may not be any scientific evidence that this is an actual disorder, have you ever lost your phone? You have, and you lost your shit.
There is help. The NoPhone isn't a cure, but it might be a crutch. With any luck, the Dutch team behind the NoPhone will get the funds they need to manufacture a phablet-sized not-device by the time we're addicted to this new iPhone model—and more releases going forward. But not that watch. Listen to Cate: You do not need a computer watch.