Design your life to include more money, health and happiness with less stuff, space and energy.

Design your life to include more money, health and happiness with less stuff, space and energy.

The Smarter, Simpler Smartphone

If you’re like me, you have a somewhat conflicted relationship with your smartphone. Features like GPS, email, basic web browsing and ebook reading have become indispensable. But I also find myself looking at screens filled with apps I’ll never use. And while I appreciate the Retina display on my iPhone, I don’t use it for watching movies or playing games–things that might justify its extreme energy sucking tendencies. In fact, I find myself constantly charging my phone with even the most moderate use. I would love a simple–but not too simple–smartphone that retains basic functionality but uses far less power than my iPhone. I want an E-PHONE by New York design consultancy FormNation.

The basic idea behind the concept phone is to retain most of the smartphone functionality, but use an e-ink display, which consumes a fraction of the power of LED models (the battery could last as long as a month on a single charge) as well as reducing the phone’s capabilities. It would still make calls, texts, have music, a GPS and web-browser–it would just do it in black and white and not have fluid motion graphics (video, games), which aren’t essential for many people anyway. Head designer Jan Habraken asks, “Do we really need angry birds or flying pigs?”


The phone would take pictures, but since the display is in black and white, it’s anyone’s guess how colors will appear in the shot when they’re downloaded. FormNation says users would enjoy “the suspense of waiting to see how their image develops,” akin to how we used to take pictures with 35mm cameras. And rather than taking videos, the E-PHONE will take stop-motion GIF’s.

To make the package even sweeter, FormNation says the E-Ink phone would only cost $175-200 dollars. Unfortunately, there are no immediate plans to manufacture the E-PHONE, but given its long battery life, nice styling and low price, we think it would have a lot of appeal.