It's not every day that a technical CEO throws his phone down before me, so when it happened with Petter Neby from Punkt this week at the MWC, it's safe to say I'm intrigued. Punkt, nicknamed "Punkt." In the wordmark of the society, is to put a complete stop distractions and diversions of modern life. Its phones are postmodern anti-light devices that suggest that perhaps their users do not need the Internet with them every moment of their day.
Nebby told me about the intention behind the minimalist design of the Punkt MP02 when, without warning, he threw his personal phone on the ground, then picked it up and texted his wife on the Belgian potatoes. I had heard about the original MP1 Punkt, but I had never seen it, to which the MP02 is (almost) physically identical. I was both surprised and amused by the little stuntman. Material design, Nebby tells me, is fundamentally defined. The company does not intend to change that, and I can understand why by manipulating and playing with the MP02. The design of MP combines robustness, character and timeless minimalism that will appear in decades. The buttons and shape of this phone are pleasant to touch and hold, and the overall construction offers a premium feel that conceals the primitive material and the capabilities it contains.
Many people will hesitate at the price of $ 349 from the MP02, which is indeed a big expense for a gadget that does little more than one of the functional Nokia phones restarted in recent times. Despite having a 4G radio, the MP02 can not access the Internet at all. Despite being Android based, it does not have applications. Plus, it does not let you do anything with its 16GB of internal storage, and the most sophisticated little bit of multimedia you'll get is a few custom ringtones. So why would you bother?
Because attention and concentration are the rarest human resources of our time and modern way of life. Because I can not unlock my Android Pocket PC to perform one task without being interrupted by several others – Slack and Twitter notifications and Telegram will inevitably force me to do something other than my original intent. There must be a way to reduce all this, and devices like the MP02 Punkt are trying to provide the solution.
The inclusion of 4G on the MP02, offered by a Snapdragon 210 chip, intrigues. It shows a company that is not a total Luddite and allows users to attach their most advanced computer to MP02 for a cellular connection when they need it. Voice over LTE (VoLTE) is another advantage that MP02 can benefit from, although it has so far only been supported by Europe, with the United States expected to come in June.
My impression on the Punkt MP02 is extremely positive. Its use is pleasant and its subtle design finishes reinforce and amplify this meaning. The animations, for example, are built around a concept of "line cut", so that each transition between text-based menus takes place with a clipping animation. Nebby says about the MP02 interface that "every pixel is designed" and so it is.
The lock screen indicators only appear when there is something to display: if your battery is running out of power or if your cell phone's signal is powerful, they simply hide in an easily accessible submenu. Nebby sums up the idea well when he says "if there is no indicator, it means everything is fine". That's the heart of Punkt's philosophy: at a time when every other phone is striving to spark interest and seek his attention, the Punkt phone wants to make sure everything is fine and that you can probably focus on what you do in the analog world.
I've seen more gadgets misjudged than this one. The Punkt MP02 makes calls, sends SMS and serves as a convenient 4G access point when needed. It also looks great and feels good, and its 2-inch monochrome screen will probably never break. What do we really need our phones?
Photograph of Vlad Savov / The Verge