Ramping it Up with the Punkt MP 01

This week I am welcoming the Punkt MP 01 into my home like an old friend. Cody saw my pursuit in using this phone for the Punkt winter challenge and he graciously sent me his own copy (black model) to give a go. He sent it carrier Canada goose (I assume no carrier pigeon's up yonder) and it arrived just the other night. I have had just two days on it, so wanted to give some quick impressions on it - and explain a little more on why this is all I will be using now, round the clock.

Full review on the MP 01 will be down the road, as the kind people from Punkt are sending me my own device (white model) to give a full workout.

 Nexus 6 Smartphone VS Punkt MP 01 Dumbphone

Punkt MP 01 First Impressions

The first thing I noticed when opening the box was simplicity - designed well. A physical keyboard doesn't get a whole lot more simple than the T9 design and a few dedicated buttons. For those that grew up on the smartphone and missed the T9 generation of phones, this is where you repeatedly press the number keys to scroll through letters of the alphabet. So, typing R-A-Y would be 777-2-999. Yeah, slows ya down real nice.

OK, so onto a few things that grabbed my attention when I picked it up.

In the Hand

The Punkt MP 01 feels fairly light in the hand, but in a good way. Lighter than my Nexus 6, not by a lot and a whole lot more compact. It's built with a tough durable plastic and utilizes a bright Gorilla Glass 3 screen and back lit keys. I like that they don't beg for your attention, unlike the candy-colored rainbow of apps on my Nexus. In a nutshell, very subtle.

The rear of the phone is contoured to sit nice in my hand and has additional grip with a golf ball like dimpling. It feels much more natural (comfortable) to make phone calls with this than the larger Nexus and sits at a slight angle in the hang (tilting towards you) when texting. These small attentions to detail are making this phone really stand out for me.

There are just a few buttons along the sides that are level with the edge of the body. The volume along the right side and the power / lock along the left. There is also a Micro USB port and SIM slot.

Texting / Calling

Aside from entering contacts, this is literally all you do with the phone: text or call someone. Everything takes physical clicks, rather than swipes, gestures and non-tactile clicks. But man, it's satisfyingly simple and puts a smile on my face. 

To send a text, click the texting icon and type away, choose a recipient and send. To make a call, click the phone book, choose a recipient and have at it. It's not rocket science.

In the states, your only option (this is a 2G phone) is T-Mobile for now - though rumor has it they are working on a 4G/LTE version. Most places I go, I have full strength with T-Mobile and call quality has been fine. I'll get more into it with my full review next month.

With the first few texts I composed, I wasn't sure how I was going to like the T9 keyboard and simple interface.  No auto-correct, no group chats, no swipe-text. But in the same breath, replies were coming back (to a beautiful audio alert) with no memes, no links, no rabbit holes. This is exactly what I was hoping for my digital detox.

Call of the Wild

Speaking of audio alerts, this is one simple joy of this phone that's very cool. Many of the audio alerts you can choose from are coos and hoots from birds of the wild. They are very soothing - which is a weird thing to mention - but it is.

Usually I have my cells on vibrate only (this has that option) but I opted for the "Hei" call for texts and the "Ko ko" for calls. Love when they roll in.

Challenge Intensified 

My original plan was to use my smartphone during business hours and then ditch it and unplug for nights and weekends. But having this loaner now (and my own on the way), I decided to ramp up my personal challenge. I am going to ditch the smartphone altogether and keep the Punkt MP 01 on me all day and continue to unplug from the internet on nights and weekends at least until the end of April. Basically, I want to turn my Nexus 6 into a small tablet for times that I am plugged in during the day - but all calls and texts are only through the MP 01. Wow.

Letting the Contacts Know

To do this, I had to let me contacts know that I was ditching the smartphone in favor of a dumbphone. These are the steps I took to let them know the game plan:

  • Got myself a new SIM and phone number
  • Composed an email to all contacts noting:
    • This is my new number
    • Detoxing with a dumb phone, so no group messages, no MMS messages, no links, no apps
    • Informed them if they wanted to send multi-media, email is the only choice now
  • Turned off data on the smartphone (turning it into a tiny baby tablet)

Surprisingly, the feedback from them was pretty good. A handful mumbled about not being able to scare the bejesus out of me with twisted clown photos in a text, but for the most part, they were open to my digital detox and wanted to learn more about it.

So Far

I've only had this a couple of days, so these are really quick gut impressions. I am looking forward to writing the in-depth review in about a month, as well as giving you progress reports. But for now, I am going to settle in and go full on immersion with this phone - so you can expect periodic updates on this section of my website. I am really looking forward to my ramped up version of this challenge.

You can now subscribe to my "digital detox and simplification" blog here.