Wrote this in September of 2014 — it was commissioned by Shareable, who then didn’t run it (or pay me). Transient and forgettable? Maybe… but so was the topic.
If you or someone you care about happened to be among the huddled masses lined up outside an Apple store awaiting the iPhone 6, then maybe — just maybe — you need some smartphone methadone. Enter the NoPhone: Dutch designer Ingmar Larsen’s gift to the tech-addicted, or to that overlooked demographic of folks who hate talking or texting but really like carrying around palm-sized plastic rectangles. If you want to communicate with loved ones without the NSA dropping in on the conversation, the NoPhone is definitely the way to go; just be sure you’re within earshot of the loved one in question, because the NoPhone, as its name implies, is not actually a phone. It’s a 3-D printed cultural commentary, and designer Larsen will send you one if you pledge twelve dollars on Kickstarter. (For fifty bucks, you get a five-phone “family plan”: available on all major carriers! I mean, no major carriers!)
If that’s not enough to make your Apple-wielding friends jealous, go for the Selfie Upgrade — a mirrored sticker that posts images not to Instagram, but to your very own eyes, which, for those too young to remember a time before social media, is basically the same thing as setting your photostream to “private”. The NoPhone mirror images don’t stick around on anyone’s server — just think of it as Snapchatting with yourself! — so if you’re a celebrity, it’ll also keep all your nude selfies hacker-proof.
Larsen is advertising the shatterproof, waterproof, battery-free NoPhone as an antidote to smartphone addiction (you no longer have to forego “any potential engagement with your direct environment” just to grip some cool black plastic), but with over $28,000 still to be raised for the product to be made, maybe we just like our smartphones too damn much to shell out for their Luddite simulacra. Or maybe folks who feel the desperate need to clutch an obsolete, non-phone quadrilateral are just holding tight to their iPod Classics. (RIP.) If you’re in need of a “smartphone placebo,” now’s the time to shell out — just because you don’t have to camp out on a sidewalk for days doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy the smug glow of being first in line.