Both the Lightphone II and the Wisephone feature minimalist design and function. I’ve tried out both of these phones. Read my comparison of the Lightphone II vs. Wisephone.
During my journey deeper into minimalism I realized my smartphone was holding me back from my full potential. When I was still working I connected with other adults regularly. When I quit my job in the fall of 2021 to be at home with our children full time my smartphone use skyrocketed as I reached for adult connection.
Sustainable Minimalism is important to me, so I did not want to just throw out a functioning smartphone. Instead, I committed that the current phone I used would be my last smartphone. When it broke I would replace it with a “dumb” phone. Due to a faulty third-party charging cord, the opportunity came sooner than expected.
Before purchasing a dumb phone I identified the three key things I needed it to do. I’ll be looking at phone calls, text messaging, and GPS systems. Both phones do have more functions, but I consider them nice side benefits and not necessary. One of the phones stood out as a clear winner in all categories.
During my three-week trial period for both phones, I used the same Mint Mobile SIM card. Keep reading to see my review of the Lightphone II vs. Wisephone.
Review of Lightphone II vs. Wisephone
Making Phone calls
Being able to make and receive phone calls is the most basic function of a cell phone. My expectation of a phone is that it would be able to make and receive calls with a 100% success rate when in service.
My Lightphone II had no issues making calls. I was able to dial phone numbers or choose them from my contacts list. Receiving calls was a different story. I was sometimes able to answer a call on the Lightphone II with no issues.
More often than I would like my phone would be ringing with the caller appearing on the screen and I would be unable to answer the call. None of the touchscreen buttons or the side buttons answered the call as they were designed to do. I also couldn’t decline the call. I would let the call go to voicemail and then ring the caller back to talk with them.
My Review: Fail: does not make calls as advertised.
During my Wisephone trial, I was able to both make and receive phone calls. The call would ring, and I was able to answer it on the first try. Making calls was just as easy. Calls can be dialed in as 10-digit numbers, or selected from a Contacts list. It worked as advertised each time.
After having the phone for about a month I started not being able to dial calls. Selecting a contact from my contacts list continued to work, but the number pad stopped functioning. It would either not enter the number I selected, or enter “9” over and over again. I contacted support and they were only able to recommend keeping the phone in hopes of the bug being fixed in a future update.
My Review: Fail: I was not able to easily make calls
Texting on both models of phones is slightly different than on a regular smartphone. Neither phone can send emojis, but both display them in received texts
The physical size of a Lightphone II is significantly smaller than modern smartphones. While I appreciate it when it comes to putting the phone in my pocket, it makes texting very difficult. The screen automatically rotates to a vertical orientation when composing a text message. Even with rotating the screen, the Lightphone II’s keyboard is smaller than standard smartphones. To add to the difficulty of use, the screen only displays two lines of text at a time, and it is difficult to scroll up and read longer texts before sending them.
Thankfully, the Lightphone II supports voice-to-text. During my trial period, I almost exclusively texted in this way. It usually took me 2-3 tries for the text to accurately reflect my speech, but I still found it easier than trying to type on the tiny keyboard.
I encountered one critical error when sending a text message that caused my entire draft of a text to be deleted when the phone restarted itself. With how difficult it was to compose that text, this encounter still sticks out in my mind.
An additional note is that the Lightphone II does not support MMS. If an image or link is texted to a Lightphone II, the text is automatically forwarded to the email registered to that phone. Links and photos can be viewed on a computer. I found this to be an easy solution to rendering MMS on an e-ink screen.
My Review: Fail: if you have average to large-sized hands or text frequently, this phone is not for you.
I found texting on the Wisephone significantly easier than on the Lightphone II, but not as easy as a traditional smartphone. The Wisephone is the same size as a smartphone, so there is no need to rotate the screen to fit a keyboard. I’m also able to easily scroll through long texts to proofread before sending them.
I did not encounter any critical errors when sending or receiving text messages. All messages came and went as expected. Unlike the Lightphone II, the Wisephone supports pictures in texts. Websites texted to the phone can be accessed through the FamilyPortal on a computer.
The Wisephone does fall short in two areas: voice-to-text and autocorrect. At this time the Wisephone has no voice-to-text software. It is easy enough to type on that I haven’t missed it too much, but for someone with limited dexterity, this could be a deal breaker.
Wisephone’s autocorrect and predictive text just aren’t as good as a regular smartphone. The autocorrect works some of the time, but often I have to go in manually and fix words. When manually correcting spelling, the Wisephone does not see what I’m typing as part of the existing word and tries to put a capital letter in the middle of the word I’m correcting. This causes me to have to go back and correct it yet again.
My Review: Qualified Pass: I was able to send and receive texts with no issue, if you need voice-to-text this isn’t the phone for you.
Having a GPS is a dealbreaker for me. We moved to a new city at the beginning of 2023 and I rely on my GPS to get me everywhere as I learn the area. The Lightphone II does have a GPS installed, but for how functional it is, they may as well just save the memory space and not installed one.
To start, it can take anywhere from 5-10 minutes to connect to a satellite and begin giving real-time directions. This is disclosed when starting the phone for the first time. The impact of this is you need to plan ahead to use the GPS. It can’t be opened when sitting in the car ready to drive away. The phone also was not able to pick up my location when the was in motion. Searching the name of a destination occasionally worked, but often would try and send me somewhere 100 miles away, rather than to a closer branch within 10 miles.
There are no audio directions with the Lightphone II. All directions are read on the phone, and the print is extremely small. Driving with just myself and my children I was unable to use the GPS because of how unsafe it is to read a phone screen while driving.
My Review: Fail: This phone may technically have a GPS, but it is pretty much useless if driving alone.
The Wisephone’s GPS was a pleasure to use after my experience with the Lightphone II. I can type in a destination and immediately have directions. The display is full screen and in color with a blue line marking my route. The audio turn-by-turn directions are spot on. I can search for destinations by name only, no address is needed. Each time the Wisephone was able to find and route me to the nearest location.
My Review: Pass: I can get from one place to another easily with clear, safe directions.
Results of Lightphone II vs. Wisephone Trial
The Wisephone is the clear winner in this trial. It can consistently make phone calls, send and receive text messages, and has clear GPS instructions. I wanted to like the Lightphone II. The e-ink, the small size, and the simplicity of it are all exactly what I wanted in a phone. Unfortunately, the functionality just isn’t there yet.
The Wisephone can do most of what I needed, and I would have continued using it if not for the inability to dial calls. I’m excited to see if the Wisephone II fixes the issues I was having. In addition to this, the display is clean: black serif font on a white background. During my trials, I only cared about calling texting, and the GPS. The Wisephone also has an alarm, notes, flashlight, camera (with very limited storage), and calculator.
Where to buy a Wisephone
If you’re ready to simplify your life and want to purchase a Wisephone, they can be preordered at the Techless website. At the time of writing this, Techless is working on the Wisephone II and hopes to ship them Winter 2023.
How are you going to reclaim your time today?
To my surprise, I did not struggle with giving up my smartphone. Sure, looking up something on the internet is a little more time consuming, but the amount of time and attention I gained back was immediately apparent. Since ditching my smartphone I’m reading more books, interacting with the family more, and going on hikes in our woods.
If you’re thinking about ditching your smartphone I’d say go for it! Reclaim your time and live life with more intention. If you are already smartphone free please share your experiences and what you do with the time you’ve reclaimed.