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    John’s Phone - Review

    John’s Phone - Review

    This review was originally posted in 2016 & updated in 2017


    John's Phone review 2016 - Intro

    Some of you might have heard about this John's Phone a while ago. For those who not heard about it, it was advertised as “World’s simplest Mobile Phone”. It got some great reviews where, for example, John's Phone was called a “Anti Smartphone”.

    A very basic minimalistic mobile phone that can make phone call’s and looks great due to its stylish design. It has a real stylus and a real notepad on boar: the designer had a nice sense of humor with the notepad (see image below) incl a game! Besides that the phone has no internet or SMS!

    The John’s Phone also reminds to the pagers that were popular years ago before the mobile phone where not used that much.

    Spotted a unboxing video of the Green John's Phone, and another one that is shown on the official website.

    More info can be found on the official website or the John’s Phone Wikipedia page. The quick manual can be downloaded here and extended Dutch manual here.

    some Reviews from 2010/2011

    Gizmodo 2010 - the anti-smartphone

    Gizmodo 2011 - iPhone 4 Vs The Simplest Phone on the Planet

    Engadget 2010 - John's Phone review: 'the world's simplest cellphone'

    It December 2010 it even got a Interface Design Price

    Nice thing to mention is that there are more than 200 display designs!


    How it started

    Years ago had several Apple Newtons PDA ’s like the 110 and the 130. The 130 also used on film sets to keep track of the shots.

    Then when they ( Apple ) announced the Iphone (1e generation - 29 June 2007) was was thrilled to work with such a device it was a kind of Newton but then also a phone. Waited to buy a Iphone until the 3G was introduced on 11 july 2008. Also bought later the Iphone 4 ( launched on 24 June 2010 ).

    On 10 or 11 September 2010 read on a Dutch Technology website (Bright.nl) a article Dutch | article English about the John's Phone.

    Note that thanks to The internet archive wayback machine the article is still fully available. The official article was posted on the Bright website on 10 September 2010, the snapshot (on the archive page) is from 11 June 2012.

    Because just had bought the Iphone 4 did not look anymore at the John's Phone.

    Fast forward to early 2016 noticing having some thoughts about a time before internet was introduced for a wide audience - you had more time for other things then constantly checking your smart phone. The social media and being online all day is extremely addictive keeps you forget to surrounding and turn in to a kind of ( Pokémon ) zombie.

    Next to that my old Iphone 4 was not supported anymore by Apple. A new one would cost about 500 euro ( almost a new mini mac for that price). So started to think again about a alternative. At first not thought about John's Phone until...... 10 February 09:35!

    White John's Phone

    So on 10 January 2016 09:35 decided it was time to buy a John's Phone. Only pitiful discovered that the company who created the John's Phone went bankrupt so no possibilities anymore to buy it through their online store. Then thought it might be a idea to look on Markplaats. On Marktplaats you can buy second hand products.

    Very quickly spotted a White John's Phone and got in contact with the seller ( his first name is John! ) and transferred the money (35 euro).

    On 13 January the John's Phone arrived! Installed the SIM card and could make the first phone call. After that charged the phone a couple of hours so the battery was full.

    Next morning went to my favorite spot in Scheveningen so shoot some new Dutch Skies 360 HDR's. Wail waiting decided to play a bit with the new John's Phone. Suddenly heard a kind of police whistle. Surprised looked aground to see where the police would be and did not see any police. Could not get any network connection with the John's Phone. So put the phone in my bag to sort out later why the phone did not work anymore.

    At home discovered that the police whistle came from the John's Phone!

    Haha! Had a big laugh its a warning you have to enter your PIN number for the SIM card! So messed the SIM card entered to many times a wrong PIN number because did not knew what to do ( not noticing the sound previous day - guess had the sound low? ).

    Recorded the sound of it:

    Used the phone for a couple of weeks and discovered pretty quickly saw flaws like network connection lost most of the times, and the on/off button acted weird. Also the battery life was bad. The solution for the network connection problem was easy. Cut a piece of paper in the size of the SIM card and plated it behind the SIM card. So there is a bit more pressure to force the SIM card internally to the connection point within the phone.


    Pink John's Phone


    Then a new idea was born: remembered that there was a Pink John's Phone available on Marktplaats so thought why move the internal parts of Pink one and put it into the white one?

    Luckily the Pink one was still available on Marktplaats so bought it on 24 January for 25 euro. The woman who sold it lives in The Hague so we made a appointment on central station to swap the money and the phone.

    The Pink John's Phone works perfect!

    Next went with the white and the pink phone to a local phone shop (with a technical service) around the corner and asked if he could place the main parts of the pink one into the white one. While showing both phones saw that he was surprised to see the phones , he never saw such a phone before. He refused to do the job because he does not know the phone and has no "blue prints" of the phone too. Completely understand his point of view so went home and tried to do it myself..........

    Because I'm way to clumsy during the opening process screwed it already. Some parts broke and was not sure anymore how to close it. Some images below shows how it looks on the inside. On the right a nice image in the dark (after turning it on).


    So it turned out that it was impossible (specially by a clumsy person) to switch the main parts decided to close the white version..... after that the display did not work anymore. So that was the end of the White John's Phone.

    Used the Pink one (yes that raised some eyebrows) for a couple of weeks then thought that there perhaps might be a John's Phone available on eBay:


    Ebay part 1

    Found immediate several John's phone not all affordable (see screenshot below)


    To my surprise spotted several sellers who where offering NEW (!) John's Phones. That raised my doubts off course but took the risk and payed about 90 euro for a brand new Black John's Phone. Ordered it on a Friday (by transferring the money by PayPal ) and to my surprise Saturday the postal service delivered the phone! Happy a little child opened the box and indeed a brand new Black John's Phone was included (in a original unopened package):


    Unpacked the phone and started charging the battery with the new adapter. After that went to the store to do some shopping. During shopping my girlfriend called and told that there was a power outage and it smelled like burned plastic at home! Immediately got home and saw that all electrical equipment was not working any more. Admitting that the first thing that was checked if the new Black John's Phone was still working and yes! It was only the adapter that was burned. My girlfriend was not amused about this situation specially with the new John's Phone obsession. Anyway Luckily the energy shortcut safety tool worked ok so could switch it on and most electrical equipment worked again.

    Also checked to see if the new phone could be charged with the adapter from either the previous white and or the Pink one....yes! Since this moment use the new black John's Phone as main mobile phone.

    Black John's Phone - extra notes

    Its not recommended to use the black John's phone during traveling. As you can see the "close call" button is a little bomb. Also when you need to turn on the phone you here a sound that can be misunderstood - specially when you never saw a John's Phone before - below you can here the sound:


    You can imagine that a ticking sound + bomb icon + unknown device in these days of terrorism thread its better not take the phone during raveling.

    The design of the John's Phone is made years before terrorism thread was a big issue like currently.

    ps for traveling use a Nokia 130 a very cheap sim lock free mobile phone with a long battery life + SMS support.


    Ebay part 2

    Found another seller on Ebay and also ordered a new White Johns Phone.


    When correct you can still order John's Phones from that seller.


    Really like this phone. It does was is needs to do. Maybee in the future will buy a new smart phone mainly for the camera function, now missing a camera when on the road. Or perhaps buy a good compact camera like for example the FUJIFILM X70.

    Besides that had a nice unexpected adventure as mentioned above.


    - When you not have a smart phone anymore you have the feeling of having back your freedom!
    - no compulsive checking mail or social media
    - more aware what is going on (for example when you are in the train or walking in the street - without constantly looking on a smart phone)
    - have now a old style agenda (see below) like in the old days, not use the notebook (to small and find it a part of the design so leave the untouched notepad within the case on the back of the Johns phone


    - no SMS
    - no instant access to my passwords (on the iphone use the app PasswordWallet )
    - no camera
    - have now a old style agenda ;)


    ps if you have a Brown (John’s Phone Tree), Green (John’s Phone Grass) & the "premium" edition, bar (golden) and you want to get rid of one of these 3 models (so can complete the collection here) please contact me.



    UPDATE: MARCH 2017

    John’s Phone daily usage- how did it go?

    How did the last period went ( please click here to read to original John’s Phone review 2016 ), so with not using a smartphone anymore and only work with the John’s Phone? Need to be said that not make a lot of phone calls so most of the time the John’s Phone is just shut down.

    Anyway, It went very well. When going outside you are not distracted anymore with mails, SMS’s etc. So it’s a big relieve. You have more time to look around and absorb on the surrounding without constantly staring at your smartphone.

    The major back-draw is the missing of having a small camera. For some new projects need to shoot lots of reference images and having a camera always with me is crucial.

    What to do? Not want to spend a lot of money on a new Iphone or buy a additionally separate camera.

    The solution was buying a affordable Android Smart Phone called Gigaset GS160 for about 100 Euro. The Quality of the camera is pretty good, at least for the projects working on.

    The Gigaset GS160 has a older Android system so better use a VPN and take some additional security measurement when going online. Even better not use internet at all on the GS160.

    The original plan was to swap the SIM card between the Gigaset GS160 and the Johns Phone, only the backside of the GS160 is to fragile to constantly swap the Sim card.

    So plan to get a extra - super cheap - SIM card that will be only used with the John’s Phone, need to think about the new setup some more. Perhaps will add another update to this page in the near future,

    Attention Fake John’s Phone’s spotted!

    A few weeks ago looked on the e-Bay website to see there still are Johns’ Phone’s available. Yes there available, only spotted a big warning if you plan to buy one: there are fake Johns’ Phone’s sold!

    how to recognize a fake one? Please have a look on the image below. The original creators of the John’s Phone posted the warning on their Facebook page. Note also the nice sense of humor from the original creators on the bottom low right side of the image :)

    Light Phone 2

    Good to see that there are appearing more mobile phones with - more or less - the same concept as the John’s Phone.

    About April 2019 a new version of the Light Phone will be released: Light Phone 2 and it looks fantastic! Their Indiegogo campaign is/was a huge success.

    The Light Phone 2 is a simple, 4G LTE phone with a beautiful black & white matte E-ink display (simple messaging is also possible).

    The price is pretty expensive but think you have a very nice “light” phone. Think this new Light Phone 2 can be successful in the future, due the fact that more and more people want to have more free time without getting overwhelmed by digital information/ social media addiction etc.

    © 2019 Products and brand names (and some product shots above) are trademarks or registered trademarks of their respective companies.