Light launches new minimalist phone with OLED screen, still no addictive apps


As Apple gears up to launch its AI-driven features for iPhones, another company is opting for simplicity over tech overload. Light, known for its minimalist phone with an e-paper screen, unveils its latest model, the Light Phone III.

Like its predecessor, the Light Phone III sports a black-and-white display without social media, internet, or email access. However, the Light III features a larger OLED screen, an NFC chip for future payment functionalities, and a camera for capturing moments otherwise missed without your smartphone.

Joe Hollier, Light’s co-founder, explains the new device aims to enhance usability and performance. The Light III is wider than previous models, approximately the width of most iPhones but significantly shorter—resembling a BlackBerry. This design improvement facilitates easier vertical texting. The AMOLED screen, which illuminates only white pixels, paired with matte glass, maintains the familiar feel of the older Light Phone II.

“It actually will keep a lot of the characteristics that people love about the e-ink screen, [with it] feeling much different than a glossy smartphone screen,” Hollier said.

Image Credits: Light

Founded by Hollier and Kaiwei Tang in September 2014, initially as a Kickstarter project, Light was aimed at those wanting to reduce smartphone dependency. Between the Light Phone I and II, over 100,000 devices have been shipped, with the Light Phone II accounting for roughly two-thirds of the sales.

The Light Phone’s allure lies in its minimalist approach, offering essential smartphone functionalities like maps, navigation, calls, texting, notes, voice notes, calendar, timer, alarm, calculator, hotspot, and a simple music player and podcast tool—while excluding social media apps, clickbait news, and internet browsers.

Image Credits: Light

Light phone users can either use the unlocked device with their carrier or subscribe to Light’s $30 monthly phone plan with 1GB of data. Higher-tier plans cost $45/month for 5GB or $70/month for unlimited data.

The phone has found favor among 25- to 40-year-olds, most of whom use it as their main phone, often paired with a tablet or laptop for broader internet access. A smaller segment switches to their Light phone for breaks, such as going “offline” for a weekend while still being reachable in emergencies.

The Light Phone III aims to cater to the larger demographic that already uses non-smartphones as their primary device.

Image Credits: Light

Privacy-conscious users will find the Light phone appealing. When features like directions and navigation are used, Light ensures user privacy by paying for external logic, preventing tech giants like Google from tracking and sharing user data.

Beyond the new form factor and OLED screen, the camera is a significant addition. Though not comparable to high-end smartphones, it operates like a point-and-shoot camera with a center-focus lens. A dedicated shutter button enables focusing with a half-press and captures the photo with a full press.

Another new feature is the light wheel, which allows users to adjust screen brightness with a knob, enhancing visibility indoors or outdoors.

The updated model includes more antenna bands, eliminating the need for separate North American and European versions. The casing features aluminum sides and recycled plastic for the speaker grille, and larger loudspeakers enhance music and podcast playback or speakerphone use.

The power button now integrates fingerprint ID, simplifying phone access. The 5G-enabled device also boasts 6GB of RAM (up from 1GB in the Light Phone II), 128GB of storage (up from 8GB), and modern Qualcomm chips.

The battery, approximately twice the size of earlier versions, is user-replaceable, or Light can replace it for under $50 if shipped back.

Image Credits: Light

All these enhancements increase the cost: The Light Phone III is priced at $799, compared to the Light Phone II’s $299, which will still be available for those preferring the e-ink version.

“We pose the question: Can a phone last five years or even 10 years? Things like the metal, more quality materials, the removable battery, and we’ve even improved how screens could be replaced—and other components—as much as possible,” Hollier said. “We’re trying to make it a more sustainable phone. And to that point, you know, the $799 price point really does embody that.”

Early adopters of the Light Phone III can preorder the device at $399—a 50% discount. These preorders will support Light’s initial mass production run with Foxconn, involving three production runs until late November, with shipments starting in January 2025.

From 2015 through 2024, Light has raised around $11 million from over 80 VCs and angels, including Bullish VC, Twitter Cofounder Biz Stone, Lyft Cofounder John Zimmer, Tim Kendall (Facebook/Pinterest), Scott Belsky (Adobe), Wisdom Venture, Dave Free (Pglang), Pete Davidson (SNL), Able Partners, Gaingels, Heroic Ventures, Hinge Capital, White Bay Group, New Lab Ventures, SOSV, as well as Foxconn. As of 2022—the last valuation used to raise equity—Light was valued at $24 million, pre-money.

The Light Phone III’s full specs:

Dimensions: 106mm x 71.5mm x 12mm

Weight: 124g
Network: 5G + 4GLTE

Display: 3.92” AMOLED (1080×1240)
Screen: Matte Glass

Port: USB-C 2.0

Camera: 50m rear / 8m front


Memory: 128GB / 6GB RAM
Battery: 1800 mAH

Sound: 2 mics (noise cancellation), 2 stereo speakers

Features: GPS, Bluetooth 5.0, NFC, Fingerprint ID

Materials: Aluminum, Glass, SORPLAS Recycled Plastic

Chipset: Qualcomm SM 4450

IP Rating: IP 54

Sarah Perez
Sarah Perez
Staff writer. Previously, Sarah worked for over three years at ReadWriteWeb, a technology news publication. Before working as a reporter, Perez worked in I.T. across a number of industries, including banking, retail and software.

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