Punkt. MP02 4G Mobile Phone Review: Will It Bring Balance Back into Your Communication?

Punkt. MP02 4G Mobile Phone Review: Will It Bring Balance Back into Your Communication?

Smartphones are ubiquitous. With them, we can check Facebook, post to Instagram, check our stocks, Tweet, browse the web, pay bills, read books, play games, and more. And we can do it anytime, from almost anywhere. Why then, would the “dumb” Punkt. MP02 4G Mobile Phone appeal to anyone? Because using one might help bring balance back into your life.

Think about it; we’ve become near Pavlovian with our need to check smartphone notifications as they roll in. What are we so worried about missing? A like on an Instagram photo? Another Tweet from yet another elected official that’s just going to raise our ire? And the irony of it all is that so much of the time, while we are checking notifications from acquaintances and strangers, the most significant people in our lives are sitting right across the table from us or hanging out with us in the same room. It makes no sense, and yet it is our new normal.

But how can you try to train yourself to “be here now,” and set aside all of the non-essential communication our smartphones can’t help but provide? Taking a step back from all of that convergence is possible, and one of the ways to do it is with a phone like the Punkt. MP02.

But you shouldn’t think of the MP02 as a “detox phone,” rather, we Punkt. says we should see it as a new type of “everyday phone for people who have realized that smartphones can get in the way of life and actually create invisible barriers between people. So, no distractions, no notifications. No apps that have been designed by behavioral scientists to keep you addicted.”

Like the previous model, the MP01, the Punkt. MP02 is a simply designed phone that can be used for calling and texting. The MP02 has different hardware than the MP01, subtly different physical aesthetics, threaded text messaging, and a bespoke UI.  The Punkt. MP02 has also been upgraded to include 4G LTE, so you can use it as a hotspot for wireless tethering with your laptop or tablet when you need internet access.

When it’s time to get online, the MP02’s 4G LTE connection can be shared with a tablet/laptop – which means easier typing in comparison with a smartphone, and a bigger screen. This two-device approach means that the Internet is something you dip into, rather than the other way round.

I was sent a pre-production model, so this isn’t the final packaging. My model also didn’t come with the Blackberry Secure technology that the production models will ship with, but what I got was still enough to decide what I thought about using a phone such as this.

Included in the box are the Punkt. MP02, a Type-C USB charging cable, a wall charger, a SIM tool, and a mono in-ear headset that connects to the USB port for those who prefer not to hold the phone to their face.

The Punkt. MP02 measures4.65″ long by 2.1″ wide by 0.6″ thick (at its widest point), and it weighs just 3.5 ounces. The phone has a glass-fiber reinforced body that has the same protective coating found on professional cameras; it also has an oleophobic tempered glass covering its 2″ (measured diagonally) daylight-viewable screen.

The phone feels solid in the hand. It’s well-balanced and is designed for one-handed use. The body is reinforced with glass-fibre and its textured finish is both protective and unusual. It’s a phone for keeping, not replacing.

Punk MP02 Specifications

Body: Polycarbonate casing with textured, high-durability coating; front glass-fibre reinforced (10%); high-dispersion rear speaker housing, Soft-touch rear pad, Backlit keys, Anodised aluminium Power key and SIM tray, Splash-proof to IP52 (IEC standard 60529)
Display: Size: 2.0?
Aspect ratio: 4:3
Resolution: 320 x 240 (QVGA),
Type: VA TFT transflective (sunlight-readable)
Viewing angle: > 80/80/80/80
Protection: Gorilla Glass 3 (fingerprint-resistant oleophobic coating)
Audio: Front speaker, Rear (hands-free) speaker (1.5 W max output), Front microphone, Rear (noise-cancelling) microphone, Audio power amplifier class K, Vibrating alert motor
Processor: Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 210
RAM: 2 GB LPDDR3, 533 MHz
Storage: 16 GB eMMC 4.5
Network: LTE category 4 with VoLTE [I was not able to test VoLTE capability]
•Version 1 (Europe, Australia, Japan), 2G: 2, 3, 5, 8, 3G: WB-CDMA 1, 5(6/19), 8; 4G: FDD-LTE 1, 3, 5(6/19), 7, 8, 20,
•Version 2 (USA/CANADA): 2G: 2, 3, 5, 8, 3G: WCDMA 1, 2, 4, 5, 8, 4G: FDD-LTE 1, 2, 4, 5, 7, 12, 17
Carrier-related information: Single nano-SIM (4FF), The MP02 is supplied unlocked
Connectivity: Wi-Fi IEEE 802.11 b/g/n, 2.4 GHz, Bluetooth v4.1, A2DP, USB 2.0 with USB-C connector
Sensors: GPS with A-GPS, GLONASS, Gravity + gyro, eCompass
Battery: Type: 1,280 mAh lithium-ion, Charging method: USB, Charging time: 2.5 hours (max.) with supplied charger (1 A), Standby time: 12.5 days, Talk time: 4.2 hours
Anticipated lifespan: 5 years
Operating System: Android AOSP 8.1
Security: BlackBerry Secure Manufacturing, BlackBerry Secure Boot (including HW Root of Trust), BlackBerry Integrity Detection with Security Status Reporting, BlackBerry Secure Compound, BlackBerry Security Verification of Device software
Functions: Phone calls, with noise-cancelling technology and hands-free option, SMS with predictive text-entry, user dictionary, threaded messaging, monochrome ideograms and MMS receipt/display, Contacts, Notes (with reminder facility), Clock (including alarm clock, stopwatch, countdown timer, world clock), Calculator (add, subtract, multiply, divide), Month-view calendar, Internet tethering (Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and USB), Aeroplane mode, OS updates via Wi-Fi
Languages: Danish, Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Italian, Norwegian, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Swedish, Arabic*, Chinese* (Simplified), Hindi*, Japanese*

On the front, there are a series of 20 physical buttons. It’s an interesting throwback, for those of us who came of age using regular old cellphones back in the day, before screens became larger and touchable, and before buttons slowly disappeared.

The instantly-recognisable MP02 is the work of renowned product designer Jasper Morrison. It is built around effective simplicity: press the phonebook button to make a call, press the text button to send a message. For everything else, there’s a fast, lean menu system: up, down, select, go.

Above the display, there is an ear speaker. Under the display, the buttons are as follows:

  • The Up button is for moving up in a list, moving the cursor left when entering text, increasing numbers, moving between letters and numbers in a text, opening the status menu from the home screen, or pressing and holding to take you back to main menu or the start of a text.
  • The Dot (or Punkt.) button for opening the main menu, selecting a highlighted option, or composing a new message when in the messaging screen.
  • The Down button is for moving down in a list, moving the cursor right when entering text, decreasing numbers, opening the notifications menu from the home screen, pressing and holding to take you to the bottom of menus and to the end of a text.
  • The Contacts button will open the contacts list when pressed; when pressed and held it will open a screen to add a new contact.
  • The Messages button opens the Messages app when you are on the home screen. When a number or contact is selected, it will send a message to that number or contact. When you press and hold it on the home screen, it will create a new message. You can also use it to send a message template to someone who is calling you.
  • The Send button allows you to make a call, answer a call, and put a call on hold. From the home screen, you can use it to view your call history. In the settings menu, pressing it will save your settings. If you press and hold it on an incoming call, it will answer the call in speakerphone mode.
  • The Back button will return you to the previous screen or delete a character when entering data.
  • The End button will end a call, reject a call, and return you to the home screen. If you press and hold it when on the home screen, it will turn off your phone.
  • The Number keys (0-9) work as you’d expect, with these additions: pressing and holding them from the homescreen will go to preprogrammed shortcut, pressing and holding the 1 key will dial voicemail, and you’ll them to enter numbers and letters.
  • The Zero key will insert a space when entering text, a 0 when keying in numbers, and when entering a phone number you can press and hold it to enter a + sign.
  • The Star key allows you to choose symbols when entering text, and when you press and hold it while in a call, it will put your phone on mute.
  • The Hash (#) key will change input mode when entering text, and pressing and holding it when entering text will swap the phone between predictive, multi-tap mode, and numbers.

So just in case it’s not obvious — it may take a minute when first using the phone to get used to all of the hard key functions; once you get them down, it’s easy to keep up, but the first few times you use it will be a bit disorienting.

The Punkt. MP02 is built for connecting with people. It’s comfortable to hold and to use, and features excellent audio quality and battery life: a phone that actually works as a phone, with up-to-the-minute styling and an interface that is elegant and efficient.

Punkt. MP02 4G Mobile Phone Review: Will It Bring Balance Back into Your Communication?

The right side of the phone has a SIM tray.

At the top of the MP02, there is a power button that will also wake the phone when quickly pressed.

Punkt. MP02 4G Mobile Phone Review: Will It Bring Balance Back into Your Communication?

There are no buttons on the left side.

Punkt. MP02 4G Mobile Phone Review: Will It Bring Balance Back into Your Communication?

On the bottom, there is a microphone and the USB Type-C charging port.

Punkt. MP02 4G Mobile Phone Review: Will It Bring Balance Back into Your Communication?

On the back, there is another microphone, a separate speaker, and a soft grippy pad that helps keep the phone from sliding off a sloped surface.

Punkt. MP02 4G Mobile Phone Review: Will It Bring Balance Back into Your Communication?

That’s it!

The Punkt. MP02 is compact, solid, and simple. In hand, it feels well made and comfortable to hold, but it also feels a bit alien to anyone used to clasping a smartphone. You’ll look at it and wonder what else it can do more than once, and that’s okay.

Punkt. MP02 4G Mobile Phone Review: Will It Bring Balance Back into Your Communication?

Pressing the Punkt. button will unlock the phone.

At startup, you’ll see a black and white dove on the screen and hear a dove cooing. It’s a bit different from the jangly tunes we are used to hearing when our smartphones startup; it’s calming, though. The ringtones also include some bird sounds and some soothing melodies.

The MP02’s unique ringtones have their own pedigree: they are the work of respected Norwegian sound artist Kjetil Røst Nilsen.

The first time you power on the phone, you’ll have to run through some settings …

Moving your contacts over to the Punkt. MP02 isn’t as easy as signing into a Google account or downloading an iCloud backup, obviously. But thanks to the phone’s Bluetooth capabilities, you can easily move those contacts over. Here’s how it works on an Android device: after pairing the MP02 to your Android phone, you’ll simply select the contact (or all of your contacts) that you want to import from the Android Contacts app. You’ll select Share at the top of the Android device’s screen, and then select Bluetooth. You’ll see a list of devices to beam to, and you’ll just need to select the MP02. On the MP02, you’ll get a notification that an “Incoming File” has arrived, and you’ll need to accept it. Then you’ll go to Contacts>Manage Contacts>Restore Contacts and select the vCard that you just transferred. You’ll press the Punkt. button to confirm and your contacts will then show. This process is simple to do, and it doesn’t take long.

You might want to weed out some of those contacts before transferring them all, though; maybe just stick with your top 40-50 contacts? After all, we are trying to simplify with this phone, and scrolling through so many entries will be a pain until you get your favorites set up. At the top of your new list of contacts, there is a search feature, so that helps. Interestingly enough, all of the contact info you had for each particular contact will transfer over, so you’ll still have access to their phone numbers, email addresses, nicknames, and physical addresses. From each individual contact, you’ll have the option to edit it on the MP02, share via SMS, Bluetooth, copy to phone SIM, or move to phone SIM. There are also instructions included on how to transfer contacts from Mac and Windows computers. The iPhone doesn’t allow you to select all of your contacts and transfer, so if you are on an iPhone, you’ll need to do this from your computer.

I’m not going to lie: the first couple of days that I used the Punkt. MP02, I was completely jonesing for my Google Pixel 3 XL. I am way too used to spending my free time reading a book on the Kindle app, checking my email, replying to texts or Viber messages, editing posts on-the-go, and checking Instagram or Twitter.

Did it kill me to go without these capabilities? Obviously not. But did I enjoy going without them? No … not really. But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t good for me to use the Punk. MP02 as a tool to get my head back into what was going on around me versus keeping my eyes buried in my phone’s screen.

When I needed to, I could tether my MP02 to my laptop (when I had it with me), and from there I was able to check email, edit posts, and keep up with the social sites. Honestly, I could still read on my Kindle, but that required bringing along yet another separate device, so I didn’t always do that. Not being able to bury my face in my phone meant that I found myself trying to engage with other people around me — when they didn’t have their faces buried in their phones. And therein lies the rub.

Focus is at a premium in the digital age. The MP02 makes it easier to be where you are, whether that’s a family weekend away or an important business meeting. It gives you freedom from a constant onslaught of designed-for-addiction notifications and other distractions. It puts you in charge.

If you have a spouse who rolls their eyes when they see you checking notifications, or if you are one of those rude people who can’t stay off your phone for even 30 minutes during a meal or an evening out with friends, then the Punkt. MP02 will probably help retrain you to settle down and engage with what’s going on around you. The only problem is that you won’t be the one taking photos of your friends for later (unless you bring along a separate camera), and when you give your friends dirty looks while they are checking the latest notifications on their phones and ignoring you, you’re going to be the bad guy.

Even so, if you are ready to try stepping back from a smartphone that provides too many distractions, the Punkt. MP02 might be the perfect way to do so. Everything about it is 2019 … except for the fact that it’s not a “jack of all trades and a master of none.” The Punkt. MP02 is an excellent cellphone with the capability to keep you connected via text or phone calls, but its special trick is being able to also serve as a hotspot for those times when you truly need to get online.

The Punkt. MP02 retails for $349, and it is available directly from the manufacturer.

Source: Manufacturer supplied review sample

What I Like: Very well-built, solid little phone; Unique sounds and ringtones; Feels good in hand: It’s light and slim; May help promote mindfulness and the whole “be here now” ethos; Has 4G/ LTE capabilities so you can tether it wirelessly to your laptop or tablet

What Needs Improvement: No camera; Expensive; You’ll need to make sure the bands are compatible with your SIM carrier brand’s

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About the Author

Judie Lipsett Stanford
Judie is the co-owner and Editor-in-Chief of Gear Diary, which she founded in September 2006. She started in 1999 writing software reviews at the now-defunct smaller.com; from mid-2000 through 2006, she wrote hardware reviews for and co-edited at The Gadgeteer. A recipient of the Sigma Kappa Colby Award for Technology, Judie is best known for her device-agnostic approach, deep-dive reviews, and enjoyment of exploring the latest tech, gadgets, and gear.