Last year on September 19th, I published an article on why I pre-ordered the Mudita Pure and why I encouraged others to do so, on my website https://librefree.me. Since that time, Covid has turned everything upside down and I had to unfortunately cancel my pre-order. Around that same time I stopped frequenting this forum as I felt I had nothing to really contribute and was dealing with some major depression.
Since that time I’ve had an opportunity to partner with companies like Kyocera and Sunbeam to test out some of their non smart devices and give my honest opinions on them. Living with those types of devices full time really helped me learn a lot and in some ways have made me regret my praise a of the Mudita Pure, like I had.
In the year that I’ve been away from this forum, it does seem Mudita has changed their stance on supporting predictive text and they open sourced the operating system, which I am a not only a huge fan of, but am proud to see them take community feedback so well. I am sad to see though that in regards to the group messaging and MMS situation, there doesn’t appear to be much change. And this is where my disappointment of the product stems from as I see MMS and group messaging as a necessity of any mobile device that calls and makes text messages.
Competing products on the market send and receive MMS messages, and allow for group messaging. Even voice phones from years past can do that. However, with mobile markets dropping support for both 2G and 3G, these older devices are no longer usable, and there don’t appear to be many modern successors that can offer the benefits we used to enjoy on these simple devices.
One can make the argument that because the Mudita Pure utilizes an e-ink display, it wouldn’t be able to show all the colors in an image from a MMS, and thus it doesn’t make sense for it to get them. While true the e-ink display cannot show you an image in color, I would make the argument that it’s more important that you could still get the image. Why? Well say you were sent a screenshot of a news headline that directly affects you, or an image of damage that happened to your car? Perhaps even an image of a stranger who a loved one claims if following them? Because of your choice of phone, you would never know because you can’t get said images. We live in an unpredictable world and we’ll never know when something like that could happen. I believe its better for it to be there and not need it, than to need it and for it not be there.
Android phones that have E-ink displays will still display images, despite the lack of color.
We are all members of society and we know the way that society communicates now, is not the same as it was 10 or 20 years ago. Communication as a whole has changed. Chat apps are huge, lots of people don’t make phone calls anymore. The elderly are doing video calls with their children and grandchildren. When it comes to text messaging, memes can get sent around left and right, people reply in emoji’s, GIFs, etc. Businesses can have group text groups for important information. Heck your friends or family can even have their own established group conversations that your 2021 minimalist phone suddenly can no longer participate in.
I cannot explain to you the awkward jolt that occurs when stop to a conversation because you can’t receive a piece of information. Let me give you an example. Let’s say you’re having a conversation with your mother about cars and she decides to sends you a picture of one she’s thinking about buying and asks you, “what do think about this one?” Because you can’t see the image that was sent, you have to sideline the conversation to let them know you can’t get that image they sent you. To accommodate you, they either have to know describe it to you, which defeats the purpose of them having sent you the image in the first place, or you need to ask them to send you the picture another way so you can view it when you have time and then get back to them later.
I understand the need to simplify, I really do, but having a “secondary device” only makes things more complicated. Most people buy a new phone as a replacement to their other phone, not to supplement it. Also we know most people aren’t carrying around 2 phones. In fact most people don’t carry more than their phone and maybe some wired/wireless earbuds. That doesn’t change because you have a feature phone. The Pure is about the size of a small smartphone anyways. Probably a bit thicker.
When I was using phones like the Sunbeam F1 and the Kyocera DuraXV Extreme, I was able to effectively communicate with friends, family, coworkers, strangers, everyone in between without issue. Why? Because I could receive every piece of information that was given to me. I could see their photos, their emojis, their GIFs, I could also be part of their group conversations. I know the phone screens are small and have terrible color reproduction because of their TFT displays, but I could still get everyone’s messages and wasn’t left out.
I think what makes me upset about having praised the Pure is knowing that it could be the perfect device for so many people without these shortcomings. A lot of people would love a simpler device, but don’t want to be handicapped.
For those that would say, this is your secondary device! To them I say as an individual who reviews tech, the concept of a secondary device is an enigma to me. I have multiple phones, but I am only every using one at a time. Also most people don’t have the disposable income to acquire a second phone, especially right now. To those who would say that the minimal nature of the phone is helpful. I would say I agree, but lacking an essential function of a communication device in 2021 is risky for reasons stated previously.
If you were to make the argument that you could just tell all of your friends and family that they can’t send you pictures, GIFs, etc. They aren’t going to be the only people you ever have telecommunications with. Someone can easily forget and sends you an picture anyways. Hopefully it wasn’t important. There’s just a lot of factors that we cannot account for and you take a risk when you cannot engage in that type of communication.
For those in the company who say that this would make the device more addictive, or less of a minimalist device. Remember, the phone has a black and white display that can’t download apps and offers no internet connectivity. Having the ability to see my friend send me a photo(which would appear small and lack color) of a sign that says 2 for $5 sale on this item and asking, “should I do it?” is not going to make me more addicted to the device. Neither is having the option to text both my sister and brother at the same time about landing a new job.
I’m disappointed because the Mudita Pure is a beautiful phone rivaled only by the Punkt MP02 in beauty, in my opinion. However even in that match up, I prefer the larger e-ink display over the LCD. There’s something fresh and beautiful about it, and not having the blue light from the LCD would help with my bouts of insomnia. Many of us know about the other e-ink phone on the market, the Light Phone 2. To me it doesn’t stack up for it’s lack of physical buttons. It also doesn’t support images in its text app. Sure I can forward them to my email, and while it sounds like a great feature, this turns out to be more of a nuisance as I don’t have always have access to my email. Again, let’s hope the image wasn’t important or doesn’t get lost on its way there.
The current crop of Nokia phones on the market, while good looking and have support for MMS, they miss the mark by not supporting group chats. Only a few voice phones on the market support SMS/MMS, calls and group messaging. They’re all flip phones! While it’s awesome they exist, flip phones take up more space in a pocket than a candy bar style voice phone does. In my opinion they also lack the aesthetic appeal of the Mudita and other candy bar phones alongside them. The Punkt MP 02 comes close in offering Signal support, but it still lacks MMS and group messaging in its stock text app.
If you were to pull out the WiFi chip from a smartphone, you could still send and receive SMS/MMS, set up group messages, get emojis and make calls. This to me is the bare minimum we should be striving for in our modern era of communication. We should not be settling for anything less.
Mudita, if you’ve read this, please consider my words. Do with them what you will. I’m still rooting for the success of your product, but we really need to raise the bar if we’re only getting text and calls.