Punkt MP02: Second Look

The Punkt MP02 will liberate you from your smartphone. It’s not a smartphone-killer, but it will free you from the burden of the dreaded online default mode.

Most of us are stuck in online default mode. We need a phone for communication in the modern age and smartphones are the most flexible solution for those moments when we absolutely must get online while out and about.

I get it.

But those moments of the essential online are fewer than we think. And what we are left with is the online default mode, in which we carry around the internet in our pocket, with instant access at any time.

The Punkt MP02 relieves you of this default and replaces it with an offline default mode. The online world is still accessible, through 4G tethering to a second device – computer, tablet or smartphone – but it is never only a swipe away.

Reaching into my pocket, I’m separated from a swift fiddle with Whatsapp by a dozen key presses and a twenty second wait. This is just enough to stop me from using my smartphone when I don’t need it – but still convenient enough that going online when I need to is not a hassle.

With the Punkt MP02, I am liberated to use my technology as I need it. A good example is that I often leave the house with either one or the other, but rarely with both phones.

If I want to contact others, I can take only the Punkt and stay offline. If I want to take photographs, then I can take only my smartphone camera without being tempted to go online.

Best of all are the times when I leave both in their drawer at home!

New Model Update: Better or Worse?

This is the second MP02 that I have tested. The first model I reviewed back in April and you can read my thoughts here. Ultimately, this model was unusable long term, mainly because of the short battery life (scarcely a day) and the frequent dropped calls.

So is this new model any better? The short answer is yes, but there are still snags.

Limited battery life

Since the first edition of the MP02, the battery life has improved – but it’s still not sensational compared to other feature phones like the Nokia 3310.

I would say that my Punkt phone use is no more than moderate and I need to charge the device every 36 hours or so. Not terrible, as it was before, but not world-beating either.

As you would expect, the biggest drain on the Punkt battery is tethering. I use this feature a fair amount because I travel often and sometimes need to connect my laptop to the internet.

As a guide, 45 minutes of tethering used 10% of the battery; 70 minutes drained 19%. Sometimes I plug the Punkt in to charge and tether for longer periods, but the phone does get warm and I doubt this is particularly good for the battery life.

Unfortunately, Punkt have withdrawn the ability to tether over USB and Bluetooth connections, both of which use less power than a wifi connection. I hope these features will return in future updates, but customer support didn’t give me any cause for optimism when I mentioned it.

Dropped calls

After a month of use, I haven’t had any dropped calls. Fingers crossed that’s a vast improvement.

Home screen snags

There are still a number of glitches in the software – particularly in the way the home screen behaves – and that’s not cool in a phone that costs £295.

The main glitches are when waking up from standby. The worst of these is that the home screen frequently freezes, leaving me staring at an unresponsive phone until it recovers.

The clock also takes a couple of seconds to update – slightly annoying when you’re quickly checking to see whether you’re about to miss a train.

There are a few features that I’d expect to see that are missing, especially with contact management. The address book works in mysterious ways and there is no easy way to delete duplicate contacts, for example.

It would be wonderful if I could manage my Punkt contacts using my computer and a USB connection. Consider that a feature request!

On the plus side, it was easy to transfer contacts from my smartphone to the Punkt using Bluetooth. Full marks there.

I can’t have an audible ring tone without also turning on all the other annoying system noises

No improvement on the old model – actually worse because my phone refuses to vibrate, despite having that option turned on. I would ordinarily rely on the vibrate to get around the obnoxious system noises that come whenever the ringtone is set up.

I’ve asked customer support about this and they appeared baffled by the desire for an audible ringtone without audible key tone presses.

In conclusion, this new model MP02 is a significant improvement on the previous edition. I can see myself using this model for the foreseeable future, but I sincerely hope that further improvements to the software are in the pipeline.

Note: Punkt sent me this new model MP02 gratis. Thank you!

You can read my review of the old model MP02 here.