Yves Béhar, the industrial designer behind such diverse products as the WattStation EV charging station, the Jawbone Bluetooth headset and Mission One electric sports motorbike has turned his talents to that most essential of modern day devices – the mobile phone. The result is a stylish handset that comes in either stainless steel or gold versions priced at 7,250 euro (approx. US$10,140) and 42,000 euro ($58,740) respectively. But anyone expecting a phone at those prices to do everything short of fixing you a fine meal and cleaning up afterwards will be sorely disappointed as the +YvesBéhar phone has been designed firmly with simplicity in mind.
Eschewing the trend for increasingly smarter smartphones capable of downloading and running a virtually endless array of apps, the +YvesBéhar phone provides just the most basic of features. The phone's TFT display is of the non-touchscreen variety, which is probably just as well since it a mere two inches in size, while the applications are also decidedly basic with a world clock, alarm, notes, to-do list, calendar, calculator and converter. Other "features" include speed dial, call screening, call forwarding, call waiting, conference calls and Bluetooth connectivity.
Aiming for durability, Béhar, who designed the phone for Copenhagen-based company Æsir, partnered with European watch component makers for the metalwork, whose influence is immediately evident when looking at the phone's watchband-like keypad. The edge-to-edge keypad is assembled using a bespoke robotic assembly method and completed by hand-setting each of the keys to ensure they align perfectly.
"With the Æsir phone, I wanted to show an alternative to the sea of smartphones and their deluge of features," said Béhar. "In an age when the industry seems to think that phones aren't for speaking anymore, I wanted to focus on the idea of voice, clarity and simplicity."
The simplicity of the phone extends to its user interface, for which Æsir commissioned a sans serif typeface and icons from the Tom Hingston Studio. Æsir also commissioned the "master of upright bass," Chris Minh Doky, to create original ringtones for the device.
The simplicity of the +YvesBéhar phone makes me think it would make an ideal unit for my Dad, but at the asking price he might have to make do with slightly more reasonably priced simplicity-centric offerings such as Doro's HandleEasy models or the seniors-focused models from Emporia. Maybe next year Dad.
The +YvesBéhar phone measures 114 x 49.8 x 11.9 mm (4.48 x 1.96 x 0.47 in), with the 18-carat yellow gold 3N model weighing in at 250 g (8.8 oz) and the stainless steel 316L model tipping the scales at 210 g (7.4 oz). Its Sony battery provides up to 5.2 hours talk time and up to 220 hours standby. It should be available by the middle of the year.