The Phone that Doesn’t Want You to Use It

Joel Olympio
4 min readJul 6, 2022

October, 2018

This is a reposted article because the website it was previously published on is no longer active.

Blloc, a German company, have designed a phone for minimalists. The Blloc Zero 18 is designed to allow you to regain control of your phone, focusing on productivity and meaningful tasks while also having a modern and sleek look. The hardware is nothing special, it resembles the latest iPhones and 90% of Android phones in the world with a notch and “bezeless” display (although there is a cool translucent back cover and a headphone jack). However, the phone’s software is what really makes it unique.

No Colours, No Distraction

To achieve a distraction free user interface, Blloc OS is based on a monochromatic design language. This supposedly relaxes your eyes, distracts you less and helps you to reduce screen time to a minimal level. The absence of colour in the phone’s user interface tries to deter you from using it. However, whether it’s looking at a photo or playing a game sometimes colour is necessary, so Blloc have developed a feature called Colour Touch. By tapping on the fingerprint sensor, the screen will flood with colour and tapping it again will return it to black and white.

Monochromatic UI

Block Distraction

The Blloc Zero 18’s main purpose is to stop you from opening apps. We’ve all been subjected to YouTube’s ruthless recommended feed or Twitter’s never-ending tweets. Have you ever opened Instagram even after just checking it 5 minutes ago thinking there’ll be a ton of new posts? It’s okay, you’re not alone. Blloc aims to tackle this social impulse with Blloc Mode. By switching to Blocc Mode all interactions with your phone are unified in two timelines: The Root — a sort of command center where you can read the news, check the weather or call a taxi without opening an app — The Tree — a unified messaging center where you can message your contacts from various apps such as Messenger, WhatsApp and Slack, again without opening the apps.

The Root Page on the Blloc Zero 18

The notification tray that we are all used to has also been redesigned under Blloc Mode as a single page of tiles called Blloc Tiles. Similar to, gone but not forgotten, Windows Phone, the Blloc Tiles allow you to perform various actions by tapping on a tile. For example, you can pause and skip through a Spotify playlist from the Spotify tile. The monochrome tiles can also be darkened so that they don’t distract you.

Midrange Specifications

This phone is not for the most tech savvy people but rather for minimalists, hipsters and those who feel their phone is too time-consuming. Because of this, the phone isn’t made to compete with the latest and greatest from Samsung, Apple or Google but instead be sufficient enough for most people. It has 4GB of RAM and 64GB of storage. It’s fitted with a 5.8” full HD LED screen (OLED would have complimented the monochromatic UI), a 3000mAh battery and a 13mp rear-camera and 8mp front-camera.

The notification tray with tiles

Packaging from Space

The uniqueness of the phone starts from the moment you receive the packaging. The box and accessories come in an air-tight grey bag that resembles the packaging of space food. Why? Frankly, I’m not sure but it looks cool!

Space packaging

The Middle Ground of Phones

The Blloc Zero 18 is a nice combination of functionality and minimalism. It’s not quite an iPhone nor is it like The Light Phone; it aims to give you all you need while cutting out the excess. Whether it’s well-received or not depends on the reliability of the software which is basically a hacked version of Android 8.0. Prior to its release, there have already been comments saying the company should just release the software in the form of a launcher rather than making a phone. Ultimately, I think the phone’s effectiveness will really come down to the user and how dedicated they are to declutter their digital lives.

The Blloc Zero 18 will start shipping exclusively in Europe in November 2018 for €365 including 1 year full coverage insurance.