Every year, high school seniors in South Korea take a national college entrance exam called suneung that will essentially determine the rest of their lives. This isn’t an exaggeration. Unlike the SATs, which only play a small part in college admissions, the idea of suneung is battered into students’ heads as the determining factor of how successful they’ll be in a deeply hierarchical society. That’s why it makes sense that Samsung is releasing a smartphone that can’t connect to the internet, so students don’t get distracted and can focus on studying.
The Galaxy J2 Pro has the bare essentials of a smartphone. You can text and make calls with it and take photos with the 8-megapixel rear camera and 5-megapixel front camera. There’s also an offline DioDic4 English dictionary app, a calendar app, calculator, and an FM radio. That’s it. And while there’s technically an LTE modem in the phone, it’s disabled for everything but calls and texting. Otherwise, there’s absolutely no Wi-Fi or data to speak of. If you want, you can even opt for a data plan that limits how many texts you can send.
It comes in two colors, black and gold, and costs around 200,000 won, or about $190. The rest of its specs are pretty good: a 5-inch QHD AMOLED display, 1.4GHz quad-core processor, and 1.5GB RAM. It also has a 2,600mAh battery and a microSD slot. But hopefully this phone will only play a temporary role in students’ lives for them to enjoy the specs for too long.
The most intriguing part of the Galaxy J2 Pro is that they’re currently running a promotion for students taking the 2019 and 2020 suneung exam. Once students have completed the grueling test, they can actually trade in the phone for a Galaxy S, Note, or an A-series phone released after 2018 and have the cost of the J2 Pro reimbursed. There are no plans to sell the phone outside of South Korea yet, but there’s probably no other country where test-taking is taken this seriously.