Carl Barenbrug

Product design, creative direction

Phone Setup 2021

An annual review of the minimal phone setup sees it considerably different from last year, yet a lot has remained the same. I am still rocking the iPhone 11 with no immediate desire to upgrade. Don't get me wrong, I think the iPhone 12 is a far better design than the 11, but I don't yet feel the need to upgrade at the moment—maybe by the end of the year.

In terms of my phone usage, I am still maintaining a minimal mindset in terms of screen time and volume of apps, but I have taken a bit more of a relaxed attitude with the latter. With iOS 14, it introduced a new way to organise apps and how they appear. Apple allowed the ability to use custom icons via the Shortcuts app, which was exciting to see, albeit a bit hacky. Many designers looked to exploit this feature and make the most of it. We saw a wave of icon sets, most of which were mediocre, so I decided to collaborate with Studio Lenzing and design a refined and minimal set named SLM 880 that to me, is distinctive in both style and quality. With this in mind, my Home Screen changed quite a lot.

So let’s break down the setup:

Lock Screen

A Minimalissimo series of gradient style wallpapers specifically designed to hide the iOS dock and blend the much loved notch. Hidden Wallpapers is available to download on the Minimalissimo shop.

Minimal Wallpaper

Home Screen

I currently have 35 apps in total (including system apps), with only 8 apps used on my Home Screen.

Primary Apps

  • Camera
  • Maps
  • Telegram
  • Instagram
  • Mail
  • Clear
  • SoundCloud
  • Photos
Minimal Home Screen

Other Apps

  • Amazon Music
  • App Store
  • Calculator
  • Calendar
  • Clock
  • Contacts
  • Dropbox
  • Dropbox Paper
  • FaceTime
  • Find My
  • Freetrade
  • Memrise
  • Messages
  • Moon Climbing
  • PayPal
  • Phone
  • RingGo
  • RBS
  • Safari
  • Settings
  • Shortcuts
  • Slack
  • Translate
  • Uber
  • Wallet
  • Weather
  • WMU

It is worth noting that I do occasionally download other apps if I need to use them only for a short time, but if I no longer need them, I delete them from my phone. All of the above are apps I use on a regular or semi-regular basis, with exception to the Find My app.

How does your setup compare? Are there any apps I should be considering? Any tips you want to share? Always happy to hear from you.

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