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Duolingo not cutting it for you? These phones only unlock when you speak a new word

These phones force you to learn English if you want to use them.
By

Published onMarch 1, 2024

TL;DR
  • A Korean firm has released customized Samsung phones to help users learn English.
  • These phones can only be unlocked when you say the English words displayed on the lock screen.

There are a few ways to learn a new language, such as online tutors, various apps, and old-fashioned teachers. But what if these options aren’t doing it for you? Well, a Korean company has teamed up with Samsung for a solution.

Korean firm GNW Lab has launched the so-called Sutophone (h/t: Donga). This isn’t an original phone, though, but rather several high-end Galaxy phones with custom software pre-installed. These are the Galaxy Z Fold 5, Galaxy Z Flip 5, Galaxy S24, Galaxy S24 Ultra, and Galaxy S23 FE.

These customized phones display at least 10 English words on their lock screens each day, and the phones will only unlock when the user says the word displayed on the screen. Answered the initial list of 10 words correctly? Then 10 more words will appear after an hour. The company says you can learn up to 110 words daily based on 11 hours of smartphone usage.

Would you buy a phone like this to learn a new language?

63 votes

GNW Lab adds that all the words used in this software were featured in Korea’s CSAT English exams from 2019 to 2023. It also notes that users can learn over 3,000 words in a year at the very least, while CSAT exams contain 9,000 words.

This software can’t be removed, though. That’s somewhat understandable, as this solution is focused on children and teenagers. However, this could make for some problems down the line when these children become adults and can’t easily disable the lock screen.

This is, nevertheless, a novel way to learn a new language. So we wouldn’t mind seeing other developers offering a lock screen app like this with support for multiple languages.