Between the cost of data packages and the price of the phones themselves, staying up to date isn’t exactly cheap.
That’s not to mention the indirect costs -- the endless distractions, annoying notifications, or the fact that many of the big tech companies allegedly monitor nearly everything you do on your phone.
With these things in mind, people are starting to switch back to the phones of yesteryear…
Whether you call them basic phones, dumb phones, feature phones, or non-smartphones, this guide is going to break down some of the best options available.
Editor’s Note: This post has been updated for 2019.
1. Kyocera DuraXE
Best Basic Phone for Active Lifestyles
Rugged, Long battery life, 4G support, microSD support
While a bit pricier than other “basic” phones, the Kyocera DuraXE is a great value.
Ideal for those with active lifestyles or who need something that can take a few drops and dings, it features a grippy, rubberized shell and a durable flip phone design.
“This rugged clamshell is a tough little beast, no question there,” says PhoneScoop. “It covers all the survivability traits needed by today's outdoor workforce, including resistance to abuse and water damage.”
The 2.4-inch color display makes it easy to read texts while the chunky buttons make sure you dial accurately -- even with gloves on.
Reviewers particularly liked the volume pumped out by the speaker on the phone. Whether you’re taking calls or jamming out to your favorite tracks, you’ll have no trouble hearing.
Lastly the phone offers 8GB of internal storage and supports microSD cards up to 32GB. In combination with the included media player, you can store a nice collection of podcasts or music.
If you’re looking for all of the media flexibility, connectivity, and communications options of a smartphone without the actual “smarts” this one is a great pick.
If durability is a concern, the Kyocera DuraXE is up the challenge and includes all the communications essentials.
2. ZTE Z432
Best Basic Phone for Text Messaging
QWERTY Keyboard, microSD support, Price
Cons: No 4G support, Limited internal storage
Available in both an unlocked version and a AT&T GoPhone version, the ZTE Z432 looks a lot like the classic BlackBerries of decades past.
It’s a wide, rectangular affair with a full physical keyboard, directional pad, and dedicated call buttons to make using it -- even with gloves on -- easy. While it supports some basic apps, don’t expect a whole lot more here than basic messaging, email, web browsing, and GPS support.
“The inclusion of a full QWERTY keyboard on ZTE’s Z432 cell phone is a true highlight that offers the benefits of a smartphone-style keyboard without weighing it down with too many extras,” says Lifewire.
The 2.4-inch display offers just enough room to fire off a text or peek at pictures sent by MMS. While there’s a web browser included, the phone only supports 3G frequencies -- so don’t expect to load anything too media-heavy.
With only 256MB of internal storage, you won’t be able to take advantage of the media playback features unless you pick up a microSD card. However, with support for 32GB, that’s plenty of room to keep a modest collection on hand for when the mood strikes.
This phone is ideal for those who love to text but want to break away from the distractions and endless notifications of apps.
If you’re looking to end the stream of notifications and distractions but can’t go back to T9 text inputs, the ZTE is an affordable option with plenty of upsides.
3. LG Exalt 2
Best Stylish Flip Phone
Sleek design, Easy to read clock, microSD support
Cons: Verizon exclusive, Limited internal storage, No 4G support
With a style reminiscent of the original RAZR from years ago, the LG Exalt II offer a slim, rectangular take on the flip phone design.
It also proves that a flip phone doesn’t have to look dated or boring with it’s LED clock on the front panel and smooth, curved contours.
The 3-inch display is plenty for firing off a quick text or doing some light web browsing for movie times or directions.
The phone only includes 256MB of internal storage, so if you’d like to listen to music or podcasts, you’ll need a microSD card. However, support for cards up to 32GB provides more than enough room for a few albums or seasons.
There’s also a 5MP rear camera for quick snapshots or pictures of the kids for grandma and grandpa.
The phone is a Verizon exclusive, so you’ll need to check coverage in your area. However, reviews are good and the looks of the device are a step above most of the other picks on our list.
Lifewire calls the phone, “a good-looking option for those who value simplicity and perhaps a little nostalgia, too.”
If you’re looking for a flip phone that doesn’t look like it’s from a museum -- and you don’t mind using Verizon -- the Exalt 2 is the phone to beat.
Related Guide: The Best Flip Phones
4. Nokia 3310 3G
Best Basic Phone for Music and Podcast Lovers
Good battery life, FM Tuner, microSD support, Quad-band, 3.5mm and Bluetooth
Cons: No Wi-Fi, No GPS
Featuring the classic candybar shape and look of the classic 3310, the Nokia 3310 3G offers a nostalgic experience with all of the basics.
The 1200mAh battery is one of the largest in this round-up. And as a quad-band phone, it’s compatible with networks across the globe.
WIth support for microSD cards up to 32GB, an FM tuner, and both Bluetooth and a 3.5mm jack, the Nokia 3310 makes a great media playback device.
The 1.5-inch display is one of the smallest in this collection. However, reviewers had no trouble with hammering out a quick text or viewing notifications.
There’s also a 2MP camera, but without Wi-Fi you’re left with few options for actually making use of the photos.
WhistleOut AU says, “It's fast, it's cheap, it has a high quality finish, and you can easily get a week of usage in between charges. And hey, it plays Snake.”
With support for both Bluetooth and wired headphones, expandable storage, and plenty of battery life, the Nokia 3310 3G provides everything you need to keep in touch and enjoy your favorite music and podcasts without worrying about searching for an outlet in an hour or two.
5. Jethro SC318
Best Basic Phones for Kids and Seniors
Large easy-to-read buttons, Quick dial buttons, SOS feature, Charging dock, FM Tuner
Cons: So-so sound quality, Cheaper-feeling plastic design
The phone’s curved design offers a retro-inspired feel while the large text on the display makes it easy to read call notifications and texts. The large buttons make it easy to dial numbers, though unless you’re used to T9 input, it’s not ideal for texts.
It features an SOS function as well as multiple speed dial keys for easy access to frequent numbers. There’s also an FM tuner and flashlight features.
Lastly, the charging dock means no fiddling with extra cords or tiny ports.
While it’s far from the most powerful or feature packed option on the list, it’s a solid choice for anyone looking for basic phone features and a sleek design.
The Jethro SC318 is a user-friendly, affordable option for covering the communications basics. The charging dock, SOS feature, and larger buttons also make the phone phone ideal for seniors and kids.
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Bonus Pick: LightPhone 1 & 2
Best Phone for Those Wanting a Hybrid Experience
While there’s not a ton of information available yet on either model, we wanted to include these due to their innovative approach to simplifying the smartphone experience.
Of course, since these are crowdfunded, there’s some risk involved if you decide to pick one up. Some crowdfunded projects look great and still never see the light of day.
The Light Phone 1 is essentially a basic phone disguised as a smartphone. It pairs with your existing smartphone to allow you to use basic communications features without all the fluff.
Developers are discussing adding media playback, a calculator, and some other tools -- but that’s all speculation at the time of writing.
The first LightPhone sold out and they’re still trying to meet demand for orders. The LightPhone 2 -- which looks even cooler and features an e-Ink display -- has smashed its funding goal and is slated for release early 2019.
We think these types of devices will add a nice middle ground between smartphones and basic phones in the future and can’t wait to see how they work out!
The Wisdom of a “Dumb” Phone
There’s no doubt that smartphones have changed the world forever. However, there’s more debate lately on whether many of those changes were for the better.
From blue light interfering with sleep to notifications keeping us constantly distracted, there’s mounting evidence that smartphones might be causing increased stress and decreased productivity.
That’s not to mention the impact of constant social media streams on mood, the possibility that any number of companies could be watching your every move, and the fact that smartphones essentially place a never ending source of advertising in your pocket.
If you’re curious to see why many people are choosing to ditch their smartphones for simpler models, check out our smartphone ditching guide .
It includes links to additional reading and resources to help you make an informed decision about the right tech for you or your family.
How We Picked
The picks in this buyer's guide are what we think are the best non-smartphones (aka: dumb phones) for most people.
We selected these models based on analysis of expert reviews from around the web, user feedback on sites like Amazon, forum comments on our site, social media discussions, and more.
We compared the things most people consider when purchasing a basic phone.
In short, we did the research — so you don’t have to.
When answering the question, “What’s the best phone that’s not a smartphone?”, we considered the following primary criteria:
A Strong Battery
A phone is only useful if it has a charge. While standby battery life is often better on basic phones, we wanted to make sure that you could get through a day or two without hunting for a charge.
Calling, texting, and picture messages felt like a great baseline for standard phone use. This also means that unless noted in the description, these picks won’t sit and vibrate or chime all day and distract you.
Easy to Find
While you can buy a smartphone just about anywhere these days, basic phones are getting harder to come by. For that reason, we chose picks that you can easily pick up online or that you might find at a local carrier store.
Let’s face it, most basic phones sit at the bottom end of the price scale. And when prices get that low, quality can get sketchy. We scoured online reviews for each of our picks to be sure that you won’t find weak hinges, dim screens, tinny speakers, or other surprises.
Still Not Sure?
While we feel our picks offer a great experience to a wide range of people, there’s not a single pick that will be perfect for everyone.
How you like to keep in touch, your budget, and even personal design preferences will change what you consider ideal.
This is why we make multiple recommendations and suggestions based on phone features , prices, and unique characteristics.
If you’ve got a favorite basic phone, or you’ve made the switch from smartphones to a more simple option, let us know how it went in the comments below!
We want more people to live a bit more and worry a little less -- and this seems like a great way to calm the chaos.
Editorial Note: Compensation does not influence our rankings and recommendations. However, we may earn a commission on sales from the companies featured in this post. Opinions expressed here are the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by our advertisers. Reasonable efforts are made to present accurate info, however all information is presented without warranty.