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 2020
1. Alcatel GoFlip 3
Best Basic Modern Flip Phone
Compact design, convenient front screen, microSD support, 4G LTE support , Wi-Fi calling
Cons: Weak cameras, limited internal storage
The GoFlip 3 takes the classic clamshell, flip design and adds in just enough modern perks to make it useful in 2020.
You won't find Android apps or a touchscreen keyboard, but there is Google Assistant support for quick voice searches, reminders, timers, and more.
Otherwise, it's a basic affair with a large, easy to use keypad, a basic camera, and a pair of small but readable screens for checking notifications, emails, and texts.
The phone only includes 4GB of internal storage, so if you’d like to listen to music or podcasts, you’ll probably 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 most confusing aspect of the phone is that each carrier seems to have a slightly different model of the phone. AT&T has the SmartFlip, T-Mobile has the GoFlip 3, and Verizon has the GoFlip V.
However, each are very similar in features. The most distinct difference between them all lies in the GoFlip V which sacrifices rear camera quality (2MP) for expanded storage (8GB).
If you’re looking for a flip phone that doesn’t look like it’s from a museum -- and you don’t mind dealing with carrier-specific models -- the GoFlip 3 is the phone to beat.
Related Guide: The Best Flip Phones
2. Kyocera DuraXV LTE
Best Basic Phone for Active Lifestyles
Rugged, Long battery life, 4G support, microSD support, Push-to-talk support, Wi-Fi calling
Cons: Price, cameras, limited carrier support
While a bit pricier than other “basic” phones, the Kyocera DuraXV LTE 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.
It is Military Standard 810G rated, IPX5/IPX8 rated for waterproofing, and IPX6 rated for dustproofing.
The 2.6-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 16GB of internal storage and supports microSD cards up to 64GB. 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 DuraXV LTE is up the challenge and includes all the communications essentials.
Related Guide: The Best Rugged Phones
3. 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.
4. Jethro SC490
Best Basic Phone for Seniors and Kids
Pros: 4G support, charging dock, emergency button, speed dial buttons, hearing aid compatible, 3.5mm headphone adapter
Cons: Weak camera
With its candybar format, large print display and hardware buttons for common features, the Jethro SC490 offers an experience very similar to a traditional cordless phone.
The phone is unlocked and supports 4G. This means it will work with a wide range of carriers without the need for a contract or finance agreement and should age well with 2G and 3G networks becoming rarer these days.
Features include a dedicated emergency button, flashlight and hearing aid compatibility. There is also a very basic camera--though don’t expect to print photos or share images online.
From $79.99 at Amazon
The phone also supports microSD cards up to 64GB which is good for listening to music or audiobooks.
The optional charging dock stood out to us as well. We think the ability to just set the phone down in the cradle and not mess with tiny cords and ports is worth the added price!
Bottom Line: The Jethro SC490 is a user-friendly, affordable option for covering the communications basics. The charging dock, SOS feature, and larger buttons also make the phone ideal for the elderly.
Bonus Pick: Light Phone 2
Best Minimalist Phone
Pros: Compact design, e-Ink display, excellent battery life, basic features, Wi-Fi hot spot
The Light Phone 2 straddles the line between smartphone and basic phone.
It's shaped like a smartphone with that rectangular, flat design with a touchscreen as the primary input. This makes it easy to hammer out quick texts, while the few physical buttons help switch between the limited list of features.
The phone uses an e-Ink display for long-lasting battery life and easy to read text. Features include texting, alarms, mobile hot spot mode, and calling -- a simple and straightforward feature list for less distractions and more communicating.
We think these types of minimalist devices will add a nice middle ground between smartphones and basic phones in the future. The phone is currently available in both an international and North American version for use anywhere with 4G access.
The biggest drawback to the phone is its price. For the same price, you could get a very capable smartphone. That's the main reason we're hesitant to recommend this over other basic phones in this line up.
Combining the most essential basic phone features with a stylish, modern design and touchscreen functionality makes the Light Phone 2 one of the most unique takes on modern phones but it comes at a price.
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.
- Best Basic Modern Flip Phone: Alcatel GoFlip 3 & SmartFlip, GoFlip V
- Best Basic Phone for Active Lifestyles: Kyocera DuraXV LTE
- Best Basic Phone for Music and Podcast Lovers: Nokia 3310 3G
- Best Basic Phone for Seniors and Kids: Jethro SC318v2
- Best for Minimalists: Light Phone 2
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.
Disclosure: You should know that in some cases, we may receive a referral fee (at no additional cost to you) for products purchased through the links on our site. These links help support our work but they do not influence our content. Our editorial recommendations are always genuine and we try to feature only the best products and services. Why trust us?