Between the cost of data packages and the price of the mobiles 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 mobile.
With these things in mind, people are starting to switch back to the mobiles of yesteryear…
Whether you call them basic mobiles, dumb mobiles, feature mobiles, 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. Nokia 3310 3G
Best Basic Mobile
Good battery life, FM Tuner, microSD support, Quad-band, 3.5mm and Bluetooth
Cons: No Wi-Fi, No GPS
Featuring the classic candy bar 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 favourite music and podcasts without worrying about searching for an outlet in an hour or two.
2. Nokia 800 Tough
Best Rugged Basic Mobile
Rugged, Grippy Case, Long battery life, microSD support, Google Assistant Support, MIL-STD-810G rated, IP68 rated, 4G LTE access
Cons: Weak camera
While a bit pricier than other “basic” mobiles, the Nokia 800 tough 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 durable candy bar construction.
The 2.4-inch colour display makes it easy to read texts or check caller ID while the emphasized buttons make sure you dial accurately -- even with gloves on. There's also Google Assistant support for voice dialing, reading messages aloud, or leaving yourself reminders.
There are basic feature mobie apps. However, this isn't a full smartphone and apps are mostly limited to navigation, communications, and those sorts of things.
The phone includes 4GB of internal storage. If you're planning to listen to music or podcasts, you'll need to use the microSD slot on the phone. It supports cards up to 32GB.
With waterproofing and a rugged case, the Nokia 800 Tough is ready to handle just about anything you might throw at it while keeping you in touch with those that matter to you.
3. Nokia 2720 Flip
Best Stylish Basic Flip Mobile
Pros: Minimalist, sleek design, hidden until lit front panel, long standby time, durable design, 4G support
Cons: Weak camera
Combining a glossy outer shell, a hidden front display, and smooth curves, the Nokia 2720 Flip stands out from the crowd.
The 2.8-inch main display is bright and colourful. The low resolution panel features good viewing angles and makes text easy to read but might not be the best for viewing images or using the included mini mobile browser. There is also a 1.3-inch display on the front for checking the time and basic notifications.
There are 4GB of storage for your favorite media and the basic apps available for the phone. However, should you want to fit more albums or podcasts in your pocket, you can easily expand it by up to 32GB using a microSD card.
There are also dedicated emergency and Google Assistant buttons for added reassurance and flexibility.
Like most basic mobiles, the camera won't win any photography contests. But it's good enough for quick snapshots or reminders.
As one of the most attractive mobiles in this line up, the Nokia 2720 Flip offers great value if you're looking for basic features with a stylish, compact look.
Related Guide: The Best Flip Mobiles
4. Doro 1370
Best Basic Mobile for Kids and Seniors
Large easy-to-read buttons, Assistance button, Dual SIM, Loud speaker, Separate dial pad keys, FM radio
Cons: Limited storage, weak camera (even for a basic phone)
The Doro 1370 is one of the most simple to use mobiles on the market. Its candybar design features large buttons and a wide screen for easy use -- even with less than perfect vision -- while the loud speaker makes calls crisp and clear.
The 2.4-inch display features plenty of room for text messages and call notifications. It's also quite bright and colours are punchy.
The mobile's rear cover features an assistance button that can dial up to 5 numbers in succession or sent preset texts to those numbers in the event of an emergency. The front face includes dedicated favourites, email, torch, and camera buttons for easy access to mobile features.
While the mobile doesn't offer internal storage for media, it offers an FM tuner for keeping up with the news or listening to live broadcasts.
Combining accessibility features, a large display emergency notifications, and chunky, defined buttons, the Doro 1370 is simple to use whether you're young or old.
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 mobile.
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 mobile 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 mobiles in the future. The mobile 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 mobile features with a stylish, modern design and touchscreen functionality makes the Light Phone 2 one of the most unique takes on modern mobiles but it comes at a price.
The Wisdom of a “Dumb” Mobile
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 mobiles) 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 mobile.
In short, we did the research -- so you don’t have to.
When answering the question, “What’s the best mobile that’s not a smartphone?”, we considered the following primary criteria:
A Strong Battery
Your mobile is only useful if it has a charge. While standby battery life is often better on basic mobiles, we wanted to make sure that you could get through a few days without hunting for a charge.
Calling, texting, and picture messages felt like a great baseline for standard mobile 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 mobiles are sometimes 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 network store.
Let’s face it, most basic mobiles 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, blurry screens, tinny speakers, or other surprises.
- Best Basic Mobile: Nokia 3310 3G
- Best Rugged Basic Mobile: Nokia 800 Tough
- Best Stylish Basic Flip Mobile: Nokia 2720 Flip
- Best Basic Mobile for Kids and Seniors: Doro 1370
- 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 mobile features , prices, and unique characteristics.
If you’ve got a favourite basic mobile, 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?