While smartphones rule the market, they’re not without their downsides.
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 2022
1. Alcatel GoFlip 4
Best Basic Flip Phone for Most Users, Best Flip Phone for Kids
If you're looking for a solid middle ground between ultra-basic flip phones and the newer smart flip phones, the Alcatel Go Flip 4 is an excellent option.
It offers a few apps (such as navigation, email, and YouTube) while not loading you down with endless options and notifications. It's not the largest screen around, but it's more than enough for quick texts and using your phone more like a phone.
Better yet, the price is right in the sweet spot for most reviewers, making it an excellent value for those experiencing sticker shock from the prices of modern smart flip phones.
Learn More: Alcatel Go Flip 4 Review
2. Nokia 225 4G
Best Basic Candybar Phone for Most Users, Best Budget-Friendly Candybar
If you're looking to avoid flip phones but still have all of the basics, the Nokia 225 4G brings much of the durability and battery life of classic Nokia phones of the past to a modern market.
4G support makes the phone compatible with a range of carriers and provides a bit of future-proofing as well. If you're looking for the essentials in an ultra-compact format, this one has you covered!
Learn More: Nokia 225 4G Review
3. Sonim XP3plus
Best Premium Rugged Basic Phone, Best Rugged Basic Phone Warranty
With its ultra-rugged design, ample battery life, snappy UI, and whopping three-year warranty, the Sonim XP3plus should serve anyone looking for a rugged phone well—assuming you have Telus or Bell Mobility coverage in your area that is.
Learn More: Sonim XP3plus Review
4. Jethro SC490
Best Basic Phone for Seniors, Best Basic Phone for Kids
With chunky physical buttons, large text on the display, headphone support, a charging dock, and even flashlight functionality, the Jethro SC490 is an excellent option for seniors and kids. Its 4G support also means it's compatible with a wide range of carriers and should provide reliable service and clear calls for a long time.
Learn More: Jethro SC490 Review
5. ZTE Cymbal 2
Best Budget Basic Flip Phone, Best Basic Prepaid Flip Phone
The ZTE Cymbal 2 is a no-frills basic flip phone at a no-frills price. It's available through most Canadian carriers and a common fixture on prepaid phone displays. No, it's not the most premium feeling phone. Trying to use the email and text features won't be nearly as smooth as a smartphone either, but that's kind of the point.
If you're looking for a super affordable or prepaid basic phone option, you could do far worse than this phone for the price.
Learn More: ZTE Cymbal 2 Review
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 Flip Phone for Most Users, Best Flip Phone for Kids: Alcatel GoFlip 4
- Best Basic Candybar Phone for Most Users, Best Budget-Friendly Candybar Phone: Nokia 225 4G
- Best Premium Rugged Basic Phone, Best Rugged Basic Phone Warranty: Sonim XP3plus
- Best Basic Phone for Seniors, Best Candybar Phone for Kids: Jethro SC490
- Best Budget Basic Flip Phone, Best Basic Prepaid Flip Phone: ZTE Cymbal 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?