Looking for the best dumbphone? We'll help you pick out the best value non-smart cellphone for your needs – and guide you to getting it at the best price.
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The best smartphones (opens in new tab) offer a lot... but come with some big problems. They're very expensive. They're easy to break. They run out of charge quickly. And they're quite difficult for kids and seniors to use.
In contrast, the best dumphones are easy, basic, cheap and much more hardy. So they're often a much better bet. Especially if you're trying to digitally detox, and spend less of your time engaged in life-sapping activities such as doomscrolling and social media spirals.
'Dumb' isn't, of course, a word that any manufacturers or retailers will ever use to describe their products. But here, we use it to describe phones that are relatively cheap, can handle basic communications, may also include a camera and music player, are relatively robust, and will, in all likelihood, only need charging once a week rather than twice a day.
Here are some devices that should open up possibilities and, right at the bottom, a couple of smartphones which you should probably also take a look at before deciding to ‘go dumb.’
Note: in the US, the FCC is now phasing out 3G (opens in new tab). And many older dumbphones are 3G-only, so won't work on US cellular networks. So before you buy a dumbphone for US usage, be sure to first check that it's not a 2G or 3G phone, but supports 4G or another current technology, like a satellite network.
Best dumbphone in 2022
The Nokia 6300 is halfway between a very basic voice phone and a smartphone. That means it will suit someone who occasionally wants to access services like Whatsapp, Facebook and YouTube, but doesn't want to get sucked into them, like you do on a modern smartphone. It's also a good choice if battery life is a priority: its 1,500mAh battery will keep it going for up to 25 days on standby, and provide up to 7.5 hours' talk time.
A few other features raise this above the norm for dumb phones. Most notably, you can use it as a mobile hotspot, and you get a generous 4G of storage. You can even increase that to 256GB by adding a microSD card.
Want an easy phone your grandparents can use without getting overwhelmed? We recommend the Easyfone Prime A6, which keeps things nice and simple with big buttons, large fonts, and basic, easy to use functionality. We also love that it comes with an SOS button for emergencies (which you can disable if you prefer), and that it's hearing-aid compatible.
You don't get a camera, and there's little in the way of features, but that's kind of the point: keep things simple, and your oldest relatives will be able to make and receive calls without getting stressed or confused by too much modern tech.(opens in new tab)
Here's another good choice if you want to avoid the distractions of a modern smartphone, while still enjoying a few smart features. This simple handset can take and receive calls; read (but not compose too many) texts, and even browse YouTube and Facebook. That’s watch YouTube, by the way: the camera only takes stills).
If avoiding distraction is your priority, though, it’s worth bearing in mind that the color screen is good enough for some of Nokia’s famously playable games to work. So if you're a keen mobile gamer, you’ll still need to exercise some self control.
One lovely nod to feature sets from phones twenty years its senior is the inclusion of an FM radio, a more battery efficient way of getting music, news & entertainment than the average smartphone will offer you, though you can also add 32GBs of MP3s via the MicroSD card slot.(opens in new tab)
The flip-phone style may be old-fashioned, but it's still iconic thanks to pop culture references like the Matrix movies. The keyboard slider makes this phone not only light and compact but practical too, with no accidental pocket dials (or bag fluff) likely to cause a nuisance. The other side of that argument is that the plastic seems a little more easily scuffed than you’d like, and the processor could be snappier, but the price is very attractive – an ideal backup phone. It's got a 2MP camera, too.(opens in new tab)
The MP02 is expensive give its stripped-down feature sets, but its design is wholly deliberate. This isn't an old design fished out and re-branded for the elderly: it's a new phone purposely designed to serve as a minimal distraction from the modern world. It's 4G, and it can be a hotspot when needed, but as a phone, it’s distraction-free monochrome.(opens in new tab)
If you’re looking for a flip phone that can take calls, read (but not compose too many) texts, and even browse YouTube and Facebook, then this elegant and relatively up-to-date is a good choice. (That’s watch YouTube, by the way – the camera only takes stills).
The main color screen is safely closed inside the flip shell when the phone’s out of use, but a good quality white on black 240x240 pixel display on the outside lets you know who is calling or just check the time and date.
One lovely nod to feature sets from phones 20 years its senior is the inclusion of an FM radio: a more battery efficient way of getting music, news and entertainment than the average smartphone will offer you.(opens in new tab)
This phone is marketed for seniors, but comes with support for Facebook and Whatsapp, which many older people rely on these days. Though it sports physical keys, they’re not the biggest, so it’s probably best for more nimble folk than some senior-friendly handsets. But with 512MB memory and a 1.1GHz processor, the apps should run fine, although we wouldn't want to play the latest games on it.(opens in new tab)
A final device that deserves inclusion on this list is one of the best satellite phones (opens in new tab). Due to the limited bandwidth of the satellite network, this technology doesn't do really data transfer. Physics, however, does give it one huge advantage: it can see most of the Earth’s surface. That makes it perfect for keeping in contact from remote locations.
The IsatPhone 2 is built for adventure with IP65 compliance, a reflective screen with Gorilla glass, a dedicated location sharing button (texting your location as a GPS text to an interested follower), and an SOS button. Put up the giant antenna snearly anywhere in the world and thanks to a network of geostationary satellites you will be able to make a call.
Not so "dumb": the best lightweight phones for digital detoxers
Decided you can't live without smart features, and don't want a dumbphone after all? But still want to digitally detox, and spend less time using apps and the mobile web? Then there are relatively ‘light’ smartphones that can provide somewhat of a halfway house. Below are two handsets from iPhone that could meet your needs.(opens in new tab)
The popular iPhone SE is relatively basic, and can be made even less intrusive with careful setup of apps and notifications. At the same time, when you do want to use your phone, Apple’s A13 Bionic chip can run pretty much any app (including the Burner (opens in new tab) or Flyp (opens in new tab) apps for those seeking anonymity).
The relatively compact 4.7-inch screen is smaller than most iPhones', but still fells generous compared to candy bar phones. And of course, the camera is in a different league to the average dumbphone, capable of shooting 4K video or 240fps slo-mo.
The iPhone SE can keep its screen playing video for 13 hours. So while the battery won’t beat some of the month-long standby options above, you’re unlikely to run out during the day with a modern smartphone like this. If you do, it’s also nice to take advantage of Qi wireless charging.
This latest iteration of the iPhone SE offers all the advantages of the previous model, but with a few added extras. These are notably: support for 5G, longer battery life, and improved durability. The downside is you'll pay more for this version, although not that much more.
The iPhone SE (2022) also features an all-new camera system, with a 12MP f/1.8 aperture wide camera on the rear and a 7 MP, f/2.2 selfie camera on the front. It's rated IP67 for water and dust resistance, features the familiar Home button, and supports Touch ID – an easy, private, and secure alternative for logging in to apps.
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Nokia may just be a brand name nowadays, but it is still one associated with quality. So if you’re just looking for a simple handset which can take calls, read (but not compose too many) texts, and even browse YouTube and Facebook, then this elegant and relatively up-to-date flip phone is a good choice. (That’s watch YouTube – the camera only takes stills). The main color screen is safely closed inside the flip shell when the phone’s out of use, but a good quality white on black 240x240 pixel display on the outside lets you know who is calling or just check the time and date. One lovely nod to feature sets from phones twenty years its senior is the inclusion of an FM radio, a more battery efficient way of getting music, news & entertainment than the average smartphone will offer you.