Best dumbphone in 2024: basic mobile phones that don't try to be smart

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.

Ever since Steve Jobs introduced his ‘internet communicator’ to the world in 2007, the traditional mobile phone has been taking a kicking. Now, though, times have changed; the success of the best smartphones is assured, so rather than eliminating the last memories of other kinds of handset, it’s perhaps worth choosing the best phone for the job.

The descendants of the iPhone are good at multitasking, handling simple computing tasks and providing us media on the move (social and traditional). In exchange for that, they’re expensive, have a short battery and shelf life, and are relatively delicate. They’re also potentially problematic if you’re paying your employee’s bills.

On the other side of the coin the name ‘dumb phone’ very much does the devices it encompasses a disservice. Dumb may be the opposite of smart, but what we really mean here are phones which are relatively inexpensive, can handle basic communications, may also include a camera and music player, can be relatively robust, and significantly, in many cases, only need charging once a week.

That means for many an either/or choice is replaced with the option of a smartphone most of the time and something else for a few specialist occasions or times the smartphone is definitely banned. 

You need to be careful about what you buy, especially if you travel widely. In the USA 2G and 3G networks have now been retired, so 4G-capability is a must just to connect to the network. In the UK, 2G networks are still widely used in IT technologies like smart home meters. That creates pressure to keep 2G alive. As such, the current planned UK 2G closure, “by 2033,” is a decade away; but the UK 3G network shutdown has started already, with EE saying it will switch its 3G coverage from January 2024.

Here are some devices that should open up possibilities and (at the bottom) a couple of smartphones which you should probably also take a look at before deciding to ‘go dumb.’ 

Best dumbphone in the UK: our top picks

Adam Juniper headshot
Adam Juniper

With over 20 years of expertise as a tech journalist, Adam brings a wealth of knowledge across a vast number of product categories, including timelapse cameras, home security cameras, NVR cameras, photography books, webcams, 3D printers and 3D scanners, borescopes, radar detectors… and, above all, drones. 


Adam is our resident expert on all aspects of camera drones and drone photography, from buying guides on the best choices for aerial photographers of all ability levels to the latest rules and regulations on piloting drones. 


He is the author of a number of books including The Complete Guide to Drones, The Smart Smart Home Handbook, 101 Tips for DSLR Video and The Drone Pilot's Handbook

Best dumbphone in the UK in 2024

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Best overall

(Image credit: Nokia)

1. Nokia 2720 Flip Phone

Best overall

Specifications

Release date: September 2019
Technology: 4G
Screen size: 2.8-in, 240x320 pixel
Rear camera: 2MP
Front camera: No
OIS: No
Battery life: 28 days standby / 10.9 hours talk
Weight: 118 g
Dimensions: 54.5 mm x 11.6 mm x 192.7 mm
Storage: 4GB

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent Battery
+
Simple and cheap

Reasons to avoid

-
Texting frustrating
-
KaiOS’s social apps excludes Instagram

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 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 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. 

Best budget

(Image credit: Doro)

2. Doro 1370

Best budget

Specifications

Release date: June 2019
Technology: 2G
Screen size: 2.4-in, 240x320 pixel
Rear camera: 3MP + Flash
Front camera: No
OIS: No
Battery life: 520 hours standby / 14 hours talk
Weight: 106 g
Dimensions: 100 x 53 x 18 mm
Storage: 16GB

Reasons to buy

+
3 Megapixel Camera
+
Wide display
+
HAC Compatible

Reasons to avoid

-
Not available in the US

While some manufacturers have attempted to keep old products alive by looking for niche markets, Doro are committed to helping people use their technology to stay independent and have targeted the over 65s. 

That is reflected in special Android phones they offer (see below), and also this modestly priced simple handset which might be all many need. They also offer some 4G flip phones, worth looking up, but this is as simplistic as the Swedish brand gets and it’s pleasing to see that the camera still rates a bit higher than other cheap handsets.

Best rugged

(Image credit: Caterpillar)

3. CAT B35

Best rugged

Specifications

Release date: February 2018
Technology: 4G
Screen size: 2.4-in, 160x120 pixel
Rear camera: 2MP
Front camera: No
OIS: No
Battery life: 30 days standby / 12 hours talk
Weight: 130g
Dimensions: 138 x 60 x 14mm
Storage: 4GB

Reasons to buy

+
Rugged
+
Submersible
+
Some feature apps

Reasons to avoid

-
Not Beautiful
-
No ‘Home’ button
-
More expensive than some dumbphones

A brand you might better associate with heavy machinery, the CAT even rumbles like a diesel engine at start up. It’s not actually the company’s only foray into phones, but the B35 is the more feature-rich, in that it includes KaiOS and the collection of Google-owned apps which you’d expect to accompany that (Maps, YouTube, Google Assistant). 

None operated by a touchscreen, of course, though Wi-Fi, Bluetooth & 4G LTE are on offer. The keys are, just about, operable wearing gloves, and while texting is pretty hard work (as for any ‘dumb’ phone), the apps well behaved on the Qualcomm 8905 Dual-Core 1.3GHz Processor. 

It might not be suitable for every occasion, but the casing (and raised lip around the compact screen) will protect against a drop onto concrete, and the speaker is plenty loud. 

Best for just calls and texts

(Image credit: Future)

4. Nokia 225 4G

Best for just calls and texts

Specifications

Release date: October 2020
Technology: 4G
Screen size: 2.4-in, 240x320 pixel
Rear camera: 0.3MP
Front camera: No
OIS: No
Battery life: 20 days standby / 6 hours talk
Weight: 118 g
Dimensions: 125 x 51 x 14mm
Storage: 128MB

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent battery
+
Simple and cheap
+
Bluetooth enabled

Reasons to avoid

-
Texting frustrating

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.

Best for battery life

(Image credit: Nokia)

5. Nokia 3310 3G

Best for battery life

Specifications

Release date: 2018
Technology: 3G
Screen size: 2.4-in, 240x320 pixel
Rear camera: 2MP
Front camera: No
OIS: No
Battery life: 27-day standby / 6.5 hours talk
Weight: 84.9 g
Dimensions: 117 x 52.4 x 13.3 mm
Storage: 128MB + MicroSD

Reasons to buy

+
Will live past 2G
+
Nostalgia Boost
+
A design classic

Reasons to avoid

-
Quite pricey
-
eMail only via web

If you feel you’ve seen the name ‘Nokia’ too many times in this list, just imagine going into a phone shop in the late 90s when the brand truly dominated. The 3310 is perhaps the most iconic of that spate of market leaders, and it has now been revived twice, in 2017 and 2019.

This newer model survives the post 2G era, so is more widely compatible. Atop T9 texting, rudimentary browsing and phone calls, you also get Nokia’s special treat: Snake. This time with a bit of color, but unmolested gameplay.

This is atop s30+ / “FeatureOS” (and perhaps soon a YunOS 4G edition, at least in China). For now though, it’s fun, allows you to express yourself with coloured shells, and has amazing battery life, but isn’t your friend if you’re composing emails!

Best for digital detoxers

(Image credit: Future)

6. Punkt MP02

Phone designed for committed digital detoxers and privacy fans

Specifications

Release date: March 2019
Technology: 4G
Screen size: 2-in, 240x320 pixel
Rear camera: No
Front camera: No
OIS: No
Battery life: 180 hours standby / 4 hours talk
Weight: 100g
Dimensions: 117 x 51 x 14mm
Storage: 16GB

Reasons to buy

+
Stylish design
+
Sync contacts on Bluetooth
+
 Supports tablet/laptop connection

Reasons to avoid

-
No camera
-
Expensive

The MP02 is expensive given 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. Well, it was new in 2019 anyway, when this first came out

The Phone is 4G, and it can be a hotspot when needed, but as a phone, it’s distraction-free monochrome. The striking design shouldn't be a surprise given the Swiss company has had its design appear in MoMA and the V&A. 

The MP02 is available in black, gray and a gorgeous light blue, in all cases with a soft-touch pad on the rear for grip. As well as looking good the device appeals where privacy is a concern. It offers support for the Signal protocol, which allows for encrypted internet-based calls as well as metadata and communications. The IP52 glass-fibre case will also take a few knocks, so this is a practical, privacy-friendly, talking point of a choice.

Best for oldies

(Image credit: Artfone)

7. Artfone CS182 Big Button

Best for oldies

Specifications

Release date: 2020
Technology: 2G
Screen size: 1.77-in, 240x320 pixel
Rear camera: 0.08MP
Front camera: No
OIS: No
Battery life: 12 days standby / 6 hours talk
Weight: 130 g
Dimensions: 118 x 55 x 14.5 mm
Storage: MicroSD

Reasons to buy

+
Big buttons
+
Cradle charger

Reasons to avoid

-
Small screen
-
2G only

The CS182 calls itself a ‘Senior Phone,’ and it has two signature features designed to help the elderly. The first is nice big buttons which you can see take up nearly the whole front of the handset, so no fumbling here, and the second is a dedicated SOS button. 

The button can be programmed with up to five numbers and, when held down for 1.5 seconds, will message all of the numbers in that list. For less troubling times, a decent battery and a loud speaker are features that serve the indented customer well too, and a charging dock is a nice feature though perhaps could have a slightly more funnelled top. 

As a 2G dual-SIM phone, you’ll be able to connect to two networks, so long as they’re not exclusively 3G and above.

Best for design

(Image credit: Nokia)

8. Nokia 8110 4G

Best for retro design

Specifications

Release date: February 2018
Technology: 4G
Screen size: 2.4-in, 240x320 pixel
Rear camera: 2MP
Front camera: No
OIS: No
Battery life: 25 days standby / 11 hours talk
Weight: 117 g
Dimensions: 133.5 x 49.3 x 14.9 mm
Storage: 4GB

Reasons to buy

+
Attention-grabbing design
+
Yellow version available (as well as black)

Reasons to avoid

-
No Selfie Camera
-
Slow
-
Quality seems lower than original

So, it’s not a smartphone in the iPhone sense, but it’s definitely got a bit of chic about it, thanks to the styling being burned indelibly into the cultural imprint made by the first Matrix movie in 1999. 

The significance, never completely diminished, is on the rise again because the fourth movie, Matrix: Resurrections, is finally in the cinemas. Anyway, the phone. Like the 2720 flip, this is a perfectly serviceable modern 4G phone, with a distinctly ordinary camera, squashed into a form factor and branding that matters to many. 

Like the flip, 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.

Best for remote locations

(Image credit: Inmarsat)

9. Inmarsat IsatPhone 2.1

Best for remote locations

Specifications

Release date: Dec 2019
Technology: Inmarsat satellite network
Screen size: 2.1-in
Rear camera: No
Front camera: No
OIS: No
Battery life: 160 h standby / 8 hours talk
Weight: 318 g
Dimensions: 169 x 75 x 36 mm

Reasons to buy

+
Text and Call from anywhere on earth or sea
+
Search and Rescue services available

Reasons to avoid

-
Bulky 
-
Specialist
-
High call costs

One kind of phone which ought to appear in this list is one of the best satellite phones. Because of the limited bandwidth, this technology hasn’t embraced data transfer with the same enthusiasm as cellular. 

Physics, however, does give satellites one huge advantage: the infrastructure is just a few satellites able to see most of the earth’s surface. Together and you have the recipe for a dumb-phone like tech best suited to keeping in contact from remote locations, which is just what the IsatPhone 2 does.

The phone 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. 

The giant antenna stops it looking like an average dumb-phone, but put up nearly anywhere in the world and thanks to a network of geostationary satellites you will be able to make a call without fear of the satellite moving out of position.

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Adam Juniper
Managing Editor

With over 20 years of expertise as a tech journalist, Adam brings a wealth of knowledge across a vast number of product categories, including timelapse cameras, home security cameras, NVR cameras, photography books, webcams, 3D printers and 3D scanners, borescopes, radar detectors… and, above all, drones. 


Adam is our resident expert on all aspects of camera drones and drone photography, from buying guides on the best choices for aerial photographers of all ability levels to the latest rules and regulations on piloting drones. 


He is the author of a number of books including The Complete Guide to Drones, The Smart Smart Home Handbook, 101 Tips for DSLR Video and The Drone Pilot's Handbook