- The Nokia 225 is a top non-smartphone with a familiar design, excellent battery life, and access to Facebook and simple games.
- The Nokia 2780 Flip Phone is a flip phone with dual displays, a 5MP camera, and compatibility with all major U.S. carriers.
- The BLU Z5 is a stylish and affordable dumb phone with a 1.8-inch display, VGA camera, and built-in FM antenna.
- The TCL Go Flip 2 is a pocket-friendly flip phone with 4G VoLTE support, a large inner display, and a quad-core processor.
- The Easyfone Prime-A6 is a senior-friendly dumb phone with big buttons, an easy-to-read display, and a unique charging dock.
The term dumb phone refers to any device born before the rise of the smartphone. The best non-smartphones or dumb phones can provide users with a way to stay connected minus the bloat. You don’t have to worry about social media with these devices or losing half your day matching gems in mobile games. What they lack in smarts, they make up for with useful features and affordable price tags.
- Best Overall: Nokia 225
- Easiest to Use: Nokia 2780 Flip Phone
- Best Budget Phone: BLU Z5
- Best Flip Phone: TCL Go Flip 2
- Best for Seniors: Easyfone Prime A6
Best Overall: Nokia 225
- 128MB onboard storage with micro SD card slot
- Colorful 2.4-inch display
- Compatible with T-Mobile, Tracfone, and other GSM carriers
- Single SIM
- Bluetooth 5.0
The best dumb phone for consumers who want something simple and classic is the Nokia 225. The phone has a form factor that will be familiar to users of a certain age, and it’s one of the top non-smartphones on the market today.
This single-sim phone keeps things simple with buttons that are easy to access and a streamlined design. It has a bit of a curve to go along with a colorful 230 x 420 display on the front. Battery life is excellent, and you’ll get 4G support on the proper network. With that in mind, the Nokia 225 is only compatible with T-Mobile, Tracfone, and other GSM carriers but won’t work with Verizon or AT&T.
While not “smart,” the 225 does have a few features typically found on those phones. The System Series 30+ operating system provides users with access to Facebook and simple games like Snake. There’s a 0.3MP camera on the rear of the device and 128GB of onboard storage. Other noteworthy features include a microSD card slot, FM radio, and Bluetooth 5.0.
The Nokia 225 may not be able to hang with high-powered dumb phones, but it’s affordable, easy to use, and has every feature you could need. Standby time is between 16-24 days, depending on the network, and it’s comfortable in hand. The only negative is availability, as the phone’s stock tends to fluctuate online. Check out the Nokia 225 on Amazon.
|It’s easy to use with a classic design.||The stock and availability can vary.|
|There’s access to some apps and games.||It’s not compatible with Verizon or AT&T’s networks.|
|It has an FM radio and excellent battery life.|
|There is a 2.4-inch display.|
Easiest to Use: Nokia 2780 Flip Phone
- 512 MB Memory, 4G
- 5MP camera
- Up to 18 days of standby time from a single charge
- Enhanced accessibility with bigger buttons
- Hearing aid compatibility and real-time text (RTT)
The best non-smartphone for users who want something from Nokia with a different and easy-to-use form factor is the Nokia 2780. It’s a flip phone with modern sensibilities and the best choice if you want to snap photos from a dumb phone.
This flip phone has dual displays, so you’ll stay in the loop when the phone is closed. The outside panel shows the time and other details, while the inner display is ideal for navigation and information. It has a resolution of 320 x 240, and the phone is powered by the Qualcomm 215 processor. There’s 512MB of expandable storage under the hood on the Nokia 2780.
Dumb phones aren’t known for having good cameras, but this one is respectable at 5MP. There’s access to apps like Maps, and the phone is compatible with all major carriers. That means it will work on Verizon, T-Mobile, or AT&T, along with smaller carriers like Boost and Cricket. The battery is good for around 18 days of standby usage, and it’s 4G compatible, like our top choice.
The Nokia 2780 flip is an excellent alternative to our top choice. Unfortunately, it sports an outdated version of Bluetooth with 4.2 and is almost twice the price of the Nokia 225. Everything else is top-notch, however, and it’s snappier than the other popular dumb phones from the company, like the Nokia 225 and 6300. Check out the Nokia 2780 Flip Phone on Amazon.
|The phone is compatible with all major U.S. carriers.||You are stuck with Bluetooth 4.2.|
|It has a 5MP rear camera.||It’s a bit pricey for a dumb phone.|
|It comes with 512MB of expandable storage.|
|The battery life and standby time are fantastic.|
Best Budget Phone: BLU Z5
The best dumb phone for consumers in need of a cheap device is the BLU Z5 phone. While the company doesn’t have the name recognition of Nokia, they have one of the cheapest dual-SIM unlocked phones on the planet.
BLU breathed new life into an old form factor with the Z5. It has a resemblance to older smartphones from Samsung, but with none of the smarts and at a fraction of the price. It’s a good-looking, small phone that’s a little over 4.5 inches long and only 2.7 inches wide. The phone is compatible with GSM bands 850/900/1800/1900 and has dual SIM card slots, but it’s a 2G handset.
The outdated connectivity continues with Bluetooth 2.1, but things get better from there. The BLU Z5 has a 1.8-inch display, a VGA camera, and 32MB of internal storage. You can kick the storage up by 32MB with the microSD slot, and it has 32MB of RAM as well. The UI and button layout also make the phone easy to use.
Despite the lack of 4G networks and dated connectivity options, the BLU Z5 is an interesting choice if your budget is tight. It’s one of the cheapest, most reliable phones we’ve seen in quite some time, and consumers love the size. Just keep the networks in mind with this phone, along with the relatively small 600mAh battery. Check out the BLU Z5 Phone on Amazon.
|It has a stylish design that’s available in six different colors.||It’s a 2G phone.|
|It’s unbelievably cheap.||There are outdated connectivity options.|
|There is a built-in FM antenna and MP3/MP4 player.|
|The phone has a compact design.|
Best Flip Phone: TCL Go Flip 2
The best flip phone in the non-smartphone class is the TCL Go Flip 2. The classic clamshell device has a pocket-friendly design, and while it’s far from smart, it has 4G VoLTE support and an interesting mix of features.
The TCL Go Flip 2 lives up to its namesake as an intuitive dual-screen device. It has the classic clamshell form factor with a 2.8-inch internal screen and a 1.4-inch display on the outside. Above that small colorful panel is a quick call button and the phone’s 2MP camera. It also has a “real” processor under the hood with the quad-core MediaTek 6739-CH.
That processor adds a bit more pop to the Flip 2 when coupled with 1GB of RAM. That’s twice what you’ll find with other phones in this class, and the storage gets a boost as well. It has 8GB, half of which is usable, but you can expand with a 128GB card. This allows you to actually store music and media on the device as well as photos and video from the camera.
TCL has produced plenty of solid phones over the years, but the TCL Go Flip 2 is one of their best. It has great battery life and more storage than comparable models while running Android out of the box. It’s a reliable phone and a device that’s designed to work on a variety of GSM networks across the United States. Check out the TCL Go Flip 2 on Amazon.
|There is a large inner display and a color outer display.||The user guides and instructions are lacking.|
|It has 1GB of RAM and 8GB of storage.||It’s not as user-friendly as other dumb phones.|
|There is USB-C charging and 4G VoLTE.|
|It has a quick-dial button on the front.|
Best for Seniors: Easyfone Prime-A6
Smartphones and seniors aren’t always a good fit, and the Easyfone Prime-A6 is a fantastic choice for older users looking for something simple. It has several senior-friendly features and provides users with a unique way to charge their devices.
Big buttons and an easy-to-read display are two highlights of this dumb phone. Those large buttons are backlit and easy to see, but the phone is also easy to hear. That’s due to the talking number function, the loudspeaker, and the fact it’s HAC compatible for people with hearing aids. Worried about having to bend down to deal with chargers? That’s not an issue with the Prime-A6.
Easyfone went with a charging dock in place of a traditional mobile phone charger. This allows users to set the phone in a place where it’s easy to access and visible at all times. It’s just like a cordless home phone, although standby time is better at around 96 hours. The SOS button is a great feature to have on hand. We also feel that apps like the calculator and notes are useful instead of being considered a distraction.
The selection of senior cell phones is much smaller than home phones designed for the elderly, especially if you need a large display and oversized buttons. The Easyfone Prime-A6 checks both of those boxes and comes pre-packaged with a SpeedTalk SIM card. That’s the catch with this device, as it’s only compatible with select networks, not AT&T, Verizon, Boost, or Cricket. Check out the Easyfone Prime-A6 on Amazon.
|There are oversized buttons and an easy-to-read display.||You’re limited to specific carriers.|
|There is a built-in flashlight and USB charging.||Availability can be an issue.|
|It’s hearing aid compatible.|
|The phone has an SOS button.|
How to Pick the Best Non-Smartphones (“Dumb Phones”): Step by Step
Dumb phones, or non-smartphones, are an acquired taste if you’re used to smartphones. While there aren’t as many things to be aware of before purchasing a dumb phone, you should consider compatibility, usage, and features before picking up a non-smartphone.
Let’s take a look at each of these criteria in depth.
If you want to buy a new smartphone, you won’t have any trouble getting one through the carrier of your choice. Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile are the big three in the states, along with smaller carriers like Cricket or Boost. In some regions, you can even have a mobile phone tacked onto your cable or utility bill.
Things aren’t quite as simple with dumb phones. While you can get them through carriers, you’ll have a much better selection to choose from if you purchase an unlocked phone. Unfortunately, unlocked dumb phones through sites like eBay and Amazon are often tied to specific networks and carriers.
Before purchasing a non-smartphone from any online site, make sure it’s compatible with the network you plan to use. If you’re on AT&T, the Nokia 225 is not an option. The same applies to many devices in this class unless you pick one up from a carrier.
Anyone purchasing a non-smartphone typically wants something simple to use. That’s the big draw of a dumb phone, along with the price tag. Choosing the right network for these devices is key, but so is understanding what they can do.
How do you plan to use the phone? If it’s simply to make calls in an emergency while you’re out and about, text messaging plans won’t be of much use. You won’t need mobile data or much storage, but that changes with general usage.
Many dumb phones still provide access to the internet, despite their small displays. While most have useful apps like a flashlight or calculators, some provide limited access to social features. Consider anything you think you’ll do with a non-smartphone before thinking about the features.
Are you purchasing a dumb phone for someone else or making the switch yourself? If you’re moving back to a dumb phone after using a smartphone, you’ll want to think long and hard about which features you use the most. Then consider what you can live without, as you won’t find many bells and whistles on these devices.
Some of the more common features on dumb phones include small rear cameras, microSD card slots, and removable batteries. Many have quick-dial and easy-access buttons, but there aren’t any touchscreen phones in this class. You also won’t find phones designed to take selfies or track your health and fitness.
The ability to use an old-school headphone jack or two SIM cards is a bonus with these types of phones. It’s also nice to have a removable battery, but those features are only going to impress a handful of folks. Don’t overpay for a particular feature with this class of phone, as there are smarter ones in the same price range.
What to Know Before Buying a Non-Smartphone (“Dumb Phone”)
Dumb phones typically have fantastic battery life. It’s not uncommon for non-smartphones to have a standby range from 24 hours to a few weeks. While they aren’t “smart,” they are affordable, with prices well under $100 for most types of phones.
It’s also important to realize that phones labeled as dumb just don’t have touchscreens or access to traditional app stores. Some non-smartphones run Android, and there are models with nimble processors and enough RAM to handle lightweight applications.
Using a Non-Smartphone (“Dumb Phone”): What It’s Like
If you’re over the age of 30, there’s a chance you’ve used a dumb phone at some point. For everyone else, there’s not much difference between non-smartphones and smartphones outside of the design and features.
At the end of the day, both types of phones are designed to make calls and send SMS messages. That’s something most dumb phones can also do, even if it takes ages to type out messages. If you’re interested in an affordable provider for your new phone, check out our review of Visible vs. Tracfone.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©Azay photography/Shutterstock.com.