Smartphones are awesome devices and they can do tons of things, but sometimes they’re just not the right tool for the job. The market for feature phones, or dumb phones as they’re affectionately called, might have shrunk tremendously, but as long as there’s some demand for them, they’ll be around. And there’ll likely always be demand. Some people just need a phone that lasts long on a single charge, can make calls, and can easily be operated with gloves. And let’s not forget durability. For some professionals, walking around with a glass-sandwich phone is a recipe for disaster. That’s what makes flip phones, in particular, a great choice. The clam-shell design ensures that the display, as small as it may be, will remain intact even after multiple drops. So, let’s see what carriers have to offer and then what basic phone you can get if you’re not satisfied with the offers the Big Three have.
Best feature phones, a summarized list:
- Kyocera Dura XV Extreme — best Verizon flip phone
- Alcatel GO FLIP 3 — best T-Mobile flip phone
- Sonim XP3 — best AT&T flip phone
- Samsung Rugby 4 — best unlocked flip phone
- Nokia 3310 — best-looking unlocked feature phone
- Plum Ram 7 — most durable unlocked feature phone
Best Verizon flip phone
Kyocera Dura XV Extreme
Talk time: 9.5 hours
Standby time: 18.3 days
Feature phones are often seen as the cheapest possible cell phone you can get. But just because someone is looking to buy a flip phone doesn’t mean they want something cheap. The Kyocera Dura XV Extreme costs $240, which is a bit steep, but the phone has a good justification for it.
As you might have guessed from the name, this is a rugged flip phone. It’s not only IP68 certified but also complies with the US military standards for shocks, drops, vibration and extreme weather condition endurance. In other words, it’s built like a tank. If you accidentally drop this phone in concrete before it sets, there’s a good chance it will be working after you break it free with a jackhammer a few days later.
Best T-Mobile flip phone
Alcatel GO FLIP 3
Talk time: 7.9 hours
Standby time: 17.8 days
With T-Mobile the choice is easy because, well, the Un-carrier only offers one dumb phone, and it’s the Alcatel GO FLIP 3. At $100, the GO FLIP 3 isn’t boasting any special durability features but it does support Google Assistant, which can at least save you some time typing a long Google search. The phone does have a web browser on its 2.8-inch 320×240 screen. We doubt it’s used often, though.
Overall, the GO FLIP 3 is the epitome of a basic phone. You flip it open, make a call, flip it back, and for anything else you use your smartphone.
Best AT&T flip phone
Talk time: 21 hours
Standby time: 17.8 days
AT&T has a rugged flip phone on its list as well. This time, it’s the Sonim XP3. Probably not a brand you’ve heard, but the Sonim is offering some of the same damage protections as the Dura XV, while costing only $190. It comes with 1GB of RAM, which is a lot for a feature phone, and 8GB of storage. You can also use it as a super-durable 4G hotspot, which can be quite handy in some situations.
Best unlocked feature phones
But maybe you want to pair your basic phone with a cheap plan from some of the MNVO carriers or just have a SIM card laying around unused. Well then, an unlocked phone is the way to go. Below, we have a few good options:
Samsung Rugby 4
Talk time: 14 hours
Standby time: 22.9 days
Did you really think Samsung isn’t making flip phones anymore? Not only that, it’s a rugged one as well. Although the IP rating on the Rugby 4 is just 67, it’s much cheaper than the other military-grade phones on this list, which in this product category is a huge advantage. The specs aren’t great though, even for a feature phone. Just 128MB of RAM and 256MB storage. Where will you keep all those amazing pictures you’ll take with the 3MP camera? Ah-ha! You can insert a MicroSD card for an additional 32GB of storage.
Talk time: 22 hours
Standby time: 31 days
We can’t have a compilation of button phones without including this classic. Of course, this isn’t the original Nokia 3310 you’ve seen in hundreds of memes, just its modern-day equivalent. The design is close enough to the original, though, and some might even call it cute. This Nokia 3310 is probably the only dumb phone people today will be happy to see when you pull it out of your pocket.
If you don’t care for IP ratings and military standards, but do like blasting people with nostalgia, then you can’t go wrong with the Nokia 3310.
Plum Ram 7
Talk time: 24 hours
Standby time: 37.5 days
The only reason you wouldn’t get the Nokia 3310 if you don’t want a flip phone is that you need that ruggedness. So here it is, the Plum Ram 7. IP68 rating and military-grade shockproofness, all in a cool-looking body. It also has the best battery life of all phones on this list. If you’re about to trek the Appalachian trail, you better have one of these bad boys with you. But even if you don’t plan on spending months away from civilization, this is a great back-up phone to have.