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Ask HN: What is the best “dumb” phone?
221 points by goldemerald 36 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 217 comments
Due to privacy and time management concerns, I have decided to take the jump and get rid of my smart phone. Unsurprisingly, there are very few of resources online about which dumb phones are the best. Those of you who use a non-smart phones, which model is it and how do you like it?



You will be in a tough spot if you're in the USA. All the nice Nokias and decent low-tech phones are rapidly becoming useless as carriers phase out 2g (and even 3g) coverage to free up bands for LTE and now 5g.

If your "dumbphone" doesn't support VoLTE you'll be frustrated with dropped calls and spotty service everywhere. I know this from experience.

I settled on T-Mobile's only "dumbphone" - the Alcatel GoFlip [1]. It supports LTE, the battery lasts for days and it even has a rudimentary IMAP and CalDAV client.

I tried turning my smartphone into a "dumbphone" and using it less, but I honestly lacked the self-control to put the stupid thing down. Having a kid made me realize how many moments I was pissing away just scrolling.

These things are designed to be addictive, and some people (like myself) can't compete with the entire teams of "engagement engineers" many tech companies employ to exploit your dopamine-reward cycles.

I had forgotten what it was like to be alone with my thoughts. I feel as though I am rediscovering a part of my brain that was suppressed by having a boredom-prevention device at my fingertips all these years. Also other humans now look like phone-zombies everywhere I look. It's kind of dystopian honestly.

[1] https://us.alcatelmobile.com/alcatel-go-flip/


I had forgotten what it was like to be alone with my thoughts. I feel as though I am rediscovering a part of my brain that was suppressed by having a boredom-prevention device at my fingertips all these years.

Right. Necessity is the mother of all invention. Boredom can be a powerful necessity. If it weren't for the crushing boredom of the suburbs in the 80's, I would never have learned to code at the age of 11.


Loneliness is the same way. It can give people determination to come out of their shell, work up the courage to ask someone out, etc.


I think you are mixing up loneliness and shyness. Loneliness can cause shyness and the other way around, but they are not the same thing.

Loneliness can be forced on you. I personally moved and since some girls at the new school decided (in the locker room) that I was lesbian, folks stopped talking to me. I found a very small group of friends the next year at high school.

These girls were half correct in their assessment, but that was no reason for the entirety of a school to decide I wasn't worth talking to.

Seriously, loneliness is awful. I should mention that I had no issues asking folks out later in life (when I became interested in such things).

This sort of thing might have been more common pre-internet times. The internet made me less lonely because I found folks I liked to talk to.


There's a great episode of the "Hidden Brain" podcast about scarcity: https://www.npr.org/2017/03/20/520587241/the-scarcity-trap-w...

One claim made was that poverty and loneliness are two of the most difficult scarcity traps to be in. Even more so than hunger (especially in the developed world). Because poverty and loneliness push you into behaviors that only perpetuate more poverty and loneliness. You can see this with the rise of toxic misogynistic groups on the Internet, and I personally see this with my more awkward, lonely friends and acquaintances who put off new company with desperate, weird, or standoffish behavior.


Loneliness sucks...but at the same time at the point where you decide you’ve had enough of it and you realize you have the power to do something about it, it becomes a tremendous motivator.

Loneliness is curable, but requires effort.


Because I had so many choices at 13. Because poor folks can simply move where they'll be more accepted. ? Because everyone should be willing to act like someone they aren't so they have people (that doesn't cure loneliness). Because loneliness cause by depression is always curable?

I'm happy you solved yours. I'm happy I solved mine. But I know not everyone can have the stroke of luck to change things like I have. Lots of folks have little choice, in part because of financial woes, mental illness, age, and so on.

NOt everyone is like you. Loneliness has never been a great motivator for me, and though I don't suffer from it like I did 10 years ago, the entire thing has left me with a negative view of people and their willingness to accept folks that are different - especially when they "should know better".

That last bit has been key to my own "cure", as I'm an immigrant and folks don't assume the same things.


Or it may just crush you...


Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure... than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat. Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/theodore_roosevelt_103499


I was tempted to reply with a link to the wiki article for survivorship bias, but that would come across snarkier than I intend. Seriously though, this is a bit like taking advice on financial risk-taking from a startup billionaire.


Do you really think it's at that scale? I see that some adversity in life actually makes me better and some does not. It really depends on how hard it is to overcome each individual hurdle.

Keeping with the analogy of hurdles. It's like, successful startup is a 20 ft wall. Deciding to workout 3x a week is a 3ft hurdle. Getting a fitbit and targeting more walking is like a 2ft hurdle (my scales not everyone's). Getting over loneliness due to not having a cell phone is a 5 ft hurdle. It'd require getting out of the house a lot more and that anxiety can be crippling. If that was a goal of mine I'd train for it just like a marathon. You don't start by running the whole thing in the first week, you start with increasingly large goals.

I totally agree that blindly saying adversity is good, is a crazy over simplification. I also think we (if you are in top 60% of tax brackets just to really bound that statement) have it exceptionally easy in the USA and that we are all capable of much more than we think we are.

Not everyone can do a startup, but many of us have lost the concept of setting a goal and pushing ourselves (myself included).

Thanks for calling me out. A quote from T. R. could be seen as snarky as well. This really is a personal thing. I should have really put a caveat that this applies to me. Just me. I think more people would benefit from the mentality, but I also don't believe in a society that pushes artificial adversity to "make people better" that'd be bad.


>You will be in a tough spot if you're in the USA. All the nice Nokias and decent low-tech phones are rapidly becoming useless as carriers phase out 2g (and even 3g) coverage to free up bands for LTE and now 5g.

Anecdote: I used to have an LG dumbphone with AT&T (I'd purchased it with prepaid time at the airport). A few years ago they sent me a message to come to their store and have it replaced for free because it would stop working with their planned "network updates".

I did that and got an Alcatel dumb phone. Not sure if it's using LTE or whatever G, but it works well and I'm reasonably happy with it. I do wish it was a flip-phone like the LG, because I've butt-dialed 911 a few times with it.

(They did initially give me what must've been a used phone, since it had over 50 personal contacts from someone else on it, but that's a different story...)


> I tried turning my smartphone into a "dumbphone" and using it less, but I honestly lacked the self-control to put the stupid thing down

Did you remove the browsers and app store as well? I got rid of everything except for phone/texting, Slack (for work), and non-bingy convenience apps like Maps/Yelp/etc. On Android, it can be done with the adb shell without rooting, even the 'uninstallable' apps like Google search and the Samsung browser. Not sure about Apple.

I tried this before without getting rid of the Play Store and found that I would just cheat and download FF Focus when I felt like binging and then deleting it again when I was done. Now if I think I need a new app, I actually have to go on my laptop, download the apk, and move it to my phone to install it. It's not foolproof but it's enough extra steps to where I don't act on it on impulse.

It's worked really well and I don't binge like I used to . I still have some compulsive phone-checking habits but it's way less time consuming than compulsive-random-article-reading/scrolling. And I also get to keep the nicer benefits like the good camera and the large screen for when I need a GPS.


Just change your plan to have no data (hint the cheapest pay and go) turn off mobile data and wifi and voila a dumb phone works with my old sony.


Or just use third party app to block and let only a few: -https://offtime.es


I should try something like that. Honestly just having the device in eyesight triggers some kind of latent mental FOMO. Removing the option entirely has worked well for me so far.

I still keep an old iPhone for when I know I'll need an Uber or something, but the smartphone isn't a part of my daily life anymore.


If I could go with a flip phone I gladly would, but I do need to have Slack around for when I'm on call for work. I suppose I could switch to a flip phone for when I'm off call. You're giving me ideas here.


You could also use Slack’s API + Twilio to trigger a SMS to send when a post to #app-outage happens. I’ve been playing with this myself.


I try that but then I wind up needing Chrome for some legitimate purpose or another.


> Did you remove the browsers and app store as well?

It's possible with adb or root, but buy a $500-$800 device for removing basic apps? Failed logic IMHO.

> Not sure about Apple.

You can't.


You can get a decent smartphone for under 200$.


No, but you can use the Restrictions control pane to block Safari.


Great idea! I guess that way you don't get app updates tho?


The apps you'd have to uninstall/reinstall manually for updated versions but I did still get a few official Samsung updates come through recently so I guess those aren't tied to the Play Store. I think at least one of those reinstalled some of the apps I had removed but other than that it went ok.


"Also other humans now look like phone-zombies everywhere I look."

Just this morning I saw someone take a brief pause while crossing the street to look at her phone unaware that a car was coming. She stopped in the middle! of the street. The car screeched to a halt and missed hitting her by nothing.


My phone screen broke last night. Today I took a small break and sat at a bench in front of my office. I noticed how most people were looking at their phones. Even if they were with others. It's been quite a while since I noticed this and it honestly disturbed me.

The thing is, most of these people are (most likely) not even looking at something important, just their social media or messaging apps.

I noticed a girl who was talking to someone on the phone. She hanged and put the phone in her pocket. Not 10 seconds later she took it out and just started scrolling while walking past me.


Today is spent a full 30 seconds driving at a crawling pace behind a guy so immersed in his phone that he didn’t notice he was walking in the middle of the street.


I have a (slightly) more optimistic view of seeing everyone on their phones all the time. When you're on your computer at home, you withdraw into it, too. It's your cave. Phones give people a way to get into their caves anywhere they want. It's like everyone's out in their PJs, trying to have private time in a public place.

Obviously, it's a very bad thing when someone decides not to leave her mental cave while strolling through traffic (worse still if she's behind the wheel). I just think it's a more humanistic view than the zombie angle.


> These things are designed to be addictive

I would blame app designers, but I uninstalled all of them and ended up pissing away most of the day on HackerNews, so I think they're mostly blameless in my case.


HN has many of the same addicting qualities.

You never know what you'll get when you reload (after some time has passed) (Random reinforcement.) Also, if you comment, you get random reinforcement in the form of (hopefully nice) replies and upvote points.

Ranking stories on the front page based on voting also is intended to draw an audience with similar interests.


Hacker news is addicting, but there is a noprocrast setting that only allows you on the site for maxvisit minutes at a time and doesn't let you back on until minaway minutes have expired. I just turned it on this week and it has changed my browsing habits immensely!


Yeah, but changing it back is just two clicks away, and I don't have the discipline to not do that.


Unfortunately, I use Firefox Focus, meaning I'm not logged in most of the time. However I may use this for my desktop addiction, thank!


I uninstalled all of them and ended up pissing away most of the day on HackerNews, so I think they're mostly blameless in my case.

All of us HN commenters are also engagement designers. If not in our day jobs, then at least in an amateur capacity in text.


I've been doing this using an Apple Watch, and have been for the past 3 months or so. I documented it in this tweet: https://twitter.com/john_lam/status/1074527089569615872

Note that I'm paying more to have this experience, but it's been totally worth it. So far I've been quite happy with it. It's amazing how, in the odd times where I've needed to carry my phone with me, how I instantly reverted to my former (bad) habits.

It's a form of commitment device and it's been very effective for me.


Surprisingly effective way to make your phone less addicting: put it in greyscale


In my last company (ad agency) we were talking to Dopamine Labs[1] (now called boundless.ai[2]) to integrate it into an app we were building. It honestly felt kinda gross but I on the other hand I can understand a company investing thousands (into the hundred thousands) to build an app and wanting people to use it.

Does more engagement equal app usefulness and adoption? I don't know. I have a lot of apps on my phone I don't touch as often but when I go and clean out apps I don't use anymore I still keep some because I still find them useful to have even if I don't engage with that much

[1] https://techcrunch.com/2017/09/08/meet-the-tech-company-that...

[2] https://www.boundless.ai/


> Does more engagement equal app usefulness...

Obviously no. I think it is fairly obvious that there are many apps that are highly engaging that are a huge waste of time for many people.


> Does more engagement equal app usefulness

No, but it equals more ad impressions.


It's not just degrading coverage, Verizon no longer allows 3G device activations and is shutting down the 3G network completely on 12/31/2019 [1]. ATT is doing the same in a few years.

Interestingly, they are also no longer activating 4G devices unless they support HD Voice, so the iPhone 5s and 5c are out even though they support LTE.

[1] https://www.verizonwireless.com/support/knowledge-base-21881...


I was looking at getting one of those Alcatels. Can it broadcast a wifi hotspot, such that you could tether a laptop or tablet? I couldn't tell from the listed specs.


I'm gonna go out on a limb and say it can't. I agree it's not obvious from the spec sheet though. It's most likely made for an aging demographic that can't be bothered to even learn how to use a smartphone, so hotspot connectivity probably won't be missed.


Had one of those dumb phones for a decade. Definitely not interested in connecting to your demographic.



It can!


> I tried turning my smartphone into a "dumbphone" and using it less, but I honestly lacked the self-control to put the stupid thing down.

Got a wife/husband/best friend that you trust? Use iOS or Android's built in systems for restricting what you can do on your phone, from what websites you can visit to being able to install apps, and lock them in place with a pin... that your trusted partner sets. Now you have no choice.

Worked for me.


Dumb question: Can it run a 2FA app (not over SMS) like Duo or Google Authenticator?


Almost certainly not. This has been a barrier for me too.

What I've done is started putting the phone in do not disturb and airplane modes when I'm not expecting a call.


I tried using that phone, but I found Kai OS to be pretty awful from a usability perspective. Maps was completely unusable - which was a large reason why I bought the phone in the first place. On top of that, the texting app is extremely laggy to the point where you'd wait a second for a word to show up. I don't know if the problem is with Kai OS or with the apps themselves, but my Samsung A-157 blows that phone out of the water from a texting usability perspective (but does not have GPS)


I also have recently acquired an Alcatel goflip- mostly to minimize distractions (I am a student - need time to study). It does what I need. It allows me to have time without a swiss army knife of distractions (including things we ought not look at) and still lets me make a call or pull up directions. Go ahead, free yourself.


How's audio (MP3) playback on the GoFlip? I'm disenchanted with my options to replace my aging iPhone 4 (frustrated that old, unsupported 32-bit apps I like aren't going to work on a new iPhone) and I'm contemplating jumping-ship to a "dumb" phone. I would really like to play MP3s on the phone, however.


I would imagine it's pretty bad. The interface is pretty slow and T9 is just frustrating enough for me to just call people instead. The call quality is great though!

I use a HiBy R3 [1] with a 512gb SD card to listen to my collection of ripped FLACs on the go. It's a great device, highly recommend!

https://store.hiby.com/products/hiby-r3


You can play MP3s, but the user experience for the music app is pretty bad in my limited experience using it


A quick search and it does not seem to be available for sale in Europe.


ebay.com


Nothing compares to the Punkt MP01 and MP02 IMO. I've had the MP01 for years and it's fantastic, the only issue has been with service and I imagine that would be resolved with the MP02 and 4g. https://www.punkt.ch/en/products/mp02-4g-mobile-phone/

There's also the Lightphone and forthcoming Lightphone II.

That being said, these won't really address privacy concerns per se. They don't support signal or other encrypted messaging (the lightphone II may in the future???). So the only way they would be more 'private' would be due to the fact that you'll use your phone for less and in so doing, share less data. Your texts and calls will still be pretty visible if that's a concern.


I also have a Punkt MP01 - It feels like a breath of fresh air to use this and to have a phone for simply what a phone does, calls and text messages.

I've since purchased a portable music player, a separate camera and an old fashioned A-Z map for my local area. If you can't see why I might want to do this rather than have a small smartphone that does it all then you haven't realised how much of a problem these devices can be for some people like myself who find themselves unable to control their own willpower.

What I find now is that I have a device specifically for the intention that I want to use it for. I want to read? I pick up a book, I'm not distracted and my attention span has increased. I want to listen to music? I go to HDTracks and buy a super high quality version of the album and listen intently. Want to take pictures? Really actually take pictures that you'll use and value rather than a phone full of photos that will likely never get viewed again.

Punkt's philosophy is similar and I really really respect them as a company taking this line because it's very niche but I feel it's very necessary in today's world. Love that company <3


What do you do for commutes? I find that it's impossible to read anything physical in crowded trains and the only way to not be bored out of my mind for those 45 minutes is to listen to music or a podcast or read something on the phone

I really like the idea of doing things intently, but I'm not sure how to manage these practical things


I can use my portable music player to listen to music on the go, or my Kobo e-reader to read a book. I am fortunate enough that I actually work entirely from an office in my garden so commuting is something I just don't have to do anymore. In any case, when I go to London or a nearby city, it's quite fun to see if I can get around without maps. I find myself asking people where I might find somewhere and get to make some real human contact. I bet you could do it, it sounds really scary at first, but what I did realise when I had the MP01 and was on trains is how funny it is to see everyone mindlessly thumbing their pieces of glass. It's really easy to slowly become a self righteous prick though and think you're better than everyone else because you don't use a smartphone anymore. You'll be as annoying as someone who does crossfit and who vapes and wants to tell the world about their new flavour so make sure to keep that in check :')


I have a Kaossilator 2S for commutes and long train journeys. It's a great little musical instrument, so it's fun and creative. The only downside is the relatively short battery life.


That looks really novel! I love stuff like this. Being a bit creative and having fun with it rather than reading the next doom and gloom news story!


I have a lightphone I, it is not really a phone. Aside from having a unreadable screen & keypad when in daylight, it is less functional than mobiles in 1996 were. No contacts, no messages, just a phone and a poor one at that. A bit too dumb if you ask me :P


The MP02 looks like it has a lot of software issues at the moment. Take a read of the threads at https://www.reddit.com/r/Punkt/.


Uggh, 330e for a candybar phone. Oh right it has designer ringtones and it's monochrome icons have been drawn millimeter perfect. Let's be serious, one of the major feature people (or maybe let's say me) want when switching to a dumbphone is a "no bullshit" design. Low-tech means to seek to be standard, have normal screws, basic modem, widespread battery, default form factor, nothing fancy. The fact they put so much into branding and marketing says a lot about how superficial this "focus on your real task" is. I don't want a tool i will like, i want a tool i can use.

I personally use a double-sim 2G nokia 216 i got for ~50e. Has a flashlight, can hold some music, has radio, low-def photo, timers. edge is painfully slow and no hotspot ability so i actually disconnect from internet when i'm not in some kind of office: no email, no chat, concise sms, i'm forced to call people and i'm rediscovering how talking actually works well for efficient communication.


That looks absolutely perfect! The MP02 seems to be retailing at $350, which isn't awesome, but on the other hand it sure is nice to see a simple phone that has received some serious design attention.


I justified it to myself by knowing that I'd be saving like $30-40 a month by not paying for data. Idk where you're located, but there's a provider called Ting: https://ting.com/ that charges you by usage, so my bill is like $20 a month.


I really want to get the MP02 but the reviews on /r/punkt are all pretty damning.


And it runs Android. What a bummer. Otherwise this phone looks perfect


It runs Android AOSP - the open source version of Android without Google services.

Punkt patched many critical bugs in the month after initial release of the MP02 in December. https://www.punkt.ch/en/inspiration/news/s/mp02-software-upd...


Check this thread out that explains Google really has no control over the device: https://twitter.com/punkt/status/1103276818340212737


Just an aside, but that’s a concerningly long thread. Responses like these are kind of important enough that they shouldn’t be easily lost or hardly seen (especially since it’s a reply to someone). Case in point: the way I found this thread since you linked to it, but I could be wrong and it might’ve been said somewhere in their website


Android and 'no Google controlled device' sounds like sci-fi.


I agree this is a bit disappointing. It basically makes this phone a smart phone that is just pretending to be a dumb phone, with negative implications for battery life, stability, and security (larger attack surface).


What is the problem with running Android here?


Google controlling your phone. Google owning your private data.


Ah, I didn't know they did that for the 02, pretty sure the 01 ran some custom non-android OS.


The hotspot on the 02 is really interesting to me. I tried the dumb phone thing a couple of years ago, but as somebody who works remote not having my hotspot was a killer.

This is really interesting...


I have my eye on the MP02. Waiting until they get certified for VoLTE in the USA, otherwise it will drop to 3g for making calls. 3g coverage is limited in many metro areas of the USA as carriers move to 4g/5g.


> MP02

I love the look of that phone, except for the huge logo on the front. I wonder if there is a way to strip that off without damaging the plastic.


I stripped the logo off the front of my LG monitor with some acetone, and it only damaged the plastic a little bit...


There's always a sharpie or black tape.


Ultraorthodox Jews buy dumbphones only because of religious considerations. These are known as Kosher phones. Here is a shop that sells them https://www.zipy.co.il/s/אליאקספרס/-/-/טלפון/?aspect=:::2000...


What exactly is the nature of those religious considerations?

Is it just that you can use a dumb phone on friday night without violating the sabbath (can you?)?

Is there a religious doctrine that explicitly prohibits general purpose computing devices in the home?


Phones stripped of anything that could be corrupting. Browsers, etc;

More information here: https://www.quora.com/What-are-Kosher-cell-phones


Fun fact: in some places the lifts in buildings are set to stop at every floor during the sabbath, so people don't have to push the buttons or they'll go to hell or whatever.

Seems to me if you're looking for loopholes and workarounds just so you can do what you need to do on certain days of the week, then the rules might be silly.


Yeah, the idea is to prohibit work on the sabbath which includes kindling fire, and by association, commanding lights/electronics. So they might have lights on timers and such workarounds, so they don't actually touch them. And killing time on the internet/games/email is probably not in the spirit of studying scripture etc.

No idea how they justify using a dumb phone doesn't trigger the work clause.


It's a phone that has the potential for corrupting influences removed. No web browser, MMS, etc.


I think it's about not being exposed to indecent content, but I am no authority on the subject.


I don't know about you, but I'm jonesing for one of these so I can experience that "Gordon Gekko on the beach" feel (sorry for the '80s reference, but if you haven't seen Wall Street, you totally should): https://www.zipy.co.il/p/%D7%90%D7%9C%D7%99%D7%90%D7%A7%D7%A...


Also known as the “Zach Morris phone”:

https://goo.gl/images/5VbHYW


IMO a dumb phone is usually not what you want, unless you care about battery life that much. Most dumb phones are worse for privacy than a properly configured iDevice without location services and all those other gimmicks you don't probably want. They're not encrypted, easier to hack after being stolen and you're forced into normal calls and sms messages which are notoriously insecure. You'd be better off with an iPhone and iMessage/Signal or even Matrix on your own home server if you care that much. That setup gives you much, much more privacy than anything else could.


Dumbphones effectively no longer exist.

Anything with LTE (aside from iDevices) seems to run a Linux kernel with a stripped down Android or FirefoxOS on top. They have simplified UIs if that's what you're looking for, but they also have security holes out the wazoo (you can frequently get a root adb shell via usb with a stock config), and will never see updates.

To top that off, the available "dumb" phones with LTE often don't support US LTE bands. (glares at useless nokis 8810 4g)

You might get away with a pre-LTE device that's a legit dumbphone, but those networks are rapidly dying. :-(


>Dumbphones effectively no longer exist. Anything with LTE (aside from iDevices) seems to run a Linux kernel with a stripped down Android or FirefoxOS on top. They have simplified UIs if that's what you're looking for, but they also have security holes out the wazoo (you can frequently get a root adb shell via usb with a stock config), and will never see updates.

This has been a concern of mine, and why instead I've moved to simply turning off my wifi and cell service when not using them.

I installed "HereWeGO", a GPS app with great support for offline maps. Between that, podcasts, and music I can go quite long without using any data.

(Or as a middle ground I drop down to wifi with DND on, and check for incoming messages every once in a while)


Check out OsmAnd. It uses OpenStreetMaps data and all the map data is stored offline. OSM has great footpaths in my experience and it does turn by turn navigation and all that fun stuff to.


Thanks for the suggestion, I like that it's open source.


Consider taking this a step further and trying no phone at all. But instead of doing something extreme like dumping your smartphone, just turn your current phone off unless you're OK with being reached and at home or at work. Anything in between, the phone stays off.

This makes your smartphone a de facto land line for all practical intents, and you get to keep the potential to make exceptions and use it for e.g. GPS and maps or a restaurant lookup when you need to.


Another possibility to consider is carrying a pager. That way you'll at least know when you've got a call or a voice mail, and then you can turn your phone on temporarily to call back or check your voice mail, instead of having to periodically turn on your phone to check for missed calls.


Actually, the whole point here is to not be reachable unless you're OK with it. If you're working as e.g. an emergency doctor or a firefighter, or you're responsible for keeping Gmail/Google Drive up, it's a different story of course. But most of us aren't dealing with urgent -- as in life or death, or impacting gazillions of users -- situations that can't wait an hour or two.


Then you can also just go into Airplane mode. But that takes discipline.

Much more liberating is, to have a smartphone where you can put out the batterie ... then it is off. And since putting it back together takes time, the temptation to just check something is way less.


I just wish there was a better middle ground. iOS's DND is great in letting me whitelist contacts who can punch through, but that only applies to calls and texts, not signal :/


I have been buying dumb phones from china for a few months (mostly using ebay and banggood.com) and since most cost between $15-$35, I've bought six and plan to buy a few more. I might throw up a Medium blog reviewing them because they are hilarious and sometimes really innovative.

My favorites have been:

- Fidget Spinner Phone [0] | It's a fidget spinner and basically a classic Nokia clone with video, mp3, and bluetooth. It is comfy to carry in the pocket, has dual SIMs and SD card storage. Also an FM radio (that doesn't use hadphones as an antenna). The best part is that is has "HORSE RACE LIGHTS" that run to the beat so you can fidget spin to the radio.

- Super Tiny Phone [2] | Can be a bluetooth earpiece, is super tiny, and has a voice changer option that is just hilarious. Call with autotune! Also it's clearly made for crime, but I like to call my mom as a robot.

- Pen Phone [3] | It's a pen!

[0] https://www.banggood.com/Servo-S08-1-3-300mAh-Christmas-Gift...

[1] https://www.banggood.com/V2-0_66-OLED-260mAh-Smallest-Blueto...

[2] https://www.banggood.com/SERVO-K07-0_96inch-300mAh-bluetooth...



If you loved Light Phone, you should try this android app "Less Phone". It is brilliant.

If you want both smartphones and don't want to get distracted during office hours or private time.


Some were asking where to purchase these phones... You can purchase the Nokia 3310 at BestBuy. Decent phone for $60.


I considered going retro and getting a Nokia 3310, but 2G only was the show stopper.


They have a 3G model, I'm using right now! They also have a 4G 8110 "Bananaphone" that runs KaiOS, a sort of 'inbetween' smart-and-dumb phone.


I was looking into this exact problem last year. I couldn't find a reasonable solution, so I had to take extraordinary steps instead -- I'm building my own phone.

There is literally no phone on the market (that I can find) that is acceptable to me anymore.


> I'm building my own phone.

Can you elaborate? This sounds pretty interesting.


It's essentially simple. What I have breadboarded and working right now is based on a Raspberry Pi (although I won't be using the Pi in the end, as it's too bulky -- I'll be using the functional equivalent on a board I'm designing). I'm using a 4G module to provide the cell functionality (you communicate with it much like with a modem) and a 4" LCD touch panel for the display. It is running Linux as the OS, with some custom code for things like the phone dialer, etc. It also has the other usual features like WiFi, Bluetooth, etc.

It's really nothing more than a small Linux computer with a cell phone module attached. That was one of my design goals -- I wanted a real OS rather than something like Android. The only thing that I'm not entirely happy with at the moment is power draw, but I can greatly reduce that with a bit more work.


Whose 4G modem did you go with?


I'm using a Quectel EC25-E 4G/LTE.


Interesting part! Looks like Mini PCI-E is the common formfactor, but some come on a little USB dongle. Is that the version you're using?

Will it do voice/SMS? I haven't found any indicators either way.


I'm using the Mini PCI for development, but I really need something that is a bit smaller for the final product. I haven't yet determined if this means that I'll need to use a different chipset.

> Will it do voice/SMS?

Yes, it does.


Cool thanks! It's exciting to run into an inexpensive LTE modem that can come in an easy to use package to use for stuff like this.

If you get to a point where you've learned some interesting things and generated documentation/video/etc send me a note on Twitter (@ borgel). Might make a good Hackaday writeup!


https://puri.sm/products/librem-5/

This might count as a dumb phone for your intended purposes, given how it separates the baseband from the CPU and has killswitches.


Not yet released, unfortunately.


Oh great question! I have tried asking almost the same thing here[1] with no luck. 8 upvotes, 0 replies. Very curious to see if this thread will get any traction.

Personally, I was eyeing Nokia 3310 (relaunched version)[2].

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=15261955

[2] https://www.nokia.com/phones/en_int/nokia-3310


I have the Nokia 3310 3G (relaunched version). It has many noticeable bugs/issues ranging from annoying to near deal-breakers, e.g.:

* Terrible MMS/group chat support (and bugs, e.g. messages showing up in previews but not in the actual channel)

* Inconsistent notifications

* Un-removable built in apps (that auto-install on first open)

I still use it but based on this thread I'm going to be following the Punkt MP02 (although $350 seems ridiculous). Or maybe at some point I'll get around to building that custom dumb phone I've always wanted...

I previously used the samsung A727 which I actually thought was great but is hard to find any more.


I use and like the 3310. It would be basically a perfect phone for me if MMS wasn't broken and I could disable the web browser. I'll take what I can get though since I don't have the self control to own a smartphone


I bought the 3G version. It was bad. Really bad. I think we've collectivley forgot how much of a UI bump the iPhone was.

I ended up never using it because there wasn't any way of of getting my contacts from my iPhone to it and I'm not spending several hours keying in my contacts.


UX/UI is not much of a concern for me, my personal usage intention is only for occasional texts and calls (mostly for 2FA, personal projects). I was actually looking for a "brick" of a phone.


I've been using my 3310 for a few weeks and its great. I just have to relearn how to type messages using the numbers again.


I didn't like my 3310 because it didn't have a good keypad lock and I normally put it in a place in my knapsack where the keys could get pressed.

The first problem was that it would keep the display on as long as a key was pressed. That would kill the battery quickly.

The second problem was that the phone would happily dial 911 without unlocking the keypad. My city has asked that phones be configured to not be able to do that. As a result I had to return the phone.

Currently using an ancient Samsung A157. Flip phones solve the keypad lock problem entirely. Dunno what I will do for a phone if it breaks.


The new 3310 has really bad UX. I bought it for a relative and was very surprised by its non-intuitive menus, settings and navigation.

I was expecting a UI/UX building on the decades of patterns used in most "feature phones" but this seems to be some from-scratch reinvention which did not hit the mark for me.


In my mind, the best "dumb" phone is something like the iPhone SE.

Aside from the issue of limited options, traditional dumb phones contain junk like seriously insecure baseband processors, shadow SMS commands, carrier bloatware that does god knows what, BREW, and J2ME. They're often slow and cheaply-made.

If you're concerned about time management, then you have a few options:

- Improve your self-discipline and impulse control, eliminate FOMO. This will pay dividends in your life.

- Uninstall any app you absolutely do not require. In the latest versions of iOS you can uninstall many of the apps the device comes with.

- Configure Screen Time(tm) and Downtime(tm) under Settings->Screen Time.

- Configure Restrictions under the Settings app. Make them as draconian as you want and set up a complicated passcode.

The problem isn't the phone, it's you.


I use a "dumb" iphone SE as well, heavy screen time restrictions and very limited apps. Its great because I get to keep Uber and Venmo and Maps so I still have full functionality if I need it.

I disagree though when you say the problem isn't the phone and to improve self-discipline. If you have a cocaine addiction, and bag of cocaine in your pocket, the problem isn't your self-discipline. It's that you have a bag of cocaine in your pocket.


Not strictly a dumbphone, but KaiOS phones (https://www.kaiostech.com/) are sort of smart-ish. They're forked from FxOS, are easily hackable, are compatible with modern telephony standards (so the death of 2G won't kill them), and come from multiple suppliers.

They hit the "just enough" functionality for me: phone calls, access to smart-ish messaging, a music player, and the ability to act as a hotspot for a more dedicated device.

I haven't got one myself (there's a particular model I was waiting on 6 months ago when I last sniffed around), but I intend to this year.


I used a Motorola FONE for a few years. E-ink display, the most basic basics (single-case text messages, twelve characters at a time). Pretty good battery life, nice form factor. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Motorola_Fone


I did too! I loved the e-ink, but battery life was surprisingly bad considering the premise. I still loved the simplicity and durability.


I have an antique samsung flip-phone from sometime in the 2006-08 years. My carrier is T-mobile.

I had one that I used until it was really dying a couple years ago (growing blob of dead pixels in the middle of the screen, declining battery life), which I commented on during a visit home, to which my mom replied, "wait! i have the exact same phone in a drawer somewhere" ... so now i'm still using it, just, the one that she held onto for some reason.

The comments about dropped calls are true -- my phone has gotten progressively worse at being a phone in the last couple years. I wasn't sure whether it was hardware degradation or what, but I trust folks on this thread are more knowledgeable than I am and are correct that it's due to networks being phased out. To be honest I have no idea which 'G' my phone uses.

Pros: - battery lasts for most of a week between charges - is not distracting at all - I don't feel bad when I drop it - the alarm-clock feature works - most people are very kind about giving me directions if i get lost and ask them for help, after they hesitate and say "... can't you look it up on your phone?"

Cons: - not all text messages reach me - I have to manually delete texts as the phone only wants to store 30 texts at a time. - some phone conversations include redialing a few times - I don't have a camera in my pocket - I don't have a GPS in my pocket - My current employer had to buy me a cheap (no sim card / no linked google account) smartphone anyhow for 2FA apps! - distraction is more of a general habit -- i still waste plenty of my own time browsing the internet on a laptop.


I own a YotaPhone 2 since a little more than a year now, and I am very satisfied with it.

It's a dual screen from 2015 made in Russia: it has an e-ink screen on the back that can display both dedicated widgets and the android OS, like the normal screen.

The OS (Android 4 up to 6) has been adapted for the screen and special care has been taken to make the system consume as few energy as possible if configured so. Think of it as the phone you dumb down when you go on a week-long trek in the Siberian Taiga.

I love it because of the extreme readability of the screen under full sunlight. I don't need to find a shadow or make some with my hands in order to select a song in a playlist, check my position on a map or reply to a text while walking.

There are also some cool features, like mirroring the camera's view on the back screen so that people who are photographed can have a preview of the final result.

The phone can also flash your contact info on the e-ink screen before shutting down (since it's e-ink, the image gets persisted even though the battery is flat), just in case some good samaritan finds your phone.

And now that the YotaPhone 3 is out, you can find it for 150$.


I bought Alcatel Go Flip for $25, works fine. If you need to read web from 2.8" display via 4G or Wifi one-two times per year, this is good choice.


That looks nice, to bad it's KaiOS... Well no, to bad Google had to go mess with KaiOS. I'm really annoyed that Google Assistant got put into KaiOS.


KaiOS 1.0 was released before Google invested their money, no preinstalled google software on this phone.


Same, and you can use it as a 4g hotspot if your plan allows it.


Not a dumb phone, but I would recommend the Unihertz Atom[1]. It packs Android into the same form factor as a flip phone. The advantage is that it supports most carrier bands, including Verizon, and modern standards like VoLTE, Wifi calling (dumb phones are generally carrier specific and rely on 2G/CDMA bands for calling).

The great thing about this form factor is that browsing and extended typing are very difficult, so you end up using your phone to get notified and for utilities like navigation, music playing.

Privacy-wise it does not solve your concern because it runs Android and it does not track the latest security updates as well as the Google branded phones.

[1] https://www.amazon.com/Unihertz-Smallest-Smartphone-Android-...


I haven't used it but the "new" (remake) of the Nokia 8110 seems to fit your requirements [1].

[1] https://www.engadget.com/2018/08/24/nokia-8110-4g/


I've been using the new 8110 for nearly a year and it's exactly what I was looking for. Battery lasts for about a week, no ridiculous restrictions on texts or contact name length, and it can even create a wifi hotspot. It's the perfect balance of smart and dumb, IMO.


If you care about privacy and have about $100 + 4 hours you can get a Galaxy S5 running LineageOs without GApps (use F-Droid store) .

Almost completely OSS besides a few manufacturer blobs you can't really work around.

I have a "normal" Android phone I use for work but my S5 is my daily driver for everything else. Works great, hardest part is setting up stuff to replace FAANG.

I use ProtonMail, Open Camera, Matrix/Riot for family chat.

Haven't found a good calendar yet but overall way more usable than a dumbphone and privacy concious

There's some "nicer" options like One plus for LineageOs but you will probably find the S5 fairly snappy since its based on Android 8.0 . IMO the last few versions of Android make a much larger performance difference than a few CPU generations


LineageOS still use Google services for DNS and connectivity checks. I'd be non surprised if this number will be much more. Also, every third-party app can easily track you and steal data, check the news.


You may be right about connectivity checks although I thought they recently removed Google from those.

Lineage has built on top of Android permission system to prevent most apps from stealing data (Android location permission is probably the most notorious). If you have a rooted device with lineage you can also run XPeivacyLua which fakes out any data that apps "require" to install


I've used a Nokia 208.1 for 5 years, it's not very big, it has not features worth mentioning, it lasts for ages (usually at least 1 weak depending on usage)... The interface is not horrible to use and doesn't get in the way - which is all I really care about with this kinda phone (cheaper dumb phones will really piss you off getting in the way).

RE privacy, phones aren't private, not even dumb phones, use a dumb phone for privacy in terms of doing less on it (i.e internet), cell networks voice calls are wide open of course. My main reason is lack of distraction though.

RE network compat: I've taken this phone to China, Thailand, Laos, Mexico, France, Germany - it always worked - Never been to US though.


I got the cheapest phone available at MediaMarkt (German electronics store).

It's a SwissOne (don't know which model exactly) for about 30€. The battery life is great (runs more than a week) and it even has dual SIM support.

Interestingly, I could not find (in that shop) any phone without a color screen and camera. Really, I just want a phone for calls and SMS.

The one downside of that phone is that the audio volume on calls is really low, even when set to the maximum. That makes it difficult to have conversations on busy streets. In the future, I would pick one of those phones targeting senior citizens (with the huge buttons).


I think you're talking about Swisstone SX 567 https://www.amazon.de/swisstone-DUAL-SIM-Mobiltelefon-Strahl...


It looks different, but that's probably close enough.


I'm using the new nokia 8810. The keyboard is annoying, but otherwise with this phone you have a hotspot turned phone in a classic shape with you. KaiOS isn't too bad either (no google stuff on my phone too).


woohoo, somehow I managed to miss this existing. I had an original 8110 back in the day and every now and then since I've daydreamed about just how cool it would be to have that same form factor with modern internals. It's real!

Yeah, I might just have to pick one of those up. :) What do you object to about the keyboard? And is it squishy rubber like the original 8110 or something harder?


It's definitely hard, with something squishier underneath.

Maybe I have a manufacturing one-off, but for me, the keys tend to trigger multiple times when I press them. I can hardly enter an entire phone number without accidentally double-hitting at least one of the numbers.


I was looking into buying one at one point when my Android phone started acting up.

Do you use maps or whatsapp on it? How is the experience?


I don't think they shipped an app for whatsapp yet.

There's a maps app though, but personally I always have my laptop with me anyway, which has considerably more pixels.


Unfortunately, HMD hasn't released the 8810 with US bands, so it's not feasible to use it in the US.


I'm a huge fan the The Light phone if you are trying to embrace minimalism. The second version is adding some features that hit the balance better for people who want to use their phone more consciously but still need to use an Uber every once in a while. But the first version is still for sale at Macy's I think.

https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/light-phone-2

It's not as cheap as most "dumb" phones (~$300), but I for me its exactly what I wanted to reclaim my attention.


Being frivolous, not answering the question, but for my money, the best dumb phone is the analog one we used to have, plugged into a socket in the wall.

It was often noisy, sound was crummy, it was unwieldy, and it cost a small fortune to run, but it was without perceptible delay, it was fully duplex, and it far better approximated real face to face conversation than the weird false starts and constant stuttering interrupts we have learned to take for granted these days.

Also, you could walk out the door and ignore it.


> sound was crummy

Maybe. But to my ears, the sounds quality from the old POTS phones was orders of magnitude better than what we get with cellphones even today.


Without some means of call-screening, telemarketing is making this all but untenable in the US.

Oterwise, agreed.


I’m in Tokyo for work and it is surprising how many flip phones there still are here. Not sure if they work in the US but might be worth looking into shipping from Japan.


I've been using the same Nokia 301 since 2013, and I've been content with it, but it's not sold any more so I don't know how much it's worth recommending it. Some notable problems I've had—and there might be similar problems with other non-smart-phones, which is why I think it's worth mentioning them—are:

· It has some size limit (I'm not sure what) on the attachments it can feasibly receive from other phones, and the default photo size for iPhones is larger than that, which means if a family member texts me a photo, I often can't download it. This isn't a big problem for me, because I tell them to email me instead, but it's still present.

· It lacks many newer emoji characters, which is only a problem if I'm texting people who use a lot of emoji, in which case their messages will have a bunch of mysterious blank boxes at the end.

· It has some kind of problem validating newer SSL certs, so the handful of services that do talk to the internet are at this point broken. I don't use any of them, so it's not a problem for me, but if I did, I'd have been out of luck.

I should also add that dumbphones are a real mixed bag when it comes to security. If I wanted to communicate with someone without eavesdropping, then I'm out of luck with a dumbphone: everything is just not-particularly-secure texting and calling. In my own case, I simply don't think of my phone as being a trusted device: that's what my laptop is for. However, if you really want to be security-conscious with your phone, I think the right thing might be to get an Android phone, install LineageOS on it, don't install any of the Google services, and be very limited in what apps you add.


You might consider a WiPhone a few months from now once we're shipping them: (project preview link) https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/2103809433/338898127?re...

It's intended to be hackable. The base phone is pure WiFi, but there will probably be an LTE add-on.


I'd be hugely interested in this phone if only it had some form of cell connectivity; even 2G would suffice for my purposes. While we wait for cheaper 4G modems, why not a pluggable SIM800 (cost: a few bucks) module for the rest of us?


The current plan is to ship the basic model first, then add things like modems if the reception supports the development effort.

So far it looks like most people want 4G, even though it's quite expensive to add. I think too many marketing dollars have been spent convincing consumers that's what they need, so we may end up doing 4G before others. But you're right, 2G (or 3G) would both be cheaper and probably all you need for a dumb phone.

The nice thing, though, is unlike most phones it should be pretty easy for anyone with electronics skills to make a daughterboard that expands the phone hardware capabilities.


I have greatly enjoyed my Nokia 3310 3g. I have had intermittent sergice outages, but for the most part it works well. I live in a major metropolitan area though... so if you are more rural you may not have the same experience. I only use it for the following: calls, alarm clock, and the occasional text (but I hate it when people text me and usually just call them back - yes, I know it is frowned upon). While an LTE version of the 3310 exists in europe, I do not believe it opperates on American bands. Which is a bummer and I really wish they would release it here. Having buttons again is so much better than the touch screen plague that has grabbed everyone.

If the WiPhone (http://a.wiphone.io/) manages to see market, I may move in that direction as I am almost never outside of wifi (plus the promise of writing apps in either MicroPython or Wiring or the like sounds great).


A discussion worth mentioning: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=16912679

Of the blogpost on how to make a dumber phone https://nomasters.io/posts/dumber-phone/


I'm in Australia, so if you're not then we might have a completely different range to choose from. (Hopefully your dumbphone market is better than ours!) But for what it's worth:

- My previous phone was a Nokia 3310. It was terrible, but that was partly because I (presumably) got a dud unit -- the sound output was intermittently (but frequently) badly garbled. Setting that aside, I would still not recommend it. When it ran out of memory it had the delightful habit of allowing me to obliviously (and laboriously) type out a long text message and hit send, only then notifying me that was too full to do that, and dumping me back to the menu (or a newly-blank message window, I forget) with the message lost. The interface was generally a bit annoying, and the retro styling was just a gimmick -- I don't think it had much in common with the original aside from being a dumbphone. From memory the battery life was pretty good though.

- My current phone is a Nokia 8110, aka the bananaphone. (And no, I really didn't want to get another Nokia, but there were very few alternatives and the ones I wanted to try had too many worrying reviews.) It's been fine so far. It's pretty big, but fits comfortably in my pocket. It's not a flip phone, and the screen is always visible (so you can check the time just by tapping the power button on the side), but it has a cover that slides back to reveal the keypad. I haven't used it for much, just very occasional calls and texts, but I haven't had any serious annoyances yet. It runs KaiOS, which is significantly less annoying than the 3310 firmware (and probably makes using the 8110 as a semi-smart phone feasible -- the 8110 has Wi-Fi, which worked fine when I tested it), though it does take a frustratingly long time to start up. Battery life seems good, though I haven't tested it aside from leaving it on standby for longish periods.


I have the original Nokia 3310, which is not being used right now. Daily driver is the reissue 3310 that came out a couple years ago. It's still a little too "modern" for my tastes but something I can live with. The great thing is that the battery lasts forever. Probably close to a few weeks. Well, I don't use it at all, so there's that.


I used my 1st gen 3310 daily for 13 years. Eventually the antenna died and it turned out to be impossible to find reliable batteries.

Mom, on the phone: "I can't HEAR you again! Go and GET yourself a DECENT phone! I am going to BUY you one myself! ..." After this, my phone almost always died.

An excellent phone, though. Saved me from smartphones (I've never owned one). It also served well as a bottle opener when I was a student.


Damn how did I not know about using the 3310 as a bottle opener (being a 20-something when I had one). Anyway here is the proof:

https://metro.co.uk/2015/04/18/this-is-how-you-use-your-old-...


Haha, I can't believe there actually is a video for this. I'm from Estonia and it seemed like a a standard skill among 18+ year olds here in the early 2000s. You had to try beer, and you had to try opening the bottle with a 3310.

I suppose I should say "timeless Finnish design" now. :)


Cant you just turn off mobile data and wifi on the phone? If it can't connect to the internet, it can't violate any privacy.


I might increase the battery life by some, but I guess you still need to bring your charger for a weekend trip.


Related question – Is it possible to have two phones with the same phone number? Maybe an iPhone and a flip phone, for example.


Number sharing is a thing. That's how Apple Watch operates, sharing the # with its host iPhone.


Why not like a cheap ($40) BLU phone and just not use the "smart" features?

https://www.amazon.com/BLU-Advance-Unlocked-Smartphone-Black...


I can't say there's a "best" since we're talking about dumb phones, but this is one that I bought a few years back and it works great. You'll need a pay-as-you-go plan, but other than that, it's been smooth sailing.

https://www.amazon.com/BLU-GSM-Unlocked-Dual-Black/dp/B07MZD...


I still primarily use an iPhone SE, but every couple of months I'll "disconnect" by using a dumbphone for a week or two at a time. I use the Nokia 106: https://www.nokia.com/phones/en_int/nokia-106/

I like it a lot. It's cheap, simple, and has great battery life; I charge it perhaps once during the week or so I'm using it. I paid £18 for mine unlocked.

My favourite antifeature is that it has no camera. Most dumbphones have a camera in them that's so poor it's not worth having. This one doesn't bother with one at all, which means there's no camera option cluttering up the menus.


have you considered going phoneless?

The perspective it will give you on modern life will likely make you want to stay phoneless.

Remember when everyone smoked? I mean everyone. The experience of being phoneless today reminds me of what it was like to be a non smoker 25 years ago. Nauseating.


I've considered that, but times have changed and unlike 25 years ago, there aren't payphones dotting the urban landscape, and people make plans expecting to be able to contact you when you're already out in the world and away from your computer. For the once or twice a month that I need a phone, it's a necessary evil.


I got multiple dumb phones. The new Nokia 3310 being my favorite. On top, it's dual SIM.


How does it compare to the original re battery life?


I also have a Nokia 3310. I guess I charge it every other 4-5 days.


Nokia (the new, not the old) makes a neat little phone that has good standby time. I still use my old one but stocked up on the news ones 'just in case', as long as my old one is still working I'll stick to it.

The 3310 is the new one.


Anyone have suggestions for dumb phones that will work with Verizon? I'm still on a Samsung Intensity II from ~2011 because from what I can tell there aren't any non-flip-phone dumbphones that work with Verizon anymore.


They have quite a few options at https://www.verizonwireless.com/basic-phones/

I have used the Exalt and the Kyocera DuraXV. Both are great phones and even allow you to create hot spots with them.


Those are all flip phones though. I want something in the old candy bar style. I guess technically there is that Sonim phone, but it's ugly as sin.


Perhaps one of the other non-flip phones presented here may work in the "bring your own device" option presented on that Verizon Basic website.


The problem I've always found before when I look is Verizon uses different frequencies than most other carriers, so the phones tend to work on everything except Verizon


It's a dumb phone. Pretty much all you need to to be able to make calls and maybe send texts. Walk into a Target or whatever store sells flip phones, pay for the cheapest phone + prepaid plan there, walk out.

For what it's worth, your location metadata probably uniquely identifies you (nearest cell tower to work + home), and Target probably knows who you are just from their security cameras, so this still isn't paranoid enough if "state actors are interested in me personally" is in your threat model. The "correct" thing to do in this case is to leave your phone at home and/or at work.


I used a Kyocera DuraXE for a bit while travelling. It's rugged, and supports LTE/tethering, but I abandoned that experiment due to how unpleasant I find T9 texting.

I was recently looking for a new phone for my father... he currently uses a Gingerbread-era LG slider phone with keyboard. He's never connected it to data or wifi, only uses it for calls and texting. Doesn't look like there's much available to serve his uses anymore. Maybe a (significantly more expensive than his slider) BlackBerry KeyOne or Key2 which he can also leave disconnected from data.


Look into the BlackBerry Classic, which was released in late 2014 or early 2015 and runs BB10. It's discontinued, but you should be able to find it on ebay for much cheaper than a new KeyOne/Key2 (which are quite large compared to the Classic). It has a great keyboard and all the built-in stuff works very well and is easy to use (SMS, phone, camera, calculator, calendar, notes, music player, maps, etc.). Battery life is pretty good too, or at least it was when new.

I used this phone until the end of 2017, at which point the outdated browser and dead app store (free apps only) started to seriously limit its functionality, but if you don't need those it would work just fine. I use a KeyOne now, but I miss the Classic's smaller form factor.


I've been using the LG Xpression C410 for years: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00YRDCLIU

But I'm not really sure what's out there now to compare it to. I never used anything else. This one deals with calls and texts fairly well and I charge it about twice a week with a low amount of texting and very few calls. I don't use it for anything else.

I also dropped it once from chest height and nothing bad came from it. It's built like a tank.


My suggestion is for a Blackberry Q10. It has 4G (so it'll last a long time), swappable batteries (very cheap), a great UI, useful functionality (calendar, notes), and a completely worthless app store.


I second this suggestion. Or the newer BlackBerry Classic (late 2014), which is almost identical except for the larger, non-removable battery and the addition of a thumb track pad and call/menu/back/hang up buttons.


Stupid question: would that really be better (from a privacy perspective) than a smartphone, without using the "smart" part of it? Arguably by using a dumb phone you would avoid sharing data with either Apple or Google, but you will still share everything (location, phone numbers, who you are calling, etc) with your telco company.

Calling/texting with a dumbphone might actually be worse, from a privacy perspective, than using something like Whatsapp (until Whatsapp was acquired by Facebook).


Battery life. Phone batteries used to last for two weeks or more with light usage.

Though to be fair to smartphones, my Samsung galaxy has an "ultra power saving" mode that puts the display into grayscale, uses a special app launcher and only allows access to a handful of applications. In that mode I can get about two weeks of battery life.


Battery life is a good point. I forgot that my good old Nokia used to last something like one month...


I've been wondering if you could use a cellular Apple watch like a dumbphone, initially setting it up with a friend/family member's iPhone (restored to get a fresh account, swap SIM and set up watch, then restored back to their backup), and then only using time/alarms and phone. Anyone know if that's possible? Could you update the contacts via icloud.com? Install software updates without an iPhone or Mac/Windows?


Using an LTE Apple Watch exclusively will address all time management concerns while still allowing you to do things like order an uber and stream music.


Is that even possible? I thought you had to have an iPhone to set the watch up?


I know enough people with an iPhone that if it's needed for setup only, that'd be fine.


AFAIK, it will link their Apple ID with the watch, which means that if they uninstall an app, you might lose it, and etc. The LTE Apple Watch needs a minimum of an iPhone 6 or something to complete setup vs. the non-LTE that can be setup with a 5s.


in the Netherlands I discovered a very cheap one from the mark Kazam, allowing 2 SIM (useful since I have 2), no memory but a microSD slot. I first used it without the microSD but then I wanted to have at least an acceptable ringtone so I installed the microSD... and I discovered that the phone (can) record all the calls I made on the microSD. That came very handy about once a year, I love the concept.


I haven't used one myself, but perhaps The Light Phone would meet your needs? They recently launched an updated model - https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/light-phone-2#/

Doesn't deliver until July 2019 though...


This might be of interest to you: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/privo-mobile

Looks like they are trying to make a dumb phone that has better UX like a smart phone.


What are the odds this project works? Just curious as making a functioning cellphone sounds difficult.


What about an iPhone 3Gs? Its essentially locked out of the app store at this point.


My smart phone is 4 years old, and the battery now lasts 1-2 hours, effectively discouraging me from installing any heavy app. Problem solved.



I have the Nokia 3310 and like it. Aside from not being great at receiving multimedia texts, it works pretty well. Also it has Snake, but sadly not the original version.


I second this.


If it were me, I'd go with a pager. Probably too old school for what you're looking for but it's purely passive, from what I remember.


I'm curious if anyone tried to hack Palm Mobile into some sort of semi-dumbphone by removing its OS and installing an open source mobile distro?



Aliexpress is flooded with simple 2g phones that just do voice, sms, and address book.

Pick a few, and try. Some are like 50 bucks only.


We use Samsung Gusto 3 phones. They are tiny and just work. Cost about $10 at the grocery store.


I found an ericsson ga628 looking phone, maybe I should pimp it with a rpi zero


The best dumb phone is a payphone.


Sadly, the Matrix has caught on and those are being removed. =[


Just glue your mobile to the wall in the hallway.




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