Which “dumbphones” are still worth buying?

Dec 13, 2010
Finance

Remember when you just made calls and sent text messages on your phone? Apple’s iPhone and Google’s Android-based phones may capture all the headlines, but they also hold your wallet hostage by requiring expensive data plans in addition to the up-front cost of the phone. If you want to get back to basics, try a […]

Remember when you just made calls and sent text messages on your phone? Apple’s iPhone and Google’s Android-based phones may capture all the headlines, but they also hold your wallet hostage by requiring expensive data plans in addition to the up-front cost of the phone.

If you want to get back to basics, try a “dumbphone”, or as it is called by the wireless industry, a “feature” phone. Often, these basic phones beat their smarter cousins in terms of battery life, reliability, simplicity, and best of all – price.

Serving your core mobile needs

What’s the difference? The “smart” of a smartphone means the phone sports an operating system like a computer, onto which you can download applications. Smartphones also often come with whiz-bang technology like GPS navigation, wireless Internet access, even gyroscopes and accelerometers that measure the position and movement of the phone.

Feature phones, on the other hand, address only your core mobile needs – they make and take calls, send SMS (a.k.a. text messages), play simple games, and maybe access mobile email and chat messages. Because of the simpler technology, feature phones batteries last longer, there are fewer parts to break when dropped, they rarely freeze or crash, and generally don’t require data plans.So what are the best dumbphones you can buy right now?

What’s the most desired smartphone?

Motorola Tundra (AT&T)

The Chuck Norris of phones. Drop it, throw it, bury in the snow, or drive over it with your car – as seen in customer YouTube videos – and this reliable flip phone will still work. One of few phones available to the public that meets a military spec for ruggedness. Its features seem primitive when compared to iPhone, but those who work or live in harsh conditions won’t miss a thing. The Tundra currently costs $149 and does not require a data plan.

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Samsung Flight (AT&T)

Like to text? The Flight offers a QWERTY slide-out keyboard, which you use for SMS or mobile email. When you’re talking, slide the keyboard up out of sight, and the oval phone fits nicely in your hand. Better still, the 2.8-inch touch screen displays big buttons for easy dialing. Best of all, the Flight comes free when you order online from AT&T and sign-up for a two year contract. While there, check out the many positive owner reviews.

LG Rumor Touch (Sprint)

Don’t envy the iPhone! When closed, this 3-inch touchscreen phone looks remarkably like its smartphone brethren. Customer reviews say text messaging, emailing, even social network updates are a breeze when using the slide-out full-QWERTY keyboard. With its long battery life, you’ll be shooting great pix with the on-board two megapixel camera long after your smartphone owner friends have plugged in to recharge. The LG Rumor Touch is free when purchased with a contract online from Sprint.

Nokia 2330 (T-Mobile)

Nokia phones are known for dependability. This straightforward candy-bar shaped model will make voice calls and send texts for hours, over days of standby time, and then disappear into a small pocket or purse. If you feel the need for more, you can shoot pictures or record video, listen to FM radio, or connect a Bluetooth wireless ear bud, as well. The Nokia 2330 is free with a two-year service plan from T-Mobile.

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Samsung Convoy (Verizon Wireless)

Large buttons matter to people with big fingers and seniors with failing eyesight. Samsung’s Convoy flip phone gets rave reviews for its no-nonsense functionality and “man-sized” keys. Like the Motorola Tundra, the Convoy meets the military standards for shock, vibration, high temperature and other phone-destroying conditions. If needed, this workhorse supports VZ Navigator, V CAST video, V CAST Music with Rhapsody, and Push to Talk. The Samsung Convoy is free with a Verizon Wireless contract.

LG Accolade (Verizon Wireless)

Want a cell phone you don’t need to think about? Try this basic flip. In the online customer reviews, one owner cites that during a month of regular use, they charged the Accolade only twice. The Accolade features a 1.3 megapixal camera, a speakerphone, and Bluetooth for hands-free headsets. And, yes, with a two year plan from Verizon Wireless, it’s free.

There are many other quality options to consider. When shopping online at carrier websites, look for a list of feature phones. Read the customer reviews and check for rating trends. A few negative reviews shouldn’t deter you as long as the majority is positive – it’s hard to please everyone. When in a phone store, ask the salespeople what feature phones they sell and which phones you can buy without a data plan. Pay particular attention to phones that comes free when you sign up for a contract. Happy shopping!

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