The 8 Best Basic Cell Phones to Buy in 2017

Sometimes, all you need is just a plain phone with no bells and whistles

While the smartphone is beloved by millions, not everyone needs one. For some, a phone that makes phone calls, has an address book and enough battery to get through the day is more than enough. Skip the costs of data packages, streaming music and watching live TV. Whether you call them a “dumbphone” or a “feature phone,” whether it’s for family or friends, take a look at some of the most popular non-smartphones on the market today.

If you’ve ever had a smartphone that shatters with the softest spill or frustratingly powers down in wintry weather, you’ll appreciate the Samsung Convoy. Its rugged, military design is built to withstand not only extreme temperatures, but humidity, dust, shock and, to some extent, water. All that while offering solid call quality.

It has 90MB of storage, which can be expanded to 32GB via its microSD slot, and supports voice commands and dialing, USB mass storage, stereo Bluetooth, instant messaging and POP3 e-mail. You’ll also have access to Verizon’s V Cast video streaming and V Cast Music with Rhapsody, plus the push-to-talk network for $5 per month. All things considered, it makes for a decent music player.

The external display is roughly the size of a postage stamp, while the internal is slightly larger and 262,000 colors (220x176 pixels). Above the external display sits a two-megapixel camera with features such as timer, 10x digital zoom, an adjustable ISO and spot metering, though no flash. Still, those features add up to pretty decent photo quality. According to Samsung, you’ll squeeze about five hours of talk time out of the Convoy, though reviewers on Amazon claim it lasts a good deal longer.

BLU’s “dumbphone” offers all the features one can want without the smartphone label. The 2.8-inch TFT screen pairs with a 1.3-megapixel camera with LED flash and video recording. Setting the BLU apart is the inclusion of Analog TV, FM radio, MP3/MP4 playback via the 3.5mm audio jack and expandable microSD memory slot. The BLU also offers GSM quad-band support for both AT&T and T-Mobile’s network, but it works best when paired with an AT&T SIM card. It's available four colors.

LG’s Verizon-ready Extravert 2 adds a slide-out QWERTY keyboard to the mix, offering a completely viewable screen and an easy way to input SMS messages. The 3.2-inch display offers both easy viewing and navigation around LG’s proprietary feature phone menu system. The two-megapixel camera offers a good opportunity to capture photos and video worth sharing via MMS and can be auto-scheduled to send your messages at a pre-set time. Smart LED notifications will change color to indicate a different alert such as a missed call, a received text message and more. Lastly, expandable memory supports a microSD card up to 32GB for adding music and additional storage for both photos and video.

ZTE’s QWERTY keyboard device is another feature phone that strives for smart capabilities with a QWERTY keyboard. The 2.4-inch TFT display pairs with the QWERTY keyboard for both quick and easy SMS and MMS messaging. Besides its keyboard, the ZTE also stands out with its two-megapixel camera, expandable microSD memory slot and music and video playback. Offering both 2G and 3G support, the ZTE works well on AT&T, as well as T-Mobile’s network.

BLU’s Tank II is a great unlocked GSM device that works on both T-Mobile and AT&T’s network with quad-band GSM capability. The 2.4-inch TFT display is paired with a 640 x 480 VGA camera with LED flash, as well as video recording. Powering the display and the rest of the device is a battery that offers an incredible 16 hours of phone calling, almost four times that of many other feature phones. Utilizing both the camera and video will require the addition of a microSD card, and the Tank II supports up to 16GB of added memory. The music player piggybacks off the expanded memory for adding tunes, and there's even an FM radio that can work without having headphones plugged in.

ZTE’s Z222 flip phone is a dual-band GSM AT&T device that offers a similar features set to other phones on this list (text, picture and video messaging). The two-inch TFT display pairs with a battery that allows for more than four hours of talk time. The Z222 does offer a crude version of a WAP browser, a gateway to the Internet, but requires a separate data package to connect. The outside monochrome display helps alert you to incoming calls, received texts or missed notifications for both calls and texts. As a flip phone, the Z222 is as basic as it gets, but still offers reliability and great signal reception on AT&T’s network.

The Rugby 4 offers a rugged outer shell that’s tough enough to handle any environment. As a phone built for the outdoors, the built-in compass and GPS offer additional features that help blur the line between feature phone and smartphone. Beyond its rugged exterior, the Rugby offers a 2.4-inch internal display and a 1.3-inch screen on the front to help identify incoming calls as well as provide alerts for missed notifications. A three-megapixel camera offers one of the better cameras available on a feature phone. The phone features quad-band GSM support and tri-band support for AT&T’s higher-speed UMTS network. Additionally, the Rugby offers WiFi connectivity for connecting online and browsing via its WAP web browser.

Like Samsung’s Rugby 4 for AT&T, the Convoy 3 is another military-spec rugged flip phone that is capable of withstanding tough environments, in addition to being water-resistant, dustproof and more. Right out of the box you’ll notice dual-microphones that will work to cancel out external sound to maintain call clarity. As a bonus, Convoy 3 owners will have hands-free convenience options available to call, send messages and redial a number all without picking up the device. The Convoy 3 also has a 2.4-inch display on the outside, as well as a battery that allows for 6.5 hours of talk time. The Convoy works with Verizon’s CDMA network and is not available for any other carrier.

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