The 4 Best Basic Cell Phones of 2023

Our picks are simple to use with large displays

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If the main goal is to be able to make phone calls, you can make life easier by going with a more basic phone instead of a pricy smartphone.

These are our favorites.

Best for Verizon

Kyocera DuraXV Extreme E4810

Kyocera DuraXV Extreme E4810


What We Like
  • Sturdy, lasting flip design

  • Certified for hazardous conditions

  • Exceptionally loud dual speaker system

What We Don't Like
  • Limited advanced features

We must give the Kyocera DuraXV Extreme E4810 credit; they aren't kidding about the extreme part. You can drop this 5 feet onto solid concrete or let it sit in 6,5 feet of water for 30 minutes. The phone is also certified to be in Class 1, Division 2 hazardous locations. We're not even sure if we're capable of being there.

Extremeness aside, this is a good, basic phone with camera and video capabilities, really loud front-facing speakers (when at full volume), and it can act as an LTE mobile hotspot for ten devices. It's a simple cell phone that can be put through more-than-basic conditions.

Screen Size: N/A | Resolution: N/A | Processor: 1.2GHz | Camera: 5MP | Battery Life: 9.5 hours

Best for Seniors

Jitterbug Flip

Jitterbug Flip
Courtesy of
What We Like
  • Simple navigation

  • Large buttons

  • Loud speaker

What We Don't Like
  • Not compatible major networks

  • Mediocre camera

Jitterbug and its carrier, Lively, build their phones specifically for seniors. The Jitterbug Flip is a flip phone with a small outer screen that displays incoming calls and notifications. The inner screen has a simple interface with a simple yes/no navigation. The large buttons, bright screens, and powerful speaker are perfect for anyone who needs an uncomplicated phone.

The camera on the phone isn't the best, though. The Jitterbug Flip is exclusive to Lively, so if you're a customer on another carrier, you'll need to switch to Lively to use this phone. But the carrier has no long-term contracts and piggybacks on Verizon's extensive nationwide network.

Screen Size: 1.44 and 3.2 inches | Resolution: N/A | Processor: 1.1 GHz | Camera: 2MP | Battery Life: Around one day

Best Unlocked

Nokia 2780 Flip | Unlocked | Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile | Blue

Nokia 2780 Flip cell phone in blue.


What We Like
  • Simple to use

  • Can browse internet and download apps

What We Don't Like
  • Subpar camera

  • So-so battery life

The Nokia 2780 Flip is a phone first, with a few extras. It has 4G and a 5MP camera, comes in blue and red, and is very affordable.

You can use it to make calls, text, play music, and take photos. It also has a web browser and an app store. The 2780 Flip has a simple interface, though it's less responsive than a smartphone.

While its battery life isn't impressive (about 7 hours of talk time), the phone comes with an array of accessibility features, including larger font sizes, louder volume, a quick dial button, captions, text-to-speech, and it's compatible with hearing aids.

Screen Size: 2.7 inches | Resolution: 320 x 240 | Processor: N/A | Camera: 5MP | Battery Life: 7 hours

Best for T-Mobile

TCL Flip Go

TCL Flip Go cellphone.


What We Like
  • Can use as a mobile hotspot

  • Good battery life

What We Don't Like
  • Not a great camera phone

The TCL Flip 4 has 4G, a 2-megapixel camera, a headphone jack, and mobile hotspot capability. The phone's battery life is good (about 14 hours of talk time), it's hearing aid compatible, and you can adjust the text size.

It's straightforward to use and inexpensive, so it's an excellent choice if you need only the basics. Its camera isn't great, though it's rare to find a basic cell phone with a good one.

Screen Size: 2.8 inches | Resolution: 320 x 240 | Processor: N/A | Camera: 2MP | Battery Life: 14 hours

What to Look For in a Basic Cell Phone

Battery Life

In the world of basic cell phones, you'll often find that your battery life is measured in days or even weeks. Unlike smartphones, basic cell phones don’t have to continually process many complex actions. Thoroughly review the phone’s specs to identify the one that offers maximum talk time and standby time. To eliminate how often you need to charge your phone, also consider how many advanced features there are, as they may cut into your battery life.

Ease of Use

If you're buying a basic cell phone, it's at least partly because you don't want to deal with the complexities of a modern smartphone. While most basic cell phones are inherently simple, some are surprisingly complicated. Today’s basic phones can include features such as texting, taking photos, or listening to music. Aside from premium features, some fully loaded basic phones have complex interfaces. While looking for a basic phone, make sure it has an interface that makes it fairly easy to place and answer calls.

Expandable Storage

Basic phone users and smartphone users alike can benefit from extra storage. Today, most basic cell phones include a camera. If you plan on taking photos or videos, you'll want to ensure the phone has enough storage. Getting a phone with expandable storage can help if you’re unable to transfer your memories from the phone to a computer. With expandable storage, not only are you able to add more capacity, but you’re able to easily swap memory cards when the current card gets full.

  • What is a basic cell phone?

    As smartphones have become more complex, the basic cellphone is here for people who want a more simple experience. It's usually a small phone without a large screen, and often a flip phone. It's got large keys, and a large, easy to read screen and interface. They usually can't run apps, but they are the perfect way to keep in touch for those who struggle with a more modern smartphone.

  • How much does a basic cell phone plan cost?

    The price of a basic cell phone plan can vary, but there are a variety cheap cell phone plans if you don't want to pay the price of a major carrier such as AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon. Smaller carriers and MVNOs including Cricket Wireless, MetroPCS, Visible, Republic Wireless, and others offer plans that can save considerable amounts for people. Instead of signing up for a full prepaid plan, you have the option of getting a plan that allows you to pay just for the number of voice minutes, texts, and data you need and can use. Some of these plans cost as little as $15 to $20, making them a great deal cheaper than mainline options.

  • Can basic cell phones be hacked?

    If your main concern is privacy and security, a basic cell phone can offer some advantages because not all of them have full WI-Fi connectivity, GPS, apps, and sophisticated operating systems. But like any cellular device, they can be used to track you and your whereabouts, and that's true even of a basic cell phone. That said, if your cell phone has no apps to speak of, and you don't use it for web browsing, that'll limit a good deal of your exposure.

  • How long will basic cell phones be supported?

    Most new basic cell phones come with 4G LTE connectivity at a minimum, and you should avoid buying 2G-only devices since those networks have been shut down in the U.S. and many other parts of the world. 3G service continues to be supported, but its end is also scheduled in the next few years, so your best bet is to make sure your device supports 4G LTE.

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