Feature phones — non-smartphones to us civilians — focus on the basics: Call quality, text capabilities, and battery life, wrapped in an easy-to-use, reasonably priced, pocketable package. If you’re on a limited budget, and you need a way to call and text loved ones, the flip phone may be the best and most affordable option. It’s no-frills, but it gets the job done. While not all flip phones are super cheap, they do tend to be much cheaper than most smartphones, even budget ones.
Flip phones are intuitive and offer plenty of variety. Your phone rings, you flip up to answer. You want to text, you flip up and start typing. Most flip phones are designed to be used with one hand, though some also have a hands-free mode. Some flip phones also feature a small touchscreen, while others may sport a full QWERTY keyboard.
Apart from common characteristics, some flip phones come unlocked, have internal memory, can support data plans, offer a push-to-talk feature, and have a convenient display on the outside case for quickly checking the time or caller ID. Sold? Now let’s take a look at a few of the best flip phones you can buy today.
The Samsung Galaxy Z Flip isn’t the first folding smartphone Samsung has released — that would be the Galaxy Fold — but being the successor, the Z Flip was able to fix a lot of the issues that plagued the Fold. The Galaxy Z Flip is much more compact, has a layer of “Ultra Thin Glass” tucked into the edges to prevent lifting, and feels sturdier than the Galaxy Fold. A 6.7-inch AMOLED display is revealed when the phone is unfolded and it’s quite the spectacle. Gorgeous and vibrant colors fill the screen especially when you watch movies that follow the traditional 21:9 aspect ratio. As you swipe through the typical social media and email apps, you’ll notice how much content is displayed at once thanks to the taller panel. Besides folding the Galaxy Z Flip into a pocketable handheld, what Samsung calls “Hideaway Hinge” also functions as a phone stand. Thanks to Flex mode, you can unfold the device at a 90-degree angle (or more) for hands-free functions like taking group selfies.
A Galaxy Z Flip 5G edition is in the works but will be available on August 7. It still packs the same dual-camera setup, small outer display, and folding mechanism, but introduces an updated Snapdragon 865 Plus processor and of course, 5G connectivity.
Throwback favorites like the Alcatel Go Flip have been upstaged by the overhauled Motorola Razr, which is in a class by itself. First off, its newfangled foldable screen design is expertly crafted and futuristic — while at the same time, bringing back all the nostalgia of the clamshell Razr V3, a popular design from before the iPhone. Motorola’s screen technology — based on a zero-gap hinge that maintains the screen’s seamless look when opened up — coincides with a new era of expensive foldable smartphones, like the Samsung Galaxy Fold. The design may be reminiscent of feature phones, but this is an Android smartphone all the way. The Razr contains Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 710 processor with 6GB of RAM and a finite 128GB of internal storage. The Flex View display is a 6.2-inch POLED with a 2,142 x 876 resolution in a 21:9 aspect ratio. Its two internal batteries promise all-day battery life. The Razr has a single 16-megapixel camera — which is distinctly below the quality of similarly priced smartphones. One thing it does very well though, which a lot of smartphone users miss: It fits quite nicely in your pocket.
As one of the most popular flip-phone models, the Alcatel Go Flip offers an easy-to-use interface and intuitive keypad design for dialing and navigation. Powered by KaiOS, and sporting a 4G LTE connection, you can use this phone for email, calendar, web surfing, and, of course, calling and texting. It has a quad-core processor, built-in GPS, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, 4GB of storage, and SD support up to 32GB. There’s a 2.8-inch display, as well as an external display that lets you preview incoming calls, notifications, and messages. The battery provides about 16 days of standby time, with eight hours of talk time. It’s got a 2-megapixel camera you can use to capture still images and 720p HD video. All of this comes encased in a neat clamshell body. It’s available for Boost Mobile, Sprint, T-Mobile, and AT&T.
If you’re looking for a flip phone with a few appealing extras, there’s the LG B470 prepaid basic flip phone, offering a 1.3-megapixel camera with zoom and customizable effects, and built-in Bluetooth. It can even download and play multimedia files like video and music. The outer 0.98-inch display is monochrome, which helps extend its weeklong battery life and lets you instantly read texts without having to actually flip the lid. A colorful 2.2-inch main display is accompanied by an enhanced audio mode that augments high frequencies. A text-to-speech feature reads texts aloud, a benefit for folks with vision issues. It works with AT&T.
Heavily advertised and promoted as the preferred phone for seniors, the Jitterbug Flip has numerous features that appeal to all cell phone newcomers and people who prefer a simpler, more limited device. The Jitterbug sports a large keypad for ease of dialing, while menus sport bright, easy-to-read text with Yes and No menu buttons. A large earpiece keeps conversations loud, but the phone also works with hearing aids, and even has a special button to summon emergency aid with 5Star and other services, if needed. Other features include a camera, flashlight, bright 3.2-inch screen, and enough memory to store more than 1,000 contacts. The Link app connects users with their families, allowing them to stay updated on the health and safety of older relatives. It works on the GreatCall network for the U.S. only.
A rugged flip phone that can survive some tough environments, Kyocera’s DuraXE for Sprint and AT&T promises to keep your connection. If you prefer Verizon, then consider the DuraXV LTE instead. These hardy specimens are waterproof, dustproof, and shockproof, with dual front-facing speakers that are plenty loud, a MicroSD card slot for storing your favorite tunes, an integrated 2.6-inch display, and a 5-megapixel camera. They offer approximately 8 and 9 hours of talk and 16 and 18 days of standby time, as well as Bluetooth and Wi-Fi. The AT&T version has 8 GB, while the Verizon model has 16 GB of internal storage, and both have expandable slots for additional storage (up to 32GB for the XE and 64GB for the XV).
A moderately-priced, compact flipper, the ZTE Z222 Go Phone combines a simple design with some cool features. It’s easy to use — the phone’s large buttons facilitate swift, accurate texting, while a Media Mall lets you download ringtones, games, and graphics to make the phone your own. There is a Push to Talk option, hands-free speakerphone, voice dialing and voice commands, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, email access, a rear-facing camera with video capture and playback, and a 2-inch display. When it comes to yakking, you get up to four hours of talk time and 195 hours of standby time. It operates with AT&T for 3G data and voice.
Why pick a flip phone?
Battery life is one of the hallmarks of flip phones. Flip phones can run for up to a week and even longer without recharging. If you don’t need to surf the web, have a bunch of apps running constantly, or scroll through your Facebook and Twitter feeds, but instead rely on the phone for making calls (what a concept!), consider a flip phone. If someone calls you, your phone will connect with cell towers, just like a smartphone. Otherwise, your flip phone stays offline and away from the prying eyes of location services, beacons, and spyware. And most flip phones tend not to store or share personal information, so for hackers, a flip phone is a waste of time compared with the treasure trove of information found in most smartphones.
Most of today’s smartphones can barely cram into an oversize pocket. Not so with a flip phone. These small units fit easily in a shirt or pants pocket, plus a flip phone is wrapped in its own durable case and better protected in case of drops.
If the quality of phone calls is paramount, a good flip phone will deliver a clear call with the best of them. Some also have built-in Bluetooth that lets you use wireless accessories such as earbuds and headsets. Flip phones have acknowledged advantages for older users. With fewer features and no apps, the flip phone has a lower learning curve. The buttons are generally larger, so they’re easier to see for those with vision issues. For the hearing impaired of any age, some flip phones have volume enhancers.