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?
Long battery life is one of the major advantages of flip phones. They can last for a week or sometimes longer without a charge. If you’re truly a member of the old school that believes phones should strictly be for making calls, then a flip phone is for you—you’ll be able to focus on your call instead of spending your attention (and battery life) on social media apps. When you’re not on a call, your flip phone will stay mainly offline and hidden from location services, beacons, and spyware. Plus, most flip phones don’t store or send personal data, so most hackers won’t bother with them compared to the wealth of data found in smartphones.
Smartphones do not prioritize compactness, and most of them need a holster or a purse to transport them around. Meanwhile, flip phones are nice and compact, easily fitting in the smallest pant or shirt pocket. Flip phones are also nearly unbreakable with their durable exteriors, so if you’re prone to dropping your devices, this is a bonus.
If you’re concerned with phone call quality, don’t worry—a good flip phone will give you a perfectly clear call experience. Some include Bluetooth capabilities so that you can use wireless earbuds and headsets along with them. Flip phones are especially useful and cherished by older generations. Older customers don’t have to learn how to navigate through all of the different features, options, and pesky touch and swipe screen protocol and can use a flip phone with buttons to make calls or write messages like they’re used to. Flip phone buttons are also usually larger, making them more accessible, and some have volume enhancers for the hearing impaired.
If you’re in the market for something special, we have gathered a thorough list of the best Cyber Week smartphone deals.
- The best folding phones for 2021: What’s available now and what’s coming up
- The best 5G phones for T-Mobile
- The best 5G phones to buy in 2021
- The best smartphones for 2021
- The best 5G phones for AT&T