The best dumbphones of 2023

Originally published at: The best dumbphones of 2023 | Boing Boing


Considering the crimes against humanity being perpetrated by Caterpillar in the Gaza Strip, I don’t know that I would endorse any of their products.


The 2G connectivity may not be the fastest

Does 2G even still exist in many places?



i quite like the idea of a dumb phone (a phone should fit in a front jeans pocket), but yet a dumb phone still needs to be able to deal with texting (“Why!?” oh because you still want to be able to communicate with the rest of your family), and there’s no room for even a standard crappy screen keyboard. So, any dumb phone i’d happily return to has to have some sort of full keyboard as T9 really sucks. Yet most of these are gone…

(“So you essentially want a blackberry…?” yeah… maybe?)


That there even is a dumbphone market in 2023 baffles me somewhat, given that increasingly there’s an expectation that you have a smartphone and it becomes an absolute necessity for all sorts of interactions, from calling a tow truck to buying various tickets, etc. Sometimes there are (more expensive/labor intensive) alternatives if you lack a smart phone, but sometimes you just can’t do the thing without one.

Or you want to set up a bank account, or shop online, know if your medical appointment got changed, or… I find that 90+% of my texts aren’t interactions with people. (Actually, it’s probably more like 100% these days. I know exactly one person who ever texted me, and we use other apps now.)


… hypothetically, but good luck finding a signal

… blasphemy :open_mouth:


Perfect for giving the “Vince Gilligan” treatment after every phone call.

(Funny, somehow I remember many more phones getting their demise… must be my memory playing tricks on me. Or, it’s just an old video.)

We po’ folks can get a Wiko with unlimited everything service from Assurance Wireless. My 7 year old iPhone SE is still a better phone, but the Wiko does fine for the basics like getting a Lyft ride. Did I mention it’s free?

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I work on a web site that might be popular in the developing world, so I test a bit on a dumb-ish phone running KaiOS. I test only in Opera mobile. I tried to use the phone for my daily phone for a while, but found modern life demands a smart phone.

The solution might be a larger pair of jeans.


My personal phone is a dumb phone. Some rugged Sonim model (can’t be bothered to go check) I get, maybe, one non-family call a month. So much cheaper than paying for a data plan just to talk.

I do have a smart phone for work, never used it for a call, don’t even know the number.

The main thing keeping me from switching to a feature phone is my need to take a lot of high-res photos.

As is the solution to so many of today’s problems…:wink:

I’ve got some late-model Kyocera DuraXE. I mostly like it; the OS is really trying to be like Kyocera’s old BrewMP OS, and it gets most of the way there. But the Android still shows through occasionally and there are some (frankly kind of irredeemable) quirks. Examples:

  • Sometimes it tries to emulate BrewMP too closely. You’re limited to 5 alarms. Why? Because that’s how many there were in the old OS, I assume.
  • The implementation of T9 is really bonkers. There seems to be no (or almost no) Bayesian learning for word-choice. The default-selected word seems almost arbitrary, leading to some ridiculous autocorrects.
  • Also, every time the phone reboots it switches back to ABC mode and you need to switch it to T9.
  • If an MMS has more than one image in it, it doesn’t just display the images inline; you have to click into a little attachments menu to browse the images individually.
  • And a thousand other little quirks that are mildly infuriating.
  • OH, and it has that Android dumbphone problem with its camera, where the still image shown when you press the shutter button is not the one that’s saved – instead, it saves an image from about 1/10 of a second later. You’ll constantly miss great shots you think you got based on the initial screen image.

I’m inclined to try something with a different OS that’s not an Android overlay. I have a Sonim that is built like a brick but just too huge to be practical (though it does have a ONE MONTH standby time). I’d love something with more than a 5 megapixel camera…

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