The Best Dumb Phones for Smart Minimalists


Best Dumb Phones for Smart Minimalists


NAVIGATION

If you’re tired of being constantly bombarded by notifications from your smartphone, or maybe you just want to take a break from constant connection, a dumb phone could be exactly what you’re looking for. Dumb phones are simple, minimalist phones that allow your cell to fulfill your needs instead of controlling your attention.

ryans tiny house

Hi, I’m Ryan

A few years ago, I decided to buy a simpler phone to bring with me at times when I wanted to be more present in the moment. I decided to use the original Light Phone, transforming my phone into a simple a tool, rather than a distractor. Back then, I never would have imagined that there would be a whole line of these phones for minimalists, but now there are so many options!

ryan mitchell simple living expert

What Are Dumb Phones?

What Are Dumb PhonesA dumb phone is a phone that only makes phone calls and, by design, does little else.

When people talk about dumb phones, they are typically referring to devices that, unlike smartphones, have little to no computing or internet capacity. Dumb phones are simple devices, usually focused on providing utility tools to users without any excess.

All dumb phones include texting and calling features, while some also include tools like GPS, camera, calculator, or hotspot access. Some dumb phones even include access to Spotify or podcasts, if that’s what you’re looking for. Most, however, do not include access to the internet, social media apps, games, or web browsers.

Dumb phones are simple devices

Why Do People Want A Minimalist Phone?

Why Do People Want A Minimalist PhoneWe do this thing as a species where all we want is more; we want to make the world bigger, faster, more exciting, more grandiose, and more satisfying to our desires. However, we’ve added so much to our phones that it has overwhelmed us. Now, people are looking for reprieve from a world that’s all about moving faster.

In an attempt to create a broader, more interconnected digital world, we’ve created smart devices that are smarter than we are. Our smart phones are strategically designed to absorb our attention and keep us away from real life. One study found that the average American receives 63.5 notifications in one day!

Thanks to this incessance, people are seeking a simpler, less invasive virtual life. Ironic as it is, the dumb phone movement is all about living smarter by moving away from the constant demands of social media and the internet and back to being present and attentive in real time.

digital decluttering

Would A Dumb Phone Fit My Lifestyle?

Would A Dumb Phone Fit My LifestyleThere is nothing wrong with continuing to use a smartphone, as long as you are taking the necessary precautions to keep it from controlling your life! If you’re wondering if investing in a dumb phone will be helpful for you and whether it is right for your lifestyle, ask yourself these questions:

Questions To Ask Yourself

  • Will I feel left out without access to social media?
  • Is iMessage or group texting important to me?
  • Would a dumb phone help my digital addiction?
  • Do I spend too much time online or need a change?
  • What tools do I absolutely need on my cell phone?
  • What cell phone features could I live without?
Could you live without social media

The great thing about making the switch from a smartphone to a dumb phone is that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all recipe. There are many different models of basic phones out there, some that only text and call and some that are akin to smartphones but with a few variations and simplifications.

I actually have two phones, one dumb phone and one smartphone, which I use for different reasons. I use my smartphone when I know I’ll need access to thing like TikTok, email, or the internet to look up recipes or builder DIYs.

However, when I make plans to spend intentional time with a loved one, read for a long time in a park, or do anything I don’t want to be distracted from, I intentionally bring my basic phone along. This way, I am fully present where I am and don’t feel like phone notifications are pulling my mind away from the conversation.

living in the moment

Top Dumb Phones Models And Where To Buy Them

dumb phone models and where to buy themThere are many different models of dumb phones that you can buy to fit your lifestyle. Each phone model has different features, some of which are about as simple or “dumb” as you can get, and others that are pretty close to smartphones but with fewer bells and whistles.

The Light Phone Helps With Digital Mindfulness

The Light Phone and the Light Phone II are probably the most popular phones known for being minimalist. The Light Phone was designed to be digitally “light,” thus not having access to any social media, clickbait news, email, or even internet.

This Light Phone has text, call, a headphone jack, and Bluetooth. It can be used as a personal hotspot and connect to other devices, but does not have internet on its own. However, the device does have a menu of customizable tools available, like an alarm, a calculator, directions, a simple music player, and a podcast tool. The company places emphasis on providing utility-based tools as opposed to anxiety inducing apps, which a lot of people appreciate.

The biggest setback I’ve heard from people who have tried the Light Phone is the lack of storage. I have a friend in the minimalist community who tried out the Light Phone hoping to stay off of social media, but still wanted to stay enlightened and listen to music and podcasts.

However, the lack of internet causes you to download each song or podcast, and with only 8 gigabytes of storage, it fills up pretty quickly. If you’re simply looking for a phone with text, call, and tools to keep you from being distracted by media, though, it might just be the perfect one.

Price $349
Size 3.7″ x 2.2″ x .35″
Weight 2.7 ounces
Features Text, call, Bluetooth, hotspot, alarm, calculator, GPS, podcasts
Where To Buy the light phone

[NOTE: not sold on amazon]

Get Your Life Back With The BoringPhone

The BoringPhone is a smartphone made dumb and marketed towards minimalists seeking less. The phone is designed with access to calling, texting, camera, GPS, podcasts, music, and other utility-based tools and features. It does not have email, an internet browser, social media, or an app store.

The BoringPhone was created with the goal of giving cell phone users their time, focus, and energy back and keeping them from the intoxicating distractions that smartphones provide.

A lot of people really like the BoringPhone because of how easy it is to use. This model is truly the definition of a dumb phone because it lacks email and internet and has no hack to install them, which my hardcore minimalist friends really love.

Price $499
Size 5.7″ x 2.1″ x .5″
Weight 3.4 ounces
Features Text, call, camera, GPS, podcasts, music, hotspot, calculator, notes, calendar, clock, flashlight, FM radio, voice recorder
Where To Buy boring phone

[NOTE: not sold on amazon]

The Simplicity Of The Punkt. MP02

Another device designed to specifically cater to those who need a digital detox, the MP02 is a very intentionally designed apparatus. It is a 4G phone that is able to be turned into a hotspot when needed, but the phone itself is not connected to the internet or to social media.

Additionally, the Punkt. MP02 is the first phone to offer a downloadable privacy feature that uses the signal protocol to provide free, encrypted internet-based calls and texts worldwide via Wi-Fi or mobile data to keep your digital life more secure.

If you’re seeking a phone that is incredibly simple, the Punkt. is a smart way to go. However, some users do get a bit frustrated with the difficulty of group texting with this model. If you are hoping to stay involved in your friend or family group message, this may not be the model for you. Otherwise, it has many perks.

Price $379
Size 4.6″ x 2″ x .55″
Weight 3.5 ounces
Features Text, call, notes, clock, calculator, calendar, Bluetooth
Where To Buy Punkt MP02

The Easyfone Prime-A6 Is Great For Seniors

The primary demographic the Easyfone Prime-A6 is marketed toward are senior citizens looking for simpler, easy-to-use devices. This is apparent in the phone’s makeup, complete with large fonts, huge buttons, and simple features.

The Easyfone Prime-A6 also comes with an emergency help button that is hearing-aid compatible. Overall, this phone is an ideal device for anyone wanting a dumb phone or a simpler digital life without all the social media notifications. The Easyfone does have call and text access, but it does not have a camera or photo storage.

I know a lot of seniors who thoroughly enjoy the simplicity of the Easyfone, but it can totally work for a younger minimalist as well. I have a millennial friend who loves using the Easyfone because it isn’t as expensive as some of the dumb phones that are branded for minimalism, but has all of the same simplistic features.

Price $69.99
Size 4.5″ x 2″ x .57″
Weight 2.4 ounces
Features Text, call, navigation, alarms, calendar, reminders, large text, loud audio
Where To Buy Easyfone Prime-A6

The Doro 7010 Is a Good Choice For Any Age

Similar to the Easyfone, the Doro 7010 is marketed towards seniors. This phone is awesome for those looking for a simple, easy-to-use device.

The Doro 7010, however, does have access to Facebook and Whatsapp along with text and call, which is different from many of the other “dumber” phones. The phone also has an extra-large display, making it easier to use for seniors needing simplicity.

A major complaint I’ve seen about the Doro phone is that it has a weaker battery life than some of the other minimalist phones out there. If you aren’t on your phone all day or have a goal of reducing screen time, this shouldn’t be a huge issue. However, if you want to use it for a long period of time without charging, this may not be the dumb phone for you.

Price $86.35
Size 4.6″ x 1.87″ x .42″
Weight 2.7 ounces
Features Text, call, camera, Bluetooth, GPS, email, internet, WhatsApp, Facebook
Where To Buy Doro 7010

Choose The Nokia 6300 For A Basic Phone

The Nokia 6300 is a good quasi-dumb phone to try out if you are looking for the best of both worlds. If you’re craving a little more simplicity but still hoping to have wiggle room around things like WhatsApp, Facebook, and YouTube, this may be a good phone for you.

This phone has text, call, access to Google maps, and a generous amount of storage space. The Nokia 6300 can also be made into a mobile hotspot. However, its lack of notifications and simplistic design allow it to be a good gateway to the world of digital minimalism.

Most friends I know who use the Nokia 6300 actually really love it. It has many features that aren’t necessarily “dumb phone” features like connection to emails, the internet, and apps, but it’s a good happy medium if you are seeking a simpler phone that can keep you connected.

Price $69.99
Size 4.9″ x 2.1″ x .54″
Weight 3.7 ounces
Features Text, call, camera, GPS, Youtube, WhatsApp, Facebook, Hotspot, email, internet
Where To Buy Nokia 6300

Finding The Right Minimalist Phone For You

Finding The Right Minimalist Phone For YouFinding the right dumb phone for you depends on exactly what your needs are in a cell phone. There are some people who set out to get a device that makes calls and sends texts only with no internet, camera, or GPS.

Others are still looking to use their device for daily needs like internet access or location services, and merely hope to reduce the excessive demands that social media and untimely notifications can bring. Whichever boat you find yourself in, there’s a dumb phone out there to fit your needs.

Dumb Phones With GPS

Dumb Phones With GPSGPS and maps is one of the most common smartphone features that dumb phone converts hope to keep around. When I made the switch from my smartphone to a dumb phone, I knew I wanted to hang onto my maps system and forgo the hassle of buying an entire navigation system to do what an app easily could.

Dumb Phones With GPS

4G Dumb Phones

4G Dumb PhonesFor some people, making the switch to a simpler phone means giving up their wireless internet access altogether. Others merely hope to limit the intrusion of the internet while still being able to access the tools they need when they need them.

4g tower

5G Dumb Phones

5G Dumb PhonesIf you’re hoping to merely get rid of a few excessive features while staying connected to the 5G network, converting your existing smartphone into a dumb phone is probably the way to go — keep reading to learn how! You can certainly simplify your smartphone to match a more minimal lifestyle.

As far as iPhones go, the iPhone SE is likely the simplest model of iPhone on the market today. Other simple smartphones with 5G include the Jitterbug Smart 3, and the Google Pixel 6a.

Dumb Phones Without A Camera

Dumb Phones Without A CameraThe camera feature is something that many minimalists disagree over when it comes to whether or not they hope to keep it on their minimalist phone. The con to having one is, of course, living your life with the knowledge in mind that you could record, capture, and post any image at any time, pulling you from the moment.

Best Dumb Phones Without A Camera:

Dumb Phones With A Good Camera

Dumb Phones With A Good CameraOn the flip side, when a special or meaningful moment does happen, it’s nice to have a camera at the ready. Unfortunately, you can’t always predict when a photo-worthy memory will occur, which is the awesome part of living in the digital age. With many feature phone models, you have the option to choose either the model with or without a camera.

Best Dumb Phones With A Good Camera:

Dumb Phones With Talk And Text Only

Dumb Phones With Talk And Text OnlyA dumb phone in its truest form is a phone that isn’t connected to the internet at all. Text and call only is pretty much the dumbest you can make a phone!

Best Dumb Phone With Text And Call Only:

Which Carriers Have Dumb Phones?

Which Carriers Have Dumb PhonesYou don’t want to have to change every aspect of your digital life and expenses just because you want a dumb phone. If staying with your current carrier or current phone plan is a priority for you, check out this list of basic feature phones carried by Verizon, T-Mobile, and AT&T to find a dumb phone provided by your carrier.

Verizon Dumb Phones

Verizon Dumb Phones

T-Mobile Dumb Phones

T-Mobile Dumb Phones

AT&T Dumb Phones

AT&T Dumb Phones

How To Turn An iPhone Into A Dumb Phone

How To Turn An iPhone Into A Dumb PhoneIf you’re anything like me, it may be that you still want to maintain the best of both worlds. For some people, the goal of buying a dumb phone is to unplug entirely and remove their social media presence or excessive distractions throughout the day. However, others are simply looking for a way to control their digital engagement without allowing it to control them.

You can easily go through a couple of steps in the settings of your iPhone to make it “dumber” without buying a new phone entirely and also keeping some of the features that are most important to you on your device. Here are some ways to dumb down your smartphone to make your digital life simpler and less chaotic.

social media break

Turn The Color Scheme Of Your Phone To Greyscale

Turn The Color Scheme Of Your Phone To Greyscale

Psychologically, a simple color change is the single most effective way to curb a digital addiction. A peer reviewed study conducted by psychologists Alex J. Holte and F. Richard Ferraro demonstrated that changing your phone scheme to grayscale reduced smartphone use by an average of 39.7 minutes per day. That’s 242 hours gained back in one year.

Bright colors are neurologically gratifying to the human mind and serve as a kind of visual stimulus that provides dopamine. This often isn’t as thought about as one of the most addictive elements of a cell phone. Putting your phone in greyscale reduces its addictive quality and is psychologically proven to help you unplug.

iphone screen set to black and white

Uninstall The Majority of iPhone Apps

Uninstall The Majority of iPhone AppsWhen turning your iPhone into a basic phone, think through specifically what it is that you want your device to be able to do for you, as that’s going to change what you choose to uninstall. This will be different for every person depending on intent.

Most minimalists looking to dumb their phone down choose to delete all applications that don’t function as a tool or utility. This includes social media of any kind, games, food apps, or any form of interactive media that could take control of your mind throughout a given day.

Of course, everyone is different, and maybe there are applications that are important to you to keep around. Just make sure you are honest with yourself about the reason behind keeping it installed.

Disable Notifications

Disable NotificationsDisabling notifications is the bread and butter of turning your smartphone dumb. As has been discussed at length by many psychology articles, marketing articles, and recently Netflix’s “Social Dilemma” documentary, the way that notifications appear on our phone has actually been strategically designed to make us addicts.

iphone notifications screenExtensive research has been done on human psychology that has gone into smartphone design. There is no higher valued commodity these days than our attention. Yikes!

To turn your smartphone from an all-day attention sucker to a helpful device you engage with by choice, it’s best to disable all notifications for things like email, texting, social media, apps, news, and anything else that could make your brain go, “Squirrel!” instead of being present where you are.

If you feel the need to keep notifications on for texting and calling, that makes sense. It really does come down to what you need out of your phone. I’d honestly challenge you to be as minimal as possible though — see how much of your time and attention truly gets sucked away by that pesky, “look at me!” ding or vibration.

Edit Content And Privacy Restrictions To Match Your Needs

Edit Content And Privacy Restrictions To Match Your NeedsOn your iPhone, you can actually manage which apps, services, features, or tools appear on your phone screen. While app limits are helpful, you can still see the greyed-out version of the app you are missing out on engaging with, like staring at the last piece of pie on the counter even though you told yourself you wouldn’t eat it.

With Content and Privacy Restrictions you can remove anything you don’t want access to from your phone entirely. Parents often use this to keep their kids from downloading unwanted apps, but you can also use it to dumb down your cell phone.

Edit Content And Privacy Restrictions On iPhone

  • Go to “Settings”
  • Select “Screen Time”
  • Scroll down & click “Content and Privacy Restrictions”
  • Change apps you don’t want to access to “Don’t Allow”

Edit Content And Privacy Restrictions On iPhone

Turn Off Wi-Fi And Mobile Data

Turn Off Wi-Fi And Mobile DataDisabling access to the internet on your iPhone altogether is probably the most extreme way you could dumb it down.

However, it is the most effective way to truly turn your smartphone into a dumb phone. Turning off “Cellular Data” as well as “Network and Internet” in your phone will limit you from being able to do a quick Google search on your phone, use Apple Maps to get around, or even check your email from your device.

This is the most basic you can make your iPhone, but if you want to be this extreme, it will certainly reveal how much you’ve depended on your smartphone in the past. This is the best way to turn an entirely new leaf in your digital life, but it will be a huge change.

Deactivate Wi-Fi And Mobile Data

Dumb Phone FAQs

Dumb Phone FAQsDumb phones truly are a fairly broad category, and every single aspect of one dumb phone won’t necessarily apply to another. I thought I’d go through some frequently asked questions about what dumb phones are and why you might be inspired to give a minimalist phone a try.

Can A Dumb Phone Be Tracked?

Yes, dumb phones can be tracked. While not all dumb phone models are able to be tracked, the majority of them are. If your dumb phone model has GPS tracking capabilities, then it is, of course, able to be tracked.

If you want to track your phone without GPS, cell tower triangulation is the way to go. If you don’t want your phone to have tracking capabilities at all, you will need to disable all GPS services, location services, and tracking through the internet.

To give my devices extra protection in the past, I’ve used this faraday bag, which shields your device from Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and cell signals, including all 5G networks. Using one of these helps me feel more protected, especially with my work phone where I keep all of my important account information.

What Is The Simplest Cell Phone For Seniors?

The Easyfone Prime-A6 is probably the most basic phone for senior citizens. The large fonts, huge buttons, and simple features on the device make it really accessible for someone who wants to keep things basic. My own parents rave about the Jitterbug phone, which has huge buttons, a large display, and an extra loud speaker.

What Is The Best Dumb Phone For Kids?

The Gabb Phone, the Relay Phone, and the KidsConnect KC2 are some of the most highly recommended dumb phones for parents who want to be minimalist with their kids and smart about what they have access to online. While these brands make phones specifically for young kids, many parents also choose basic phones from their carrier to fit with their kid’s lifestyle and desired restrictions.

Can A Dumb Phone Be Hacked?

Yes, dumb phones can be hacked. Even though not all minimalist phones have internet access, they can be hacked through Bluetooth or other apps. They can also be hacked through mobile data and Wi-Fi if they are connected to the internet.

However, basic phones are typically a less attractive target for hackers because they do not have as much data to release. Thus, while it is possible for dumb phones to be hacked, they are less likely to be hacked than smart phones.

At the end of the day, the appeal of trying out a dumb phone for myself was having a device that was just a simple tool. I didn’t necessarily want something with a constant influx of notifications specifically programmed to vie for my attention constantly.

I keep my smart phone around for when I want to use group text, Pinterest, TikTok, and other apps I enjoy, but it isn’t always attached to my hip. My dumb phone goes with me when I need to get work done or am meeting someone for coffee and hope to have a truly intentional conversation. Doing this has changed the game for me!

Your Turn!

  • In what ways could switching to a minimalist phone improve your life?
  • What features would you need on your dumb phone? What features could you do away with?
2 Comments
  1. Great article. Would love it if you referred to androids as well as iPhones since I obviously have an android lol.

  2. I’ve been on the search for a good minimalist phone for a while!
    I used the Light Phone 2 for about a year and found the texting to be very laggy, the speaker phone was very poor in quality, and a good handful of pictures that were sent to me were not ever forwarded to my email (and just lost in space).

    I just found the Sunbeam F1, which has 3 different models depending on how simple you want to go. It is a flip phone. It does not have internet or apps (which was what was most important to me). But it also has a low res camera and emojis, which was just that little extra bit I was hoping for. The low res camera is great because you don’t get distracted in life wanting to photograph everything, but it comes in handy if you want to send a quick picture to family or friends to connect 🙂

    Just wanted to suggest you check it out, so it can be added to the article!

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