I need a reasonably-intelligent phone, not a smart phone.
July 2, 2012 7:20 PM   Subscribe

Is there a phone out there with a battery life like they used to have that can still let me check facebook every now and then?

I bought a cheap android smart phone (acer liquid metal) last year after my old "dumb" phone - my beloved Nokia 6208 finally carked it. But I am discontented. It has developed an annoying quirk where it refuses to get any reception (in high reception areas) for hours at a time, at all. Additionally, I actively resent having to charge it basically every day, barely use any of the "smart" features beyond very occaisional facebook checking whilst I wait for the train, and the camera - the only bloody thing I might have occasionaly cause to use - is ludicrously bad.

I think I want/need a new phone, and I don't think I need a smart phone. The Nokia Asha 300 looks promising, but I wanted to throw out to ask.me to see if you guys have some better ideas.

Must haves:
Dual Band (i.e. GSM and 3G; I travel for work etc, can't be having no 3G).
Battery that doesn't require charging more than once every three days assuming minimal use.

A camera that is acceptable for snapshots.
Ability to connect to facebook and or check email very occasionally
I don't *love* touch screens, but perhaps I have been burnt on the crappy acer's screen.

Would be pleasant but not even nice to have:
Ability to connect to wifi.

Askme, if there a phone like this for less than $250 dollars?
posted by smoke to Shopping (19 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Oh and GPS of some form would be nice-to-have, too.
posted by smoke at 7:22 PM on July 2, 2012

If you don't mind having a smartphone, you can get an iPhone 4 (not 4S) for $50 with a 2-year contract.
posted by chickenmagazine at 7:22 PM on July 2, 2012

Response by poster: Hey there chicken magazine, I'm specifically asking for a phone that doesn't require frequent charging, and an iPhone most definitely does.
posted by smoke at 7:26 PM on July 2, 2012

Best answer: I bought a Nokia 2730 from Dick Smith as an Optus prepaid for $50, immediately stuck an Amaysim SIM card in it, and I'm pretty happy with it.
posted by flabdablet at 7:34 PM on July 2, 2012

I don't need to charge my iPhone more than every 4 days or so, unless I am watching a bunch of videos. Are you sure about the battery usage in your area?
posted by blurker at 7:55 PM on July 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

doesn't require frequent charging

Although it sounds rational and neutral, this is an idiosyncratic measurement that will make it difficult for anyone to offer meaningful suggestions. For example, my iPhone 4 goes two-and-a-half to four days between charges, given my usage patterns. Meanwhile, the Nexus One sitting next to me lasts about six hours, given the usage patterns I have on that device. Yet I know people whose iPhones only last ten hours, and whose Nexus Ones last a full day.

Any suggestion anyone will have is going to be meaningless until you personally test the device. For example, chickenmagazine's suggestion was completely legit from my perspective, but would not have been legit from the perspective of some of my friends. We cannot say, even given the characterizations you've provided, what your experience will be and neither can you. We're all merely relating anecdotes, and you will be forced to select anecdotes that match preconceptions you may have.

Therefore, borrow as many phones as you can from your circle of friends & acquaintances, or see if perhaps you can convince a service provider to let you try multiple phones over a span of days (unlikely, but perhaps they would let you pay for the privilege at a rate that would be acceptable to you & them?)
posted by aramaic at 7:58 PM on July 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

My iPhone 4, if used very sparingly, could probably go 2-2.5 days until a charge was absolutely necessary. My wife's HTC One X, if left unplugged for 12 hours without use, is still in the 90% range. Both of these figures are with extras like wi-fi left on at all times. Turning wi-fi off might help improve battery life. aramaic makes an excellent point that you really need to try the device of your choice to see how it reacts to your usage.
posted by puritycontrol at 8:01 PM on July 2, 2012

I have a Huawei X1 and it has gone from needing charging every night, to needing charging around dinner time.

So I can probably recommend not using one of those, but I can share my experience since it is a cheap ($100 ish) smartphone with a camera and most of the things you want (not sure about Wifi otherwise).

I suspect if I didn't use it to listen to music and such (i have a walking app which chews up the power) I might get two days worth of charge out of it, although by far the biggest battery hog seems to be the telephone itself.

It does, however, have access to FB (free data cap with Amaysim IIRC) and Gmail built in, and it charges off USB so I can plug it into the computer during the day while I'm at the desk and I'll get 3-4 days (probably more, but I just charge in most nights out of habit.

But, really, what aramaic says.
Fiddling with the settings and deleting apps you don't need can make a huge different on consumption in my experience.
posted by Mezentian at 8:05 PM on July 2, 2012

Response by poster: Although it sounds rational and neutral, this is an idiosyncratic measurement that will make it difficult for anyone to offer meaningful suggestions.

Far enough, let me clarify: A phone that will go four days minimum assuming it is switched on with no use.
posted by smoke at 8:07 PM on July 2, 2012

Best answer: 20 longest lasting phone batteries (in terms of talk time, which should be a good indicator)
The page also has separate longer lists (linked on the left sidebar) for most brands on the market.
posted by vidur at 8:17 PM on July 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

I guess what people are trying to say regarding smartphones and iPhones is that all these phones can last for a very long time, switched on, if certain power-hungry settings are left turned off.

For example, my iPhone can last up to 4 days switched on and able to receive calls, if I make sure that:
1) GPS functionality is switched off for most of the time, unless I want to use it.
2) WiFi is switched off for most of the time, unless I want to use it.
3) Brightness setting is set to the absolute minimum.
4) I don't make a lot of calls, watch videos, do some other activity that drains the battery.
posted by moiraine at 8:36 PM on July 2, 2012 [2 favorites]

I would add that phone battery charge times change over time. Some of my best battery life phones, when the battery was over a year old started to lose charge time. I have a Blackberry Storm (1st Gen) which is basically a brick in terms of what it can do, but the battery life used to last days. I just went through a period where it would discharge within hours. I turned off all apps and gps and still it sucked. I went online and purchased two new batteries (they are cheap for 3-4 year old phones), and it went back to being good for about two days. I don't think I will ever see the four days of yore again.

I would look for long battery life as you are, but I would also look at getting an extra battery or at least how much new batteries cost.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 9:13 PM on July 2, 2012

dude...it's an app...it's called 'juice defender' theres also a bajillion others...set it to agressive and forget it...you will get twice as much time.
set your screen as low as you can stand it...you will get twice as much time. get a widget that controls brightness so you can change it quickly when you are in bright sun.
turn off auto-sync, background data, automatic updates and etc...this will double your battery time.
get a task killer to shut off apps when the screen is off...this can double your battery life.
do your research before you buy...get a phone with a bigger battery...google by model number and the word 'specs' battery power is measured in mAh...more=better.
htc generally has better power management than other brands.
posted by sexyrobot at 10:10 PM on July 2, 2012

I'm not sure about Apple devices, but the version of Android running on my phone has an option in Settings -> Wireless -> Mobile where I can turn off 3G data entirely - and my battery lasts for days of pretty much no usage.

I have no reason to believe any other Android devices would be any different.
posted by fragmede at 10:55 PM on July 2, 2012

Best answer: I have a Nokia E5, and I charge it about once a week. I use the camera very occasionally, and check email or Facebook also very occasionally, so I'm really a very light user, but yes, definitely, if left on and not used it would still be up and running five, six or maybe even seven days later.

Before this one, I had a Nokia E63, and it had similarly stellar battery life. I had it for about two years, until it took an unexpected tour of the laundry machine, and I never had to charge it more than every few days.

So: yes to dual band as far as I know, yes to long battery life, yes to camera (not great quality but acceptable for a phone), yes to Facebook and the web, yes to wifi, no touchscreen (it has a qwerty keyboard, though), and mine was about $175 Canadian. It's a great little phone.
posted by snorkmaiden at 11:33 PM on July 2, 2012

Response by poster: Okay, just putting it out there, one more time, for luck; obvs need to work on my phrasing:

I am looking for a phone that holds a battery charge like phones from the days of yore. It must have GSM and 3g.

I am not looking for well-intentioned tips for using my current phone; tips about not scanning for wifi 24/7; a collection of hacks that will enable me to *just* eke out 4 days or whatever.

I need a new phone; well-intentioned advice about smart phones is not answering the question.
posted by smoke at 11:36 PM on July 2, 2012

Best answer: The Nokia E71 should fit your requirements nicely: very good battery life (I only had to charge it every 7 days, with occasional surfing and email checking), GPS, Wi-Fi. No touch-screen, though.
posted by Skybly at 12:36 AM on July 3, 2012

It has developed an annoying quirk where it refuses to get any reception (in high reception areas) for hours at a time, at all. Additionally, I actively resent having to charge it basically every day, barely use any of the "smart" features beyond very occaisional facebook checking whilst I wait for the train

Have you determined that this is only a problem with your phone vs. a problem with the service in general? I'm only asking because if the problem is the service, you will most likely have battery life issues with any phone, since searching for a signal will drain a battery quickly.
posted by amarynth at 5:28 AM on July 3, 2012

Best answer: The Motorola Razr Maxx is your best bet. It's a very solid android phone, but the key is that it's a very thin phone with a massive battery welded to it, making it like 75% battery by weight. A friend of mine has one, he charges it no more than once a week. The manufacturer claims 21 hours of talk time, and that's not an exaggeration.

Here's a review of the US version, which is a Verizon CDMA phone, but there's a GSM International version as well.
posted by Oktober at 5:53 AM on July 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

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