Dumbphone without internet but with keyboard?
October 21, 2017 6:00 PM   Subscribe

Unfettered internet access on my phone makes me distracted, but I still want to stay in contact for calls and texts. Cheap phones also vary wildly. Can you recommend a cheap phone which does not permit much useful internet access or apps, but still (unlike the old Nokia handsets, for instance) has a keyboard for ease of texting?
posted by solarion to Technology (9 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
If you have a smartphone currently, could you drop you data plan and delete all of the passwords to your wifi normal wifi locations? I have run an iphone without a data plan before on verizon. Texting and calling will be unaffected.
posted by furnace.heart at 6:38 PM on October 21, 2017

Some of these phones look like they might fit your needs: https://www.lifewire.com/basic-cell-phones-577534
posted by Amanda B at 6:47 PM on October 21, 2017

If you have a smartphone currently, could you drop you data plan and delete all of the passwords to your wifi normal wifi locations?

Clarification on this point: I don't wish to ditch my current smartphone. It's very helpful a lot of the time. It's just needlessly distracting specifically when I am doing focused work. This would be a second handset for such periods.
posted by solarion at 6:56 PM on October 21, 2017

PhoneScoop.com's PhoneFinder feature is GREAT for this kind of thing.

I searched for:
- phone without Apple or Android (a featurephone, basically)
- any of several kinds of real keyboard, QWERTY most common

... and got 20+ results. This direct link might work. Look at the results and you might find some other things to filter out some of the entries and narrow down the list.
posted by intermod at 9:57 PM on October 21, 2017 [1 favorite]

Many old Nokias, both smartphone and feature phones have keyboards of some description. Landscape and portrait are both options. Literally any of the old ones that support 3G will work for talk/text on at&t or T-Mobile. Just pop in a SIM (possibly using an adapter if your current phone uses a micro or nano SIM)

I really liked my E71 (blackberry form factor, but the keyboard is better). It has a web browser comparable to an OG iPhone, but with less memory and CPU power and a smaller screen, so utterly useless for the modern web to avoid distraction yet still useful for text-only resources in a true pinch. It used to have Twitter and Facebook apps, but they have long since quit working. E75 was a fairly similar phone, but a side slider with an incredibly satisfying to use mechanism.

The nice thing about the old smartphones is that they lasted a few days on a charge and still give you the ability to take a note, make a calendar entry, send a text or something while on a call, plus you get advanced alarms and all the other useful built in stuff but in a package that has zero network dependence, so you get the benefits of multitasking and basic utilities without the distraction of full Internet access.

That said, if it is literally just calls and texts, a 12 key feature phone will serve you just fine. T9 is super quick for banging out 160 characters and very easy to learn.

Any old Nokia from the pre-Microsoft days, smart or no should be available on eBay for maybe $20-30. Since they have replaceable batteries which are still being made, crappy old batteries aren't a problem. Join the cult, it's very pleasant. ;)
posted by wierdo at 10:56 PM on October 21, 2017 [1 favorite]

A land line is wonderful for focused work. Since you'd have to get a second line anyway, maybe consider this?

I _love_ when businesses or other individuals call me from land lines. They are much clearer and easier to understand, the conversation can go _faster_, and it's just much less stressful and less tiring.

I also get a lot done, a lot faster, with my own land line; I have a desk phone with mechanical buttons and the kind of handset I can cradle on my shoulder while typing. Works well, simply, and I hope I'm never without it. (Bonus: the phone line is also my home Internet connection)
posted by amtho at 7:35 AM on October 22, 2017 [2 favorites]

The LG Cosmos 2 is on intermod's list. I had an LG Cosmos back in the day, and it was a great phone. T9 is fine if you have to, but QWERTY is much easier to type on!
posted by radioamy at 6:01 PM on October 22, 2017 [1 favorite]

Weirdo: The E71 looks very much like what I had in mind; and importantly, it seems to be readily available second-hand here in Australia. I'll give it a go.

Amtho: I'm still dividing my time between part-time work and study, so it's not an option at present, but I'll think about this in the future.

Thanks everyone.
posted by solarion at 7:02 PM on October 22, 2017

Good choice. The only downside is that you might find yourself being long winded over text since the keyboard is so nice to type on. ;)

Do keep in mind it is from an earlier time, so it'll do weird things like ask before starting a data connection unless you specifically give it permission to connect automatically. There's loads of information on how to use Symbian out there on the Internet, though.

It is new enough to read your SMSC from the SIM card and have some default MMS APNs for most providers, so it shouldn't require any fiddling for calls and texts alone. If you're going to swap SIMs with your smartphone, you might consider seeing if there's an app to save your contacts to the SIM so the E71 can read them and you can avoid needing to transfer them individually over Bluetooth, SMS, or the network.
posted by wierdo at 4:40 AM on October 23, 2017

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