non-smartphone request
May 17, 2020 6:27 PM   Subscribe

My current phone is not smart. It has a little keyboard. It's great. It works. It's not so functional that I spend all my time using the phone. I love it. But 3g is going away. What is the equivalent 4g or 5g compatible cell phone?

old phone is a motorola motogo; would like any 4g or 5g compatible feature-phone, especially with a QWERTY keyboard, that will work in the USA. GSM or CDMA is fine; we're switching carriers anyway.
posted by aniola to Technology (11 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

So far as I can tell there aren't any 4G-capable feature phones out there right now with a QWERTY keyboard. As of a couple months ago when I was looking at this most carriers had basically just settled on KaiOS phones—flip phones built off the old Firefox OS with a few "smart" features—like the Alcatel SmartFlip or (GoFlip 3).

One potential weird solution—you could look into (I'd suggest doing a Reddit search) what the experience is currently like for people trying to activate a phone from BlackBerry's QNX series (their "next-gen" platform that ended up bombing) in 2020. They have LTE and the Q10 and Classic/Q20 both have keyboards; you could probably get one for ~$50 on eBay. They are smartphones but it's unlikely that many of the apps still work, based on my experience being one of the last people on Palm's old webOS, and they're six years old—de facto dumbphones.
posted by Polycarp at 9:05 PM on May 17 [2 favorites]

A few options
posted by ShooBoo at 9:11 PM on May 17 [2 favorites]

It’s almost certainly cheaper and easier to make a phone run android than to develop and support your own feature phone features, provided that the hardware is up for it. But CPUs are cheap now and the chips that do LTE and 5G have licensing deals that make them cheaper still so there’s little business reason not to make a 5g phone be a smartphone. Which isn’t a guarantee that they don’t exist but is maybe why they’re hard to find.
posted by aubilenon at 11:04 PM on May 17 [2 favorites]

WCityMike I think so. (Minus the search bar)
posted by aniola at 8:45 AM on May 18

I really just want a phone that texts and calls people. Bonus if it has a camera and a calculator and alarm clock and maybe a useless simple little game. Anything beyond that is not a feature.
posted by aniola at 8:52 AM on May 18

The Light Phone?
posted by oceano at 10:35 AM on May 18

Yes! Like the light phone, but less beta. (For example, the reviews are all saying the keyboard is difficult to use)
posted by aniola at 12:09 PM on May 18

Coolpad Snap has predictive texting. I'd rather have a qwerty, but this is like $50 not $350.

Other phones I turned up using the light phone reviews as a launch point include sonim xp3 and punkt.
posted by aniola at 2:15 PM on May 18 [1 favorite]

I'm in the same boat this year. Another phone I'm watching in the "expensive minimalist" category of Light Phone and Punkt is Mudita Pure, but it's not even released yet (and doesn't have a QWERTY).

You could browse the Kai OS supported devices page for potential "feature-esque" phones, but I only saw one QWERTY keyboard and many of them don't seem to be available in the US.
posted by Lirp at 4:42 PM on May 18

Turns out there are used unlocked sonim XP5s for like $40. So we're going with that. Again with the no qwerty, but at least it has predictive text. And they look reliable. The Coolpad Snap had a lot of "the keys dont' work" reviews.
posted by aniola at 10:37 AM on May 19

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