The 7 Best Unlocked Flip Phones
This wiki has been updated 25 times since it was first published in March of 2018. Whether you're looking for an inexpensive phone to take overseas, you feel the need to detox from all the distractions on your smartphone, or you have an elderly loved one in your life who could benefit from something simple, the unlocked flip phones on our list are sure to provide you with the connectivity you need. We've ranked them here by their ease of use, call quality, and durability. When users buy our independently chosen editorial choices, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
September 15, 2020:
We did away with a few models that were pretty long in the tooth, and added a very exciting offering in the Samsung Galaxy Z. Realistically, most people turning to this category are looking for something relatively inexpensive and simple, so this new model from Samsung might not fit that mold. It's better categorized as the next evolution of the smartphone, rather than a throwback. Still, it is undeniably among the best flip phones you're going to find on the market, as the new Moto Razr is still awaiting release at the time of this writing.
Alcatel upgraded their previously included model to the Alcatel Smartflip 4052R, the battery life of which is outstanding. Its Bluetooth connectivity also allows you to connect a headset to it for hands-free driving or for long conversations where holding the phone to your ear would become tiresome. And for people looking to a flip to avoid the financial pitfalls presented by the expense and fragility of modern smartphones, there's the Kyocera DuraXE. It's one of the older models we kept in the ranking, mainly due to its excessive ruggedness, making it an ideal choice for people in professions like construction, logging, or anything else that could pose a significant hazard to your electronics.
June 17, 2019:
If you're searching for a flip phone you're probably aware that they just don't offer the same functionality as modern smartphones; in fact, that may be why you're in the market for one. It's still worth mentioning that while many of the old-school clamshells available today work alright for making calls and sending text messages, a lot of them don't even support 4G networks, so depending on where you are and what you're doing with it, that's something to take into consideration. If you'll be using it a lot and need good audio quality, the Samsungs, Kyocera, Alcatel, and ZTE do allow for 4G LTE. Also, for what it's worth, the Samsung Galaxy Folder 2 is actually a capable smartphone, but if you're used to the newest flagship models, you might get frustrated with its relatively slow user interface. Plus, since it operates on the Android OS version 6.0, it may not be compatible with all modern apps. Nonetheless, if you want a flip phone that works as a daily driver, it is a great choice.
Another worthwhile note is that the Samsung Rugby and the Kyocera are both highly ruggedized, and as such, are great for job sites where you need to stay connected but aren't able to protect a fragile smartphone. Because they're feature phones, they can also be useful in applications where your mobile device needs to locked down for security purposes. Finally, if you're selecting a handset for a friend, family, or loved one who is hard of hearing or in some other way technologically uninclined, the Easyfone Prime A1 is probably the way to go. It was designed for elderly users who aren't keen on fancy technology, and for keeping in touch with Grandma, it does just fine.
Longing For The Days Of The Flip Phone
Flip phones also provided users with a certain tactile experience that modern smartphones can never hope to recreate.
Chances are, if you’re of a certain age then you probably remember what it was like to use a flip phone. At its height of popularity, before the advent of the iPhone and similar smartphones, certain flip phone models were among the most sought after cell phones on the market. They were compact, functional, and comfortable to talk on thanks to the obtuse angle to which they opened.
Flip phones also provided users with a certain tactile experience that modern smartphones can never hope to recreate. With a flip phone, you could physically hang up on someone. This may seem like a small gesture, but we’ve been hanging up on each other in fits of rage and other emotions since the telephone was invented. No matter how hard you tap your touch screen in the vicinity of its end call button, you’ll never experience the satisfaction of slapping closed a flip phone at the end of an unpleasant conversation.
Even Hollywood is aware of this difference. That’s why, whenever possible, characters on film and television shows will utilize flip phones. Breaking Bad is a great example of this, and it provides a master class on dramatic flip phone closes.
A lot of people today still choose to turn to flip phones for their increased security. When we open the door to apps like Facebook and all the other things that make our lives online so very convenient, we also put ourselves at risk to have our identities stolen, our conversations monitored, and our locations determined instantly. With a flip phone, especially one that doesn’t have any kind of GPS or mapping system built into it (or at least has one that can be disabled), a significant majority of those risks become limited.
Additional benefits of using a flip phone include a reduced incidence of butt dialing, a significantly longer battery life, and a re-engagement with the world around you, as you won’t be pulled to check your phone every few minutes for emails, social media updates, or the latest news.
This kind of disengagement from the constant glow of a smartphone screen can have a profound effect on your physical and mental state. Many studies have pointed out that our exposure to the specific wavelengths of light put out by our devices can disrupt our sleep, negatively affect our mood, and even reduce our ability to feel empathy.
There may be some small stigma to carrying around a flip phone in this day and age, but the benefits far outweigh the judging stairs and silly comments you’re liable to receive from friends and strangers alike. And if anyone really gets under your skin, you can call them up on your shiny new flip phone, get them talking, and then dramatically hang up on them.
What An Unlocked Phone Can Do For You
Now that we’ve made the case for adding a flip phone to your experience, even if it doesn’t completely supplant the smart phone on which you so often rely, the question arises whether you should get a flip phone that’s unlocked or not. It’s important then that we understand what exactly an unlocked phone is and why you might want one.
It’s important then that we understand what exactly an unlocked phone is and why you might want one.
Essentially, an unlocked phone is a phone that can accept virtually any Sim card from any carrier around the world. That means you can activate it on any network around the globe where you can purchase a Sim card.
This is particularly useful for travelers who want to avoid unbelievably expensive roaming charges and who don’t want to go through the hassle of investing in an additional plan to travel with their current smartphone. An unlocked phone will also prevent you from having to rely on a combination of a smart phone, a free communication app, and a free Wi-Fi signal to make any kind of calls back home. You’ll be able to call anyone from anywhere so long as you have enough minutes to spare, and most plans around the world make it very easy to top up your minutes right there in the phone’s menu.
If, upon arriving back home, you decide that you’ve fallen in love with your flip phone, an unlocked version can often utilize any of your Sim cards stateside. That way, you can make your unlocked flip phone your primary phone both at home and abroad, and maybe just use your smartphone for navigation, FaceTimeing, and the occasional bout of gaming.
Other Essential Travel Tech
While an unlocked flip phone can make for an incredible traveling partner, it isn’t the only thing you should invest in before heading on a journey. The following is a selection of additional technologies designed to make your traveling experience much more enjoyable and much less stressful.
Plane rides and some other forms of transportation can be long, dreadful experiences, especially if you don’t have a way to escape from that headspace.
For starters, it would be wise to invest in some kind of RFID blocking wallet, or some kind of cash carrier that can keep your money and passport safe from the prying fingers of pickpockets. If you can find a unit that boasts features, hiding your materials somewhere safe on your body while also preventing high-tech thieves from grabbing your credit card information, then all the better.
Just because a good flip phone has a nice long battery life, that doesn’t mean you should take it for granted. Any smart traveler in the 21st-century will keep an external powerpack handy. These simple devices can hold a charge and transfer it via USB, Lightning port, and many other contacts to provide you with some juice when you either can’t access an outlet or don’t have the proper travel adapter.
It’s also important to remember that not every moment of a journey is going to be blissful. Plane rides and some other forms of transportation can be long, dreadful experiences, especially if you don’t have a way to escape from that headspace. For that reason traveling with a high-quality pair of noise canceling headphones is non-negotiable.