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Where In the US Can You Get Just a Cell Phone?

kdawson posted more than 7 years ago | from the no-bell-no-whistle dept.

Communications 505

arakon writes "I am looking around for a cell phone for my technically challenged mother and all she wants is just a phone, and yet there seem to be no carriers in the US that carry a plain cell phone with good reception and battery life. All of them bundle cameras, PDAs, MP3 players, and a kitchen sink with a battery life of 2 hours, all for the low price of $350 or more... Having looked around, the Motorola F3 is exactly what she wants but it doesn't seem to be available in the US. If we order it online will it work on US carriers? Are there any comparable products out there with a similar feature set and price range available for US networks?"

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Jitterbug (4, Informative)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 7 years ago | (#19893139)

Don't know anything about them, but check out JitterBug...saw a commercial on TV...have never even ben to the website though, so no guaruntees(sp) []

Re:Jitterbug (3, Informative)

Abalamahalamatandra (639919) | more than 7 years ago | (#19893617)

Yep, my folks (pushing 70) have one and like it. You can get one with predefined buttons even, much like the Firefly-type kid's phones, and can talk to an operator if you need to call someone else. Probably a good fit for her, unless she plans to call a lot - the Jitterbug plans seem somewhat pricey.

I see these advertised (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19893143)

Jitterbug - []

my i560 (1)

jpyeron (456009) | more than 7 years ago | (#19893145)

it seems to get good battery life and does not come with any frills, as cameras are not allowed at work.

The Motorola phone (0)

CaptainPatent (1087643) | more than 7 years ago | (#19893147)

If you can find one that takes Sim cards it will work with Tmobile in the US and Tmobile only.

Re:The Motorola phone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19893255)

...and AT&T. They are both GSM networks.

Re:The Motorola phone (1)

mother_reincarnated (1099781) | more than 7 years ago | (#19893429)

But only if it's unlocked and is tri or quad-band.

Get thee to eBay (4, Insightful)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 7 years ago | (#19893149)

Honestly your best bet is probably to purchase a used GSM phone from eBay. There are quite a few of them out there, so you'll have choices. One that was very popular and manufactured for a while (or that uses a battery that's still in production) would definitely be the best.

Then just take it and get a basic plan at T-Mobile or Cingular (AT&T). Pop in the SIM and go.

What you want isn't a brand-new, basic phone like the Motorola one; what you want is a phone from about three or four years ago. It'll be a lot cheaper, too -- and if something happens to it, no problem, just get a new one.

Re:Get thee to eBay (3, Informative)

wytcld (179112) | more than 7 years ago | (#19893395)

If you're buying a used phone, get a new battery right away. Phone batteries fade off rapidly after a couple of years, in how long they'll hold a charge.

For a new phone, Tracfone sells simple, modern models cheap. You have to prebuy a block of minutes, which end up costing 40 cents if within a few counties of home, and 80 cents beyond that - but there are no other charges. The difference between Tracfone and Virgin is that Virgin's home network is Sprint, and if you're not in range of a Sprint tower it won't work (or so I'm told). The Tracfones don't care whose network they're on.

Re:Get thee to eBay (2, Informative)

russ1337 (938915) | more than 7 years ago | (#19893449)

I've gone with tracfone and think they're fine.

See this link [] for a Motorola 170 for $99 ready to go.

Re:Get thee to eBay (2, Informative)

jandrese (485) | more than 7 years ago | (#19893413)

You might have to buy a new battery though, so take that into consideration; look online for people who sell batteries for whatever phone you're considering to see how much they cost and how many are in stock. Batteries don't last forever, and while some phones are still in pretty good shape after 3 or 4 years, many others are basically shot and will barely last a few hours on battery. Most cell phone batteries can be bought new for a reasonable amount, but some are expensive and difficult to find.

Re:Get thee to eBay (1)

Mitsoid (837831) | more than 7 years ago | (#19893493)

Or go to the local T-Mobile... Nokia 6030 free after rebate with a contract..

its a small, simple, no-frill's phone.. No camera, no blue tooth.. its a phone, it makes calls, it can text message.... No bells and whistles... a simple phone.. can buy one new for ~$50.. but as with all cell carriers, its cheaper to free with a new contract

Get thee to 7-11 FFS (5, Informative)

mashade (912744) | more than 7 years ago | (#19893555)

Forget eBay, the submitter just wants to be told what to do...

Even 7-11 and WalMart have pre-paid bare-bones cell phones these days! Did this really have to be asked? I know there's a big movement on ./ for simple, long lasting phones (and I'm sympathetic to the idea myself) but honestly, it isn't hard to find a simple cheap phone.


Get thee to support. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19893627)

"What you want isn't a brand-new, basic phone like the Motorola one; what you want is a phone from about three or four years ago. It'll be a lot cheaper, too -- and if something happens to it, no problem, just get a new one."

Make certain the carrier supports it. I have a Samsung SPH-i300. The carrier still supports it.

Metro PCS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19893151)

Nokia 1100 (3, Informative)

Nightspirit (846159) | more than 7 years ago | (#19893155)

Re:Nokia 1100 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19893243)

Nokia's candybar phones have an excellent, easy to use OS with big fonts. I forget I have a camera in mine sometimes, since the OS is set up to not get in your way.

But not the 1110! (1)

EmbeddedJanitor (597831) | more than 7 years ago | (#19893303)

I have both a 1100 and a 1110i. I bought the 1110i because the 1100 is such a great simple phone and thought the 1110i might be too.

The 1110i is a confused lump of shit in comparison to the 1100. Nokia have added more features than the phone layout can handle, making it far more complicated to use than the 1100.

Nokia 6100 (2, Interesting)

lisnter (572152) | more than 7 years ago | (#19893461)

Probably the best phone I ever had. It's several years old now but I found this on eBay though price seems a bit high for such an old device. SM-Mobile-Phone_W0QQitemZ160139013240QQihZ006QQcat egoryZ64355QQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem []

I loved that phone and would still use one if I didn't need a Smartphone to keep track of my contacts and schedule (I got tired of carrying two devices around everyplace). The 6100 has the best interface, it's small and reception/voice quality was good. I charged it every night out of force-of-habit so I don't know the battery life. It's a great phone.

F3 won'r work in the US (4, Informative)

winkydink (650484) | more than 7 years ago | (#19893161)

The US uses 850MHz & 1900Mhz for GSM, most of the rest of the world uses 900Mhz & 1800Mhz. The F3 uses the latter 2 frequencies and won't work in the US.

Assuming you are a Cingular/T-Mobile customer, you can just buy an unlocked GSM phone (remember to check to make sure it works with US frequencies) and stick your SIM card in it.

For a cheap, dependable model, may I suggest the Sony Ericsson T637? Yes, it has some of those features you don't want. But you can get one as cheap as the aforementioned F3.

Good luck!

Re:F3 won'r work in the US (1)

unimonkey (846701) | more than 7 years ago | (#19893333)

Not quite true. The F3 is sold in Mexico (TelCal) and other Latin American countries as the 850/1900 MHz GSM type. However finding one that is unlocked and getting it into the US is another problem entirely.

Re:F3 won'r work in the US (2, Informative)

eric2hill (33085) | more than 7 years ago | (#19893597)

First-hand experience.

A) The carrier you're referring to is TelCel [] , not TelCal.

B) The MOTOFONE is available all over Mexico, and does indeed work on the US GSM bands.

C) I have a friend down there who just this week purchased an F3 for me. It cost him $28 out of pocket.

D) I will know later next week when he comes to the States if it is unlocked or not.

Re:F3 won'r work in the US (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 7 years ago | (#19893427)

Same problem for Canada. I actually bought an F3 for those trips I am planning to take to other continents, but for Canada (and US) I found that Motorola L2 is a very good plain phone, no camera, and it uses USB to charge the battery, which is much better than the normal Motorola port.
I got one from tigerdirect [] it is unlocked and the docs are in German.

The problems with this phone are that the shortcut button on the right side cannot be reassigned from browser function to anything else. I don't want a browser, so I locked it and I dropped this phone once, the top screen shattered, apparently it is made of glass instead of plastic. The LCD behind the glass screen is OK though, so I am just looking for a piece of transparent plastic to put there instead of glass.

Re:F3 won'r work in the US (1)

JamJam (785046) | more than 7 years ago | (#19893435)

For your reaseach use this site [] Search for a phone, click on the deatils and pay close attention to the "Mode", that'll indicate what networks and countries your desired phone will work in. THEN to to ebay and bid on one....

Re:F3 won'r work in the US (1)

killercentipedes (782350) | more than 7 years ago | (#19893469)

I had a T637 for about three+ years and it finally died. It was a great phone but since the model is quiet old and you would most likely have to get it used i would shy away from any model older than a year. It first gave me troubles when the phone itself would not charge the battery, after a couple of month using a manual charge circuit the microphone went completely. Just my two cents.

Google it Jitterbug (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19893177)

Its called a jitterbug google it. Simple phone for old people

Only one way to go! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19893183)

Woo Ha Ha! Time to get a jitterbug! I laughed so hard when I saw this phone, but its exactly what your mom may be looking for. No frills, no toys, just POCS (plain ol' cell service) []

Google? (0, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19893187)

I guess it was too much search Google for "simple phone": []

VirginMobile (4, Informative)

YrWrstNtmr (564987) | more than 7 years ago | (#19893189)

$30 phone, pay as you go. Not terribly expensive. I probably spend $10-$12/month on it.

I second this one. (1)

attemptedgoalie (634133) | more than 7 years ago | (#19893369)

I had great luck and very inexpensive bills when I used this phone.

Re:VirginMobile (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19893383)

Virgin Mobile = T-Mobile rebranded

Virgin don't own anything they just resell or lease other peoples assets, they are just middlemen in everything they do

Re:VirginMobile (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19893537)

That could be. All I know is, I picked up a phone for cheap and I get service with no contracts and pay as I go. It works great for me.

Re:VirginMobile (1)

deathtopaulw (1032050) | more than 7 years ago | (#19893483)

virginmobile is what I use for prepaid and it has been perfect
my deal was a free no "bells/whistles phone" with $20 into an account
you can pay paypal or whatever you want even from the phone its self, and it's just great

I'll probably never switch

Re:VirginMobile (Agreed) (1)

Alt_Cognito (462081) | more than 7 years ago | (#19893601)

I use them as well. As for them being "rebranded", it is irrelevant to me.

As I understand it, on their pay as you go plan, TMobile doesn't allow minutes to roll over and requires a certain number of minutes to be used per month. It ends up costing as much as $30 a month.

Things may have changed, but with VirginMobile, despite the fact their marketing is all geared towards 16 year olds, they really are the best deal for those of us who only use their cell phone for very basic things. I VERY rarely have gone over $10 a month.

Re:VirginMobile (1)

MeBot (943893) | more than 7 years ago | (#19893607)

Specifically check out the "Slice" from Virgin Mobile. Looks very similar to the Motorola F3.

Re:VirginMobile (1)

Anomalyst (742352) | more than 7 years ago | (#19893609)

Agreed, Target has a $20 low-end Kyrocera phone, it uses a proprietary charger socket, but the wall charger is included. If you want an auto charger its cheaper to get an inverter EWPROD&ProdID=451 [] . I wanted a cheap phone to take incoming calls, 0.18/min, charge it up $20 every 3 months (I am still on the $2.00 start-up and its good till September) other vendors have cheaper per minute by a couple pennies but require more frequent top-up. The have other plans that look pretty reasonable if you anticipate more activity. If you activate over the web you can keep it very anonymous.

Alltel (1)

everphilski (877346) | more than 7 years ago | (#19893191)

If they have coverage in your area, Alltel has basic phones and pretty good pay-by-the-minute rates if you are an infrequent user ($0.15/minute but no monthly charges, and no minute expiration dates). That's my wife's emergency cell phone. For $80 we got a basic no-frills phone, $20 worth of minutes that never expire (the only service charge is $4 a month if you don't use it ... I call her once a month to make sure that doesn't happen).

Re:Alltel (1)

elrick_the_brave (160509) | more than 7 years ago | (#19893359)

Now if only I had thought of a way to talk to my wife but once a month!!!

Prepaid Phones (1)

Aeiri (713218) | more than 7 years ago | (#19893193)

I have a prepaid cellphone from Cingular (now AT&T), since I don't actually use it very often. It's simple, easy to use, and best of all, cheap: I pay $25 every three months for it. The phone itself cost $30, but there was a free phone that you could choose with the service as well, if I recall correctly. []

Motorola SLVR is what you need (1)

middlemen (765373) | more than 7 years ago | (#19893201)

You should get the Motorola SLVR. I have it. It is just a phone. It has no camera. It is sleek, thin and light weight and the interface is decent. People dont call me much but I charge the battery once in 3-4 days.

Re:Motorola SLVR is what you need (1)

Helios1182 (629010) | more than 7 years ago | (#19893279)

It is also $150, and tons of features more than "just" a phone -- including a camera and mp3 player functions.

Re:Motorola SLVR is what you need (1)

kage.j (721084) | more than 7 years ago | (#19893289)

what are you talking about? I have a L7 SLVR, and all subsequent L7's have cameras. I also believe the L6 has a camera as well.

Re:Motorola SLVR is what you need (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19893445)

It is sleek, thin and light weight
This is really just a personal preference, but the last thing I want is a phone that fits in my wallet.

Re:Motorola SLVR is what you need (2, Informative)

im_mac (927998) | more than 7 years ago | (#19893545)

Specifically you want the SLVR L2. It has no camera and good battery life. I got mine last fall directly from Cingular for free with the plan. I think it's discontinued now, but eBay should have a couple.

Prepaid Phone (1)

John.P.Jones (601028) | more than 7 years ago | (#19893203)

At least on AT&T, you can put your standard rate plan card in a cheap ($20) prepaid phone and toss the prepaid starter card. I did this after my old phone went for a swim while I was still under contract, waiting for the iPhone. Easy as pie, the phone isn't so great but its a cheap and simple solution.

Next Article (5, Funny)

neoshroom (324937) | more than 7 years ago | (#19893207)

Q: Where In the US Can You Get Just a Cell Phone?

A: A Cell Phone Store. []

Mod Parent Up (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19893373)

Is this article a joke??

I've got a cellphone in my pocket that is 'just a phone'. I needed something cheap, candybar shaped, and more importantly right away since my old cellphone broke.

Where did I go? The damn cellphone store. Where else would I go, a rapidly declining tech blog?

Virgin Mobile at Target oe Best Buy? (4, Informative)

sillivalley (411349) | more than 7 years ago | (#19893209)

Virgin Mobile, phones available at Target or Best Buy, starting at around $20 for a phone that doesn't have a camera, mp3 player, or corkscrew. Just a phone.

Prepaid plans, pay-as-you-go, or monthly plans.

Pre-paid phones (1)

tmosley (996283) | more than 7 years ago | (#19893219)

I think you can get a phone like what you want at Walgreens or a similar drug store. Just get the prepaid type (the kind that all the criminals use). I'm pretty sure those are bare-bones models.

Pre-paid is the way to go (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19893221)

Most of those pre-paid phones are as plain-jane as they come. [] A few of these phones do very little other than make calls, and I know Virgin Mobile isn't the only carrier who sells phones without a contract.

have heart, they do exist (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19893225)

Don't worry, Motorola has no plans to release the F3 in the US, because American consumers want high-resolution color display phones. Which hasn't stopped a dozen of folks I know from attempting to import them from Argentina. (and people wonder why MOT is in the crapper for marketshare.)

I realize this doesn't directly address the question. There are still phones available which are mostly "just a phone" in the Nokia "candybar" form factor at my local Cingular/ATT store, or were a couple weeks ago.

Virgin Mobile (1)

Dorceon (928997) | more than 7 years ago | (#19893227)

You can get a phone that's just a phone for $20. If you set up 'auto top-up', which charges your credit card every 3 months or whenever you're getting low on credit, it comes out to $5 a month if you don't call much. As long as you keep topping up your accumulated credit doesn't expire. Great if you want a phone for emergencies and such.

We need alternative to cellphones by monopolists. (1)

zymano (581466) | more than 7 years ago | (#19893231)

Their is some legislation by Google and skype to implement the carterphone which allows access to their networks.

Prepaid phones don't allow rollover minutes.

Re:We need alternative to cellphones by monopolist (2, Interesting)

jdigriz (676802) | more than 7 years ago | (#19893375)

Not true, Cingular (now ATT)'s goPhone PayAsYouGo plan does allow rollover.

Ocham's Razor can cut through your cell phone fog (1)

DontScotty (978874) | more than 7 years ago | (#19893235) or+elderly [] ll_senior.htm [] /b3947040_mz006.htm [] or-the-elderly/ []
All phones and leads on phones with exactly what you require. And, no foreign import issues.
"Ocham's Razor essentially states that all things being equal, the simplest explanation is usually correct."

Nokia candy bar (1)

j14ast (258285) | more than 7 years ago | (#19893241)

I have a nokia candybar phone i got from metro pcs, which as far as I know is San Fran only. But its a good deal 50 dollars for unlimited everything, no contract. its about 5 dollars cheaper if you dont need unlimited sms. The only way it loses out is it isnt edge or 3g, but since you want "Just a Phone" you wont care.

If that isnt available, you can buy a sim card nokia for about 20 dollars on ebay, and use it with at&t.

Probably has shit battery life anyway (1)

Cafe Alpha (891670) | more than 7 years ago | (#19893245)

Look how thin the F3 is. Just because it's not a razr doesn't mean it's not too thin to have good battery life.

I have a brand new cheap motorolla flip (don't know the model #). It doesn't have a camera either, but the battery life is shorter than any phone I've had before it. As the phones get smaller the battery life becomes worse and worse.

At my cell phone co, the cheapest phones they have always seem to be nokia. I didn't get the nokia because I needed on that runs the mapquest app.

Re:Probably has shit battery life anyway (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19893471)

please read the f3's specifications before speaking.

Re:Probably has shit battery life anyway (1)

Cafe Alpha (891670) | more than 7 years ago | (#19893625)

Yes, on the Motorola site is says that the phone has " Extended battery life," but says nothing else.

If it had even middling specs they'd give the specs. They don't.

I stand by my judgment. It's a thin phone and the battery life no doubt sucks.

TracFone (1)

Mursk (928595) | more than 7 years ago | (#19893249)

Depending on how much use you anticipate for the phone, check out TracFone ( [] ). It's a prepaid plan, but they have pretty simple phones available. Mine is just a phone, no camera or anything. One disclaimer, though: I almost never use my phone, so I end up paying less than $100 per year and am quite satisfied. YMMV.

tracfone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19893251)

Look at tracfone (Prepaid phones), it might be what your are looking for. []

um, they're free (1)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 7 years ago | (#19893261)

The cheap phone that comes free with your plan sounds like just the ticket. Tell Ma not to press the 'camera' button, and presto, a phone that doesn't have a camera!

Did you really look? (3, Insightful)

milamber3 (173273) | more than 7 years ago | (#19893265)

Or did you just want to get a post on slashdot? I went to and found multiple "just cell phone" phones. The LG VX3400, Verizon Wireless PN-300, Nokia 2366i, and more. That took all of 2 minutes, dont you think you could have done the same thing?

Just go to a store (1)

Cereal Box (4286) | more than 7 years ago | (#19893267)

Someone's bound to have pointed this out already, but every cellphone store sells stripped-down phones that are free with contract. Yes, they might have just a few extra features beyond just "phone" (like contacts), but they won't get in the way of "dial a number and press 'send'" operation.

Nokia 3120 (1)

niko9 (315647) | more than 7 years ago | (#19893277)

Look on eBay. Gent an an unlocked Nokia 3120b. A simple, small phone. []

The buttons are easy to press, even for my sausage finger. It still has a simple "Ring" named ring tone that most new phones are lacking. Great battery life. A simple calendar you can attach notes to. A countdown timer, think parking meters. Easily availble for under forty dollars on eBay. I also picked up a spare.
It is a GSM phone.

iPhone (-1, Flamebait)

soft_guy (534437) | more than 7 years ago | (#19893285)

Get them an iPhone [] . They are cool.

Several MVNO's out there offering them (1)

homey of my owney (975234) | more than 7 years ago | (#19893297)

Samsung announced one [] that is plain and simple. They even have one that is just for emergencies.

7-11 (Kwikie Mart) (1)

rossz (67331) | more than 7 years ago | (#19893301)

I can pop down to my local 7-11 and pick up a pay-as-you-go cell phone for under $50. I'll bet Walmart carries them, too.

Virgin Mobile (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19893305)

... Or a number of other prepaid companies, but they seem to be solid and have great coverage (generally on the Sprint network I believe, though that may depend on the area)

$20-$50 gets you a basic but solid phone, roughly 10 cents a minute to talk (depending on how you decide to pay), and NO CONTRACTS. Seems perfect for "casual" cell phone needs.

And yes 10 cents a minute seems expensive to those used to 400 "free anytime" minutes a month but consider all the extra charges and hassles you get with a contract. Unless it's your primary phone or you make dozens of calls a day prepaid ends up being much cheaper in most cases.

Virgin Mobile (1)

smoot123 (1027084) | more than 7 years ago | (#19893319)

I got my first phone late last year. I'm a cheap bastard and wanted the same thing -- a cheap phone to make calls with. No camera, no texting, no web browsing, just a phone.

Virgin Mobile had the best deal I could find. I got a phone for something like $50, no service contract, the service is $7 a month and I pay $.10 a minute for calls. I think my average monthly bill is around $10-$15. The phone actually has text messaging and some "Virgin Connect" thingy that I can't figure out how to disable, but I just ignore that part.

What features? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19893325)

Okay, when you say that you want "just" a phone, with no extra features, you are lying. At the very least, you want a phone book. Probably a clock. Who knows what else? The example you give has quite a few features beyond "just a phone". It can download polyphonic ringtones, it's got multilingual voice prompts, an icon-based user-interface, etc. How many of these features do you want?

When people say they want "just a phone", I've found that what they really mean is "a phone with all the extra features that my very first mobile phone had". So when you ask for "just a phone", people have to guess at what you actually mean. So how about you cut the "just a phone" crap and tell us your actual requirements?

Motorola L2 (1)

FaithC (1094229) | more than 7 years ago | (#19893327)

Cingular/ATT carries the Motorola L2 [] . It is a Candy-bar style phone, and its pretty plain-jane, the only feature beyond making calls, and the standard list of crapola, is Bluetooth, which is pretty much standard. I have had mine for about 9 months, and the kids cannot break it, it has survived several drops, and still works fine.. best of all, the charger port is a mini-usb, so you can load ringtones and wallpaper from your pc.. hell, you can even snag a charge anywhere there is an open USB port, which is handy as hell.. I cannot count the times I used my laptop to power the phone to make a call when the phone was dead... that being said, i get like 3-4 days standby time, and 4 hours talk or so. The phone is Quad-Band GSM, so it will work anywhere, Cingular/ATT or T-Mobile in the US, if unlocked. Not sure if t-mob offers it, but attular does.

Sing It - Jitterbug (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19893341)

The lame commercials for the older generation phone, The Jitterbug! []

What about (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19893349)

the LG VX3400 zon-wireless/4505-6454_7-32070685.html []

Per Cnet review "

The good: The LG VX3400 is a basic phone with a bare minimum of features. It has a compact design and a comfortable keypad, and features a speakerphone.

The bad: The external screen of the LG VX3400 is monochrome, and personalization options are limited. There's also no Web browser.

The bottom line: The LG VX3400 is one of the best basic phones we've laid our hands on, with simple and easy-to-use controls and a great compact design.

Must've not looked very hard (1)

Sitnalta (1051230) | more than 7 years ago | (#19893353)

T-Mobile has some basic phones. In fact, I'm pretty sure all of them do. You just have to know where to look.

Why does it NEED to be bare-bones? (4, Insightful)

rob1980 (941751) | more than 7 years ago | (#19893355)

Just get a cheapo phone with a contract from some provider, and tell your mom if she sees something she doesn't understand on the screen then just tap the red (power) button 2 or 3 times until she gets back to the main menu. Speaking from personal experience, it may be a little easier to do that than to limit yourself to phones that are tougher to find.

StarTAC (1)

CompMD (522020) | more than 7 years ago | (#19893381)

There were umpteen millions of StarTACs out there you can probably dig up, and they were great simple phones. I still have one as a backup. Any old Nextel will also do the trick. Man, I do miss the i1000plus. I could go five days without needing to charge it.

False dilemma? (1)

vecctor (935163) | more than 7 years ago | (#19893389)

All of them bundle cameras, PDAs, MP3 players, and a kitchen sink with a battery life of 2 hours, all for the low price of $350 or more..
Personal experience, but I haven't seen the tradeoff that is stated here (basically more features == less battery life).

My phone has all kinds of crap I never use, but it does calls just fine and lasts a week on pure standby, a few days if I use it regularly. It has lots of power saving features you can turn on before you hand it over to mom, like turning out the blinding backlight after just a few seconds rather than whatever the default is (like laptops, I think the display/backlight chug alot of power). If anything, phones have gotten much longer lasting even while becoming smaller.

I have a Sanyo Katana if you want to look further: []

You can just open and dial if you want. The internet/bluetooth are there, but you can disable them. Camera is there, but doesn't add much bulk (the phone is razr-sized) and doesn't drain battery if you don't use it. The case is a sturdy plastic, and holds up better than the razr it is imitating (in my experience - I know people with razrs and have compared).

I got mine at $20 with contract, but I imagine it would be pretty expensive otherwise (if you could even get it at all without contract in the US - which is a different rant I am sure everyone knows about).

My 2c

Nokia 1100 (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19893415)

Don't know if this works in US or not (it does in Europe), but Nokia 1100 [] is the most sturdy GSM phone I have ever seen.

e to the (1)

GrayCalx (597428) | more than 7 years ago | (#19893417)


Nokia 6030 (1)

ichthus (72442) | more than 7 years ago | (#19893431)

Nokia 6030. Small, yet the buttons are easy to work with. Great reception. Great battery life. Simple. Free with a new plan.

Here. []

t-mobile pay as you go. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19893443)

no no no.
HEre is what you do. Buy one of the prepaid gsm phones from t-mobile (cheap, sometimes as low as 10 bucks). Get a $100 prepaid card with it. This won't expire for a whole year. IF you buy another card it will renew the exisitng expiration date for another year for all minutes. And.. Target has them on sale often and adds 10 to 20% bonus to it as well. This is by far the cheapest way to call if you don't call much but need a cell phone.

made with the heart? (1)

haleq (1098845) | more than 7 years ago | (#19893451)

I think this article has highlighted a very good point about todays consumer-centric world. It really is hard to get plain old products nowadays.

Another point I notice, is that modern products are not made anywhere near as well as their predecesors. For example, old cars are often a lot more reliable and better built than the latest, of the production line tin cans. And with mobile phones, these modern flip/slide things couldn't take being dropped more than a few times. I used to have an old 'brick' which was run over by a lorry and survived.

Products today just aren't made with the heart, the only thing in the minds of the producers is money money money.

Slashdot, meet Google (1)

Pap22 (1054324) | more than 7 years ago | (#19893457)

A google search for "cell phones" returns numerous sponsored and non-sponsored links to vendors and providers who all offer cell phones starting at $0.

Hey, wouldn't it be nice if tech nerds had a common website to exchange comments on with other intelligent tech nerds? Yeah, on this new site, we could even allow the intelligent ones to be administrators!

Tracfone (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19893467)

Pay as you go and they offer just cell phones without the gadgets. The cheapest come in at $10 with 8 hours talk time. []

Jitterbug? (1)

jamesoutlaw (87295) | more than 7 years ago | (#19893487)

I don't know much about this company, but their phones and services are geared toward older people who just want a plain phone to make occasional calls. []

Verizon does not rate signal reception (1)

amigabill (146897) | more than 7 years ago | (#19893497)

I've asked Verizon a few times for advice on buying a new phone that would have better signal reception than my LG9800 AKA "The V", as I can't use it at home. Each time I was told that Verizon does not have such information. The best I can do is randomly buy phones, and if I'm not hapy with then return them in 30 days, randomly buy another one, lather rinse, and repeat until I by chance find a phone that works. So in terms of finding a phone with good reception, Verizon is apparently not able to help anyone. But do avoid the LG9800, as my personal experience with it is that it has both poor reception and poor battery life. The expensive battery upgrade to 2100mAh capacity helps, but the original battery sould still last longer than a day. I assume it does not because of the poor signal and it's always scanning for a tower when I'm at home which burns through the battery. I'd also like to make signal reception and battery life as the two only details in choosing my next phone, and hoepfully another poster will have better info on Verizon phones, as other carriers don't have any service at all for blocks away from my Sister's house and such, part of why we switched to Verizon, but for my own I may say screw it to the free Verizon to Verizon calling and bail out to something that will actually work at all at my own house. My roommates with Tmobile, Cingular, etc. don't seem to have problems like my phone does, so it's either my phone or Verizon's towers at fault...

Samsung sch-A630 (1)

Yaksha42 (856623) | more than 7 years ago | (#19893515)

I have a Samsung sch-A630. It's an incredibly barebones flip phone.

No camera, no games, nothing really fancy about it. The battery life is good, I rarely get calls and I charge it about once a week. Check eBay, you can probably get it for $30 - $30. I have mine through Verizon.

Nokia 6030 (1)

joesucks (912938) | more than 7 years ago | (#19893521)

Basic phone, great functionality, awesome battery life (lasts close to 10 days with full charge has 6+ hours talk time), no camera none of the bells and whistles, good reception. T-Mobile to-go phone is the way I acquired it because my motorola was just dying, costs like $30 you will also get a 1 hour talk time i think. Let me know if you need further help.

Is the US really that bad for phones? (1)

payndz (589033) | more than 7 years ago | (#19893523)

Last week I bought a T-Mobile pay-as-you-go phone for £10 ($20). No contract, and the call credit doesn't expire (which is good, because I can go a couple of months without making a call). It would even play MP3s if it were Mac-compatible - it isn't, but that's hardly a problem because I also own a thing called an 'iPod'. It's small, so far hasn't needed recharging in five days, and does the job perfectly adequately.

I can't believe that the US - supposedly the land of consumer choice - doesn't offer anything similar. Is the OP not looking hard enough, or are American phone companies really that horrible?

Please don't get motorola (1)

plunderphonic (1126251) | more than 7 years ago | (#19893525)

Please don't get motorola. I have had bad experiences with their phones, as have people with whom I have spoken. They emphasize style at the expense of substance. I have found the Razor to be particularly unreliable.

Is this a real complaint? (1)

Orig_Club_Soda (983823) | more than 7 years ago | (#19893529)

My 67 year old mother has a RAZR. She knows how to store numbers and make calls. She just ignores the other technology... I really dont see what the problem is here. Or by her a child's cell phone.

Motorola V195 (3, Informative)

mparker762 (315146) | more than 7 years ago | (#19893547)

Great battery life - talk time of 8 hrs or standby time of 2+ weeks. Don't know about the talk time, but I *do* get the specced standby time. Get it for $20 with the cheap ($30/mo) T-Mobile plan, or with their pre-pay plan for $40 (includes a $25 refill card).

Thank you! (1, Flamebait)

Mr_Silver (213637) | more than 7 years ago | (#19893559)

I, for one, am extremely grateful that this question has been posted to Slashdot.

The next time someone moans "oh, I just want a phone that does talking and texting - why do no phones do this any more?", I can point them to here and hopefully shut another Slashdot phone whinger up.

Then the rest of us can get back to enjoying our phones with Bluetooth, Java, IM, GPS, camera, web-browsing, calendar, PC synchronisation and MP3 playback.

Motorola C139 (1)

geniusj (140174) | more than 7 years ago | (#19893569)

The Motorola C139 is a dual-band GSM phone that will fully utilize the t-mobile and cingular US networks. It can be found new for under $20 unlocked. It's as bargain as phones get and has nice battery life to boot. sp?globalObjectId=119 []

Trakfone? (2, Informative)

vtcodger (957785) | more than 7 years ago | (#19893573)

If your mom will only use the phone a few times a month, you can get a Tracfone for about $20 or $30 at Radio Shack or just about any drugstore. Airtime is expensive 20-40 cents a minute (twice that when roaming). Coverage seems good. I've raised a signal in some really remote parts of the Great Basin. Adding time is a royal PITA, (you have to enter code into the phone) but it was easier the last time I tried it than it used to be. You need to add time occasionally to keep the phone active. My cost works out to about $10 a month. I only use it on occasional trips, and it's fine for that.

Free phone (1)

barl0w2 (1096357) | more than 7 years ago | (#19893579)

I'm not sure why you wouldn't get a free phone and sign a contract for 1-2 years? I've always like [] Matter of fact, I got money back ($50) for signing up for my phone and plan.

T Mobile to Go is a good option (4, Informative)

Mal Reynolds (676267) | more than 7 years ago | (#19893581)

If your mom won't use her cell phone more than 1 to 2 hours per month, she does not need a cell phone plan, she needs a pre-paid cell phone.

I've researched this for some relatives of mine, I decided on T Mobile's pre-paid plan. It's called "T Mobile To Go". T Mobile pre-paid plans don't have any monthly charges and only require 1 purchase per year to retain unused minutes. For those who make seldom use of a cell phone, it offers an aggregated monthly rate of $12 per month or less.

T Mobile always has deals for pre-paid phones. Often you'll be able to get a basic phone and 1 year (1100 minutes) of service for less than $130. You can purchase online or at one of their stores. []

Most pre-paid cellular plans charge a monthly fee by burning minutes whether the phone is used or not. T Mobile's pre-plan doesn't do this. And under T Mobile, once a customer has purchased $100 worth of minutes, those minutes won't expire for 1 year. More importantly, after that initial $100 purchase, any future minutes purchased will not expire for a year from the date of last purchase.

So to keep a T Mobile pre-paid account active, one only needs purchase another cheap, $10 card before the year expires. All existing minutes will be carried over. (after having purchased those initial $100 of minutes)

I'm not huge fan of T-Mobile, they have issues just like the rest of the carriers. But their pre-paid plan is superior to any of the others I've researched.

For someone who uses less than 100 minutes per month, the aggregated monthly cost of a pre-paid T Mobile phone can be less than $12 per month, even less after the first year.

Seriously, did you even try? (1, Flamebait)

TrappedByMyself (861094) | more than 7 years ago | (#19893603)

Within 30 seconds of reading your whiny post, I specced out $39.99 monthly plan +$35 sign up fee from Verizon Wireless with a basic phone (not even a camera) that is free with a 2 year contract.

I have one from Sprint (1)

ec_hack (247907) | more than 7 years ago | (#19893613)

I carry a Plain Old Cell Phone from Sprint, a Sanyo-built Sprint-labeled model, and got one for my tech-challenged mom. I didn't want one with a camera, as I can't carry a camera model into some worksites I visit.
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