It seems that every phone manufacturer in the world is obsessed with putting more and more horsepower in their phones, larger touchscreens and better cameras. Also, connectivity is the word of this decade, so smartphones have better integration with just about anything nowadays. It would seem that they have forgotten what cell phones should do: make and receive calls and texts and not run out of battery after a few hours. And because of all the features that smartphones have, their price is quite high and not many can afford them.
But, for those who want an alternative to smartphones, or if you think you are paying for options that are of no use to you, the alternative comes in the form of cheap, feature phones.
What are Feature Phones?
You might look at Feature Phones as combination of cell phones and smartphones. They have the “staying power” of old school phones, with some of the features and connectivity of smartphones. They do not have fancy operating systems or top of the line performance, nevertheless, they do a great job and some allow you to even install apps and connect to the Internet, without having to subscribe to an expensive data plan.
As I have mentioned before, Feature Phones are targeted for those who do not afford to buy a smartphone or do not need all the features that smartphones have to offer. Feature phones usually come with manufacturer firmware installed, most of the time JAVA based, that allow some matter of customization, such as installing a few apps, but no more than this. They can let you check your email or search the web to some degree. Note that this type of phones are not smartphones, and so, their prices are much lower, making them available for more people.
What features do they have?
Although Feature Phones do not have as many options as smartphones, they still have a few that can satisfy most people. Some Feature Phones have Dual SIM capability and can browse the web with GPRS, EDGE or even 3G. QWERTY keyboards are now more and more common in phones and even touchscreens are starting to appear in Feature phones, although not as big and responsive as those of smartphones.
Cameras are getting better and better, so you could find a nice feature phone with a 5MPx camera that can take decent photos or videos. You can store them on a SD card, which most phones nowadays support, or send them via Bluetooth or email. Probably, the best thing about them, is because they do not have power hungry processors and huge screens, the battery lasts a much longer period than the usual smartphone, a great aspect that you need to consider. So, let’s recap the advantages most likely to be found in a Feature Phone:
- Internet connection via GPRS or 3G
- JAVA based OS with installable apps
- Camera with video capability
- SD card slot
- Music and video player
- QWERTY keyboard
- Dual SIM
And of course, other features might be found on various feature phones. And because of the lower price and the longer lasting battery, they make great replacements for smartphones.
Top 10 Feature Phones
So, now you know what Feature Phones are and what they can offer, now it’s time to take a look at some cheap but very good Feature Phones, to help you decide if they are better suited to your needs.
10. Samsung Rogue SCH-U960
Packed full of features, the Samsung Rogue is a great feature phone that lets its users play around a generous touchscreen display, a great 3MPx camera and flip down full QWERTY keyboard. Also, the 3.5” audio jack is a great feature for those music lovers out there.
LG has managed to get lots of features into this phone. Such as an external 2.4 inch touchscreen, and internal screen at the same size and a full QWERTY keyboard. Also, the 2MPx camera is not that bad, and it falls into the category of the Feature Phones camera. The keyboard does not feel cluded in any way, it’s very easy to use and there are three shortcut keys for better customization of the phone. The only downside of it is the design, which might not be so appealing to many people.
Maybe not the most eye pleasing phone out there, Nokia Asha 200 makes up for its lack of looks with a full size QWERTY keyboard, 2MPx camera, dual SIM capability and a generous display. Also, in true fashion of Nokia phones, it features a whopping 1430 mAh battery, which will keep your phone up and running for days and days.
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At first look, this little guy would be very easily confused with the Sony Ericsson Xperia Mini, but the reality is that this is the cheaper version of the Xperia, with smartphone features such as full size slide QWERTY keyboard, 3.2MPx camera and a pretty decent screen, but at the price of a feature phone. A great alternative if you like the Xperia style, but not the price of the real thing.
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6. Samsung Chat
The Samsung Chat series featured some great phones at great prices and with nice features for its users to enjoy. Although the 527 is more expensive than the rest of the series (322, 335, C3222 and C3500), it has the added benefit of a bigger battery to power the two other great features of the phone: Wi-Fi and 3G. Isn’t that great?
Motorola is known for their boldness, their cool designs and quality phones, even if it’s now Google’s property. Another phone with all those characteristics is the Quartz EX212. A slim, clamshell design that supports dual SIM and has a 2MPx camera is the perfect example of how a feature phone has to be. Also, the animated animations of the cover of the phone are a really nice touch. Way to go Moto!
What is so cool about Samsung Blue Earth? Before you say “nothing”, let me tell you that this little guy has a touchscreen (a small one indeed, at 3 inches, but nevertheless, a touchscreen), it shows beautiful and vibrant colors and WiFi connectivity, as well as Google Maps installed. But the best part is that the phone features a solar panel for charging! How cool is that! It was featured in our 13 Solar Powered Gadgets That You Must Have article.
3. Nokia C2-03
Nokia has produced great phones over the years, and the C2-03 is a perfect example of what Nokia can achieve if they put their minds to it. In a fairly small phone with slide keyboard they managed to fit a touchscreen, a 2MPx camera and not 1, but 2 SIM slots. Also, it supports SD cards up to 32GB.
2. LG enV Touch
Although an older model, this phone has great features, such a 3 inch touchscreen display, a full QWERTY keyboard and a 3.2MPx camera. The design might not be appealing for everyone, but I enjoy it pretty much. Also, the fun doesn’t stop here, when you open the phone to reveal the QWERTY keyboard, you are greeted by another 3 inch display and stereo speakers.
1. Nokia X2
With its great 5MPx camera, fantastic battery life and SD card slot that supports up to 16GB of memory, Nokia X2 is a great feature phone. It has a generous display (for a feature phone) and the quality of all Nokia phones, all of this wrapped in a very slick design. Top notch feature phone!