Flip phones are back: Less distracting and a lot cheaper than a smartphone

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LG Exalt LTE. (Credit: LG)

The flip phone is having a mini-resurgence as consumers seek less distraction. Call it a rejection of the smartphone with its bombardment of messaging and social media that sap your attention. Or maybe it’s just a return to the cell phone’s roots, when a phone was just a phone.

“This year’s hottest cultural trend is none other than the humble flip phone,” wrote The Outline this week.

While new flip phones aren’t going to overtake sales of the iPhone anytime soon, there’s an appeal to an ultra-cheap no-frills phone.

A recent report in The Seattle Times cited an artist who “was overwhelmed by constant alerts … his creativity drained” by a smartphone. So, he opted opted for a flip phone that “doesn’t do email, Instagram, Facebook, Uber or news alerts.”

And the Wall Street Journal has touted the return of the Nokia flip phone, reincarnated as the 8110 4G.

As a backdrop to this trend, there are websites such as Wait Until 8th, which urges parents to get basic phones, which “avoid many of the distractions and dangers of the smartphone.”

So, if you’re looking to save money and get back to basics, here’s a few flip phones to consider. One caveat: these phones are often dirt cheap so don’t expect the quality or convenience of a $500 smartphone.

A few flips:

LG Exalt LTE: this is Verizon’s first 4G LTE basic phone. You get a 3-inch screen, big buttons, HD Voice (better sound than typical basic phones), and a 5 megapixel camera. There’s also built-in text-to-speech that can read messages. Also: 8GB storage, Bluetooth 4.1, and 10 days of standby time and 6 hours of talk time.

Price: $6/month (24 monthly payments) or $144 full price.

Nokia 8110 4G: the “banana phone” (due to its shape) isn’t out yet so you’ll have to wait but it is rumored to be coming to the U.S. soon. It has a 2.4-inch display, 4GB of storage, a 2 megapixel camera. It’s priced at roughly $100.

If you can’t wait, there’s the non-flip, non-4G Nokia 3310 3G that’s available now for about $59.

AT&T Cingular Flip 2: a very basic flip it comes with a 2.8-inch display, 4GB storage with microSD slot, and a 2-megapixel camera. It boasts 16 days standby time and 8 hours talk time.

Price: $59.99

The Light Phone: while not a flip phone, this could be considered the vanguard of new kind of ultra-basic phone. It’s advertised as a phone that’s not designed to “keep you hooked” and monopolize your attention.

The Light Phone only makes and receives phone calls and is designed as a “supplement” to your smartphone (and can use the same number) “for those times where you do not need the internet in your pocket,” according to the company’s ad copy. Currently the startup company that makes the Light phone is sold out but you can reserve one.

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