If you don’t want to dig deep into your wallet for a flashy smartphone, a simple phone could be a solid alternative. We’ve sent a range of simple phones off to the Which? test lab to see which models offer top value for money.
Simple phones aren’t as powerful as premium smartphones, so don’t expect a quad-camera setup or in-screen fingerprint scanner. Instead, they’re designed to be no-nonsense and easy to use – most have large buttons and simple menu navigation, and some have features like emergency call buttons and hearing-aid compatibility.
While Doro is still the biggest simple phone brand around, a new competitor has recently entered the ring. Austrian company Emporia landed in the UK earlier this year and we’ve just gone hands-on with its phones to see how they compare.
Keep scrolling for more details on what to expect from the latest Doro and Emporia simple phones.
Browse all the best simple phones from our tests.
Doro 7030 (£100)
As the Doro 7030 sports a clamshell-style design, you can snap it shut and tuck it into your pocket once you’ve finished with a phone call.
It’s a 4G phone with a fairly limited 4GB of storage, and a small, 2.8-inch display. Underneath that display is a selection of clearly labelled buttons aimed at users that want a basic mobile experience. Despite the drop in price, you still get a dedicated assistance button, built-in GPS and hearing aid compatibility. Other handy features include a backlit keypad, torch and expandable storage.
It has two cameras, but at this price point you shouldn’t expect crystal-clear pictures. If you’re looking for a simple phone that takes higher-quality photos, you’ll need to increase your budget.
If you do end up grabbing the Doro 7030, you’ll also receive a charging cradle for the mobile and a headset that plugs into the phone. This will help you make calls clearer if you’re hard of hearing.
To see whether or not this simple phone is a proven Which? Best Buy, see our Doro 8030 review.
Doro 7010 (£90)
You might be wondering what sort of features you can expect from a sub-£100 simple phone. The 4G Doro 7010 has plenty to offer, arriving with a 2.8-inch display, an integrated keypad and a 3Mp rear camera. The ringer volume and alert tones are louder than usual, which will help ensure you never miss an incoming call.
The Doro 7010’s home screen is very basic – the default view simply shows the time, date and three icons that let you make a call, search your contact book or send a text. You get the same assistance button and hearing aid features that you’ll find on Doro’s more expensive handsets.
To help you stay in touch with your loved ones, the Doro 7010 has dedicated shortcuts to email, WhatsApp and Facebook.
How did this simple phone fare in our test lab? Our full Doro 7010 review has the answers.
Doro 6060 (£75)
The Doro 6060 is a clamshell-style simple phone that you can use to access networks over 2G. In other words, it’s even more basic than the other simple phones we’ve listed above, simply designed to make calls and send texts. You can’t browse the web from this Doro model.
When the Doro 6060 is closed up in your hand, you’ll be staring at a 1.77-inch external display that lets you see who is calling before you open the mobile up. The main display is slightly bigger at 2.8 inches. You’ll be using physical buttons (rather than a touchscreen) to key in phone numbers.
This is another Doro simple phone that has a 3Mp rear lens. It also has Bluetooth connectivity, an FM radio, torch and expandable storage.
Discover how this Doro simple phone compares to similarly priced rivals with our full Doro 6060 review.
Emporia TOUCHsmart (£150) – a flip-up simple phone with two displays
Battling against Doro’s range of simple phones is the Emporia TOUCHsmart. This new arrival is a clamshell-style phone with 4G internet access and a second external display that offers caller information at a glance.
The Emporia TOUCHsmart has both a 3.35-inch touchscreen and a physical keypad, which is good news if you want an accessible experience. There’s also a dedicated emergency button, a built-in FM radio and a torch. This simple phone is hearing aid compatible.
Out of the box, you get 4GB of internal memory from this Emporia phone. That might not sound like much (and it’s not if you plan on taking lots of photos), but you can use a separate micro-SD card slot to raise this to 64GB.
Speaking of photos, the Emporia TOUCHsmart has two cameras – a 5Mp rear camera and a 2Mp front-facing camera.
This simple phone comes bundled with a charging cradle, so you won’t need to fiddle around with charging cables to add some juice to it.
Check our full Emporia TOUCHsmart review for the results of our lab tests.
Emporia ACTIVE 4G (£90)
The Emporia ACTIVE 4G is a candy-bar phone, which means that the 2.31-inch display and keypad are sat on the same surface. This simple phone might end up on your shortlist if you’re not too bothered about having a large touchscreen.
On the back of this simple phone is a solitary 2Mp camera, but it’s worth noting that you can’t use it to record videos. Next to that camera is a dedicated emergency button for summoning help if you need it.
Other features include expandable storage (up to 32GB), backlit buttons and a favourite key that can be assigned to a function of your choice. There are easy-to-access volume keys on the side of this simple phone.
Does the Emporia ACTIVE 4G offer good value for money? See what else it has to offer with our full Emporia ACTIVE 4G review.
Buying a simple phone: pros and cons
When deciding whether or not a simple phone is right for you, it’s a good idea to weigh up the pros and cons. A simple phone is obviously cheaper than a smartphone, but they’re not as feature-packed.
As mentioned above, a small price can make a simple phone tough to ignore. But if you’re tech-savvy enough to use more advanced features, there are lots of options on the budget smartphone market.
Big-name brands including Huawei, Motorola, Realme and Samsung all produce affordable handsets. To help you pick the perfect model for you, see our guide on the best cheap mobile phones.
However, there are a host of features available on premium smartphones that you’d never spot on a simple phone. Think facial recognition, fingerprint scanners and edge-to-edge displays.
How we test simple phones
To find the simple phones that are easiest to use with the clearest call quality, we call on our rigorous lab tests.
Our team of phone experts at the Which? lab pay close attention to the features that matter the most. We check to see how easy the simple phone is to use, along with the battery life and call quality.
Ignoring the price of each simple phone, we break our results down as follows:
- Ease of use – 55% We look for well-spaced keys and set the phone up from scratch to see how quick the process is.
- Battery life – 20% There’s no point in grabbing a simple phone if it won’t last a full day on a single charge. We measure exactly how long a simple phone lasts when making continuous calls.
- Sound quality – 20% We make calls with no background noise and then compare the results when making a call with a noisy background track.
- Features – 5% Additional features can include built-in cameras and internet connectivity.
For more details on how we uncover the best simple phones money can buy, see our guide on how we test simple mobile phones.