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Which simple mobile phone brand?

Most reliable simple mobile phone brands

By Oli McKean

Article 1 of 2

We lift the lid on the brands that make the longest-lasting simple mobile phones

Put us to the test

Our Test Labs compare features and prices on a range of products. Try Which? to unlock our reviews. You'll instantly be able to compare our test scores, so you can make sure you don't get stuck with a Don't Buy.

The best simple mobile phones help you keep in contact with friends and family, at a much cheaper price than most smartphones. But they're not very useful when they break.

We survey hundreds of simple mobile phone owners each year, to find out about any problems they've encountered. Here, we reveal the brands with the most and least complaints, to help you buy a simple mobile phone that's likely to stand the test of time.

Simple mobile phones are pretty reliable - none of the brands we have results for score fewer than four stars for this measure.

However, there are some interesting differences between the brands. For instance, only 2% of phones from the most reliable brand developed a fault in their first year, whereas it's 7% for the least impressive brand.

Use our reliability data alongside our expert simple mobile phone reviews to make the best choice.

Below, we explore the most and least impressive simple mobile phone brands, and what separates them. Plus, we reveal the most common simple phone faults reported to us in our survey.

Only logged-in Which? members can view our exclusive reliability ratings in the table below. Join Which? to get instant access.

Which simple mobile phone brands are the most reliable?
Brand Reliability rating Reliability score

Table notes
The above data is based on our survey of 533 simple mobile phone owners in June and July 2017.


Member Content

Which simple mobile phone brand stays fault-free longest?

The graph below shows how the brand that stays fault-free for longest compares with the worst brand, as well as the average. Which? members can see how brands compare for faults, and which are the best and worst, in the table below.

Brand % faults after 1 year % faults after 3 years
7% 9%
2% 5%
2% 12%
4% 18%

Table notes
The above data is based on our survey of 533 simple mobile phone owners in June and July 2017.


Member Content

How simple mobile phone brands compare

As you can see from the table above, simple mobile phones are pretty dependable, according to our survey.

But the best brand is nothing short of astonishing, with only 5% of owners reporting faults with their phone after three years. Conversely, 9% of owners of simple phones from the least reliable brand told us they experienced problems in their first year of use.

95%The reliability score for the most reliable simple mobile phone brand

It's also worth bearing in mind that the most reliable brand has a few brilliant handsets that are Best Buys. This means that our most reliable brand is a solid bet for your next simple mobile phone.

We ask our respondents to describe their faults as minor, major or catastrophic based on the following guidelines:

  • Minor A fault that doesn’t affect the product’s performance significantly or a fault that only occurs occasionally with minimal impact. This issue may be irritating or annoying but it isn’t frequently problematic and you can easily work around it. For example, deteriorating sound quality.
  • Major A fault that has a noticeable effect on the product’s performance. This fault affects how you use the product and can be problematic. For example, the simple phone might frequently turn itself off of its own accord.
  • Catastrophic A fault that renders the product unusable, with the fault needing to be repaired or parts replaced before it can be used again. For example, the buttons might stop working completely.

We think it’s vital to consider reliability alongside our product testing, and asking owners to tell us about their experiences is the best way of judging a product’s real-world performance. Because of this, we’ll strip products of Best Buy awards if they get fewer than three stars for reliability.

Common simple mobile phone problems

  • One third of simple phone problems in our survey related to the handset either losing charge quickly or failing to charge.
  • 11% of faults related to the phone freezing.
  • 18% of reported faulty simple phones either turned themselves off or on.

Battery-related problems take the number one spot for the most common simple phone faults. It's likely that your phone's battery will degrade after prolonged use, but it's annoying if this happens within a year of purchase.

A frozen phone display is incredibly annoying, especially if you're in the middle of doing something. It's similarly frustrating when a phone turns itself off.

Other reported problems included deteriorating sound quality, and issues with the keypad.