back to article Ten... dirt-cheap voice phones

World+Dog may be falling in love with smartphones faster than a large lass on a date with George Clooney, but there is still a place for the cheap and cheerful voice-centric handset. To start with, basic phones shorn of the extravagances of 3G, GPS, Wi-Fi, football pitch-sized hi-res screens and always-on connectivity can …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Great article... I can think about replacing my Moto W220 I got 5 years ago for about £20. Nothing wrong with it except it "only" holds charge for about 5 days now.

  2. jeason

    LG 101 radio?

    Not sure where you get the idea that the LG 101 has a FM radio built-in? - Mine (from Carphone Warehouse) certainly doesn't!

  3. jason 7

    Even better...the 2002 Nokia 6310i

    I just gave up on my run of 5 smartphones and put my SIM back in my old neglected 6310i.

    Oh my its like coming back home. It switches on in about 3 seconds. The battery lasts forever. Most features are just a responsive click or two away. Call quality and signal reception are fantastic.

    The build quality is truly stunning. Its a quantum leap forward.

    The peak of mobile phone perfection was reached in 2002. Its been downhill since then.

    Throw away that piece of junk that cost you £400+ and get a proper adults phone.

    1. Stu

      Funny u should say that

      I gave my mum my old 6310i and just this year she got suckered into an exchange for a smaller more colourful phone when looking for a new contract.

      Of course Carphone Warehouse (or whoever it was) were more than happy to take it off her hands as a part exchange. I told her afterwards that second to keeping the 6310i, they should have paid her for it AND gave her the new phone AND paid her contract for 6 months.

      I've had troubles hearing her clearly on the new shiny Nokia phone ever since.


      And Nokia wonder why they're losing market share so rapidly.

    2. galbak
      Thumb Up

      Memo, ebay for a 6310i

      Despite years of playing with the latest cheapo smart phones, O2 XDA, HTC TyTN II, iphone, I always kept my nokia 6210,

      Yes, ok, it’s got a crack on the screen, so what??

      I hit any button, and the screen lights up, dial a number,

      (Or use 2 clicks to get the phonebook up, find the number and dial it.),

      Talk, listen, hang up, job done.

      Or use 1 click, type in a sms, and then send it,

      No frills, no thrills, no satnav, no decent games, no mp3s, no mobile internet, no battery life measured in hours instead of weeks.

      My area manager is better, he gets his phones from work, all the other bosses get the latest toys, and he keeps his 6310i despite the pleas of his bosses, to upgrade, for just this reason, the nokia 6 series, "just works".....

      I got to get me a 6310i though, Bluetooth is much better than using a db9 data cable.

      <Cough> logos and ring tones, db9 cable, logo manager, 6210, instant job security…… <cough>

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Nokia used to be..

        One of the best around. I recall when Navikey came out - truly inspired concept. My first phone on contract was a 2210, kept that until the 6110 came out - though when we moved country a few years ago, the missus decided to give it to her gran (ack). I believe the missus grandma still uses it to this day.

  4. Jim 48

    Very useful

    I wish I'd had this a couple of months back. Bought my lad a E2550 Monte Slider but it's a bit pants to be honest. Also, "the headset connecting to the micro USB port."; nope, it's a custom Samsung connector :-(

    The Sony Ericsson Spiro looks the nuts though.

  5. Philippe

    great review..

    Very informative, good humoured and very surprising to see what one can get these days for a few quids.

    That's proper journalism .

    Thank you


  6. Jerry of Oz

    ZTE - bad

    I've had nothing but bad news with ZTE phones and rebranded ZTE phones.

    If you want quality look at the Huawei phones. They are 1-2 orders of magnitude better.

  7. Buzzword
    Thumb Down

    All I want for Christmas is

    What I'd really like is a cheap phone with just two features: voice calls and Wifi tethering. Then I could ditch the £499 iPhone and £529 iPad 3G, and replace them with their cheaper siblings, the £189 iPod Touch and/or £429 iPad Wifi.

    Before you start shouting Mifi, I don't want a second monthly contract and yet another charger to lug around.

    1. Jim 48

      Budget Android

      Check out the budget Android article a few weeks back and all your prayers will be answered.

  8. Lottie
    Thumb Up


    Good round up. It's amazing what you can get for so little money these days.

  9. stooz

    spiro zero

    I just had a spiro, but took it back after two days. The plasitic is closer to playdo in quality, and the voices on the other end might as well be coming from the other side via weegy board for sound quality. If you only buy a phone for voice, then it should at least be able to do that.

    I liked the change to a simple charger output and a 3.5 jack, but the so called usb port doesnt connect to anything Ive ever seen. For £10 more the zygo (with £10 rebate on the PAYG sim) is a far better quality product

  10. Anonymous Coward


    Ten essential cheap phones?

    Two of them didn't even scrape 50%... (and puzzlingly the recommended phone wasn't even the one with the highest rating!)

  11. Jim 59
    Thumb Up


    I could afford a fancy phone, but prefer budget phones for their battery life and smallness. Perhaps you could review the smallest phones available ? "Smart" phones are for girls and men who carry manbags.

    1. Paul Shirley

      much as I love my manbag...

      There's something very appealing about a phone that fits in the 'change' pocket in a pair of jeans, a pocket so damn small actually fishing coins out is near impossible. I'd say it's an essential tick box on any review.

      ...because some days the smartphone and manbag is just too much to carry

      1. Anonymous Coward

        'Change' pocket

        It's actually for a small swiss army knife.........

      2. unitron

        Re: "change pocket"

        That's actually for guitar picks.

        Mine's the one with a bunch of Fender Mediums and a couple of Thins

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "change pocket"

          No, its actually for a quarter of blow, (so I'm told).

  12. RJ

    Voice phones?! As opposed to the non-voice phones?

    Come on, can't we find a better, sensible name for non-smart phones?

    1. Robert E A Harvey

      this is not a title

      how about 'phone'?

      1. Jim 59


        Some call them "feature phones". Weak.

  13. David Given
    Thumb Up


    I have an OT-808, the flipphone variant of the OT-800; it cost me 35 quid off Ebay unlocked, and is actually a pretty nice device. Closed, it's tiny, about five centimetres square, although it does have a shiny pink exterior (apparently it was explicitly designed to look like a powder compact). It fits in my pocket beautifully. The UI is surprisingly configurable with both a widget-based home screen and much simpler traditional one.

    There's a decent selection of functionality, although mostly farmed out to bundled J2ME apps for stuff like Twitter (which I haven't tried using yet). The email app is native but it won't talk to my Dovecot IMAP server. There's a reasonable calendar app, which allegedly syncs to a remote server, but there's no documentation anywhere on what the protocol is. The J2ME engine is IBM's and is relatively decent but a lot of apps (including MidpSSH, alas) get confused by the full keyboard, as they expect a phone keypad instead.

    Bluetooth BROWSE is *not* supported, so the only way of getting files onto and off the thing is via Bluetooth PUSH or mass storage --- you can't access the file system remotely.

    One irritating design flaw is that there's an exterior button that starts the music player that you can't disable, so I have on occasion stuffed the phone into my pocket and had it started playing. Still, better than my old phone, a crappy Motorola PEBL which had exterior buttons that would randomly reprogram the ring tone every time I pocketed it (including to silent!).

    Disturbingly, when I received it, the internal memory was full of pictures of Richard Hammond.

  14. Anonymous Coward


    "The only slight drawback is the screen. Read too many texts on a 1.5in, 128 x 128 screen and your optician will think you have been practicing on the pink oboe too often."

    My understanding of what playing the pink oboe is is obviously somewhat different to yours, and I've never heard anyone say my definition of it will make your eyes weak.

    1. Cameron Colley

      What's your understanding then?

      I think Alun Taylor's must be the same as mine -- that it's a euphemism for masturbating.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Paris Hilton

        if you think

        about what would look like playing a pink oboe, it is clearly a euphemism for performing oral sex on a man

        1. Tim #3

          @ AC. if you think

          yep, one agrees...

          one history of the phrase here ( a true classic)

  15. Sir Crispalot

    Practicing on the pink oboe

    Alun Taylor is my new favourite Reg Hardware writer!

  16. Bit Brain
    Thumb Up

    LG GS101

    Fantastic phone. Got one for my Mum and she loves it as it's nice and simple with large, easy to read numbers. Can't complain about the price either.

  17. plrndl

    In defence of ZTE

    I got a ZTE 102 on 3 for £20, it seems to do everything a phone should do and the battery easily lasts a week. It's small and light, looks better that a £20 has any right to.

    I haven't used it much because 4 days after I got it. Orange launched the (rebranded ZTE) San Francisco Android phone for £99, which is the best budget smart phone by several country miles.

  18. Tech Hippy

    Samsung E1170

    "There is also an anti-theft SMS feature called Mobile Tracker, though who would steal a £5 phone is anyone's guess."

    Might make a cheap as chips car tracker though...

    1. stucs201

      Is the tracker really for when its stolen?

      Or is it for parents to give to their kids and know where they are?

  19. Vlad

    Sony Ericsson Spiro battery life

    My wife has had a Spiro for a few months and she has to charge it every other day. She suspects that it's the screen lighting-up frequently when it's in her handbag that drains the battery. She has the keylock activated but of course the display comes on whenever any button is pressed.

  20. alan buxey
    Thumb Up

    some smart phones are better...

    after the Register coverage of the Orange San Francisco phone (aka 'ZTE blade') I popped out

    and picked one up (for playing with...) 89 quid with mandatory 10 quid top-up (I think its 99 quid with 20 quid topup now...)

    it lasts for over 5 days from a single charge when used as a enhanced phone (ie dont run data apps etc). thats actually not that bad!

  21. Tim #3

    Any suggestions ...

    For a cheap "voice phone" with a decent camera? Well something over 2MP anyway.

    I prefer Nokias generally, and have wondered about a 6220 Classic, though it very much exceeds most requirements, and am tempted by something rugged too.

    Cheers in advance

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton


    Go figure, I need a simple GSM phone that supports 4 bands and does not sport a camera. Your list is just more proof that simple phones automatically get either half-baked selective band support or some crap camera. When did we stop associating phones with simple voice communication devices?

    PH because she is the only one that cares whether her phone can access social networking sites.

  23. Jim 59


    On the subject of smallness, my phone is an LG225. Featureless, rubbish camera but one of the smallest phones out there. At least, it was back in 2006. Standby is about a week.

  24. M7S


    I went to CW to look for the advertised 99p Alcatel OT 209.

    Strangely its more in the shop, even allowing for there being no p+p and the £10 credit deal is only if you pay (for a pay and go) on a card. Cash requires double the amount of credit to be bought. Other "cheap phones" are similarly more in the real world

    Is this some strangely deluded "anti-anonymity" measure (either for governmental security or corporate future marketing purposes) or have I missed something else? It doesnt seem like a bait and switch scam, but then I suppose if it was one, it wouldn't if they could manage it.

    1. Dale Le Page

      Why they charge more for cash....

      It's all to do with box breaking, where a phone is bought to be sold on abroad. Obviously these phones are subsidised by the carriers/dealers, and to recoup their money they need them to be topped-up and used. They seem to have found most box-breakers are none to keen to hand over their plastic.

      On another note, the articles claims the Nokia 2330 Classic and 2220 Slide are the same, they are not. The 2220 doesn't have bluetooth!

  25. system11

    Looking for phones

    I suppose this might be as good a place to ask as any, does anyone know of any handset of any age which does the following:

    1) Loud (being on-call means the beeping needs to wake me up)

    2) Possible to answer calls by voice - so I can just say 'answer' or whatever at it, and it'll answer in speakerphone mode.

    3) Sends and receives calls and SMS messages

    That's really all I want, can I find a phone that does it? Not so far :/

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