Push-button telephones have not yet retired.
In 2022, about 6 million push-button phones were sold in Russia – according to M-video-Eldorado , this is 20% of total sales of mobile gadgets. They are bought as spare mobile phones for calls with an additional SIM card, and are also given as gifts to children and elderly relatives. Such models are also called feature phones.
They hold a charge for a very long time: they can work for weeks or even months without being connected to an outlet. There are also models on sale that support LTE, can distribute the Internet, synchronize contacts from the cloud, and even allow you to communicate on WhatsApp.
Stores sell dozens of push-button phones from different manufacturers. I studied current devices in different price segments. The result was a rating of the best push-button phones in six categories.
For the selection, I studied the assortment of large electronics stores and marketplaces. When choosing gadgets, I relied on my experience, the availability of devices for sale and their relevance.
I selected several popular models that the editors of Tinkoff Magazine purchased for testing. I was guided by the following criteria.
Autonomy. One of the most important parameters, because few people want to charge a push-button phone every day. There are models that work for several weeks or even months without recharging. Ideally, if the battery capacity is from 2500-3000 mAh – then the charge will last for a week or longer.
Form factor. Now push-button phones are produced in two types of cases:
- Monoblock. A regular phone with a screen and buttons on the front panel. It has the most reliable design with no moving parts, and you can immediately see who is calling on the screen.
- Cot. When opened, the body turns out to be long: there is room for a large screen and large buttons, and the microphone is closer to the mouth. Such a phone does not need to be blocked from accidental clicks, and to end a call, you just need to close the lid. But the folding mechanism wears out over time, and the case when closed is quite thick.
Size of buttons and fonts. This is an important point for older people, because they often do not want to switch to smartphones and continue to use their usual phones with physical keys. On the feature phone market there is a separate category of push-button models for people with low vision. Such gadgets are distinguished by large buttons, large fonts and a number of other features.
Security. Feature phones are more difficult to break and damage due to their small screen, lack of glass back panels and large camera lenses, and simple hardware. But there are even more secure feature phones. Their body is reinforced with metal and rubber inserts to survive repeated drops from heights. Some gadgets are not afraid of immersion in water.
Convenience and accessibility. Any phone should be convenient – with good buttons, clear menus and readable fonts. But some users have higher requirements:
- SOS button. It will be useful for children and elderly relatives who may get into trouble, get lost or feel unwell. Usually, you can assign a call or SMS to such a button to one of your relatives or special services.
- Sound of clicks. A larger font may not be enough – it would be good if the phone could recite the dialed numbers in Russian.
- Vibration and light indication. For hearing-impaired users, it is useful to recognize calls by the bright flickering of the built-in flashlight or strong vibration that is difficult to miss.
Additional functions. A push-button phone doesn’t have to compete with smartphones in terms of variety of applications and smooth interface, but some conveniences still wouldn’t hurt:
- FM radio. Most smartphones don’t have this feature, but for inexpensive phones it’s a good alternative for streaming podcasts and music. Some phones also require a wired headset to act as an antenna.
- Music player. For music on the road, the phone is no worse than a simple MP3 player . But you should make sure in advance that the selected model has a slot for a memory card, because the built-in storage very rarely exceeds 128 MB.
- Browser. It’s convenient when you can use your phone to check the weather, train schedules, or find the desired phone number on the Internet. But you need to be prepared for the fact that it’s difficult to browse the Internet with buttons.
- Synchronization of contacts. Some models can load contacts from a Google account or Outlook account. When transferring contacts using a SIM card, information is often lost, and more than one number cannot be assigned to one contact.
- Modem mode. It is often easier for older people to master a laptop or tablet than a smartphone, and the ability to distribute Internet outside the city can be useful to them.
- Support for WhatsApp and other instant messengers. This is rare in modern dialers, but it can be useful for those who are not ready to switch to a touch screen.
- Call recording. The ability to save recordings of telephone conversations is not needed very often, but it may be useful for those who do not have time to record information from the dictation of the interlocutor. Or if your older relatives often receive calls from scammers.