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The best basic smartphones

Not everyone needs the latest and greatest mobile. Some people are just looking for a simple phone that won’t break the bank.

We've found the best models for calling, texting and battery life, priced at $600 or less.

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The best at the basics

For some people, their mobile is their social hub. They chat to friends, work, and connect to the rest of the world from it. For others a phone is a necessary evil and all they want to do is call and text.

Considering only that, which phones come up best? From our full test to discover the best overall phones, we took the scores for battery life, calling, and texting (weighted evenly) to calculate a simplified score.

We also capped the price at $600, then chose the top 11 using that system (without a price cap the $1200 Huawei Mate 10 Pro topped the list). The average price of these phones is $433.

These mid-range phones will do what’s written on the box – they’re good at making calls and texting but don’t expect them to be amazing at complex tasks, like playing music or games. The cameras aren’t always the best either.

Model Price ($)[sort;asc] Simplified score (%) Simplified score (%)[sort;asc;hidden] Calling[sort;desc] Texting[sort;desc] Battery[sort;desc] Camera[sort;desc] Reception[sort;desc]
Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) Dual SIM 488 83 1 6.9 8.6 9.4 4.6 7.2
Samsung Galaxy J5 (2017) Dual SIM 344 82 2 6.8 8.8 9.1 4.9 3.5
Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge (32 GB) 589 81 4 6.5 8.6 9.1 6.7 8.1
Samsung J7 Prime 549 81 5 6.3 8.8 9.1 4.3 5.7
Samsung Galaxy J7 (2017) 549 79 9 6.4 8.8 8.5 4.9 4.7
BlackBerry DTEK60 580 77 10 6.5 7.7 8.9 5.3 7.7
Samsung Galaxy S5 Neo SM-903F 495 75 15 6.6 8.4 7.5 3.6 7.0
Huawei P9 600 74 16 6.7 7.6 8.0 5.8 3.0
Xiaomi MI A1 378 74 17 6.3 7.8 8.1 4.7 5.4
Nokia 2 169 73 18 6.4 7.3 8.3 3.4 8.3
Samsung Galaxy XCover 4 379 73 19 6.8 7.8 7.3 3.4 7.0

Top 5

These are the 5 best mid-range mobiles listed in order of their simplified score.

Samsung Galaxy A5 (2017) Dual SIM

  • Simplified score: 83%
  • Full test score: 69%
  • Price: $488

Bottom line: This Samsung Android phone is good for calling – and its reception is good. It comes with an only just OK camera and is very good for texting.

Samsung Galaxy J5 (2017) Dual SIM

  • Simplified score: 82%
  • Full test score: 68%
  • Price: $344

Bottom line: This Samsung Android phone is good for calling and excellent for texting. It comes with an only just OK camera and its battery life is excellent.

Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge (32GB)

  • Simplified score: 81%
  • Full test score: 69%
  • Price: $589

Bottom line: This Samsung Android phone is OK for calling – and its reception is very good. It comes with a good camera and is excellent for texting.

Samsung Galaxy J7 Prime

  • Simplified score: 81%
  • Full test score: 64%
  • Price: $549

Bottom line: This Samsung Android phone is OK for calling – and its reception is OK. It comes with an only just OK camera and is excellent for texting.

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