simple smartphones

Simple smartphones

While we test to discover the best overall phones, we realise not everyone needs, or even wants, the latest and greatest mobile. Some people are just looking for a simple phone that won’t break the bank. We’ve found some models we think fit the bill, based on their scores for calling and texting and battery life.

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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? We looked at only the scores for battery life, calling, and texting, weighted evenly, to calculate a simplified score. Then we chose the top 20 using that system.

While this list includes many of the top-performers from our main test, and a lot of expensive phones, it mostly features mid-range phones (in red). This includes 3 mid-range models in the top 4 spaces.

  1. Samsung Galaxy A5 ($699)
  2. Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge 32GB ($999)
  3. Samsung J7 Prime ($549)
  4. Samsung Galaxy A3 ($499)
  5. Samsung Galaxy S8 ($1299)
  6. Samsung Galaxy A7 ($799)
  7. Huawei Mate 9 Pro ($1009)
  8. LG G6 ($1199)
  9. Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus ($1499)
  10. BlackBerry DTEK60 ($779)
  11. Samsung Galaxy S7 32GB SM-G930F ($749)
  12. Samsung Galaxy J7 Dual SIM ($384)
  13. Asus Zenfone Go ZB551KL ($276)
  14. Huawei P9 ($649)
  15. Samsung Galaxy S5 ($375)
  16. Samsung Galaxy S5 Neo ($495)
  17. Asus Zenfone 3 Max ($357)
  18. Lenovo K6 Dual SIM ($378)
  19. One Plus 3T 64GB ($660)
  20. Asus Zenfone Max ($315)

The average price of the mid-range phones is $470.

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. The Huawei P9 had the top camera score of the mid-range phones at 6.1/10.

The top 5

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

Samsung Galaxy A5 SM-A520F

  • Simplified score: 85%
  • Full test score: 76%
  • Price: $699

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 J7 Prime

  • Simplified score: 83%
  • Full test score: 70%
  • 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.

Samsung Galaxy A3 SM-A320FL

  • Simplified score: 83%
  • Full test score: 74%
  • Price: $499

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

Samsung Galaxy J7 Dual SIM

  • Simplified score: 78%
  • Full test score: 68%
  • Price: $384

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

Asus Zenfone Go ZB551KL

  • Simplified score: 77%
  • Full test score: 62%
  • Price: $276

Bottom line: This Asus Android phone is OK for calling - and its reception is ok. It comes with a poor camera and its good for texting.

Reception scores

There’s no point having good calling and texting if your phone can’t pick up a signal. We test reception using a simulated signal and test the phones at various signal strengths. We do this with the phone next to a special mannequin head that mimics the loss of reception a human head causes, and a directional antenna with varying power.

Looking solely at reception, the best phones are:

  1. Samsung Galaxy J7 Dual SIM ($384)
  2. Samsung Galaxy S7 32GB SM-G930F ($749)
  3. One Plus X ($458)
  4. Samsung Galaxy S7 Edge 32GB ($999)
  5. Samsung Galaxy Note 4 ($550)
  6. Huawei P9 Lite ($398)
  7. Microsoft Lumia 650 ($214)
  8. Sony Xperia X Performance ($640)
  9. Samsung Galaxy A3 ($299)
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