Puena Point North Shore Oahu
Puena Point on the North Shore of Oahu, Hawaii

2024 Best Dumbphone Guide

Some time ago, I was hanging out on the beach with one of my clients in Hawaii. They run a surf school on the North Shore of Oahu. It was mid afternoon, and we were in that lull when all the hustle of morning surf lessons was over and everyone was relaxing in the shade after lunch. And it was interesting company that I was in: a couple of very accomplished surfers, a few local boys, and an extremely wealthy person from Silicon Valley.

It was a strange mix of people, but that was the nature of things on the North Shore—largely the result of the social leveling effect that sports like surfing often have. The Silicon Valley person had made her money by getting in on the ground floor at the start of what is now one the of the world's most valuable companies. From what I understood, she basically spent all of her time at that point managing her wealth rather than writing code.

As I looked around the group for a moment, one thing struck me: every single person was looking down at their phone. Most people had iPhones. One or two contrarians had Android phones. And the Silicon Valley person had an old-fashioned cellphone with a tiny screen and numeric keypad. She was quietly keying out short text messages from the little numeric buttons with the most casual disinterest. I couldn't help but be amused by this. The by-far most wealthy and technologically-proficient person in the group was literally using the oldest and most hobbled tech.

The Problem With Smartphones

On a practical level, I get it. So-called smartphones are invasive and distracting. I have a love-hate relationship with mine. Over the years, I've managed to implement strategies to lessen the negative effects on my day-to-day life (e.g., keeping the number of apps to an absolute minimum, moving social media to a dedicated second device, overusing options like Do Not Disturb) but the thing still feels like a necessary evil. While probably unreasonable to do away with it altogether, it would be nice to leave it for half a day on occasion and still maintain a light connection. Enter: the dumbphone.

Dumbphone Requirements

The best dumbphone of 2024 has to fit these criteria:

  • Small
  • Lightweight
  • Send and receive text messages
  • Make and receive voice calls
  • Check email
  • Have digital wallet/tap-to-pay functionality
  • Long battery life
  • Pair with wireless headphones and play audio
  • Have a camera

The last point should not be understated. For me, my phone is, primarily, a camera that can also send and receive text messages, make voice calls, etc. And, for that matter, I'd literally delete the phone app, if the phone OS would allow it.

By definition, the dumbphone should not be capable of loading social media apps, running a web browser, etc.

The 2024 Dumbphone Market

Here are the four most interesting dumbphones available in the US market in 2024:

These phones range in price from approximately $40.00 for the Nokia 110, to $70.00 for the Nokia 6300, to $299 for the Light Phone, and about $320 for the Punkt MP02.

The Best Dumbphone of 2024

The best dumbphone of 2024 actually consists of three devices:

As a fourth piece, I might add whatever book I'm reading or the day's paper. Or a notebook and pen. But all of those things are not necessarily part of the package.

Fuji X100 VI with Apple Watch Ultra and AirPods Pro.

Though data connection speeds tend to be a little slow, the Apple Watch Ultra performs all of the functions listed above, as well as has phenomenal battery life. Furthermore, the AirPods Pro have the capability to act as a controller device for the watch.

The camera deserves some mention. The Fuji X100 VI is not better or worse than the current better phone cameras. Rather, it's just different. The image and video quality is phenomenal and the Fuji X100 has received tremendous acclaim over the years. The latest version, the x100 VI, is all of those things and more.

Fuji X100 VI with Apple Watch Ultra and AirPods Pro.

Alternates to the Fuji X100 VI are:

It's worth noting that Leica L-Mount and M-Mount lenses can be used with the Lumix S9.


Overall, the idea of a dumbphone is not to do away with a fully-featured smartphone altogether, but to have the ability to just leave it for hours or even a day or two at a time. I've found that the Apple Watch Ultra allows this functionality nicely, and the lightweight AirPods Pro and versatile Fuji X100 round out the feature set nicely.

About The Photographs

All photos taken with an Apple iPhone XS. Light editing and compression was done in Adobe Photoshop.

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