Smartphone backup! Nokia offers $15 phone with a month's battery life

Nokia's latest ultra-cheap candybar phone looks like a good replacement for my trusty e-ink Moto F3. A month's battery life on standby, an FM radio and an LED flashlight add up to a perfect "backup" phone for long-term blackouts, natural disasters and zombie holocausts. [Engadget]


  1. If I can get the Nokia 105 on a pre-paid plan, one which I pay once and the minutes never expire, I’m sold. I’ll get it, and a 12v charger, plug it into the 12v outlet in the trunk of my car, and while I hope to never have to use it, it’d be a great “oh-shit” phone.

    1. In USA, T-Mobile comes close, with 1 year of service for $100 (1000 minutes). I think AT&T has the same thing, but it is less clear on their site.

      1. Unfortunately, T-Mobile has crappy coverage in my state and my wife’s current prepaid provider is moving from Sprint to T-Mobile.
        This phone would be perfect for her if it will run on a Sprint network.

      2. I *think* that if you top up before the end of the year, the money/minutes in the account carry last another year.  So, if you aren’t using those 1000 minutes, the first year will be $100 and subsequent years are only a few bucks a pop.

    2. Minutes-never-expire prepaid plans are basically nonexistent, because the phone companies don’t want to deal with unprofitable customers like you.  That said, if you just need to be able to call 911 (or whatever your local emergency number is), I don’t think you need an active plan or any minutes left – you could pay once for a prepaid plan, just to get a SIM card that is recognized, and never renew the minutes when they expire.

      Please don’t take what I’ve said as gospel though – I could be mistaken, things could be different in your area.

      1. In theory, even a handset without a SIM is supposed to be able to make 911 calls(signal permitting). In practice, some seem to freak out a bit if there simply isn’t a SIM, or if the device connected to the SIM slot’s bus does noncompliant things, though a compliant SIM without any credit from a carrier should be OK.

        1. I’m awaiting a SIM in my new phone and all it will let me do is call for emergencies, so a SIM is indeed not required.

      2. Virgin Mobile is the best I’ve found for very low usage.  If you put it on credit card autopay, you only need to put in $15 every 90 days, so it’s $60/year and as long as you keep topping up the $$ do not expire.  I’ve built up about $200 in my account.

        This is a pretty nice looking phone, I’d be happy with one.

        1. Once you’ve put your initial $100 onto your T-Mobile account, you can add $10 once a year forever (or until they decide the “Gold Rewards” program isn’t profitable enough and kill it).  Just don’t forget, or you’ll lose it all.  The phone will remind you, but not if you’re not using it regularly.

          The Engadget article doesn’t say – does this phone come from the factory unlocked?  If not, I’m not interested.

  2. I’m desperate to find a basic phone (i.e. not a smartphone. I can’t afford a data plan) to replace my utterly ancient VX5300. Any idea whether this Nokia 105 will ever see the light of day on the Verizon network in the US?

    1.  Verizon needs better non-smartphones.  I tried to help my parents upgrade and it was a nightmare trying to get something decent for a user that just wants basic service. 

      1. I’ll second this. I’m trying to get my tech phobic parents off the land line, and finding a non-smart phone is terrible on Verizon. I just want buttons, and phone calls! 

        1. I recommend the Convoy 2, I’ve used it for about two years now with no issues.  It’s got buttons and makes calls, charges via standard chargers, micro SD slot if you need it and is very, very durable when it comes to drops.

      1. If you don’t talk a lot T-mobile has an internet-only $30/month deal with 100 minutes, unlimited text and data (throttled under 4G speeds after the first 5mb a month, so just use wifi when you can).  Even then you can get around it with decent wifi coverage and Google Voice.

    2. Can you get a smart phone on a regular voice plan?  My phone company only forces data plans on you if you want the Messiah-level smart phones.  With a cheaper, still-technically-smart-phone, you can get a voice-only plan, and still have a pocket computer that can use WiFi when it’s available.

      Heck, a phone like that is useful even without a voice plan – I took mine for a month and a half to Brazil, just for a camera, email client, and web browser that fits in my pocket.

      1. If it’s a GSM carrier and you put a SIM from a voice-only account into a smartphone(that you provide yourself), they shouldn’t be in a position to hassle you(they might be able to use the IMEI to determine that you are using a smartphone; but I’ve not heard of that happening.) If you want to get the smartphone from them(much less with a subsidy) prepare to pay for a data plan…

      2.  Sadly, at least with Verizon, anything falling into the “smartphone” category (which is almost everything they offer anymore) requires a data plan.

    1.  Still got one. Still works. Pulled it out of a drawer where it’d sat for most of the last decade, and the battery still lasts 3-4 days. Fuckin’ unkillable.

  3. i’m so tired of paying an arm and a leg for my data plan. i’m forced to have one even though there are enough wifi spots to keep the smart features i want. i never check my email or surf the web when i’m outside of wifi hotspots. my MiL wanted to downgrade her iphone to just plain phone status but was forced to have data plan by att. honestly, i like my iphone but i just want to pay for the phone service and have wifi perks and not have to pay for wasted cell data packages.

    tell me more about this $100 a year tmobile phone? surely 1000 minutes is enough for a year? idk how much i use in a month though.

    1. Its simply T-Mobile’s prepaid pay-per-minute plan.  If you top up $100 at a time, the airtime is 1000 (minutes or texts combined) and it doesn’t expire for a full year.  And it only costs $7 for the SIM, or $50-100 for a cheap phone.

        1. Another cool answer of about the same cost is “Ting”.   (a small player that piggyback’s on Sprint’s network)
          $9 per month = $108 per year
          100 minutes per month = 1200 minutes per year

          You have to pre-buy your own hardware on top of the monthly fee, but the billing flexibility is awesome.
          There’s less waste of minutes than with other plan providers, and if you have a smartphone, you don’t HAVE to pay for data.  If you take a sip of data it only costs $3 in a month, instead of the $15-$30 BASE RATE the other guys charge (if you use it or not).

          You can get a cheap (refurb) android smartphone for as little as $55; if you spread that cost across 2 years, that makes the minimum monthly cost about $11.30 
          They don’t do iPhones yet though.

          using this url ( ) will get you another one-time discount, dropping costs even a little more.

          1. very cool. my att iphone contract is up in may and i’m seriously considering downgrading. i hardly use the phone but having wifi capabilities is very nice. i hate having to pay for a data plan that is incredibly underused and overpaid! i will definitely look into this! thanks greenup!

          2. oh snap. just checking out their website and whatnot. i’m totally excited about this. we’ll see if my wife is on board. might have to wait until may though…but ting is offering an ETF option/promotion!

          3. I thought I heard rumblings that Ting’s promotion ran out, so you may want to double check that.  Their customer support is supposedly awesome, so give them a call or email.

  4. Kinginyellow: TracFone offers functional phones and cheap rates–at least, for somebody who doesn’t spend his entire life on the damn things. We have two ancient Nokia 2600s, and they’re just, you know, telephones for when we’re away from home, though they do support texting (which we have never used) and voice mail (which I very occasionally use, when I can remember my PIN). They were once the entry-level TracFone models and cost us about $100/year each to maintain, with more minutes than we can use up–though for us they’re mostly only for out-of-town travel or taking along when the weather gets bad or some such situation. Handy, reliable, cheap.

  5. No USB charging point. It’s Nokia’s 2mm pin instead. How do they expect to get away with that in the EU?
    Meanwhile, reliable working USB -> Nokia 2mm are surprisingly hard to find.

  6. Mildly off topic, but is there a GSM dumbphone out there that has a half-decent camera and a LARGE screen?  My parents use dumbphones, but complain about how small the screens are.  Seems like looking for “old people” phones only brings up super simple devices (voice only) with large buttons.  I’m surprised no one makes a more capable device (simple camera and text messaging) with a screen big enough so people with poor vision can use it.

    Maybe I could teach them how an iPhone works?  Not sure if they’d like using a touchscreen, though.

  7.  I forgot to mention, Ting uses the Sprint network, so Sprint’s coverage in your area would determine whether or not that was viable.

  8. So does anybody know for sure if this will be available in the US? Even if it’s not available in the US, can we import one and use it on T-Mo? Will it work on American bands?

    I’ve got an iPhone 4S but only because my job pays for the contract — that’s like $120 per month. I’m itching to leave my job and getting a nice minimalist phone like this Nokia 105 on a prepaid plan would really help ease the transition.

Comments are closed.