Holiday Gift Guide 2010: Basic cell phones

A look at the best or most common basic cell phones from each of the four major U.S. carriers.
Written by Matthew Miller, Contributing Writer

Welcome to the third annual Holiday Gift Guide here on the ZDNet Smartphones and Cell Phones blog. The mobile phone selection on every major US wireless carrier is extensive and we cannot cover all of them here in the Holiday Gift Guide. Our Guide this year will feature two of the most popular cell phone choices from each of the four major US wireless carriers.

My teen daughters use standard cell phones, as do most of their friends, and I have tried out several of them to see if I could give up my smartphones. While I can never go back to a feature phone, they are still very popular for those who are focused on phone calls, text messaging, and basic phone usage without the desire to pay for expensive data plans. Most of these phones will require a messaging plan, but some can be purchased with no data plan or a lower cost non-smartphone data plan.


Samsung Flight II

The Samsung Flight II gives you a feature phone with both touch screen and QWERTY keyboard interfaces. The camera is only 2 megapixel resolution so you won't be capturing any print ready shots with it. However, it is focused on messaging with the keyboard, predictive text, 3G support, Bluetooth radio, and 2.8 inch 240x400 pixel display.

You will find an HTML web browser and support for AT&T services like AT&T Music, AT&T Maps, Instant Messaging, and more.

Price: $99.99 after rebate and service contract

[Check out the ZDNet Reviews page.]

Sony Ericsson Vivaz

The Sony Ericsson Vivaz has an 8.1 megapixel camera with support for 720p video recording and is a device focused on the media experience. It has a 3.2 inch 360x640 resolution display with touch screen QWERTY keyboard for text entry. The Vivaz runs the Symbian S60 5th Edition OS so in reality it is a smartphone in a feature phone package. It has a powerful 720 MHz processor and offers some high end functionality with WiFi, Bluetooth, microSD card, FM radio, and GPS receiver.

Not all of us are text message fans so something like the Vivaz with its larger touch screen and higher end camera may be appealing to many. The Vivaz is available in Venus Ruby and Galaxy Blue at a reasonable price.

Price: $79.99 with 2-year contract

[Check out the ZDNet Reviews page.]

What do we have from Sprint? »


Sanyo Incognito

The Sanyo Incognito is an attractive looking device that conceals the touch screen keypad under the mirrored finish front. Then it also has a full QWERTY keyboard and 2.6 inch display that are revealed when you flip the phone sideways. GPS navigation, Sprint Football Live, NASCAR Sprint Cup Mobile, and Sprint TV are supported services with a 2.0 megapixel camera and Bluetooth wireless radio.

Instant messaging and threaded text messaging are supported on the Incognito.

Price: $49.99 with 2-year contract and rebate/discount

[Check out the ZDNet Reviews page for more info.]

Samsung Restore

The Samsung Restore is a bit unique in that it is made with recyclable plastics with organic packaging. It has a traditional phone keypad with a full QWERTY available too. Sprint TV, Navigation, and Music Plus are supported. You can use the 2 megapixel camera for quick shots and store music on a microSD card.

Sprint provides support for email and calendar data. A Bluetooth wireless radio is provided for hands-free calling too.

Price: $49.99 with 2-year contract and rebate/discount

[Check out the ZDNet Reviews page for the green one and midnight one for more info.]

What does T-Mobile have for us this holiday season? »


Samsung Gravity 3

The Gravity line is a popular one for T-Mobile and we have two of them in our family. Thus I was not surprised to see an even better phone in the Samsung Gravity 3. The Gravity 3 supports T-Mobile's 3G data network and provides access to social networks. A 2 megapixel lets you take quick snapshots.

A full QWERTY keyboard is provided that gets better with every generation. A traditional phone keypad is also found on the front when the keyboard is hid under the display. GPS navigation, stereo Bluetooth connectivity, and visual voicemail support are provided.

The Gravity 3 is available in both Citrus White and Marine Blue.

Price: $49.99 with 2-year contract and rebate/discount

[Check out the ZDNet Reviews page for more info.]

Samsung Smiley

The Samsung Smiley has a real name that is the :) symbol and is also known as the t359. It has a display that slides upwards to reveal a QWERTY keyboard in portrait orientation. The device is focused on the messaging person, but does support the 3G data network too.

A 1.3 megapixel camera won't win any photo awards, but will allow you to capture some quick moments. GPS is integrated in the device, as well as a microSD card slot for storing your music.

Price: $9.99 with 2-year contract and rebate/discount

[Check out the ZDNet Reviews page for more info.]

Let's see what Verizon has to offer »

Verizon Wireless

Pantech Jest

The Pantech Jest is a messaging-centric device with a portrait QWERTY keyboard revealed by sliding the display upwards. It is also focused on social networking with Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter support.

A 2 megapixel camera, Bluetooth radio, and music player with microSD card slot are provided. VZ Navigator is an option for the device.

Price: FREE with 2-year contract and rebate/discount

[Check out ZDNet Reviews page for more info.]

Samsung Intensity II

The Intensity II is also focused on the messaging experience with a full large QWERTY keyboard that slides out from the left and turns the device into a landscape QWERTY phone. There is an integrated social networking application for Facebook and Twitter too.

The 1.3 megapixel infrared camera is present to improve night shots. V CAST Music, V CAST Media Manager, and VZ Navigator support are provided.

Price: FREE with 2-year contract and rebate/discount

[Check out the ZDNet Reviews page for more info.]

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