Well the number of basic phones offered are getting smaller every year. Only LG and Samsung even offer them. When they'll stop making them who knows. Verizon still has 20 million basic phones still out there. How many of those are willing to convert to smartphones over the next few years who knows. I do know the 3G smartphone to 4G smartphone conversion is going faster than the basic phone to smartphone conversion. I believe at least 4 new models came out in 2014 and those models could still be selling in 2016 and those phones could last 5 years or more. If Verizon isn't going to offer 4G basic phones they need to stop selling basic phones within the next couple of years.
I believe they will do just that when XLTE is fully rolled out and they start retiring their lower networks.
XLTE is supposed to be done by the end of this year. And unless Verizon has stated otherwise last I heard they plan on retiring 1x at the end of 2020. You'd hope it be sooner than that and maybe it will.
I was reading on a blog somewhere that low use small rural sites would be the last to go and that may happen. But I don't see VZW doing a spot here & there thing. When they change out a tower site it will be one and done for many reasons.
Yes - look up the LG Wine Smart and LG Ice Cream. I think that Motorola has a "MotoSmart" model, also, and Samsung makes a Galaxy Folder. Unfortunately, it looks like most of the 4G LTE Android smart flip phones are being built for and released to the S Korean market only. Ebay or Amazon may offer a few for sale here and there.
I really wish they were more widely available - I need to wean the spouse off his clunky old flip onto something that actually gets a signal, and our area is already largely converted to LTE.