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Cell phones for seniors: Smart and not so smart options to consider
If you need a cell phone for a senior relative or are an older person in the market yourself, there is plenty to keep in mind. As capable as smartphones are, they’re not always the easiest to use. That can be a big problem for anyone jumping into a new operating system.
So what are the best cell phones for seniors? This guide answers this question by giving you several options in the smart and ‘traditional’ phone realms.
See also: The best Android phones
How to pick the right phone for a senior
If you plan to pick up a new phone for yourself or a family member, you have a few considerations to make. First, do they want or need a smartphone? While some seniors love being connected to their friends, family, and information at all times, others want a simple calling and texting device.
Senior citizens also commonly want a larger screen that can display magnified content. This is especially the case for users with limited vision. Likewise, it might be important to get a device that can get significantly loud, if they have any hearing problems.
Some devices even offer specialized features like emergency shortcuts, simplified user interfaces, etc. You might want to look at some of these options and see if they might benefit you.
The best phones for seniors
Editor’s note: We will regularly update this list of the best cell phones for seniors as new devices launch.
The best smartphones for seniors
Jitterbug Smart 3
Jitterbug is a brand created by Lively. It is intended to help the elderly with their smartphone needs by providing an interface that is easy to use, and offering emergency services that are easily accessible. The Jitterbug Smart 2 offers all this and more.
The phone boasts a large 6.22-inch display, which may make for a slightly awkward handling experience for some, but the icons and other elements on the screen are much easier to see with the larger screen. A simple menu is organized as a single list, allowing all your essential information to be within easy reach.
Lively offers affordable plans and access to a slew of valuable car, medical, and emergency services right at your fingertips. The device is also hearing aid compatible and comes with 4G connectivity. It’s also very affordable, so there is no need to splurge on an expensive device.
The GrandPad technically isn’t a phone for seniors. Instead, it’s a convenient 8-inch tablet that comes preloaded with 11 simple apps, some of which let you stay connected with friends and family. Its large size makes navigation a breeze, and the apps feature large and informative labels. The GrandPad includes a handy stylus, so your loved ones should be able to navigate easily.
Instead of fumbling around with a small MicroUSB cable, the GrandPad charges with an included wireless cradle. The creators behind the GrandPad seem to have thought of every detail that can make life just a little bit easier. If you’re worried about control, the GrandPad offers a companion app where you can share pictures and make calls like you would with any other phone.
You can either grab a GrandPad unlocked straight from the source or head to Consumer Cellular to choose a data plan. Both versions include 4G LTE data as part of the monthly cost, and the GrandPad offers between one and three days of battery life per charge.
Light Phone 2
The Light Phone 2 isn’t exactly made for the elderly, but it offers a proposition that could make it one of the best phones for seniors. The idea is that the Light Phone 2 is a super simple device that mixes the benefits of a feature phone with some of the conveniences that come with an intelligent device.
This handset offers an E-ink display, which helps extend the battery life up to 13 days. You can use it to make calls and send texts, but it can also take advantage of alarms, a music player, a podcast tool, navigation, and more. It can also connect to 4G LTE and work as a hotspot for other Wi-Fi devices, making it an excellent choice for seniors who may also have a tablet.
You can opt for one of the company’s plans, or grab the unlocked version and pick your carrier of choice. It’s also not a cheap phone, but it’s simple, clean, portable, and convenient, especially when looking for simple functionality.
Samsung Galaxy S21 FE
While Samsung phones aren’t made specifically for seniors, Samsung includes a simple feature. Dubbed Easy Mode, this setting is found on pretty much every modern Samsung device — flagships, mid-range, and even budget offerings. Easy Mode enlarges the icons and puts pretty much everything within easy reach.
One of Samsung’s best offerings right now is the Galaxy S21 FE. It has all the best specs and features we see in the Galaxy S21 series and comes with a very reasonable price point for a high-end smartphone. Senior citizens will enjoy a sleek design, superb performance, a gorgeous display, and more. More importantly, it also has Easy Mode.
Want something cheaper?: These are the best budget Samsung phones right now
Of course, you’ll have to enable Easy Mode first. Even if you aren’t particularly tech-savvy, enabling Easy Mode on a Samsung phone is not too tricky.
How to turn on Easy Mode on Samsung devices:
- Open the Settings app.
- Go into Display.
- Select Easy Mode.
- Toggle on Easy Mode.
iPhone 13 series
Yes, we know we are an Android site, but the reality is that the easier-to-use UI makes the iPhone much easier to learn for those new to smartphones, seniors included. After all, if your parents or grandparents have questions, they might be easier to answer with an iOS device. Apple’s current flagship lineup includes powerhouses like the iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max, but those are overkill for most seniors and should be reserved for more demanding users, or those who need a much larger screen.
An iPhone 13 or iPhone 13 Mini should be good for most seniors. These also offer outstanding performance, among the best design and build quality the industry offers, high-definition screens, and an overall good experience. Not to mention Apple has stores all over the country, meaning seniors can always walk into an Apple Store to get help.
For a more affordable alternative, you might also want to take a look at the iPhone SE (2022). It’s smaller and more manageable. It could be an excellent phone for seniors.
The best feature phones for seniors
Jitterbug Flip 2
If this flip phone’s name seems familiar, it’s because we also featured one of its smartphones above. This Jitterbug Flip 2 offers a super-simple experience, large buttons, and that flip phone form factor many love. However, what makes it one of the best phones for seniors isn’t the design, as there are many similar flip phones.
Like its bigger brother, the Jitterbug Flip 2 has an SOS button to get in touch with emergency services. Text and content look large, and you get to enjoy easy ridesharing shortcuts, as well as access to Amazon Alexa.
Nokia 2760 Flip
The best phones for seniors don’t have to be made specifically for seniors. A simple flip phone like the Nokia 2760 Flip might do the trick. It also has a simple UI, large buttons, easy operation, and a flip form. Not to mention it’s very affordable.
This device is only available from Straight Talk and Tracfone in the USA. You’ll have to get it through one of those carriers.
Nokia 6300 4G
Do you remember the good old days when the best phone around was a Nokia brick? They could stand up to anything and continue working. That’s what the 6300 4G is trying to recapture. It resurrects the classic design with a slightly updated screen, but you can still play Snake, which is what matters.
Nokia’s 6300 4G should work on most GSM networks. It’s also not a completely dumb phone, as it has some social networks and messaging apps to keep you in touch with others. These include Facebook, WhatsApp, Google Maps, Google Assistant, and YouTube. There’s even an app store so you can add a few smartphone favorites to finish the experience.
You can choose from Light Charcoal and Powder White finishes to set yourself apart. It’s also a very affordable handset, so you won’t mind spending some cash.
The Punkt MP02 is as simple as they get. It has large buttons and straightforward operations. You can pretty much make calls and texts. It’s a minimalist handset from beginning to end.
Why get it over one of the other feature phones? After all, the Punkt MP02 is significantly more expensive. The main lure here is that the Punkt MP02 comes with 4G LTE connectivity and can be used as a hotspot to keep other Wi-Fi devices connected.
CAT S22 Flip
The best phones for seniors are often the ones that can handle the most torture. If you have a senior who keeps dropping phones and breaking tablets, maybe you want to go with something ultra-rugged like the CAT S22 Flip. Aside from being resistant, it’s also one of few flip phones with a rugged construction, also making it a very pocketable smartphone. This is a feature most seniors tend to like.
Related: Amazingly resistant rugged phones
You must recognize CAT. You know, the Caterpillar trucks, dozers, and other tools? Yeah, they are very resistant, and so is this feature phone. The device is rated IP68 and MIL-SPEC 810H. CAT claims it can be “dropped, dunked, and washed regularly using the harshest of chemicals, bleaches, and sanitizers.”
This phone is also unique because it’s technically also a smartphone, as it runs Android 11 (Go Edition). That said, it’s a very basic form of Android, and the tiny screen makes it impossible to use the intelligent OS in its total capacity, so we would still consider it a dumb phone of sorts.
Also consider a launcher
The beauty of Android is that you’re not only limited to the devices above. You can always pick up a smartphone that fits your budget and download a third-party launcher that fits your needs. Some launchers offer convenient features for seniors.
We would suggest that you check out Simple Launcher. It’s free and offers a super-simple interface, as the name entails. There’s a quick dial option for calling friends and family right from the home screen, and you even get an SOS button to call your emergency contact and send a text when in danger. Of course, there are plenty of other customizations you can apply.
We also like Big Launcher’s fast and simple Android interface for seniors and people with vision problems. It makes smartphones suitable for seniors, children, and people with eye diseases, motor problems, or the legally blind. Visually impaired and technically challenged users can use the simple and easy-to-read interface. There is no fear of making a mistake and losing everything with stress-free navigation, and it also features an SOS button. Large texts and color-coded icons make everything easy to use and leave no room for errors, and the app comes with multiple language support.