If you’re looking for a cell phone for a senior relative or you’re an elderly person in the market for a new device, there are a lot of factors to consider. As capable as our smartphones are, they are admittedly not always the most intuitive to use, and that can be a big problem for anyone not already familiar with the ecosystem.
If you are planning to pick up a new phone for yourself or a senior citizen in your life, you have a few considerations to make. First, do they really want or need a smartphone? While some seniors love the idea of being connected to their friends, family, and information at all times thanks to the power of a smartphone, others just want a simple calling device.
So what are the best cell phones for seniors? In this guide, we aim to answer this question by giving you several options, both in the smart and ‘traditional’ phone realm.
Editor’s note: We will be updating this list of the best cell phones for seniors regularly as new devices launch.
Best Android-powered cell phones for seniors
Jitterbug Smart 2
Jitterbug is a brand created by GreatCall and is intended to help the elderly with their smartphone needs by not only providing an interface that is easy to use but also by offering emergency services that are easily accessible from the device. The Jitterbug Smart 2 offers all this and more.
The phone boasts a large 5.5-inch display, which may make for a slightly awkward handling experience for some, but with the larger screen, the icons and other elements on the screen are much easier to see. There is a simple menu that is organized as a single list, allowing for all your important information to be within easy reach. And with an affordable monthly subscription, you get access to a slew of useful medical and emergency services right at your fingertips.
The device is also hearing aid compatible and comes with 4G LTE connectivity. You can find out more about this device here.
The GrandPad technically isn’t actually 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 too so your loved ones should be able to navigate with ease.
Instead of fumbling around with a small MicroUSB cable, the GrandPad charges via an included wireless cradle. The creators behind the GrandPad seem to have thought of every small 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 on over 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.
Best ‘not so smart’ cell phones for seniors
Not everyone wants or needs a smartphone, and as much as we want to push forward smartphone tech at Android Authority, we understand that it might not be right for everyone. Two basic cell phones for seniors worth considering are the JitterBug Flip and the Snapfon ezTWO.
Nokia 3310 3G
Do you remember the good old days where the best phone around was a Nokia brick? They could stand up to anything and just continue to work, and that’s what the 3310 3G is trying to recapture. It resurrects the classic design with a slightly updated screen, but you can still play Snake just like you remember.
Nokia’s 3310 3G should work on most GSM networks — AT&T, T-Mobile, Mint Mobile, and Metro by T-Mobile to name a few. The 3G connectivity means that your loved ones can use a few basic apps to make staying connected even easier.
GreatCall Lively Flip
It’s not just smartphones that Jitterbug makes — the company also has a great line of traditional cell phones for seniors under the GreatCall name. The Lively Flip features large buttons and an easy interface. Obviously, you don’t get anything other than a basic phone for calls and texts. But for some, that’s really all they need. Those interested in this model can find plans tailored towards seniors at the Great Call website.
Consider a Samsung because of its Easy mode
While Samsung phones obviously aren’t made specifically for seniors, Samsung includes a feature that is designed with simplicity in mind. Dubbed Easy Mode, this optional setting is found in pretty much every modern Samsung device — flagships, mid-range, and even budget offerings. Easy Mode enlarges the icons as well as puts pretty much everything within easy reach.
Read more: Best Samsung phones you can buy right now
Of course, you’ll have to enable it first. Even if you aren’t particularly tech-savvy, it’s not too difficult at all. Once you initially set up the phone, or have someone help you do that, you simply go into settings. Here’s how to do it:
- In Settings, tap the “Display” section and then scroll down a bit until you see “Easy Mode.”
- Tap “Easy Mode” and it will take you into a sub-screen.
- Tap on the “Easy Mode” setting and press “Done” to apply.
There’s no need to run out and get the latest and greatest Galaxy devices, as they offer more than most seniors will need. However, there are plenty of devices in the Samsung arsenal that might fit the bill. Here are three of our favorites:
- Grab a Samsung Galaxy A11 (Budget-friendly) – $169.99
- 6.4-inch Infinity O display
- 32GB of expandable memory
- Three rear cameras
- Get a Samsung Galaxy S10e (2019 flagship) – from $309
- 5.8-inch Infinity O display
- 128 or 512GB memory
- Dual rear cameras
- Try a Samsung Galaxy Note 9 (Best option with a stylus) – $339
- S-Pen built-in
- Dual rear cameras
- Snapdragon 845 chipset
Consider an iPhone because of its user-friendly UX
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 11 Pro and Pro Max, but those are overkill for most seniors.
See also: Apple iPhone SE 2020 review
If you want an inexpensive option, the iPhone SE is as inexpensive as they come, but the 4.7-inch display might be a bit small for most seniors. It does pack Apple’s latest hardware though and the return of the home button is very easy to use. A better bet is the slightly older iPhone XR. It’s still receiving updates, and the 6.1-inch display should be plenty large enough for most eyes.
Check out the details below:
Launchers that are useful for seniors
The beauty of Android is that you’re not only limited to the devices above. You always have the option of picking up any Android smartphone, depending on your needs and budget, and you can then download a third-party launcher from the Google Play Store that fits your requirements. Check out our recommendations below.
Simple Launcher is free to use and brings a simple interface to your Android phone with large icons and fonts. 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. The features offered by Simple Launcher can be customized via the easy-to-use Control center. Not only is this launcher free, but it also doesn’t have any in-app purchases and is not supported by ads.
Big Launcher provides a fast and simple Android interface for seniors and people with vision problems. It makes a smartphone 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 with ease. 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 as well.
There is also a free version of the app with some limitations, but if you like the launcher, the paid version is very affordable.