- If you are someone who is looking for a smartphone for an elderly relative, or an elderly person in the market for a new device, there are a lot of factors to consider when making the right choice. As capable as our smartphones are, there are admittedly some that aren’t 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 senior citizen in your life (a parent, grandparent, etc) — you have a few considerations to make. First, do they really want or need a smartphone? Well some senior systems love the idea of being connected to our 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 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.
Best Android powered phones for seniors
Jitterbug is a brand created by GreatCall that is intended to help the elderly with their smartphone needs, by not only providing an interface that is easy to see and navigate, but also offering medical and emergency services that are easily accessible from the device. The company recently released a new smartphone that offers all this and more, called the Jitterbug Smart.
The Jitterbug Smart 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. If you are looking for a device for an elderly person, the Jitterbug Smart is the ideal choice. The Jitterbug Smart is available from Amazon, and currently priced at just $112.49. You can find out more about this device here.
- 5.5-inch display with HD resolution
- 8 GB internal storage, expandable via microSD card up to 32 GB
- 5 MP rear camera, 2 MP front-facing camera
- 2,500 mAh battery
- 4G LTE
- hearing aid compatible – M4/T4 rating
The Emporia Smart is a device that offers the best of both worlds, with it being a full fledged Android touchscreen smartphone, that also comes with a keypad cover for those prefer dialing numbers and writing texts using a physical keypad. Of course, if required, the keypad cover can be removed completely as well. The user interface, based on Android 4.4.2 Kitkat, comes with large buttons and a simple menu for easy navigation, and the device also comes with a stylus, for those not entirely comfortable with a touch interface. There is an emergency call button, that will automatically send out calls to up to 5 preset numbers. This is a European device, and priced a touch high if you are planning to ship the device to the US, but may be worth it for the ease of use that it has to offer. You can find out more about the Emporia Smart here.
- 4.5-inch display with a 960 x 540 resolution
- 1.2 GHz dual-core processor
- 1 GB RAM
- 4 GB internal storage, further expandable via microSD up to 64 GB
- 8 MP rear camera, 1 MP front-facing camera
- 2,600 mAh battery
- Android 4.4.2 Kitkat
- Hearing aid compatible – M4/T4 rating
Best ‘not so smart’ phones for seniors worth considering
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 phones worth considering are the JitterBug Flip and the Snapfon ezTWO.
The Snapfon eZTwo is a phone for seniors at every level, with big buttons, enhanced volume, 28 point font numbers, and even a speaking keypad. It provides around 5 hours talk on a single charge and standby of up to 120 hours. It also works with just about any GSM carrier – like T-Mobile, AT&T, and StraightTalk. You also have the option of getting the SnapMobile service which has extra features intended for the elderly like the ability for operators to call urgent care using your information and more.
Best of all, you can get it for under $80.
It’s not just smartphones that Jitterbug makes, the company also has a great line of phones for seniors that are more traditional. The Flip features large buttons and an easy interface. Obviously, just like the ezTwo, 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 with seniors in mind, Samsung includes an optional version of its TouchWiz software 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.
Of course, you’ll have to enable it first. Even if you aren’t particularly tech saving, 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.
- In Settings, you’ll find Easy Mode by taping on the Display section and then scroll down a bit to see and tap on Easy Mode.
- Tap Easy Mode and it will take you into a sub-screen telling you that you’re currently on “standard” mode.
- Tap on the “easy mode” setting and press done to apply.
And that’s it.
Consider an iPhone because of its user friendly UXYes 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. Apple’s current flagship phones are the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X Plus, but honestly if you have more modest needs, you may be better served getting an older phone like the iPhone 7 or 7 Plus. the iPhone SE is also very affordable, but it’s smaller screen might not be right for those seniors with somewhat impaired vision.
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. You can find a few such launchers listed below.
Large Launcher provides a big, eyesight-friendly interface for seniors and people with vision problems, making the phone much easier to use. Simple navigation and easy to use menus means that there are no complications or confusion when using the device, and the large font and color-coded icons help to easily differentiate between items. Features of the launcher include a big phone dialer, big message text, smart contacts and quick dialing, and a programmable SOS button on the screen that will send out a message or call to a contact of your choice. Regardless of which Android smartphone you have, downloading the Large Launcher will give you a senior-friendly device.
Like the one above, BIG Launcher also provides a fast and simple Android interface for seniors and people with vision problems. BIG Launcher makes the 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 leaves 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.
As mentioned, you always have the option of downloading any of the above launchers on any Android smartphone to make the device senior-friendly and this is often the cheapest route as opposed to going with a phone specifically designed with senior citizens in mind. To help you find the right smartphone, don’t forget to check out our roundups of the best devices available based on price, features, and network carrier below.