Best cell phone for seniors

Everyone needs a cell phone, but not everyone in 2023 has the same cell phone needs. For seniors in particular, it’s important to have a lifeline to friends, family, and emergency services, not to mention apps for health, safety, entertainment, and more. Of course, the phone should also be easy to use, with a large, bright screen, a simple user interface, and ideally some accessibility features for users with physical limitations (such as vision or motor skills). With these criteria in mind, I’ve identified six that I consider to be the best cell phones for seniors.

Best Cell Phone for Seniors: Android, iPhone, or Something Else?

Below are two iPhones, two specialized phones, an Android phone and a tablet. Although the debate between Android and iPhone has raged for years, the truth is that neither operating system is particularly senior-friendly. One exception: Samsung’s Galaxy A23 offers a so-called Easy Mode. When enabled, it increases the user interface (text, icons, on-screen keyboard, etc.) and simplifies the home screen. For example, if you swipe to the far left of the screen, you’ll see that it’s now filled with one-tap icons for calling “favorite” contacts.

From left to right: The GrandPad tablet (which also has phone capabilities), Consumer Cellular Link II, Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max and Samsung Galaxy A23.

This is a great option available on all Samsung Galaxy phones (not just the A23). However, the Android operating system in general – navigation, settings, etc. – can be a bit complicated. Overall, I find iPhones a bit easier to learn and use, and they offer an unrivaled range of accessibility features. For example, users with vision problems can enable “Speak Screen,” which verbalizes the content of what’s currently displayed. People with hearing impairments can toggle the rear LED (usually used by the camera) to flash repeatedly when there is an incoming call, SMS or other alert. A triple click on the side button can activate a camera-powered magnifying glass. Etc.

Newer iPhones also offer medical-alert-style security features like accident detection and, when paired with a newer Apple Watch, fall detection. In the unfortunate event of a traffic accident or a fall, these helpers can notify family and even contact emergency services. (Notable: Google Pixel phones also offer crash detection, and fall detection is coming to Google’s Pixel Watch very soon.)

Phones for Seniors: Cost and Other Considerations

As with any phone you buy, there is the cost of the phone itself and service costs. Luckily, while hardware can range from a few hundred dollars to nearly $1,000 (or more!), you can often take advantage of interest-free financing to make it more affordable. The iPhone SE below, for example, can be paid off for just $5 a month over three years. The Samsung A23 costs around $8.33 per month when funded through Samsung.

In terms of service, consider whether you really need an unlimited plan. If you spend a lot of time at home and connected to Wi-Fi, then probably not. If you choose an unlocked phone, you can get the service from any provider that offers the best plan for your needs and budget. Consumer Cellular, for example, is widely considered a “senior-friendly” provider with excellent customer service and plans starting at $20 per month. Mint Mobile is another popular option, with plans starting at $15 (amortized) if you pay a year upfront at a time.

Whatever phone and carrier you use, I highly recommend getting a durable case as well. Though phone durability has improved over the years, with screens promising to withstand minor bumps and scratches, gravity isn’t your friend. And a cracked screen is no fun.

Speaking of accessories, consider keeping a portable charger handy. Depending on how you use it, your phone can stay charged for a couple of days or drain by dinner time. If you’re near an outlet, you can always plug it in, but a power bank like this one from Anker can help when you’re on the go.

Now let’s take a look at the best cell phones for seniors!

Overall the best phone for seniors


Lively Jitterbug Smart3 smartphone for seniors

Android phones and iPhones can be made senior-friendly, but that’s how the Smart3 resonates: it’s a phone designed with seniors in mind. Instead of a sea of ​​cryptic icons, it offers a handful of core features (phone, text, email, etc.) represented by large, clearly labeled buttons. And at the top, an urgency button for quick access to people who are alive who can help with anything from trips to minor health concerns to real emergencies. (It can also be set to notify friends and family when this button is tapped.) The phone itself is quite affordable, with service plans starting at just $20 a month. While this is far from the most powerful smartphone out there, it’s arguably the smartest option for seniors.

$112 at Amazon

Best clamshell phone for seniors

Mobile communications for consumers

Consumer Cellular Link II

For some seniors, a smartphone can seem like a Ferrari: too fast, too complicated. In that case, a basic flip phone might be your best bet, and it’s hard to beat Consumer Cellular’s Link II. Priced at just $49, it’s by far the cheapest option here, and the service is available for as little as $20 per month. It doesn’t have any apps, of course, and sending texts is complicated (remember: there’s no keyboard here). But there’s a front-facing camera and even Bluetooth headset support if hands-free calling is preferred. While I definitely recommend a smartphone for seniors who can use it, it’s an easy and affordable way to get basic phone services.

$49 at Consumer Cellular

Best Affordable Android Phone


Samsung Galaxy A23 5G

It may be Samsung’s entry-level Galaxy phone, but the A23 5G packs plenty of power – including the aforementioned Easy Mode, which helps simplify a user interface that some might find intimidating. Equipped with a whopping four camera lenses, the A23 is also great for photography. If you think you’re going to be taking lots of photos and videos, you’ll appreciate the expandable storage (up to a TERABYTE via microSD cards), a feature not found on any iPhone. The 6.6-inch screen is downright huge too, ideal for seniors with vision problems. And since this phone is unlocked for use with all carriers, it’s easy to take it anywhere it offers dirt-cheap monthly service.

$300 at Amazon

Best Affordable iPhone


Apple iPhone SE 3rd generation (Verizon)

An affordable iPhone? Sounds unlikely, but you can pay as little as $5 a month (for 36 months, 0% interest) to get Apple’s base model, which offers plenty of power and great cameras. It also has a physical home button, which seniors with tech challenges might appreciate. Note, however, that the screen is on the small side at 4.7 inches. Some actually prefer this because the phone fits more easily in a pocket, but it can be harder on the eyes. Either way, you’ll also need a Verizon service plan (starting at $30/month), although Walmart also offers the iPhone SE through AT&T.

$5 at Walmart

The best big screen iPhone


Apple iPhone 14 Pro Max (Verizon)

This is Apple’s flagship iPhone, and it’s here for one main reason: the super-large 6.7-inch screen. That’s a full two inches larger than the iPhone SE’s screen, and trust me when I say bigger is better. Icons are easier to identify, text is easier to read, YouTube videos are just bigger. The 14 Pro Max also takes dazzling telephoto and close-up shots, ideal for bird watchers and grandchild watchers. You can finance this for about $29 a month (for 36 months) with no interest, but remember you’ll also need a service plan. (This link takes you to Verizon, but Walmart has the same model with the same prices at AT&T.)

$29 at Walmart

Best phone that is also a tablet


GrandPad tablet for seniors

It might seem odd to include a tablet in this roundup, but the GrandPad is part phone: it includes 4G LTE service with its monthly subscription plan ($59). That means it can be used for email, phone calls, and Zoom video calls. It also means it’s not limited to home use; It also works on the go, just like a phone (although you don’t want to hold it to your head). Additionally, there’s built-in live customer support that’s available 24/7, which helps justify the somewhat pricey service plan. Below is a full GrandPad review.

$399 at Amazon

Continue reading: GrandPad review: A great tablet for grandparents

Originally published

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *