Many elderly people will tell you that they expect much less from a smartphone than the typical teenager or even middle-aged adults. With concerns like limited dexterity, impaired vision, and reduced hearing, many seniors find that using ordinary, entry-level “smartphones” is a very difficult task. Thankfully, smartphone manufacturers realize that more seniors are using smartphones. And, they are trying to help.

Now, many phones have bigger screens plus other features that are aimed to improve their ability to use a mobile phone. However, technical terms like iOS vs Android, Apple vs Samsung vs Nokia, 4.00” screen vs 4.5” screen, etc. can make choosing a smartphone difficult at best.

So, here’s a quick guide on the most popular smartphone choices out there. Plus, I’m going to give you the pros and cons of each. I hope this makes it easier to pick the best smartphone for you or a senior in your life.

person holding an Apple IphoneApple iPhones

The iPhone from Apple is probably the most famous of the smartphones available. It also tends to be the most expensive.

Universal Device

So, many of you may be already thinking, “Do I really need an iPhone?” Maybe, if you think of the iPhone as a Universal device. It has a camera, a video recorder, an ebook reader, a web browser, and a pocket-sized computer to check your emails, all rolled into one. So, it becomes so much more than just a phone.

Since 2016, iPhones come with larger screens that allow you to see family videos easier. Because you make the text size larger, you can read an ebook without squinting your eyes.

Many of the other high-end smartphones also give you most of these features. But, with an Apple device, things just tend to work a little more smoothly than most others. Also, the iPhone has its own Apple Store where you can download over a million paid or free apps (third party software) to run on your portable device.

The Apple iPhone for Seniors

Advantages

  • 5.5” Retina HD Display for extremely crisp text and clear images on the screen.
  • It is extremely easy to learn and use an iPhone. Most functions are very intuitive.
  • The iPhone 7 Plus is water and dust resistant. You can now use your phone near the pool or in the kitchen without worry.
  • Excellent built-in accessibility controls that allow you to zoom in the screen and change text size. This makes the screen easier to read for seniors.
  • All apps on the iPhone are pre-checked by Apple. So there is very little chance of downloading a virus.
  • Extremely powerful camera for stunning still photos and great videos.
  • Fingerprint recognition for locking and unlocking your phone without having to remember lengthy passwords.

Disadvantages

  • iPhones – even older models – are some of the most expensive phones. If you are only looking to make occasional calls, an iPhone is probably too expensive.
  • The newer versions of the iPhones only use wireless headphones. If you prefer to use wired headphones to listen to music or make calls, you will need a special adaptor to connect your wired headphones to the iPhone.
  • Transferring data to and from an iPhone is a little bit complicated. The phone has to be synced to iTunes, which controls almost every aspect of file, music and data transfer. Some seniors may find this a tedious or complicated process.
  • The internal space of an iPhone cannot be increased with the use of SD cards.

Apple and iPhone are registered trademarks of Apple Inc.

android smartphone in a handAndroid Smartphones

Android™ simply refers to a smartphone Operating System (OS) that is made by Google. Android is not associated with any one particular brand of phones. You can find Android software on several brands including Samsung, LG and Asus, etc.

The latest version of the Android OS is called Nougat (All Android OS versions have had a dessert-related name). Android is a very powerful OS and gives a uniform look and user experience to Android phones. No matter the brand.

However, the best thing that Android phones offer, as compared to iPhones, is the ability to customize them. Seniors can set up the screen of their phone just the way they like it. So, they can hide icons they don’t use. It is easy to set up the main screen to only show the most commonly used apps.

Android phones are very powerful and practical smartphones. They come with several features such as fingerprint sensors, wireless charging, and Iris scanning that are useful for the elderly.

Android Smartphones for Seniors

Advantages

  • Highly customizable system which may allow the elderly to design the look of their phones to suit their personal preference. This is also useful for only adding the apps they will use.
  • Android phones are available in all price ranges. So, you can select one that fits your budget.
  • Users can run multiple app windows on many popular Android-powered phones. As a result, users can do multiple things, such as watching a video and typing a text message at the same time.
  • File sharing, such as photos or music with other Android users, is much easier on any Android phone than on iOS. This is due to using file-sharing apps, as well as Android’s internal file sharing capabilities. This helps family members add music and more to senior’s phones.
  • Most new Android phones, from Samsung and other manufacturers, come with a large 5” or more display for easy readability.
  • The battery life on popular Samsung and other smartphone brands that use Android are significantly longer than the iPhone.
  • All new Samsung phones come with an “Easy Mode“. This setting is a quick way to automatically increase the size of app icons and numbers on the screen and the dial keypad. Easy mode essentially strips the phone to the bare minimum features eliminating all chances of errors. This is a very useful feature for senior users.

Disadvantages

  • An Android phone is not as intuitive or as simple to use as the iOS. This may cause the elderly to take some time to learn the Android system.
  • Not all apps are available on all phones using an Android OS. Seniors may not find the same app they’re used to on one Android device on their next device.
  • Since apps can be downloaded from multiple sources on an Android phone, there is a possibility of downloading a virus.
  • Android phones have a soft button to “go back”, unlike the iPhones, which have a single Home Button to go back. The Android soft button can sometimes get lost in apps when they are in full-screen mode, resulting in difficulty getting back to the previous screen.
  • With so many models and brands to choose from, it gets confusing trying to pick out an Android phone.

The Android™ name, logo, and other trademarks are the property of Google, Inc.

jitterbug smartphoneThe Jitterbug

The Jitterbug Smart is the newest phone from Jitterbug, which is offered by GreatCall wireless. It is a new type of smartphone marketed specifically for seniors. It has a simple user interface with a single list menu style on the home page. This gives the user easy access to all the features and apps on the phone.

The Jitterbug Smart has a large, bright 5.5” high-definition touchscreen that is easy to use. Especially, for the elderly.

GreatCall also provides for an optional service called UrgentCare. This feature provides unlimited access to registered nurses and doctors. This phone also connects you with an emergency medical alert service that lets you speak to an emergency agent 24/7.

What makes the Jitterbug Smart stand out from other phones is its large icons and simple user interface. This ease of use makes the Jitterbug the simplest smartphone for elderly and seniors to use.

Jitterbug Smart Smartphone for Seniors

Advantages

  • Plans for Jitterbug start very affordable, and there are no contracts or termination policies to worry about
  • The UrgentCare Emergency service is critical for seniors and can connect them with a trained medical professional 24×7
  • The Jitterbug phones are made especially for the elderly and are not loaded with unnecessary features that a may confuse the elderly
  • Loaded with powerful speakers, and is hearing aid compatible. Large 5.5” screen for easy readability and clarity
  • 100% US-based customer service and tech support

Disadvantages

  • Runs a limited number of apps as compared to iPhone or Android phones
  • Restricted to GreatCall mobile carrier service only. Network coverage not available on other mobile carriers.

Jitterbug is a registered trademark and GreatCall is a trademark of GreatCall, Inc.

Final Thoughts

Seniors are becoming more and more tech-friendly today. It is not at all uncommon to see an elderly person using a tablet or even a laptop computer on a daily basis. Smartphones are also commonplace for this generation.

Choosing a smartphone can become overwhelming quickly. This is true for those of us who use them daily. It is even more confusing choosing the best smartphones for seniors!

Picking a phone is a personal preference. The decision is a combination of meeting your smartphone needs plus finding one you personally like. Blending these two together may not always be easy.

Here are my recommendations:

  • If the user is pretty used to using tech and wants the “cool” phone, go with the iPhone. Chances are family members have them and will be able to help if needed. I guarantee their grandkids do!
  • For the middle of the road users, an Android is the best choice. You will still have a wide selection of apps to choose from. But, the Easy Mode will help seniors use the phone more easily than an iPhone. It also reduces the chance of the user accidentally messing something up.
  • If you want the simplest smartphone for seniors to use, then the Jitterbug Smart wins by a mile. Of course, it is specially designed just for seniors and the elderly.

Whether you are shopping for yourself or your favorite grandparent, remember that there is a smartphone for every lifestyle need and every budget. Don’t be scared to try out different options or ask around for suggestions.

Remember that almost every smartphone will allow you to do similar things. The difference lies in the ease of which it allows you to do these various things and your personal comfort level with the different types of phones.

Tell me about your experience shopping for a smartphone for seniors. What type did you choose and why? Do you have any specific models you would recommend? Let me know in the comments below! And, if you found this article helpful at all, please share on your socials.