Technology surrounds us in one way or another and people who don’t keep up can soon find themselves isolated in a way. This is particularly true for seniors, who sometimes have difficulties adapting to new things, because they seem overwhelming and complicated. On the other hand, some elderly people are very familiar with technology, but have developed visual or hearing problems over the years so they need things to be adjusted to fully use them.
Cell phone manufacturers are aware of this problem and most of them make their devices capable of adjusting to your specific needs. Some even dedicate completely to seniors to create products and offer services specially tailored to their needs.
I tried to pick out different types of smartphones, so there is a choice for both people who want something very straightforward and simple as well as those looking for something modern with numerous options. You’ll see brands you have heard of and a few you haven’t. But they are all easy to use for most senior and elderly users.Take a look.
Top Recommendations for Easy to Use Smartphones
The Jitterbug is specially designed for seniors, so it has both the functions and the service created for their needs. The menu is very simple, designed as a single list with huge letters and icons. It has a 5.5 in screen and a 5 MP camera, which is not much, but it’s enough for most people. It has great functions like Voice typing, Health and safety app, and Link app so your family members can get real-time info about your health.
While it can be used with other networks, it’s intended to be used on GreatCall network, where for a small monthly fee you can have their 5Star emergency response service available to you 24/7. This can really be helpful, especially for elderly people living alone. The service will have the information from your Health app and know how to help you in given situation.
Users are happy with the service – customer support is great and monthly plans don’t cost too much. As for the smartphone itself, many praise the large buttons which are easy to recognize and hit without mistakes. It’s probably the easiest smartphone for seniors who don’t seek top-notch specs.
Moto X (4th Generation) with Alexa Hands-Free – 32 GB - Unlocked – Super Black - Prime Exclusive
The Moto X is a slightly different phone because they cooperate with Amazon and offer a bunch of Amazon apps in addition to the base Android OS. This is the 4th generation of this phone and comes with a 5.2 in display and 3 GB of RAM. This smartphone is waterproof, which comes in handy sometimes. Also, it’s completely unlocked so you’re free to choose your carrier.
You’ll get it with Amazon apps for movies, tv-shows, books, photos and so on. If you’re a Prime member, this can be a fantastic experience. Perhaps the feature most interesting to seniors is the Alexa virtual assistant. You can talk to it and have it play news, read weather and play music for you among other things, with simple voice commands without ever picking the phone up.
Customers say it’s a surprisingly good device, especially for this price. It’s sturdy and durable, and executes your every command fast. But the thing people like most is the Alexa feature. It’s practical, and you get used to constantly talking to it very quickly.
Snapfon ezTWO Senior Unlocked GSM Cell Phone, SOS Button, Hearing Aid Compatible
The ezTWO is a phone which is not very smart to be honest, but it was produced for elderly who don’t want to complicate their lives with apps they don’t need. This is why many seniors like it – it’s exceptionally easy to use. This is an unlocked phone which you can use with AT&T and T-Mobile, but it works best when you use it with their SnapMobile network. This network gives you nationwide coverage, and for an affordable $15 monthly fee you can get unlimited data and their emergency services at your disposal 24/7.
This phone has a physical keyboard with extra-large numbers, and there is a dedicated SOS button placed in the back, underneath the camera. This SOS button can sound the alarm, or contact your family member or emergency service either by SMS or a call.
A thing that stands out on this phone are the external slide switches – you can use one to lock the keyboard and prevent accidental touches while the other is used to turn the flashlight on and off. The menu is very simple to navigate and colors make everything easy to see. Finally, this device is certified hearing aid compatible.
People using it say it’s an exceptional phone, but only for basic purposes. It’s very loud and reliable. Customers with visual impairment are happy with the contrast and the layout. However, the camera is very basic so if this is your concern you should probably look for an alternative.
Samsung Galaxy A10 32GB (A105M) 6.2" HD+ Infinity-V 4G LTE Factory Unlocked GSM Smartphone - Black
6 used from $129.99
Samsung is one of the smartphone brands you’ve heard of and the A10 comes with fantastic hardware. It has a 6.2 in HD screen and the phone is just the right size. It’s very fast, and has great cameras on both front and back, if you like taking photos. There is a fingerprint scanner included too.
Since it’s an Android, it requires a bit of knowledge while you set the device up the way you like it. However, Samsung included many options to make this device perfect for almost any user. It has a Voice Assistant – a function that reads the things you press on screen.
You can change the color layout for people who have trouble distinguishing colors and change the contrast to make everything more visible. The font sizes can be increased and there is a magnifier function which you can use while in apps to read the text more easily.
Customers say that this in perhaps the greatest value for money. You get a phone which is really fast, and allows almost anything to be adapted to your personal needs. A big plus is that it comes with a protective case.
Apple iPhone 8 Plus 64GB Unlocked GSM Phone - Space Gray (Renewed)
It goes without saying that everyone is familiar with Apple iPhones. These are reliable devices many people use. Apple makes it’s interface in a way that even people who are not used to smartphones can learn the functions. Combined with the accessibility features, you get a device elderly will love.
I chose iPhone 8 because it’s less expensive than the iPhone X, and you can choose between two sizes (plus version) and get all the features available. The iPhone 8 has a 4.7 in screen, and it’s water and dust resistant. The performance is fantastic – all apps work flawlessly, and you get a camera which creates crystal-clear photos. This phone allows wireless charging which can be useful to people who want to avoid plugging it in all the time.
Features elderly could find useful are voice dial (Siri assistant can be used even with screen off), fingerprint reader for quick access and find my phone feature, if it gets lost somewhere. You can set up a medical ID which can be shown on the lock screen – this can be very useful to EMS if you’re in need of help.
There are numerous users of these phones, all ages alike. Seniors however like that you can make the letters to be extra large and visible. Apps adjust so you have the same visibility everywhere. It’s loud and easy to hear. Finally, people like that you can easily add contact and website shortcuts to the home screen, to access with one click. If money is not an issue for you, this is probably the best smartphone for beginners.
Buying Guide: How to Choose the Easiest Smartphone for Seniors
Certain things make a smartphone a better choice than others. Seniors will want different options than other cell phone users.
I mentioned the simple interface, so it would be good if there were shortcut icons right there on the home screen for all common actions – calls, texts, weather, music and other things you like. It’s important that your new device allows you to change the settings to your preference. It becomes insignificant if the device performs great but the letters are too small and the user interface is confusing.
RELATED GUIDE: Cell Phones for Seniors With Dementia
Lightweight and Easy to Handle
The smartphone needs to be lightweight and easy to hold. To avoid accidents it shouldn’t be too slippery, and you can prevent this by getting a nice case for it.
Easy to Use Camera for Snapping Quick Photos
Almost all smartphones have a camera, but they aren’t the same quality of course. If your loved one likes taking pictures around the house or when grandkids come to visit, consider buying a smartphone with a quality camera and enough storage space.
Loud But Clear Speaker
Speakers play a major role when choosing a phone, and can be a deal breaker. Best smartphone for seniors should be loud, so you can hear it when it’s in your pocket or on the table in the next room. The sound quality when talking should be crisp and clear, and this is one of the basic things when selecting.
Long Lasting Battery
Battery can increase comfort when using a device. Many elderly don’t want to feel obligated to charge their phone every night, or they simply forget to do it. Devices which have longer stand-by battery time are obviously a better choice.
Unlocked Cell Phones Allow More Options
For the branded smartphones above, I chose unlocked models. Unlocked means you don’t have to use them with any certain cell service carrier. You can use them with the carrier of your choice! So, you can bring the phone to your current cell company and maybe add it to your existing plan. Check with your provider for compatibility and the details.
Price, Of Course, Matters Too!
Finally, the price is often significant, and some smartphones are very expensive. You don’t need to buy a top smartphone like iPhone or Samsung if you intend to use it only for calls and messages.
There is a wide array of products to choose from, and my list just scratched the surface. Always do proper research of the functions before you spend your money.
Why do Seniors Need an Easy to Use Smartphone?
Many smartphones can be difficult to use. There are too many commands, and you have to perform several actions to get a simple thing done. If your loved one wasn’t introduced to this when they were younger, there is a chance they will find it confusing. This is why they’ll give up and not want to try again, which is a shame knowing you can make certain tweaks or buy a dedicated senior product and get them completely involved in everyday activities.
Seniors often need more time to implement new knowledge, so phones that offer simple step-by-step functions are preferred. Most elderly want a straightforward device with no excessive options and functions. This way they can get comfortable using it. We mentioned that visual and hearing impairment can present a serious problem for using a standard smartphone. This is why it’s important to look for a device which supports extra-large fonts. It should have loud speakers and preferably support hearing aids too.
Some Simple Apps to Install on Your Senior’s Smartphone
When you’ve already chosen a smartphone, apps can make user experience much better. Depending on the needs and interests of your loved one, there are some which can make them safer and also ones to give them some entertainment and food for thought. I’ve made a few app suggestions (most are available on both platforms), but there are numerous more apps seniors can benefit from.
Large Launcher (Android)
The Large Launcher replaces the default interface with a more user-friendly look. You will get simple navigation through the options as well as larger icons and larger text throughout. Your favorite shortcuts will be placed on the screen, for quick and simple access. This interface also allows SOS function which you can program to call or message your family member in case of emergency. It’s really a stress-free user experience.
This is a well known app which works on many platforms, which is why it’s a good idea to install it on a senior’s phone. The app interface is pretty simple for everyone, and because of this anyone can learn how to send a message or make a call. Elderly can send photos, videos and voice messages, and participate in video calls with several family members at once. It’s an excellent way for everyone to stay in touch.
Good RX is made for for users living in the US, and it’s incredibly helpful. People often aren’t completely aware that prices for prescription medicine can greatly vary between pharmacies. This app allows you to compare them and buy refills at the lowest price. Sometimes you can even find coupons to use in pharmacies, which can save you even more.
This is an app made by the American Association of Retired Persons, one of the largest senior organizations out there. While it offers a bit more to people who are members of the association (discounts, events and other benefits), it’s designed as a news app where elderly can get their share of information. You can personalize the app so it only shows relevant news from your fields of interest.
Many elderly people can’t enjoy reading like they used to, while other simply prefer to consume the content in audio form. For both groups this is an amazing app. It has over 50,000 books available which you can listen to, for free. It works thanks to many volunteers who read these books and arrange them, so you can easily find any type of literature you need. Also, these audiobooks are available in multiple language which may be interesting to some people.
TuneIn is another listening app, but with different content. It allows you to listen to all types of radio stations from all around the world, which include music, sports, news and other content. You can also explore and listen to your favorite podcasts, and even tune in to live stream broadcasts of your favorite sports.
This is an entertainment app, and it’s really fun. It’s a sequel of WordBrain, and it’s equally popular. You get themed word puzzles where you find words and eliminate them by swiping you finger across the screen. It’s very interactive, and you can get all sorts of achievements and prizes. This is a fantastic app to keep your brain sharp.
Summary and Final Recommendations
To wrap things up, not every senior has the same needs. It’s good to decide what you or your loved one expect from a phone and then choose accordingly.
If you’re interested in getting more features and possibilities and don’t mind overcoming a few minor obstacles, then choose a phone you are familiar with. In this case, a Samsung or Iphone is the right choice. This will make it easier for you to help them over the phone if they need help.
On the other hand, if you want something that is simple and straightforward, you should opt for the Snapfon EZ or the Jitterbug because of the easy navigation and the help which is always available when you need it.
The best of both worlds though might be the Motorola Moto X. It operates like the smartphones you probably use today but the interface is simpler. Plus, the addition of Amazon apps and Alexa make it a simpler phone once the senior sees the benefits.
Whichever you choose, remember that persistence is the key, so don’t be shy to try out new things because you’ll be greatly rewarded.
Do you know of another easy to use smartphone for seniors? Or ways to make their existing cell phone easier to use? Tell me about it in the comments below!