10 Best Phones for the Elderly

Published July 9th, 2018 - 11:10 GMT
Being old doesn't mean you need to have an older device. (Shutterstock)
Being old doesn't mean you need to have an older device. (Shutterstock)

The best phone for seniors in 2018 vary dramatically depending on technological comfort levels. There's more than one right answer here compared to our normal best phones list. Fortunately, good news, there are also a wide range of phones available to seniors that can make a perfect fit for the most tech-savvy grandparent or the senior who just wants a way to stay in touch.

Big screens or simple displays are a smart pick for any senior, as almost no one has eyes that grow sharper with age. But, from there, the needs can vary. Where health is a concern, some phones have one-touch emergency response features. Where dropping the phone may be in issue, durability or a wide availability of smartphone cases become important. No one phone comes with them all, however.

Whatever the situation may be, we have the top phone picks for seniors today, and we’ll make it clear what the advantages of each are.

Senior-focused phones:

1. Jitterbug Flip

  • Large, clear buttons and screen
  • Emergency button
  • Loud speaker
  • Pricey for a flip phone
  • US only

The Jitterbug Flip is a basic flip phone with features made to suit seniors well. It doesn’t have any of the smartphone functionality a more tech-savvy senior might want, but it has large, easy to read interface, simple navigation, and a loud speaker. The result is a phone that’s simple for anyone to use, so there’s no steep learning curve for seniors who aren’t used to cellphones.

A few extra features are made specifically with seniors in mind. The Jitterbug Flip features an M4/T4 rating for hearing aid compatibility. It also has a 5Star button so seniors can quickly get help in an emergency.

2. Jitterbug Smart

  • Simple smartphone interface
  • Emergency response app
  • Affordable smartphone
  • Uncertain durability
  • US only

If some aspects of the Jitterbug Flip sounded good, but more smartphone features are appealing, the Jitterbug Smart combines senior-focused design with smartphone functionality. Best of all, it offers all of this at a reasonable price.

The Jitterbug Smart has all the typical phone features, plus texting, email and internet access, as well as rear- and front-facing cameras. The 5.5-inch touchscreen display allows for typical smartphone navigation, but Jitterbug has used simple menus for easy navigation. Like the Jitterbug Flip, this model is compatible with hearing aids, earning an M4/T4 rating. And, it supports 5Star emergency response through a pre-installed app. 

3. GrandPad

  • Big screen and UI
  • Simplified interface
  • Family can remotely manage
  • Only on Consumer Cellular
  • May be overly simple for some

Exactly as the name implies, the GrandPad is a smartphone/tablet that offers easy ways for seniors to stay connected. You don't have to be nearly as familiar with tablets and smartphone functionality as an Android or iOS device would mormally require. It features an 8-inch, Full HD display with large menu buttons for easy navigation, and it connects via 4G LTE on Consumer Cellular or over Wi-Fi. It also charges wirelessly on a dock, so there’s no fiddling with small power plugs.

Relatives can set up and manage the GrandPad for their love ones, populating the contact list with email address and phone numbers. One major consideration here is that this can help screen potential phishing attacks or spam callers, since they shouldn’t be able to reach the GrandPad. 

The GrandPad will let seniors stay in touch through email as well as voice and video calls. It also supports a stream of social media, so seniors can see what they’re family members are sharing without needing to have their own accounts.

Phones for tech-savvy seniors:

4. iPhone 8 Plus

  • Fast performance
  • Large, sharp display
  • Expensive
  • Should have a case

For the tech-savvy senior, there’s no simpler option than the iPhone 8 Plus. It offers premium features and performance on a 5.5-inch display that’s plenty sharp. The iPhone 8 Plus doesn’t come cheap, but it comes with the peace of mind that any issues can quickly be searched on the internet. 

Staying in touch with family is easy on the iPhone, and that powerful iPhone 8 Plus can ensure that connecting is fast as well. Seniors with an iPhone can also benefit from the nearly seamless transition between an iPhone and iPad whenever they might want an even larger screen. For the seniors buying this smartphone, an iPhone 8 Plus case is advisable, as it features an all-glass design that won’t hold up well if dropped frequently.

5. iPhone 7 Plus

  • More affordable than new model
  • Large, sharp display
  • Still pricey
  • Should have a case

To save some money but sacrifice little, the iPhone 7 Plus is also a great option. The iPhone 8 Plus was largely an iterative upgrade to the iPhone 7 Plus. So, with the older phone, you’ll still get a crystal clear 5.5-inch display, snappy performance from the hardware, and an easy-to-use operating system with iOS 11 (soon to be iOS 12).

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6. Galaxy S9 Plus

  • Big 6.2-inch display
  • Fully featured
  • Responsive performance
  • Not the simplest phone
  • Premium price

Samsung comes in with a great smartphone pick for seniors thanks in no small part to the Galaxy S9 Plus’s massive 6.2-inch display. With that large display, users can turn up the text size and still fit plenty on the screen. A fingerprint scanner, iris scanner, and facial recognition also mean unlocking the phone is easy. 

With the latest and great Snapdragon 845 or Exynos 9810 chipset, the Galaxy S9 Plus is also highly responsive. Its impressive cameras will also make it easy to stay in touch and share with family members. It may be pricey, but it’s a fully featured phone, and an IP68 rating means you won’t need to buy a replacement because a little water splashed on it (though we still recommend a case if dropping is a concern). Factor in Bixby’s ability to help users navigate menus and change phone settings, and you’ve got a wonderful smartphone for tech-savvy seniors.

Just like the newer model, the iPhone 7 Plus benefits from a massive horde of cases available to choose from. Though an iPhone 8 Plus case is a smart purchase, it’s not as essential as it is with the iPhone 8 Plus. This is because the older iPhone has an aluminum chassis, meaning there’s less glass that can shatter if dropped.

7. OnePlus 6

  • Snappy performance
  • Fairly clean Android OS
  • Large display
  • Should have a case
  • Not cheap

The OnePlus 6 can offer a fairly clean Android experience for seniors, so the user interface isn’t overly complicated. Plus, it has the powerful internals and dazzling 6.28-inch display to make it a fitting rival of the Galaxy S9 Plus at a substantially lower price.

It may not be the cheapest OnePlus, but it’s one of the most affordable flagship smartphones right now. And, it features minor water resistance, so a splash now and then or getting caught in the rain shouldn’t be an issue. However, like many of the other more expensive phones on this list, we recommend a OnePlus 6 case with this one to protect it from drops.

8. Moto G6 

  • Affordable smartphone
  • Big, sharp, bright display
  • Slight water resistance
  • Should have a case

For an extra-affordable but still competitive pick, the Moto G6 is a great option. It’s price is close a third of what the other flagship smartphones cost, but it includes many of the same features. It has an elegant, metal-framed design with a glass back and front (so a case would be wise). And, for seniors, it’s sharp Full HD+ display measures 5.7 inches across, giving plenty of room to increase fonts as needed.

Competent internals, a fingerprint reader, and special gesture controls round out the experience with the Moto G6. It has all the capabilities one could need to stay in touch, and a water-repellent coating helps ensure the occasional mishap doesn’t ruin that functionality.

Simple phones for seniors:

9. Nokia 3310 3G

  • Simple, sturdy design
  • Long battery life
  • Varying availability
  • Pricey for a feature phone

Some seniors might not want all the fancy tech of a smartphone, and senior-branded phones like the JitterBug may go too far toward being easy to use. Enter the new Nokia 3310. It’s a simple, easy to use feature phone with all the basics need to keep in contact with family and friends, and a long-lasting battery to keep the connection going. 

The Nokia 3310 supports calling, texting, and even a bit of social media. A basic camera can help seniors share with their family and friends as well. Plus, it’s a durable little phone, so the occasional drop shouldn’t be much of a worry. On top of all that, it’s affordable.

10. Alcatel GO FLIP

  • 4G LTE connectivity
  • Headphone jack
  • Affordable
  • Small screen
  • No water resistance
  • North America only

The Alcatel GO FLIP is another simple feature phone with some modern upgrades. While it looks and works like an old-school flip phone, it boasts 4G LTE connectivity (though it’s only available in North America) for fast web-surfing and emailing. That 4G connectivity also allows the GO FLIP to offer seniors better call quality using Voice-over-LTE. 

It has a camera for sharing photos and 720p videos. It can be loaded up with music and connected to headphones via a 3.5mm jack as well. For those hard of hearing, it has an M4/T4 rating for hearing aid compatibility.

By Mark Knapp 

This article has been amended from its original source.

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