There’s no one-size-fits-all cell phone for seniors. Whether you’re looking for all the bells and whistles or a classic, accessible option, A Place for Mom has selected some of the best cell phones for the elderly to connect with loved ones, capture memories, and stay safe in emergencies. Read about top flip phones and smart phones, discover the cheapest cell phones for seniors, and find tips on how to choose the best option for your older loved one.
Features: The Lively Flip has a long-lasting battery that can handle 12 hours of call time or weeks in standby, a nice feature for sporadic users. With 16GB of storage – unusually high for a flip phone – there’s room in the camera app for thousands of memories. The powerful speakers filter background sounds to maintain clarity and are compatible with hearing aids, meaning they have built-in protection against the interference cell phones often cause. Plus, the newly released 2021 model offers Amazon’s Alexa virtual assistant, making it easy to call, text, set a timer, and even play music with a simple request.
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Why it’s good for seniors: The Lively Flip phone is compatible with GreatCall’s senior-specific services. It features an emergency button for elderly loved ones to use if they’re in trouble, and is connected to the 5Star emergency network, which uses GPS tracking. Big buttons and a magnifying screen round out this senior-friendly option.
Cost: This is one of the cheapest cell phones for seniors at $99.99. Some GreatCall cell phone plans offer additional amenities, like Urgent Care, which connects seniors with certified nursing professionals.
Features: Billed as “the simplest smartphone ever,” the Jitterbug Smart2 is both modern and user-friendly. Its bright display is clear and easy to read, with large fonts and simple icons. Seniors can easily access the internet, stream videos, and use face-to-face chat. Despite higher-tech features, the Smart2’s battery lasts up to 17 days on standby, or 12 hours in use.
Why it’s good for seniors: In addition to the standard 5Star emergency network offered through the GreatCall Lively Flip, the Smart2 offers visual features like GreatCall Link, which allows caregivers to stay informed about the health and location of their loved ones. The large touchscreen also supports Brain Games, a daily selection of memory-enhancing puzzles and challenges.
Cost: At $149.99, this choice is inexpensive for a smartphone. The unlimited calls, data, and texting plan is $49.99 a month with add-on potential.
Features: With 4G LTE, Wi-Fi calling, and Bluetooth compatibility, the Snapfon ez4g has the amenities of a smartphone in an easy-to-use device. Standard weather, email, and Facebook apps accompany unique features like traditional FM radio compatibility and an SOS emergency program.
Why it’s good for seniors: The Snapfon ez4g is designed specifically for senior safety and ease of use. SOS emergency features include automatic call/text alerts to a personalized contact list and a single-button 911 call. For immediate help, a siren can sound. The audio is compatible with hearing aids – it offers built-in protection against cell interference, and is capable of working with a hearing aid’s telecoil. The keypad has large, distinctly textured buttons, making it an easy cell phone for seniors. In addition, the “speaking keypad” recognizes both English and Spanish.
Cost: The new 2021 ez4g is $119, and can be paired with service plans ranging from basic talk and text at $20 a month to an unlimited SOS plus plan that lists surgical history, medications, and primary care physician information. An added benefit: Accessories like charging cable, wall adapter, and headphones are included in the price.
Features: Ideal for shutterbugs, the Galaxy S20’s triple-lens camera adapts to dark or light environments and takes high-quality pictures automatically, without adjusting settings. A built-in stabilizer makes sure photos don’t turn out blurry, even when taken by shaky hands. A large, clear screen makes reading and texting easy, without sacrificing picture quality.
Why it’s good for seniors: The Galaxy S20 has long battery life for a smartphone – up to 12 hours of constant use – and a large screen that’s great for video chatting with family or streaming favorite TV shows. While this phone is definitely not for tech-averse seniors, all Samsung models have an “easy” mode for those who want to ease into a smartphone with fewer icons and larger text as they learn.
Cost: At about $500, the S20 offers many great features of a 5G phone at a more affordable price than many competitors. Because the Galaxy S20 can be used with and purchased through national cell service providers, financing is available with certain plans for lower monthly costs.
Features: The Moto G Stylus has a 48MP camera – far greater than the 16MP smartphone average – to capture sharp family photos and videos. It’s also water resistant and includes features like facial recognition, fingerprint unlock, and high-quality audio when streaming. This phone also comes “unlocked,” meaning you can use it with any service provider, or pay in advance for minutes and texts.
Why it’s good for seniors: This is one of the loudest phones on our list, with sound quality that peaks around 88 decibels. The screen is 6.4” tall, and allows text enlargement. It also comes with a built-in stylus, for those who like writing notes or memos by hand.
Cost: The starting price of $299 is fairly low for a smartphone, but what makes the Moto G Stylus ideal for budget-conscious seniors is the option to choose a pay-as-you-go plan, perfect for those who want the Wi-Fi capacities of a smartphone without the commitment of unlimited talk and text many national providers require.
Features: The Doro 7050 is a simple, low-cost way to stay connected. It’s a traditional flip phone with limited features, but offers large buttons, high-contrast displays, and a basic camera.
Why it’s good for seniors: An emergency assistance button, compatibility with hearing aid telecoils, and up to 16 days of battery life make this an ideal choice for seniors who want to stay connected without breaking the bank. A series of training videos and tutorials make the phone easy to set up, even for tech-averse older adults.
Cost: At $50, this phone makes the list due to its affordability. It’s an effective option for seniors with a fixed income or who don’t want to invest too much in technology. Plan costs range from $20 a month talk-only to $60 a month for unlimited data, with discounts for multiple lines.
Flip phones are often the best option for first-time cell phone buyers. These easy cell phones for seniors feature traditional buttons similar to those on a handset, and many offer longer battery life and more durability than their smartphone counterparts. For seniors, choose a flip phone with high-quality speakers, large buttons, and a camera for capturing memories.
Smartphones offer more amenities than basic flip phones. Video chat keeps families and friends connected, while food delivery and transportation request apps like Instacart and Uber can make life easier.
If you do choose a smartphone, look for features geared toward seniors. As the number of older Americans with smartphones has grown, companies now cater to their needs with larger screens, higher volume settings, and increased brightness.
Is affordability your No. 1 concern? If so, check out these options.
Ask yourself these questions to determine which features your aging loved one may need in a cell phone:
Do they have trouble with hearing or vision? Think about special features, like HD voice for those who are hard of hearing, or text-to-voice and large displays for seniors with vision challenges.
Are they tech-savvy? Phones designed specifically for seniors are often lower-tech and easier to use. If your loved one is up on the latest trends, or willing to spend time exploring a more complex device, many widely-available smartphones also offer features like increased text size, voice-to-text, and high-quality speakers.
Will they use the phone regularly? If the phone is intended for emergencies only, there’s no need to splurge on an unlimited plan or flashy device. Look for a pay-as-you go phone, or consider a multi-use tablet that can also be used for streaming, reading, and more.
Is safety a primary concern? If you’re worried about potential falls or medical emergencies, consider a phone with a built-in SOS service or 5Star plan. Yes, all phones can call 911 — but in a true emergency, a clearly marked button can save time alerting paramedics.
Are pictures a priority? Does your relative still snap pics on a digital camera, or have disposables developed at the drugstore? A good, high-quality camera may be a top consideration when picking a phone. Be sure there’s plenty of storage space to save all those memories!
Are they on a budget? The phones on this list vary in price, but monthly service costs are just as important to consider. Some companies offer inexpensive, senior-friendly cell phone plans, while others only have unlimited talk, text, and data packages through major providers.
Do they have dementia? If you’re concerned your loved one may get lost or wander, a phone with built-in GPS tracking may be a priority. You can download a GPS tracking app on most smartphones, but some top cell phones for seniors with dementia include GreatCall devices with the additional Link tracking feature, Apple iPhones with the “Find My Friends” app installed, and Consumer Cellular devices with OnStar emergency services.
Is dexterity a concern? Arthritis, Parkinson’s disease, and other medical conditions can make using a cell phone more difficult. If hand pain or immobility is a concern, consider a newer-model phone with Google Assistant or Alexa compatibility and voice-to-text.
Claire Samuels is a content writer at A Place for Mom. She worked with senior living communities throughout the Midwest before pivoting to writing. She’s passionate about sharing ways of living well at any age.