Updated May 13, 2018
There are a number of easy to use cell phones that have senior friendly features such as bigger screens and keypads, amplified speakers, simplified cameras, and hearing-aid compatibility. Obviously there are many seniors who don’t need these specially designed phones and are very happy with their smartphones, but there is large group of consumers, particularly the elderly, who are looking for a simple cell phone that can be used to make and receive calls. To help you find the best cell phone for yourself, a friend or a relative we have put together a buying guide explaining what you need to know about selecting the right model, getting a good plan and finding the best provider for aging adults.
On this page
- What you need to know before buying
- Features to consider
- Cell phone for seniors reviews
Features to Consider
When you are shopping for a simple cell phone, the features you are going to want to look out for are much different than if you are searching for the latest smartphone technology. If you are a person who just wants a simple phone you will want to think about initial cost of the phone, the monthly plan cost whether you want a camera, size of the screen, etc.
If you are shopping for someone who is elderly and may have hearing or vision impairments you will want to think about the size of the screen, size of the font on the screen, loudness of the ringer, how big the buttons are, are they easy to press.
Here are some of the important features to think about when shopping for this type of phone.
- Emergency Button – What makes most of these types of phones unique is that they have a help button that connects directly to a medic alert type system. You pay extra for the service, but it is very helpful for peace of mind for relatives and friends who are concerned about safety.
- Screen Size – If a senior has difficultly reading smaller fonts or seeing numbers on a small screen, then screen size may be a consideration.
- Loudness of ringer -Another feature that is typical for phones for the elderly is having the option to increase the ringer to a level that those who may be hard of hearing can hear.
- Hearing aid compatible – To figure out if a cell phone is hearing aid compatible look for the ratings (M) for microphone of M3 or M4. The higher the (M) number the clearer the phone will sound. There should also be a telecoil rating of T3 or T4 and again the higher the T rating the clearer the conversations will be.
- Volume control- Most phones have an adjustable volume control.
- Battery Life- If you will be using the phone as an emergency phone that the user may forget to charge, getting a phone with a good standby battery life would be very useful. Some of these phones also have an option to text caregivers or family members when the battery is getting low, so they can remind the user to recharge.
- Ease of Use– This is incredibly important when shopping for a frail elderly user. You will want to ensure that the buttons are easy to see and to press down. It should also be comfortable to hold, and the display should be easy to read. If possible have the user try the phone out before buying.
- Reception-If you are in a rural area or an area that traditionally has a weak signal, spend some time looking at the coverage maps of any cell phone providers you are considering. There is no point in getting a cell phone if you can’t get proper coverage.
- Portability- Some of the new regular cell phones have the very large 4.7” and 5.5” screens and although they make images and font size much easier to read, users may find that they don’t fit comfortably in pockets or purses, so before buying a phone with a larger screen consider how it will be used.
- Cameras- Most basic models now contain a camera.
- Style- There are a few basic styles when it comes to choosing a cell phone. Snapfon is a standard phone with the keyboard and the screen on one interface. Jitterbug Flip is a flip phone style also known as a clamshell style, which just means that there are two sections that are joined by a folding hinge. Jitterbug Smart is a touch style, so you are touching the screen rather than pushing buttons.
There are a number of considerations when budgeting what a cell phone is going to end up costing you. First there is the upfront cost of buying the phone, then you will need to select the best plan for your needs. Some of the phones also have activation fees, as well as termination fees. If you select a smartphone, you will need to consider how much data you are going to be using on a monthly basis.
The type of service plan you choose depends on how you are going to be using the phone. If you are only using the phone on a limited basis, you will probably want to consider a pay as you go service plan. This just means that you pay a certain amount of money into your account and as you use the phone the credit goes down, when the credit gets low, you can top it up either automatically or by phone using prepaid cards that you buy at retail outlets. These types of plans don’t require a contract.
If you will be using the phone often, send texts or use large amounts of data you will probably want to get a monthly service plan where you are charged a fixed amount every month. Monthly plans require you to commit to a fixed term that you will stay with that carrier- usually 1, 2 or 3 years.
With the current aging population there is a need for these types of cell phones. They help family members stay in touch, link users directly to emergency services and help provide peace of mind all for a reasonable price. Some people might object to the idea of a ‘senior’ cell phone, however these types of phones are meant for the elderly, not the 60 year old techies are smartphone super users. If you are just looking for a device that can make and receive calls that is easy to use without extra feature these senior cell phones are a great product.
One note if you are looking for a phone as a user with physical limitations or disabilities, you may need to upgrade to higher end smartphone that has accessibility features. If you would like more information on how to find a cell phone for someone with disabilities, have a look at CTIA Access Wireless.