Smartphones have a lot of appeal to seniors—think Facetime with the grandkids—but they're not the best choice for everyone. In fact, many older users struggle with the devices' size, complexity, and touchscreen. That's why we've scoured the cell phone universe to find the best cell phones for seniors.
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Many seniors prefer the straightforward simplicity of old-school feature phones. As one senior told us, "Before, I had a dumb phone, and I felt smart. Now, I have a smartphone and I feel dumb." In looking for suitable feature phones and smartphones, we focused on one that made calling easy.
GreatCall's Jitterbug was one of the first phones that specifically targeted the senior market. The latest version—which has a bright 3.2-inch screen—takes into account that seniors appreciate big, clearly labeled buttons and large type fonts. The Jitterbug Flip provides simple labels for all of its options, including yes and no navigation buttons and a spkr button (for speakerphone). The one nod to modern times is a built-in 2-megapixel camera with flash. This phone supports hearing aids, and has a built-in flashlight, too.
At $150, the Jitterbug Smart is GreatCall's simplified answer to the complexities of smartphones. This smartphone has a custom Android skin with large, clearly labeled text buttons that put the phone's primary purposes—phone, voicemail, email, text, and FiveStar emergency service (available if you subscribe)—right up front, so the user doesn't have to dig around in menus to activate a primary option.
The $80 Snapfon EZTwo is a great unlocked option for anyone who already have and want to stick with GSM cell phone service (translation: Sprint and Verizon users continue to be out of luck). Snapfon designed this 3G phone with seniors in mind. Its candybar style makes the buttons wholly accessible at all times, for easy access. The buttons are big, clearly labeled, and well defined, which makes them easy to use.
The $60 Jethro SC628 likewise has an easy-access candybar design, with large buttons. Although its buttons are little less defined than those on the EZTwo, the Jethro has a smooth elegance reminiscent of phone styles from more than a decade ago.
Any Samsung Smartphone
We've already noted the challenges of using a standard Android phone. But Samsung has long recognized that not everyone will find its TouchUX interface intuitive. Enter Samsung Easy Mode—a feature buried in the settings under Personalization that lets you change the interface to one with larger icons, buttons, and text.
As a final note, for elderly users, we suggest buying a rugged case to fortify the phone against drops and to make the phone easier to hold.