It's hard to know what the best phone for a senior is, because people who didn't grow up with easy access to technology can have very different levels of tech competence - but this guide will give you some pointers.
Everyone needs a mobile though, whether that's a feature, flip- or smart phone. Being able to communicate easily keeps people in touch with their family and friends, and the following device scan do just that.
Phones for seniors need to be easy-to-use, with software that's not too complicated and a design that ensures anyone can use it the phone with ease. Some phones for seniors have useful extra features like a one-touch SOS button to contact emergency services. Plus, like all phones, it helps if they have big batteries, durable designs and big, responsive screens.
There's also the preference element - like with our overall list of the best smartphones, everyone has different tastes, and you don't want to buy someone a phone that they don't like.
Age doesn't preclude you from tech anymore, which is why phones designed specifically for seniors can be really great - we've also added a few 'mainstream' handsets that could be tempting alternatives too. We've also got guides on the best tablets for seniors and best cell phone plans for seniors which should round out their tech roster.
So read on for our pick of the best phones for seniors, with five mobiles that are designed specifically for older users, five that are standard devices that also will be useful. We've also got a guide after that on what makes a smartphone great for a senior.
The Jitterbug Smart3 is the best phone designed for seniors that we've seen so far - in fact, when we saw its specs list and price, we had to double-check that this wasn't just a competitively-priced 'standard' smartphone.
This is a big phone with a headphone jack, big battery, lots of modern features and also an emergency communications button on the back. The software is specially designed to be easy-to-use for seniors too, which is another point in its favor.
Some might find the mobile too big, and that's totally fair, as it's one of the biggest on this list - while that makes the screen easy to see, it could be less comfortable to hold or put in a pocket as a result.
Sometimes, a senior can be just fine for a senior, and the Doro 7030 is a great example. Not only does it use the classic form factor, but it has a few modern improvements like 4G connectivity and WhatsApp and Facebook pre-loaded.
There's an emergency button that's easy to press, a long-lasting battery life, nice big buttons, and multiple cameras - this should be great for seniors, especially ones who may already be familiar with the 'clamshell' (or flip phone) shape.
Sure, it's a little pricier than your standard flip phone - that's what those extra features will cost you - but it'll be more useful thanks to its extra tools. It's only available in the UK - if you live in the US, the Doro 7050 is very similar, but it's quite hard to find on sale.
Just as its name implies, the GrandPad is a smartphone/tablet that offers easy ways for seniors to stay connected. It doesn’t require nearly as familiarity with tablet and smartphone functionality as typical Android and iOS devices require. It rocks an 8-inch, Full HD display with large, easy-to-read menu buttons for simple navigation, and it connects via 4G LTE on consumer Cellular or over Wi-Fi. It can also charge wirelessly on its dock, so you won’t need to worry about keeping track with finicky wires and 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 their family members are sharing without needing to have their own accounts.
If you're in the UK, possibly the best smartphone designed for seniors is the Doro 8050, which includes a physical home button, a rear emergency button, software that's based on Android but with a few extra quality-of-life upgrades, and more.
This feels a lot more like a 'standard' smartphone than some others on the list, so it won't feel too simplistic to seniors who know a bit about tech, especially with its software that's based on stock Android.
The catch? There's not much storage space, not compared to normal smartphones or even others on this list, but a micro SD card can be bought for extra which gives you more space.
The Jitterbug Flip2 is perhaps one of the simpler mobile phones on this list, and it's designed for seniors who don't need flashy features like WhatsApp or the internet.
The flip phone has software that's easy to use and navigate with, and really big buttons too, so it'll be really handy for certain users, but it also has Amazon Alexa so you can use your voice for loads of functions.
There's an emergency button right at the front of the screen, and the phone has a roughly five-day battery life, so it's a great tool in a pinch too.
Phones for tech-savvy seniors:
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.
A tech-savvy senior might find the iPhone SE (2020) a great choice - sure, there's a 2022, but that has 5G, loads of processing power and a higher price, and a senior needs none of that.
The second-generation iPhone SE has similar specs to the iPhone 8 in quite a few areas, but with a few tweaks to bringing it up-to-date with trends in 2020. Its screen quality, camera and design would seem outdated now, but unless the senior you're buying a phone for keeps up to date with the latest tech, they won't mind.
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 SE 2020 case is advisable, to bring extra protection to the phone and provide some useful benefits like somewhere to store cards.
We're actually listing two phones here - that's because HMD Global, which makes Nokia phones, actually sells different devices in different countries. However the Nokia G10 (in the US) and G11 (in the UK) are incredibly similar - and both might be great for seniors.
These are large phones, with 6.5-inch screens, but the batteries are equally huge at 5,050mAh. That size might be a problem for some, as the side-mounted fingerprint scanners could be out of reach, but it makes the displays easier to see too.
As with all Nokia phones, these are fairly affordable, which is another point in their favor.
We generally wouldn't recommend 5G for seniors - it costs more, results in battery drain, and doesn't really bring many features that an older user would need... except one. It can make video calls much easier, especially for chats with loads of participants.
So if you think you need 5G, the Galaxy A32 could be a good choice - it has a big screen, lots of cameras and an attractive design too. Sure, it's a little pricier than some others on this list, and for most people the other options are definitely better.
But for video calling, this could be a great mobile. Just check that the user lives in an area with good 5G connectivity, otherwise the extra features won't be very useful.
How do I decide which phone to buy?
Your questions, answered.
What is the easiest phone for a senior to use?
The phones we've listed here actually come in a little bit of a hierarchy.
The easiest phone for a senior to use will be a 'feature phone' (ie a brick phone) as they have simple software, a long-lasting battery life and limited features.
Flip phones are the next step up, as they run very similarly, but there are also a few modern ones with 4G and various apps like WhatsApp and Facebook. They also might be a bit fiddly for certain users to unflip.
The hardest mobiles to use will be smartphones, as they can sometimes be complicated for technophobes to get their head arounds. Only pick one of these if you think the user can manage it - or has a young kid on hand to set it up for them!
What makes a phone great for seniors?
Lots of phones designed specifically for seniors have a few features in common.
Firstly, they usually have an emergency button, which someone can easily press when they're in any kind of negative situation. This can be programmed to call emergency services, or a selected contact, or both, and it could feasibly save a life.
Secondly, the software is usually designed to be easier-to-use than standard operating systems, which means seniors can easily get to the functions they need without having to wrestle with app drawers, download stores, long menus and more.
Should I buy a standard or special phone?
If you've got this far down onto the list, you might be unsure as to whether you should get a phone designed specially for seniors, or a standard consumer device above.
Your choice should depend on how tech-competent the user is. The senior-designed phones are great for technophobes, as they make accessing standard tools - like calls, texts and the like - really easy.
However if the user could manage more complicated settings, and might want to download extra apps, take great pictures and stream video, then maybe a standard device is better for them.