The Best Cell Phone for Seniors: Could It Be a Flip Phone?

Best Cell Phones for Seniors: Options That Are Easy to Use

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Last updated

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The best cell phone for seniors depends on their particular needs and budget. Some people just want a basic device to make occasional voice calls. Others prefer having easy access to more advanced features like a camera and GPS.

According to Pew Research Center, more than half of American adults over age 65 own a smartphone. So that's where we'll begin.

Best Cell Phone for People with Dementia

1. RAZ Memory Phone

With a very simplified interface, RAZ Mobility's Memory Phone is designed to help people with Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia stay in touch. At $309.00,* this compact and affordable phone has a single display that includes large photos and names for up to 24 contacts, an emergency 911 call button, plus the time, battery level, and signal strength. The home screen never turns off, so there is no confusion or holdup for someone trying to make a call. The user simply touches the picture of the person they want to contact, and that's it.

RAZ also values the safety of your parent or loved one, which can be significantly impacted by your ability to communicate and monitor or set limits on their phone use. RAZ's Remote Manage app and portal are designed to provide caregivers with customization options for the level of accessibility they want. This means you can block incoming calls from potential scammers, salespeople, and other unwanted or potentially dangerous communication from a separate location while ensuring essential or approved calls can be made. Remote Manage allows you to have as much access and connection to your parent or loved one as possible through their mobile phone. This brings peace of mind to everyone involved. Here are some additional features available:

  • Access and control contacts list
  • Set limits on incoming and outgoing communication
  • Track location with built-in GPS
  • Change steps to making an emergency call and to answering a call
  • Make video calls
  • Disable power button and volume button
  • Send reminders
  • Set "quiet hours"

Plus, since RAZ Mobility is a company focused on accessibility and assistive technology, they are especially tuned into the needs of people with memory impairments.

Best Phone for People With Vision Loss

1. RAZ's Synapptic Smartphone Solution

RAZ's Synapptic Smartphone revolutionizes accessibility for people with vision loss or blindness, maximizes visibility and contrast, and provides speaking menus and voice command capabilities. There are two versions to choose from, depending on what the device will be used for. Both the standard and Synapptic Lite versions include the following:

  • Simple user interface
  • Calling and texting functions
  • Voice recognition and control
  • Speech production (the phone "talks" to the user)
    • Option to announce caller ID for incoming calls
  • Easy-to-use menu functionality
  • Adjustable display elements, including colors and magnification
  • MP3 playback, calendar, notepad, alarm, voice memos, address book, and more standard phone features

The standard Synapptic Smartphone offers the following, in addition to what's listed above (and more!):

  • Screen reader
  • Optical character recognition (OCR) for converting images to text
  • Web browser
  • Email and social media apps
  • Internet TV and radio
  • Chat, entertainment, and news app options
  • Be My Eyes compatibility

Plus, the smartphone on its own has a lot to offer, including a long-lasting, quick-charging battery, dual cameras, large display, fingerprint unlock, and more. The Synapptic Lite is $449.00,* and the standard Synapptic is $649.00* from RAZ Mobility. Which really can be a small price to pay for people who can utilize this smart technology to improve their lives.

2. RAZ MiniVision2+

RAZ Mobility describes its MiniVision2+ as a "one hundred percent accessible cell phone for people who are blind or visually impaired." This affordable option is great for those who don't need all the extra bells and whistles of a smartphone. The compact device is comfortable to hold, solid, and features large buttons that are distinctively tactile based on their functions, which makes them easy to differentiate and locate.

A sophisticated but simple-to-use speech interface guides the phone user through every app by speaking aloud to announce what's on the screen, which keys are pressed, who is calling, how much battery power remains, the time and date, details for contacts, and more. Plus, the voice guide can be adjusted to the language and speaking speed preferences of the user, and premium "voices" are available to download for free for even further personalization.

The MiniVision2+ uses voice control for many of its functions, including:

  • Composing messages with speech-to-text
  • Adding voice memos
  • Accessing call history
  • Retrieving and editing contact details
  • Making calls
  • Using the "where am I?" location tracking feature
  • Opening tools like the money identifier, color identifier, flashlight, calculator, camera, and alarm clock

Plus, font size and boldness can be adjusted along with the color scheme to maximize the display's visibility and contrast. If you or someone you care about experiences vision loss and needs a reliable and accessible phone, the Minivision 2+ is hard to beat at only $329.00.*

Best Phone for People Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing

1. Google Pixel Smartphone

When it comes to making smartphone convenience accessible to people living with hearing loss, Google leads the way. The Pixel smartphone offers several unique features that make it easier, safer, and more comfortable for people who are deaf and hard of hearing (DHH) to use their devices. Here are the standout features for hearing accessibility:

  • Live Caption feature allows the user to add captions to audio-containing media, including live video and voice calls
  • Live Transcribe app for Android accurately transcribes everything it hears, outperforming competing apps in most areas
  • Google Recorder lacks accessibility-specific features but records and transcribes audio with accuracy, and doesn't require an internet connection to do so (Live Transcribe does)
  • Sound Notifications functionality alerts users to ten different sounds that can occur around them that may require urgent attention, like alarms, sirens, baby cries, and water running
  • Sound Amplifier app allows the user to visualize and alter the sound for each ear individually through earphones, toning down ambient noise as needed (similar to hearing aid functionality)
  • Hearing aid support means not only is the device compatible with hearing aids, it also is capable of streaming audio directly to them via Bluetooth

Depending on the model you choose, and if you purchase new or refurbished, the cost of the Pixel can range from about $150 to about $450.00.*

Best Smartphones for Seniors

1. Jitterbug Smart3

This simplified smartphone features a 6.2-inch screen with a bright display, big icons, and extra-large text. Calls come through clearly and loudly. You also get a built-in camera, voice-to-text capability, and hearing aid compatibility.

Plus, an Urgent Response emergency button appears at the bottom of the screen at all times when the phone is on. Pressing the Urgent Response button connects you with a certified Urgent Response Agent who can confirm your location and send help if required. Additional apps are available that allow you to receive medication reminders and get health advice from a network of medical professionals (but you pay for additional services).

The Jitterbug Smart3 regularly costs $149.99,* but you may be able to find discounts during the holidays or other times of the year.

2. Motorola Moto G6 Play

The Moto G6 Play offers outstanding value for seniors on a budget. It features a large 5.7-inch HD display, a water-repellent coating, and both front and rear-facing cameras. The battery lasts an exceptionally long time. And the fingerprint sensor lets you unlock the phone with a simple touch.

You can purchase an unlocked version of the Moto G6 Play for $194.50,* and it will work on several U.S. wireless networks. Slightly less expensive versions are available directly through the wireless carriers. However, they will be locked to those carriers for a certain period.

3. Samsung Galaxy S8

This smartphone features a 5.8-inch screen that offers clear rendering and good outdoor visibility. It comes with accessibility features for those with hearing, vision, and other physical challenges or disabilities. It also has a long-lasting battery, front and rear cameras, and expandable memory.

Plus, Samsung phones offer an optional Easy Mode that, when activated, simplifies the layout and enlarges the icons on the home screen. You can buy an unlocked version for $277.70.*

Runners-Up:

Best Basic Cell Phones for Older Adults

1. Jitterbug Flip2

With a large screen and big buttons, this flip phone was specifically designed for older adults. It features a simple menu, backlit keypad, bright screen, excellent battery life, voice dialing, and very loud speakers. It also includes a camera with flash as well as a reading magnifier. The integration of Amazon Alexa means you can use voice commands to place calls, compose texts, set reminders, and more.

A one-touch Urgent Response button connects to an operator who can track the caller and summon help. You can also get 24/7 access to healthcare professionals for an additional cost.

At full retail price, the Lively Flip costs $99.99,* but you may be able to get it for less through holiday discounts or other special promotions.

2. Easyfone Prime A1 4G

Are you looking for a phone that costs less than $100?* Mobile devices for seniors don't come much more straightforward than this one. It's a classic flip design—just flip open to answer calls.

The Easyfone Prime A1 4G has "Big Volume," large buttons, and a simple user interface. You can send and receive texts. Plus, you can use senior-friendly features like a dedicated SOS button, two dedicated direct-dial keys, and speed dial options. It's also hearing aid compatible.

Features to Consider

  • Wireless carrier: Some phones only work on particular networks.
  • Large, bright display: Bigger screens are easier on aging eyes, but larger devices are more difficult to fit in a pocket or use with one hand.
  • Durable construction: Some products can withstand bumps and splashes better than others.
  • Camera: The megapixel count is one factor to consider (higher is better), but also look for a bright aperture and image stabilization capability. Cameras on higher-end devices can even take decent pictures in low-light conditions.
  • Good speakers: You need to clearly hear what callers are saying to you without being distracted by a lot of background noise.
  • Hearing aid compatibility: Devices that are rated as some combination of M3, M4, T3, or T4 meet the FCC's standards for this feature.
  • Voice command capability: This lets you use verbal commands to do things like make calls, send messages, or check voice mail. That can be a tremendous help for older adults with vision challenges.
  • Long-lasting battery: Many phones can go all day on a single charge, depending on how you use them.
  • Storage: More is better if you'll be taking or downloading lots of photos or videos. Many smart devices include a microSD slot for supplementing the internal storage.
  • GPS capability: This can enable you to get turn-by-turn directions or allow the phone to be used as a tracking device.
  • Dedicated emergency help button: This feature can quickly connect you to trained professionals in urgent situations.

Cellular Plans for Seniors

Several plans offer good value. Here are a few worth checking out:

  • Ultra Mobile PayGo: Use any combination of text messages or calling minutes that adds up to 30, all for $3* per month.
  • Consumer Cellular: You can get unlimited minutes for $15* per month. You can also add data plans, which include unlimited texting. These start at $20* a month for 1 GB of data and go all the way up to $50* per month for unlimited data. AARP members qualify for a 5-percent discount on monthly services.
  • T-Mobile Unlimited 55: If you're willing to sign up for automatic payments, you can get unlimited text, talk, and smartphone data for $35* per month, including all taxes and fees.
  • Verizon 55+ Unlimited Plan: If you live in Florida, you can get unlimited talk, text, and data for $60* per month, plus taxes and fees. (Those rates assume you're using autopay.)

How to Lower Your Cell Phone Costs

Some wireless carriers offer plans that include a free or discounted mobile device in exchange for signing a longer service contract. Also, most carriers have special promotions throughout the year that offer significant savings if you sign up for a particular plan.

In addition, some low-income Americans are eligible for discounts through a government program called Lifeline. It's designed to ensure that financially challenged individuals are able to stay in touch with family members, employers, and emergency services.

You may qualify for the Lifeline program if your income is less than 135 percent of the federal poverty level or if you receive benefits from any of the following programs:

  • Medicaid
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
  • Federal Public Housing Assistance
  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
  • Veterans Pension or Survivors Pension
  • Tribal-specific assistance programs

Only one member of a household can receive the Lifeline benefit, and you must provide proof of eligibility each year in order to stay enrolled.

Get Connected

Whether you want a simple flip phone for voice calls or a smart device with advanced features, there are options for every age and preference. Use the information above to find the best solution for you.

* All prices are current as of October 19, 2022.