6 of the Best Smartphones for Seniors

It’s unfortunate but true: technology tends to leave seniors behind. Older folks find it more difficult to adopt new technologies, and with the cell phone industry on the forefront of emerging tech, some seniors find them simply too difficult to use.

Do Grandma and Grandpa seem flabbergasted by the latest iPhone? Do they think an Android is the metal trashcan from “Lost In Space?” It’s time to take them under the arm and guide them into the modern age. The phones listed below should be enough to convince them that smartphone technology isn’t all that scary.

1. Google Pixel XL

Best Android Smartphones Seniors Google Pixel Xl

Yes, the first phone in Google’s flagship range may have already received its last major Android software update, but as a way of getting older people acclimatized to the ways of true stock Android, the Google Pixel XL remains the best choice.

First of all, it’s not too expensive, and can be purchased for under $300, which is a great price considering the power onboard. It has a sizable 5.5″ display squeezing in 1440 x 2560 pixels, ensuring everything is nice and clear for faded eyes, and its 12.3 MP camera is sure to dazzle your old folks. UI elements like icons and font size can be increased for convenience.

The last Android software update the Pixel XL received was Android 9.0 Pie, which is still the latest Android version at the time of writing. That means that seniors will get all the bells and whistles of Android that anyone else would. Why does this matter? Because the stock Android UI is among the most user-friendly around, and will help familiarize older people not just with using this specific phone, but with the Android OS as a whole.

Specifications:

  • 4.4-inch display with QHD resolution
  • 32GB/128GB internal storage, no card slot
  • 3,450 mAh battery
  • 4G LTE

2. Jitterbug Smart2

best-smartphones-for-seniors-jitterbug-smart2

The upgraded version of the Jitterbug Smart continues in the vein of its predecessor, with a sizable 5.5-inch 720p screen and big, bold interface elements making it easy to use for those whose fingers aren’t as graceful as they used to be. It’s not the fastest of phones, but the GreatCall UI is designed for accessibility rather than gaming, and in that it does its job very well.

There are various subscriptions you can get that add extra services such as nurse contact lines, the option for family members to track you by your phone’s locations, and more. The camera is pretty decent for a phone like this too, so your grandpa will be able to dabble in the joys of photography and maybe social sharing without pictures looking like they were processed through a 90s games console.

Specifications:

  • 5.5-inch display with HD resolution
  • 16 GB internal storage, expandable via microSD card up to 128 GB
  • 13 MP rear camera, 5 MP front-facing camera
  • 3,000 mAh battery
  • 4G LTE
  • Hearing aid-compatible – M4/T4 rating

3. Samsung Galaxy Note 5

best-smartphones-for-senior-users-samsung-galaxy-note-5

While this list features plenty of phones dedicated to those unfamiliar with phones, there’s no reason why the older generation shouldn’t own a regular powerful handset like the rest of us.

While splashing out on the latest Samsung flagship might be a bit much, the Galaxy Note 5 remains an excellent smartphone that can be picked up for around $200 – $300 these days. Crucially, it features a large, vibrant 5.7-inch screen and a stylus. (After all, everyone over the age of 60 is probably more comfortable with a pen than a touchscreen).

In addition, the Galaxy Note 5 has an “Easy Mode” which makes everything on the screen bigger and clearer, cutting out many of the more intricate UI features and letting you customize it.

Specifications:

  • 5.7-inch display
  • 4 GB RAM
  • 32/64/128 GB internal storage
  • 16 MP rear camera, 5 MP front-facing camera
  • 3000 mAh battery
  • Android 5.1.1
  • 4G LTE
  • ‘Easy Mode’ which makes UI more accessible

4. PowerTel M9500

powertel-m9500

This 5″ smartphone is made by a company called Amplicomms whose motto is “Loud and Clear.” As you may have guessed, the PowerTel M9500 is super loud. The phone’s ringtone can go as high as 90 dB, which is similar to a train whistle or an oncoming subway train.

The phone also features a volume boost key that can enhance the speaker volume by an additional 40 dB. It’s safe to say that with that level of amplification, you won’t have to ask “Can you hear me now?” when talking to Nana ever again. In addition to being really loud, the PowerTel M9500 has a retooled user interface with clearly-labelled large buttons.

Specifications:

  • 5-inch display
  • 1 GB RAM
  • 8 GB internal storage, expandable via microSD up to 32 GB
  • 8 MP rear camera, 2 MP front-facing camera
  • 3,200 mAh battery
  • Android 5.1
  • 4G LTE
  • Hearing aid-compatible – M4/T4 rating

5. Emporia Smart

emporia-smart

The Emporia Smart features a unique marriage of old and new. The Android smartphone has a touchscreen that can be overlaid with a keypad cover. This cover allows those who prefer a more tactile experience to dial and text while using a physical keypad. If at a later date the user warms up to the touchscreen, the keypad cover can be completely removed.

The Emporia Smart’s user interface has large buttons and a simple menu for easy navigation. Finally, the phone comes with a stylus for those uncomfortable with touch-based navigation. Despite some interesting features that we don’t normally associate with modern smartphones, the Emporia Smart doesn’t have the best specs. That being said, ease of use is the major draw with this one.

Specifications:

  • 4.5-inch display with a 960 x 540 resolution
  • 1.2 GHz dual-core processor
  • 1 GB RAM
  • 4 GB internal storage, expandable via microSD up to 64 GB
  • 8 MP rear camera, 1 MP front-facing camera
  • 2,600 mAh battery
  • Android 4.4.2 Kitkat
  • Hearing aid-compatible – M4/T4 rating

6. Doro Liberto 825

doro-liberto-825

The main selling point of the Doro Liberto 825 is its ease of use, so naturally it features an easy-to-use UI with large icons and clear text. When users first fire it up, a comprehensive tutorial walks through the basics of smartphone operation. It can be skipped, but the tutorial is ideal for anyone who hasn’t used a smartphone before.

In addition to the tutorial, there are also interactive tips that guide users through the process of sending text messages, emails, etc. If Pop Pop is still struggling, there is an online help center featuring videos that walk him through step by step.

One of the more interesting features of the Liberto 825 is remote access. Users can nominate trusted contacts who can remotely control the Liberto 825. So instead of pulling your hair out trying to explain how to install apps or set up a contact list, you can do it for them. Be aware that the Liberto 825 isn’t available in the US, so double check what bands your cell provider operates on before importing.

Specifications:

  • 5-inch display with HD resolution
  • 1.1 GHz quad-core processor
  • 8 GB internal storage, expandable via microSD up to 32 GB
  • 8 MP rear camera, 2 MP front-facing camera
  • 2,000 mAh battery
  • Android 5.1.1 Lollipop
  • Hearing aid-compatible

Conclusion

Do you know of any other senior-friendly smartphones? Do you have any strategies for helping an older person embrace smartphone technology? Let us know in the comments!

This article was first published in July 2017 and was updated in May 2019.

36 comments

  1. Big screen (7″, 16:10 aspect ratio), loud speakers (like the PowerTel), easy mode. Don’t be so quick to dismiss the value of a larger screen for anyone, especially for seniors. That is… keep your fanboyish politics to yourself.

  2. The general problem with smartphones is that everything about them is too small for seniors, the screen, the icons, the fonts and even the phone itself. In the article you glibly tout couple of phones with 5″+ screens. While that may seem large to you or a 40- something design engineer, it may still be minuscule to 60+ eyes and fingers. When PopPop and NaNa are have to use 17 and 18 (and larger) sized fonts on their PC screens, how do you expect them to use size 5 and 6 fonts on their smartphones?

    1. please stop making generalized comments about seniors! Not all of us are blind or have terrible motor skills! there are lots of us who by some miracle of nature have managed to continue to be able read and write and send messages on the computer as well as on phones. We may not be as tech smart as the younger generations, but don’t count us out just yet. Oh! One other thing, stop referring to us as “Old Folks” it’s ageism.

      1. Devices should not be designed for those who are capable but for those who are not. If you are a Senior Citizen and have 20/20 vision and run marathons for fun and profit, Mazel tov. Unfortunately, you are the exception.

        “One other thing, stop referring to us as “Old Folks” it’s ageism.”
        Where did I say ‘Old Folks’? Maybe instead of ‘seniors’ I should have refereed to them as ‘alte kockers’? Besides, being a septuagenarian allows me the privilege.

        If you are a Golden Ager, OWN it. Don’t be like much of the country – Politically Correct, just looking to be insulted by any comment.

        However, in a way I do agree with you. I find these “………………..for the Seniors” articles to be demeaning.

  3. Speaking as one of those old geezers…. at age 67, my only problem using a small phone is the smallness of it. With my Google Nexus 6 and a pair of 3X magnifying glasses, I get by well enough. My 90-year old father in law (magna cum laude from MIT & certified genius) has similar issues.

    Old people aren’t automatically stupid or slow; don’t fall into the trap of assuming that they are.

    1. I am 82 and have a ‘ MOTO-G’! I am really happy with it except for answering a call. Some ads or other interference
      Can cloud the screen and there is no way I have found to clear the screen and answer!! Therefore I have a lot of
      missed calls!! Any suggestions other than , get a new phone??

  4. This article is missing the cost of the phones. It would be nice to be able to do a full comparison.

  5. Hi! I have Samsung 7 at 70 years. Basically no problem, except font could
    be larger. I raised it and all fine but then can’t see all the print with games etc. So a larger
    phone would be better. Thanks for addressing senior issues and raising awareness.

  6. I work as an accessibility expert for government – making sure that applications are fully compliant with accessibility standards. Anyway, I am 68 and use both the Apple iPhone 6 as well as a Android based – LG phone. I can use and view everything on both of them – but the iPhone is easier to use and its accessibility features that are useful to older individuals – i.e. VoiceOver – Magnifier, etc. are all integrated into the iOS – The article needs to address these issues if it’s going to be useful to a broad base of people. Granted cost is a factor, but other features are equally important.

  7. I’m 103 years young and I use the samsung galaxy 45. It has apps, 10g speeds, and even transforms into a tennis racket for whooping my grandchildren when they sneak werther’s orginals.

  8. I own an iMac and iPad what smartphone should I buy. I am 80.

    Thanks Deirdre

    1. Hi Deirdre
      As a lifelong Apple user myself – highly recommend an Apple iPhone for you. All of your other tech items will talk to each other (calendar, email, contact list, photos, et). Get the “PLUS” version (larger screen) of whichever one you choose (preferable the 7 or 8 – but a 6S Plus could work too). The negative right now is that the older phones ie: 6S and older, are completely slowed by the newest updates. I currently have the 6Plus and the slow processor speed is driving me nuts. That said – my 93 year old father welcomed the slow down.
      Good luck! Nicole

  9. I had the Jitterbug. Three days I had the Jitterbug. Waited hours on hold hoping to get it activated. Gave up and returned it. Lady at returns desk said she had purchased one for her father and he loved it until he tried to get service. Service does not exist.

    Currently on Moto-G6. Number three example of Moto-G. First two were defective. Do you have any idea how much time and how much struggle it takes for a person with limited tech ability to determine the problem is not their aging brain but a defective black box? And then to convince a younger person who normally only converses with their thumbs to accept an exchange? Mature technology was Western Electric phones that lasted decade after decade with zero problems.

    1. Agree with John Wilson. I have a simple flip cellphone but am considering a “smart” phone only because of apps for Lyft and Uber. I know virtually nothing. And yes, we had several lovely Western Electric phones that lasted for years. All still working and left them on a move. What I despise now is that our landline cordless has been integrated on the internet connection. If my wi-fi goes haywire so does the landline. Much prefer the older copper wiring which we never had a problem with but that’s all becoming passé’ sadly.

      1. This is exactly why I showed up on this article! My dad who is almost 91 had a stroke, but he has recovered very well. The problem? He can no longer drive. I don’t want him to lose his independence, but Uber and Lyft *require* a smartphone. He’s used to his old standard flip phone. It’s a phone. That’s all he needs. A phone and a way to use Uber and Lyft. I wish there was something to do that without being complicated or overly large.

      2. If all you’re looking for is access to Uber and Lyft, I recently heard of a service you can use from a FlipPhone called GoGoGrandparent. The Senior (or their children) can set up an account online, and then the Senior can call a real 10-digit phone number on their FlipPhone. They can either press 1, 2, 3, etc to get a pickup at home or their last dropped off location. Or can press a number to get a live person. Either way GoGoGrandparent is connected to Uber/Lyft and will arrange the car rides. They even pre-set with the drivers to help with carrying groceries and work with wheelchairs, etc. I’m not associated with them, and don’t have an account myself, but heard of them from a friend who works at a Retirement Community and loves it for her residents. Apparently the child can even be put in as a contact, and will get text alerts when mom/dad use the service, so they know when mom/dad get to their destination and home safely. There is a slight charge over the regular Uber/Lyft charge, but that might be worth it for not having a complicated smartphone and peace of mind of mom/dad’s whereabouts.

  10. I have the ZTE N817, ( The free “O’bama” phone, Free Gov. minutes via QLink server. I am 77,….and it leaves a lot to be desired. ‘
    Qlink advertised the same free service with other phones I may buy/use if they are ” compatible”
    I wanted to buy/use a Samsung Galaxy, however; Nothing @ Walmart or any other dealer was compatible !
    Can anyone help me find a compatible Samsung Galaxy that is compatible with Qlink service ?
    I can go on line to them and type in the MEID number to test compatibility .

  11. I am hit 2x, not only am I a senior but I am disabled (auto accident, leaving brain issues) But, it’;s time I trade in my flip phone for a smart phone. Verizon is currently my provider and I was thinking of buying a Jitterbug from Best Buy, taking it to Version and having it activated. But, someone in the comments ,here, said it’s an issue with Verizon and their compatibility with Jitterbug, is this the case? If so, what kind of phone should I get.
    Thanks

    1. Hi Stephen, my Mother is 82 and has a Jitterbug and she loves her Facebook and messenger {especially video chat} but she has problems with making phone calls. It’s terribly sad to watch her struggle with the calling and answering issues.My first smartphone was just so intimidating, the touchscreen, the options were all too much for me to handle all at once. Straight Talk and AT&T has been my provider’s and I have had no problem getting Samsung phone’s activated through them. Straight Talk was my first provider, my children rushed me through tutorials and I just couldn’t get it. So I called for Tech services from Straight talk and they were my glorious Teacher’s. I learned how to clear the cache from my apps, clear apps one at a time and now 6 year’s down the road I can use a smart phone with the best of them. For a first timer, you can buy a refurbished phone frotm Verizon, Staright Talk, At&T or Iphone’s from any of their websites from 49.99-300.00 depending on your budget. Start cheap and upgrade as you learn. It’s worked for me. I’m a TBI survivor and 55 years old too. Good luck

  12. nice information in this article

  13. NONE of these are people with Alzheimers, which is what 30% of the elderly have (And need just a send and an answer!) Cameras, pictures, any additional junk makes them USELESS!

  14. A good quality phone that works and is only a phone is of value to couples as well. I have the android. He has the flip phone. When he wants extra he uses mine. But, he would pay for better quality, and he doesn’t want data. Hard to find.

  15. I am 87 years old, never used a smart phone, have only one hand (due to stroke), and not very good at learning how to use new things. I can use the computer for e-mail etc. What do you suggest I buy in a smart phone?

    1. Hi Brian, find a phone that can be operated with voice-commands. Another important feature is fingerprint-based security. This allows you to hold the phone in one hand and login using your thumbprint. The iPhone has both these features, even if its an older iPhone. I have a 3-year old iphone 6, and I’m amazed at how good the voice recognition it. I don’t have to type emails on the keyboard, I can just speak everything and it gets converted to text. I’m sure other phones have these features too, so you’re not limited if you don’t want an iPhone.
      The other ingredient you’ll need is someone to help you set it up, who will enter your contacts list and help set up the voice-command shortcuts. Good luck with it!

  16. Thanks JB, this was an excellent suggestion! Thank you for chiming in.

  17. My mother is 91, and is surprisingly tech savy, but her Consumer Cellular Huawei phone is a total POS. What does anyone think about the Galaxy J7 for a senior who needs large icons?

  18. I’m 78, my wife is 75. We both own and are very happy with the excellent and Motorola Moto E5 Play. Priced at under $100, this is a great phone and worthy of your review. We are also happy with Consumer Cellular service.

  19. Rabia – (71 and female)
    To: Brian and William.I am also VERY happy with Consumer Cellular. I am able to keep my monthly bills under $25.00 a month, and there is a lot of help preventing spam/fake callers, etc. The company president seems ‘senior friendly’ and none of my friends under 50 seem to be interested! ha. They all talk too much and text so much more than I do.
    I have a Galaxy J7, purchased from Consumer Cellular for under $100. I do have arthritis in both wrists and often use the speaker rather than hold the phone, that works for me.
    Granted I would love to own the best iPhone, or even the new Samsung that folds up and opens – seen today all over the Internet and on TV. They are just too expensive and their loss from forgetfulness would be costly!
    I do love the Galaxy J7 – circa 2015 I believe, and it’s many features. I do end up dictating grocery lists, important notes, and doing Google searches… Say “Ok Google”. These are all helpful to a senior, I think. This one, anyway.
    Good luck.

    1. ummm excuse me , Quote from you “the Galaxy J7, purchased from Consumer Cellular for under $100″…… i am on the site now , and its $180.00 , NOT under $100.00 , the date today is 3-9-19.
      https://www.consumercellular.com/Products/910/Details

      so how did you get it for your price ?.

  20. I have a question. Is there any cell phone or hybrid that allows 2 of my friends (both 87) to make calls and not worry about dropping the call due to moving the phone over their faces and in their hands? I have tried to convince them to use the speaker icon, but they decline for ‘propriety’s sake’.
    I suggested a head set, with a speaker built in, or a speaker arm that swings away, but I’ve not found anything in my searches either. The Mrs of the duo has hung up on me many times and we both end up having to call back.
    Suggestions appreciated.

  21. Jitterbug users have to use THEIR carrier service. All Samsung smartphones have the Easy Mode
    function which allows the user to set up the desktop with only the apps they intend to use, but all other functions can be displayed if desired, as they are just hidden. Easy Mode makes the device very easy to use.

  22. I believe the Power Tel M9500 is for use in the UK, not the USA.. and am unsure about other European Countries.

  23. Vivian M.
    What tel. companies demand that you buy their phones and refuse to let you use another phone that you already have. Which ones have the best service?

  24. I use Jitterburg Smart 2 which is a really good phone. It is easy on the eyes some of the other phones have enhanced radiation levels.

  25. I had the Jitterbug Smart 2. LOVED IT. Having an injured hand I had trouble holding it,so went to their smaller, flip phone. It is also great, however I miss the smart phone. It was so easy to set up and use. I had no complaints with service.
    Remember you also have emergency service. I would recommend both phones according what you are wanting

  26. We are a new company that provides smarpthones for seniors – https://www.zonev.com. You can download the software separately as well if you have a Samsung smartphone.

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