Top 7 Cell Phones for Seniors – An In-Depth Analysis
If you’re after a good cell phone for seniors but don’t have the time for a lot of research on the matter, then the following short paragraph will give you a quick suggestion on the subject. After going through a lot of reviews of senior cell phones we’ve concluded that the Motorola Moto E Plus will probably serve you the best out of everything that’s available for sale right now. This unit has a remarkably good screen, which offers good image definition and is easy to interact with. It can be purchased either as part of a Verizon plan at a substantial decrease in cost, or as an unlocked model, which is compatible with all mobile carriers operating in the US. If you’re after a bit more performance and don’t mind the extra cost, then the ASUS ZE553KL will make a great alternative.
Products In Demand – In-Depth Reviews
Finding the best senior cell phone might cause a set of difficulties, given the peculiarities of this population group. To make life a little easier for the buyer, we’ve looked through as many senior cell phone reviews we could get our hands on and have highlighted the models we found best fitting to senior citizen use.
Motorola Moto E Plus (B072ZS6JD2)
Luckily for those who aren’t all that enthusiastic for wasting money on a brand name, the American giant Motorola isn’t as popular as it used to be, but it still delivers reliable products, that are close in performance to anything else you’ll find on the marker.
This E Plus smartphone might not be their top of the line model, but it does come with a highly competitive touch screen and all the performance a senior citizen might require from such a device. The 5.5-inch screen is praised both for its image quality, with bright colors that can be easily distinguished in high luminosity settings, as well as more “physical” factors like durability and responsiveness.
Besides being able to take a fair beating, it is also water resistant in case it’s forgotten on a porch before rain. It operates on a 1.4 GHZ quad-core processor, with 2 GB of RAM and 16GB of internal memory, with the option of a 128GB SD card in case you want to pack movies for a long road.
In the unlocked version, it is compatible with nearly all mobile carriers activating in the US, like AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon, and it can be purchased from the latter as part of an advantageous package.
ASUS ZE553KL (B06XW6SJF8)
If you’re the type that likes to play around with games and apps, then this ASUS would be the perfect mid-range model for you, as its performance is nothing close to mediocre. The 5.5-inch display offers an impressive 1920 x 1080 FHD resolution, and the dual 12 Mp and 13 Mp cameras can be used for quality photos as well as video recordings.
These will be stored on a 32 GB of internal memory which can be further increased to 2 TB by adding a Micro SD card. It has 3 GB of RAM and a 2.0 GHz octa-core Snapdragon 625 processor that runs on 64 bit for a graphical performance that places it close to that of an older desktop.
The whole thing is fairly resistant and uses the latest Corning Gorilla Glass 5 for a 70% better drop resistance as opposed to previous models.
The only significant downside about it is that it can only operate on GSM networks, like AT&T or T-Mobile, and you can’t use it with Verizon, Sprint, and US Cellular. It can be most commonly found as unlocked, containing 2 SIM cards and a 5000 mAh battery which is said to hold a charge for quite some time.
Tracfone Alcatel Big Easy Plus Prepaid (B00YNUCWQI)
This Alcatel Big Easy is as straightforward as they come, with an option to purchase it prepaid with double minutes included for life, of which you will get up to 810 a year. This is easy enough to unlock in a couple of minutes on the internet, so it shouldn’t pose any problem for most seniors.
While it has all the capabilities of a 3rd generation mobile phone, it won’t really offer the functionality of a smartphone, meaning you will get fewer applications and limited internet access. But then again, most people don’t need those anyway.
Highly appreciated for its ease of use and “friendliness” to seniors, it operates with a regular phone keyboard, with large buttons that are also backlit. So is the high resolution screen, which despite its size displays clear letters in a font that’s easy to read (some models of the type make them appear a little blurry).
People who bought it found it to be very tough and easy to fit in a pocket, so it might be a great model to use as a backup for taking trips or camping, especially as it also includes a built-in flashlight.
Pantech Breeze 3 Flip Cell Phone (B014069ET2)
This unlocked Pantech Breeze can be purchased either from a retailer or from AT&T, and requires your own SIM card to operate. This makes it extremely convenient for replacing an older model from the same provider, as you’ll only have to open it up and place the card in order to use it.
On the technical side of things, it offers all the convenience and reliable service you’d expect from a good old flip phone. It’s operated by a standard phone keyboard and the buttons are spaced to prevent mistakenly pushing the wrong key. Since it closes on itself, there’s no risk of accidentally dialing when this sits in your pocket either, so you won’t have to set it to lock in a couple of seconds if not used.
The interface is as familiar and intuitive as you would expect from such a model, but it offers a lower resolution than the Alcatel we’ve also looked at, so those of you with vision problems might want to make sure this agrees with you before purchasing.
It is somewhat pricey, however, even when compared with an affordable smartphone, so unless you’re keen on the intuitive interface and the resilience of a flip phone, you might want to look for a more affordable product for a backup.
Gamma S10 (B072FRL353)
Since it connects to GSM quad bands this Gamma S10 can be used all over the world, as long as you have the required SIM card or subscription to an appropriate 2nd generation (2G) provider. In the US, it is compatible with T-Mobile, Straight Talk, and Simple Mobile networks but it will not work with 3G-only services.
It’s also one of the best-performing classic mobile phones currently on the market, with an option to integrate a 32GB TF card for storing music, videos, or photos and a 2.8-inch screen for displaying them.
You’ll only get limited internet access, for checking messages on Facebook and mail, but it has an integrated FM radio receiver and an MP3/MP4 player, as well as a Bluetooth 2.0 for connecting it to the computer.
It uses a classical phone keyboard with spaced out keys and the interface is as easy to navigate through as you would expect from a 2G phone. The frame is slim and narrow, at only 0.38 inches thick and 2.24 wide, so it will make for a great backup phone when going camping or for holidays, especially as its battery life is considerably long.
Jethro SC435 (B0753B7CPK)
Simple and easy to use, this 3G Jethro SC435 is particularly marketed toward children and the elderly, but it will also prove a viable option for people who need a spare phone to take on trips or when traveling outside their coverage area.
Slightly smaller in the pocket than the Gamma S10 we’ve looked at because it slides, it features a similar 2.8-inch screen, with somewhat poorer resolution but easy to read graphics. Its main advantage over that model is that it works with both 2G GSM and 3G networks, with the exception of Verizon or Sprint.
To increase its functionality as an emergency phone, it’s been outfitted with an SOS dialing function, which can be used to call up to 6 contacts by the push of a single button. It also comes with a quick charging dock that can be used as a stand for it around the house and an option to include a 16GB Micro SD card. There’s also a speaking keypad option, not that the sliding keyboard isn’t easy enough to use.
Certified by the FCC and IC as an emergency unit, you might want to look toward this as an option for a relative who might be suffering from dementia or other conditions known to impede memory.
Mosthink UNIWA V 708 (B076D38T5X)
This unlocked Mosthink V 708 has the same purpose as the Jethro covered above, meaning an emergency unit specifically intended for kids or elderly relatives, but in a slightly lower price range and with a corresponding reduction in quality.
You’ll get one less number for the SOS call function, with 5 instead of 6, but these are easy enough to set up and can be dialed from a single button, placed just above the one used for regular conversations.
The screen is significantly smaller and doesn’t offer much in the way of resolution, and the keypad is fixed but easy enough to use, with relatively large and well spaced buttons. Like on other items of this type, there’s a loudspeaker and an FM radio receiver, which means it can be used as a regular radio unit, placed on its charging stand.
The battery is specified to last for up to 200 hours on standby and 150 minutes of talking time. The manufacturer also takes great care to let us know which networks this option is compatible with, which seems to include most US providers of GSMT and GSM services.
Our Yearly Guide
Finding the best cell phone for seniors, or anyone else who’s got anything better to do in life than caring about trendy tech for that matter, promises to be an arduous, if not downright annoying task. There is a lot to account for when making your choice. Besides issues such as the phone’s performance, reliability, function, and battery life, there’s also the cell phone plan, covering, and compatibility with various providers to nag at you.
The basics of buying a cell phone
A buying guide would somewhat help you in making a decision, but cell phone offers and other material provided by carriers and manufacturers should always be consulted, to ensure that you don’t end up paying for something you’ll never end up using.
Providers just love developing elaborate plans, with as many “perks” on offer as possible, just for the customer to realize that he still has 500 minutes of free international call time at the end of the year, which were, of course, included in the price of his subscription.
There’s also a decision to be made between buying an unlocked phone or one that’s already part of a package. The latter option will have the phone itself cost less, but it might end up setting you back even more if coupled with an expensive plan which you won’t end up using.
Smartphone or classic?
On the technical front, the first thing to consider is whether you favor a smartphone or a classic one. The advantages of the smartphone are pretty plain for all to see: you can use it to connect to the Internet, which might even cut down on the costs in the long run by using this to message your friends, to read things when you’re bored or to listen to podcasts on a long commute.
Furthermore, some of the applications you can run are actually useful and can help in your day to day life.
Of all things, the downsides of a smartphone have to do with convenience. Besides being rather flimsy, their touch screens seem to be specifically designed to be big enough to take lots of room in your pocket, but so small as to prove bothersome to use for a grown man with regular-sized hands.
Furthermore, it will always be easier to type on a small keyboard than on the barely responsive touch screen a cheap cell phone for seniors might come with.
While a good smartphone will always offer quite a lot of battery life, on average, a classical model will last you significantly longer for the same price, while still offering some of the functions of its more modern counterpart, like a couple of hundred MB of memory to load a podcast or some music on.
This aspect barely matters for classical cell phones, but it can make a huge difference for smartphones. Some of the metrics that tell you how well these devices will do their jobs are the same as in a regular computer, meaning RAM, internal memory, and processing speed.
Rapid Access Memory, or RAM, basically tells you how easy it will be for the unit to run multiple programs at the same time, and how fast it will do it, because it takes some time for the processor to draw information from the hard drive, and this might make certain applications stutter (in the lack of a better term).
If you’re looking at using demanding programs, like a mobile version of AutoCAD or most mobile games, then a lot of RAM is something you’ll definitely need.
The other type of memory, usually called “internal memory” represents the maximum storage capacity of your phone and is commonly expressed in MegaBytes (MB). If you like to store a lot of video or audio files on your mobile device, then this will be something to look for, and you will get even more MB if the device is paired with an SD card.
Finally, processing speed is just that, an indication of how fast the phone will do its job in demanding applications or games. It’s calculated in units of frequency, more specifically GigaHertz. It doesn’t have any bearing on how well the phone will function as such, and it’s less important for browsing the internet than RAM.
Display and camera
Needless to say, the best phone for seniors must have a clear and easy to read display, that allows for a good deal of contrast and is bright enough to be visible on a sunny day. Although the zoom function on the screen will be used quite a lot, most experts don’t find maximum resolution to be as important as color accuracy and the things listed above.
Likewise, the camera resolution, expressed in Mega Pixels probably won’t matter as much as the other factors determining image quality. It is far easier to tell the difference between a picture that suffers from poor contrast or lighting vs. a good one, than between images taken on a 5 Mp or 15 Mp camera phones.
Background noise canceling technology in the microphone might make senior citizens easier to understand by the person on the other end of the line.
The operating system is important for smartphones, and the most popular one right now seems to be the Android 7.1 Nougat, so by all means, use this as a criteria for selection. Since seniors aren’t all that keen on downloading apps, it’s preferable for a smartphone to have some essential programs pre-installed, like Google Maps, Google Assistant, some form of hands-free voice command, etc.
A model’s durability and overall working life shouldn’t be neglected either, as yearly replacing a phone isn’t something that people who have better things to live for take great pleasure in doing. After all, senior citizens tend not to be what is referred to in modern internet parlance as “soulless bugmen”.
Finally, the phone should be easy to set up and connect to the network, preferably without having to connect it to the internet and agree to a whole series of mile-long legal statements.
Frequently asked questions about cell phones for senior citizens
How much should a senior cell phone cost?
This all depends on what that senior citizen wants from his or her phone in regards of quality and functionality. If the person is up-to-date with the latest developments in mobile technology and likes to play around with the latest high-tech gadgets, then something like a high-end Samsung might make the best pick.
If he or she is interested in often redundant performance or functionality, than an affordable Smartphone runs at around $200 and a good 3G or 2G phone can be acquired for something like $60 or $30 respectively, with special emergency models running at about the same, depending on quality.
How can I make sure that the cell phone doesn’t get damaged?
The short answer is to buy an impact-resistant cover. If you want to go all the way, there are phones that are specially designed to take a beating. These are mostly intended for construction workers, army personnel, and people of similar occupation, and tend to cost a bit more than regular models.
Even “civilian” phones can feature high-impact glass for the screen, or might be water resistant, and how well these will safeguard the electronics inside can be determined by looking through customer reports.
Do I need to get an external battery pack too?
If the person the phone is intended for doesn’t have any problem remembering when to charge it on time, then buying an external battery pack isn’t required. This might be a good idea if your elderly relative suffers from dementia, or simply for the reason people usually buy battery packs.
Senior citizens often love to travel and see the country. During long bus or train trips, an external battery pack will allow them to use their phones for longer stretches of time, to stave off boredom by listening to the radio, browsing the internet etc.
Why are there so few cell phones with buttons nowadays?
There are a couple of reasons for this. Firstly, mobile phones have become more of a fashion accessory in recent years, and this makes them more susceptible to trends than other pieces of technology. Simply put, keypads for phones aren’t fashionable anymore.
It follows from this that the industrial production lines that used to handle keypad manufacturing might have been decommissioned to a large extent, and re-fitting a plant with the right industrial tools is always costly.
Finally, there’s design obsolescence. Keypads are inherently more reliable than touch screens, so there will be less of a need on the customer to buy new items once the current one breaks.
About cell phone plans for seniors
Seniors often don’t want to pay or don’t even need all the extra options that cell phone providers usually offer as part of their plans, like unlimited high-speed data, video streaming and mobile hotspot.
There are, however, packages aimed specifically at seniors, which are typically prepaid and include fewer minutes and frills than regular plans.
The cheapest ones should appeal to people who don’t use a mobile phone on a regular basis and are pay-per-use, where a small tax is subtracted only on days when calls were made. Other popular plans that cover demand a small monthly charge, usually less than $5 in exchange for a number of free minutes and text messages.
With flexible plans, the usage is billed in tiers, although a regular fee is still paid each month. If no services were used in a given month, than only the base price will be charged.
The priciest plans take into account the usual senior’s discounts allowed by the state and can offer unlimited minutes and data. It is advisable to check with your provider for any of these if you just turned 65.