Just as the cell phone has mostly replaced landlines, the smartphone has replaced simpler cell phones that only let you call or text. As you age, though, you may find it more difficult using the smaller devices with tiny buttons and too many options. If you ever use a smartphone and find yourself asking, "Why can't I just make a phone call?" then you're in the market for a simpler smartphone.
You don't have to sacrifice technology for ease of use, though, so there's no need to go backward and use an older model that doesn't offer the same features as the smartphones of today. The best smartphones for seniors are designed for easy use, whether you're having trouble seeing text on the display, finding the right buttons to press or hearing the person on the other end of the phone.
Samsung Galaxy Note5
At 5.7 inches, the screen on this smartphone is one of the largest of any Android phone, which makes it easy for anyone to see text, phone numbers and buttons. What stands out even more is the easy mode that you can choose in the settings. Enabling the easy mode increases the size of icons and fonts to make it even easier to see what's on your screen. You also see fewer icons, though you still see helpful information such as the time, date and weather. A simple swipe on the screen to the right shows you the top 12 contacts in your phone, while a swipe to the left takes you to the most used functions or apps on your phone. Plus, you get all of the best features of a smartphone, including a high-quality camera, internet capabilities and GPS navigation.
Apple iPhone 6s Plus or 7 Plus
If you're an Apple fan, you likely wouldn't even consider an Android option – even if it's easier. You don't have to compromise your loyalty, though. The iPhone's screen is one of considerable size whether you choose the iPhone 6s Plus or the iPhone 7 Plus, both of which have 5.5-inch displays. All iPhones have an accessibility setting that allows you to adjust options to make it easier to use, whether you're having trouble seeing text or hearing someone on the other line or you just want to enable speech-to-text.
VoiceOver is a feature that lets you hear what's on the screen rather than read it – just enable this option and then touch the screen to hear what's there. Apple's iPhones are also hearing-aid compatible, and the company makes some earbuds specifically designed to work with iPhones so you can hear everything through your phone – even if you're hard of hearing.
Google Pixel XL
Another high-quality smartphone that gives you all the functionality of the latest gadgets, but with greater ease, is the Google Pixel XL. You still have to make some adjustments in the settings of your Google Pixel XL, but once you do, you can use it the way you want to. For example, you can turn on the TalkBack feature, which turns your notifications and alerts into audible spoken alerts. If you're experiencing dexterity issues and a touchscreen is difficult to navigate, you can use the Voice Access option to give verbal commands instead of swiping or tapping buttons. Although this smartphone offers a generous screen size of 5.5 inches, you can still adjust the size of icons and fonts on your screen through the settings, or you can zoom in to see text more easily.
A smartphone doesn't have to be difficult to use; you just have to adjust some settings to make your smartphone work the way you want it to. If you're looking for an even simpler solution, such as a flip phone that only makes calls and lets you text, you can read our articles about other cell phones for seniors.