Getting one of the best smartphones for seniors and elderly people can really help you, or a family member, if they struggle with technology. Most of the best smartphones in 2021 are extremely powerful devices, and come loaded with features that... most seniors simply don't need. They feature displays with a lot of information, and app-based structures that can be confusing.
When compiling this list of the best smartphones for seniors we looked at things that simplify phone use, and enable older people to more easily use them. Broadly speaking, this means phones with fewer features on the screen itself, and more accessible features on the actual phone. Many prefer to have actual buttons to dial numbers with, rather than touchscreens. Similarly, having a large display with clear numbers and words on it can really help older people if they struggle with dexterity and vision.
As an added bonus, many of the best smartphones for seniors are actually cheaper than the high-end handsets, so you won't need to break the bank to afford one. Some even have advanced emergency dialling features built in too, which can give you peace of mind. They're no substitute for a medical alert system, but they're still excellent.
Of course, most seniors like a landline too, so we have a guide to the best cordless phones, for the situations when smartphones are unsuitable.
1. Apple iPhone SE 2020: Best smartphone for seniors overall
The Apple iPhone SE (2020) brings the top-end A13 chip and puts it into a more pocket-friendly design. We don't just mean an easy to handle 4.7-inch Retina HD display but one that's also gentle on your wallet in that pocket too. This is a relatively affordable iPhone that doesn't scrimp on specs.
That means seniors can enjoy all the design and build quality of Apple but without the worry of this going out of date and needing a replacement anytime soon. Since it's Apple it means easy menus and lots of apps for free. But it also means the ability to offer modes for those hard of hearing or vision, so the phone will adapt to suit the user's needs.
From larger fonts and screen zoom to see better, to speak selection to show you where you are, this iPhone is built to guide everyone through its minimal menus. A loud ringer and LED alert flashes also help make this phone an attention grabber in more ways than one.
And should the user misplace the handset there is always the Find My iPhone option to easily recover it right away. There are also lots of health benefits from step counting to Health Data that allows your phone to alert medical practitioners to any pre-existing health conditions. The emergency SOS access, using side button pressing, is another potentially useful feature for those that want their phone to double as an aid in situations where they may be in trouble but unable to work the handset itself.
- Read the full iPhone SE 2020 review
2. Google Pixel 4a: Best non-Apple phone
The Google Pixel 4a is a budget friendly handset with a nice large and clear 5.81-inch display that doesn't break the bank. Since this uses the pure Android operating system from Google you can expect this to be super easy to use, always have the latest updates and to offer some very useful senior friendly features.
While Android will let you adapt screen layout, font size and brightness, it also allows you to load themes with apps or launchers. As such you can get a senior specific layout, with clear large icons and big keypads, for free while still keeping a mainstream handset.
The Pixel 4a offers a headphone jack, which is rare these days, making it ideal for plugging in for clearer listening. It also offers an impressive all day battery and can be used one-handed very easily. The camera is also a big draw as it's a super simple to use. Take a snap and the phone will do all the intelligent processing afterwards to make the picture look perfect. This makes anyone's photographic efforts look the best they can be.
3. Jitterbug Flip: Best for ease of use
The Jitterbug Flip is a phone designed specifically for elderly users. That means it's got large buttons and a clear display for those hard of sight. It also comes with a dedicated 5Star emergency button for anyone that wants their phone to double as an alert system for help.
What's really unique in the modern world of phones is battery life. Rather than the usual 18 hours, this offers between 18 and 24 months of life. Yup, months, you read that right. This is down to a very simple system, no apps and a small display compared to smartphones.
This has a loudspeaker to make conversations clear and easy without the need to even hold the phone. It's also got an M4/T4 rating for hearing aid compatibility so clarity of calls should not be an issue.
4. Samsung Galaxy S10e: Best for screen quality
The Samsung Galaxy S10e packs in the company's now famously high-quality display on a 5.8-inch scale, making it crystal clear and large enough for all vision abilities. The user interface is also very clear and easy to navigate, making it ideal for anyone new to smartphones or the Android operating system.
The headphone jack makes this work with wired headphones while there is also a loud speakerphone for calls. There's a great camera, easy single hand use and a fast processor to keep all interactions smooth and simple. Battery life is decent and for what you get the price isn't bad - but it is still higher than some of the competition which might not offer this quality of screen.
5. Moto G8 Power Lite: Best smartphone battery life
The Moto G8 Power Lite is a superb smartphone when it comes to battery life thanks to its 5,000mAh power pack that offers a good two days of use on a charge. The downside is that charge is relatively slow since it's via micro USB.
On the positives, you get a large and clear 6.5-inch display. It's only HD but then you get the extra size which works out well for those that struggle to see smaller text. You do get a 3.5mm headphone jack for wired headphones and this also comes with an easy to use rear placed fingerprint sensor for increased security.
While the body feels fairly solid, for a plastic build, you do get a free case thrown-in with this handset making it able to take a drop or two. The specs aren't top end but with that low price on such a large screen and battery it makes sense.
6. Nokia 3310 3G: Best for simplicity
The Nokia 3310 3G might seem like it was created as a blast from the past for fun but it's actually really useful. Not only is this a very, very affordable phone but it's also great to use. From that 27 days of standby battery to the 2.4-inch display's glass which is curved for greater clarity in daylight.
Expect a very basic camera performance from that 2MP snapper with LED flash. But for the 3.5mm headphone jack you have uses including onboard music storage, call taking and even the built-in FM radio. You also get 3G connection speeds with support for social media platforms like WhatsApp and Facebook.
The user interface is retro but it's also super simple and customizable making it easy for anyone to use. Plus this has the classic game of Snake in a modernized update. Worth the price for that alone.