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Best smartphones for seniors 2021

Best smartphones for seniors 2021
(Image credit: Getty)

Welcome to our best smartphones for seniors guide. If you need a new smartphone, for yourself or for a senior relative then you've come to the right place. We've done the time to find the best options out there, and now all that's left is to pick one. Here are a few considerations to help you make that choice.

Do you want a more mainstream smartphone with capabilities that make it senior friendly? Or will you be better served by a senior-specific brand of phone? 

In the case of the former – smartphones – you have options. Many smartphones have senior-friendly features like larger fonts, text-to-speech/speech-to-text, and simplified displays. For the latter – senior specific mobiles – there are features like physical buttons and extra loud modes.

A modern smartphone may do the job just fine, adding in useful features like video calling, camera and internet access, not to mention all the other helpful apps. But if all that is surplus to requirements then something like the Lively brand may be better. 

You can pick up the stylish Apple iPhone SE for $349 or get the senior focused Lively Flip for $99.99, although it's been known to drop in sales to as low as $30.

You may also be served well by reading our best cordless phones guide so you can stay connected around the home with a solid landline.

1. Apple iPhone SE 2020: Best smartphones for seniors 

Best smartphones for seniors: iPhone SE

(Image credit: Apple)

Apple iPhone SE 2020

With a simple interface and reasonable price, this is the best iphone for seniors

Screen size: 4.7-inch | Battery life: 13 hours | Headphone jack: No

Excellent camera
Very simple interface
Clear and bright display
No headphone jack

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That means seniors can enjoy all the design and build quality of Apple but without the worry of this going out of date and needing a replacement anytime soon.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. 

2. Google Pixel 4a: Best non-Apple phone

Best smartphones for seniors: Google Pixel 4a

(Image credit: Google)

Google Pixel 4a

Has a great camera and a simple interface, and it runs on Android OS

Screen size: 5.81-inch | Battery life: 16 hours | Headphone jack: Yes

Powerful and simple camera
Headphone jack
One handed use
Cheaper feeling design than some

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.  Google Pixel 4A 5G: Best 5G smartphone for seniors

Google Pixel 4A 5G

(Image credit: Future)

Google Pixel 4A 5G

it's the Google Pixel 4A, but now with 5G

Screen size: 6.2 inches | Battery life: 8-9 hours | Headphone jack: Yes

Great camera for the cost
Easy to use
Feels premium
Pricier than competing models

Deja vu? Don't worry, we'll explain. The Google Pixel 4A 5G is an upgraded version of the Google Pixel 4A that comes with 5G connectivity and a few other upgrades. You get a bigger screen, a more powerful CPU and a better camera array. 

The Google Pixel 4A 5G is more expensive as a result, but it's still a great budget smartphone for seniors, especially if you want the benefits of a 5G smartphone but don’t want to pay top dollar for the latest flagship models. The Android operating system is simple to navigate and easy to use.

It also comes packed with accessibility features including text to speech modes which will read out text when you tap it on screen, along with variable font sizes for those who struggle to read small text. You can also alter the size of icons and apps on screen too, so you can easily customize the display to suit your needs. 

You still get that headphone jack here too, which means you can plug your wired headphones in directly, and don’t need to mess around with connecting wireless devices. 

4. iPhone 12 Pro - best premium smartphone for seniors

iPhone 12 Pro

(Image credit: Apple)

iPhone 12 Pro

The best iPhone for seniors, if money is no object

Average price: $999 | Operating System: iOS | Screen size: 6.1" | Storage: 128GB, 256GB or 512GB | 5G ready: Yes | Headphone jack: No | Charging type: Lightning by USB-C | Also consider: iPhone 12

Excellent camera
Classic design
OLED display

If you don’t mind spending the big bucks, then the iPhone 12 Pro is a truly exceptional smartphone that suits seniors as well as anyone else. It’s a stunning piece of technology with an effortlessly stylish design, excellent build quality, and simple to use interface.

Beyond that, you also get a phenomenal camera array that will let you snap amazing photos when you’re out and about, or visiting family and friends. It’s also got powerful hardware inside, so you won’t have to worry about it slowing down. The battery life, while not industry leading, is pretty good too and will comfortably see you through the day.

There are plenty of customization options to help you set up your iPhone the way you want it too, with custom widgets, larger text options, screen magnification, and a voice-over mode that will give audio descriptions of your on-screen information, covering everything from battery life to app names.

5.  Samsung Galaxy S21 - best premium Android smartphone for seniors

Samsung Galaxy S21

(Image credit: Samsung)

Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus

The Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus is exceptional, but expensive.

Average price:: $999 | Operating System:: Android | Screen size:: 6.7" | Storage:: 128GB, 256GB | 5G ready:: Yes | Headphone jack: No | Charging type:: Fast charging via USB-C | Also consider:: iPhone 12 Pro

Superb 6.7-inch screen
Great camera system
Tough design
Very similar to the S20 Plus
Lacks microSD slot and headphone jack

If you prefer Android smartphones but still want that premium experience, then the Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus is the way to go. The headline act is the stunning 6.7” AMOLED display that looks gorgeous whether you’re using it to take pictures, watch videos, or just browse through your phone’s apps and messages. 

On the design front, the Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus is a real winner too, with a beautiful metal frame and curved edges that we’ve come to expect from Samsung. It’s robust too, with a tough shell, gorilla glass screen and waterproof rating. The battery life is solid too, with a hefty power cell that can easily last for two days of moderate use before needing to recharge.

If taking photos is your thing, then the Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus is definitely the smartphone for you. It has a three lens camera array that lets you take amazing photos in just about any conditions. And all of this is wrapped up in the Android operating system that comes with a myriad of customization and accessibility features to help you get the most out of your device.

6. Lively Flip: Best for ease of use

Lively Flip

(Image credit: Lively)

Lively Flip

Best for ease of use

Screen size: 3.2-inch inside, 1.44-inch outside | Battery life: 12 hours talk time | Headphone jack: Yes

Decent 8MP camera
Simple and clear
Small and portable
No apps
Not cheap

The Lively Flip is a phone that's built from the ground up purely with elderly users in mind. As a result you get large buttons and a clear display making use easier for those that struggle with vision. It also comes with a dedicated Urgent Response button for the peace of mind knowing that help is available should you need it.

The camera is decent for a flip phone with an 8MP sensor for crisp and clear images. This also features Amazon's Alexa smart assistant built in for voice controls of the device and the wider smart home.

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.

7. Moto G8 Power Lite: Best smartphone battery life

Best smartphones for seniors: Moto G8 Power Lite

(Image credit: Moto)

Moto G8 Power Lite

Best smartphone battery life

Screen size: 6.5-inch | Battery life: 48 hours | Headphone jack: Yes

Brilliant battery life
Headphone jack
Low price
Could be faster
Micro USB slower charging

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.

8. Lively Smart: Best senior specific touchscreen

Lively Smart

(Image credit: Lively)

Lively Smart

A senior designed smartphone with touchscreen

Screen size: 6.2-inch | Battery life: 22 hours talk time | Headphone jack: Yes

Large 6.2-inch touchscreen
Video chat
Long battery
Not cheap

The Lively Smart is a phone designed for seniors but with a modern touchscreen display kept front and center. This features all the specifications of modern phones meaning a large and clear 6.2-inch touchscreen, GPS location services, and impressive dual rear cameras. 

You also get senior specific features including hearing aid compatibility for M4/T4, a loud speakerphone, voice typing, simple menus, simple maps and directions. Plus you can have an urgent Response button service setup if you go for that service too.

9. Nokia 3310 3G: Best for simplicity

Best smartphones for seniors: Nokia 3310 3G

(Image credit: HMD)

Nokia 3310 3G

Best for simplicity

Screen size: 2.4-inch | Battery life: 27 days standby, 6.5 hours talk | Headphone jack: Yes

Super affordable
Very easy to use
Portable and pocket-friendly
It's quite small

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.

How we tested the best smartphones for seniors

When testing the best smartphones for seniors, we combine hands-on testing with rigorous research to bring a comprehensive overview of the product. We look at style, price, performance, features, cameras, battery life, and even which cell network’s they’re available on to make sure you know everything you need to know when choosing your perfect smartphone. 

When we’re testing smartphones for seniors in house, we use them over an extended period of time to make sure there are no hidden surprises too. We use them to make calls, send texts, browse the internet, watch videos, and take pictures. We also test the battery life ourselves and compare it to the manufacturer's claims.

As part of this testing procedure, we also look at senior-specific needs like which accessibility features it has, how easy to use the device is and if it has any special features that would benefit senior users. Generally, seniors are looking for the same things out of their smartphones as everyone else, but a few extra features specifically aimed at seniors can go a long way.

Luke Edwards

Luke is a veteran tech journalist with decades of experience covering everything from TVs, power tools, science and health tech to VPNs, space, gaming and cars. You may recognize him from appearances on plenty of news channels or have read his words which have been published in most tech titles over the years. In his spare time (of which he has little as a father of two) Luke likes yoga, surfing, meditation, DIY and consuming all the books, comics and movies he can find.