Finding the best smartphones for seniors is important to help your older relative or friend stay in contact easily. Often the right smartphone for an older person is quite similar to any other smartphone. Many now have adaptive features to help with accessibility needs and more.
It's important to think about whether the senior in your life needs one of the best smartphones, flagship devices loaded with advanced features, or if they would be better served by a senior-specific brand instead. Both are viable options depending on their needs.
When it comes to smartphones, both iOS and Android based smartphones have plenty of useful accessibility options. These include features like larger fonts, text-to-speech and speech-to-text, as well as simplified displays. You're likely to need to set these up yourself though before delegating to your relative to take over.
A modern smartphone may do the job fine while throwing in features like video calling, camera facilities, and internet access, but if your senior needs more help, then a senior specific mobile may be a better option. These often provide the user with physical buttons which can help with physical limitations, along with extra loud modes too. Something like a smartphone from Lively may help here, although it won't give the senior quite the same experience as an iPhone or Android phone.
Many of the phones listed here are well priced rather than the most expensive of smartphones, but generally, the fewer features, the cheaper the phone. It's useful to know just what features are most important. In some cases, one of the best cordless phones may be a better option if a mode of communication is all that's needed but many seniors may be keen to stay up-to-date with technology.
1. Apple iPhone SE 2020: Best smartphones for seniors
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The Apple iPhone SE (2020) brings the high-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That means seniors can enjoy all the design and build quality of Apple but without the worry of this going out of date and needing a replacement anytime soon.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. Google Pixel 4A 5G: Best 5G smartphone for seniors
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.
- Read the Google Pixel 4A 5G review.
4. iPhone 12 Pro - best premium smartphone for seniors
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.
- Read our full iPhone 12 Pro review.
5. Samsung Galaxy S21 - best premium Android smartphone for seniors
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.
- Read the Samsung Galaxy S21 Plus review.
6. Lively Flip: Best for ease of use
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
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
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
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.