Seniors use their cellphone far beyond calling and texting — they can watch movies and TV shows, share and receive pictures from friends and family, and take advantage of virtual assistants like Siri. Some cell phones for seniors are higher-end smartphones, while others are simple flip phones with minimal features.
What are the best cell phones for seniors?
The best cell phone for seniors varies based on the functionality you desire. Some seniors will want the latest technology, like control over IoT environments and tracking for their keys. Others will want a basic flip phone with call and text functionality and not much else. We’ve selected the best cell phones for seniors in several categories.
- Our favorite cell phone for seniors
Jitterbug Flip by GreatCall
- Our favorite smartphone for seniors
Jitterbug Smart2 by GreatCall
- Our favorite cell phone for hearing aids
iPad Mini by Apple
- Our favorite prepaid phone for seniors
Moto G7 Play by Motorola
- Our favorite cell phone for hard of hearing
LG Exalt VN220 by Verizon
- Our favorite cell phone for ease of use
Nokia 3310 by Nokia
What should seniors look for in a cell phone?
When you compare cell phones for seniors, it’s easy to get lost in the details. The choice will depend on their needs — will they want a more complex smartphone, a basic flip phone, or a middle-of-the-road phone with standard technology? The most easy-to-use cell phones for seniors are basic flip phones. For those with limited dexterity or bigger fingers, big button phones for seniors work well. The most important features in an easy phone for seniors include:
- A clear, big, bright display
- Good sound and speakers
- Long battery life
- An emergency help button
- A durable build
Our favorite cell phone for seniors
Jitterbug Flip by GreatCall
Jitterbug Flip review
The Jitterbug Flip's simplicity and low price are its most appealing features, making it our top senior cell phone pick. GreatCall is the service provider for The Jitterbug Flip, which is covered by the Verizon network. With Jitterbug, you purchase a monthly plan cost based on the number of minutes and texts you plan to use.
Jitterbug Flip meets all our criteria for a great cell phone for seniors. It has good speakers — you can turn them way up for louder audio and have additional noise cancellation technology to help filter out distracting background sounds. The battery is excellent and can last for 10 hours on a continuous call. There’s 1 GB of storage that can hold 1000 photos, 200 contacts and 50 texts.
The Jitterbug Flip also has an emergency help button seniors can use if they are in trouble. The 5Star emergency service uses GPS to locate the user. The emergency button itself feels a bit different from the other buttons, so you can find it with just touch alone. This 5Star emergency service requires an additional monthly fee. Jitterbug also has a Voice Dial feature where you can call a contact by speaking their name into the phone.
- Jitterbug Flip benefits
- Jitterbug Flip is designed with large text and backlit buttons to make it as easy to see and use as possible. The speakerphone setting and super-high volume capability make it easy to hear people you’re talking to on the phone. In most cases, you can keep your current number when transferring to a Jitterbug phone.
- What to consider about Jitterbug Flip
- The Jitterbug only connects to Wi-Fi when the user presses the 5Star button; otherwise, Wi-Fi is not accessible. If you want a Jitterbug phone but need Wi-Fi, consider the Jitterbug Smart2, which is Jitterbug’s straightforward answer to complicated smartphones.
- Who Jitterbug Flip is best for
- Jitterbug Flip is the best flip phone for seniors that want a basic, straightforward, affordable phone and do not care about additional features like Wi-Fi or email.
Our favorite smartphone for seniors
Jitterbug Smart2 by GreatCall
Jitterbug Smart2 review
Like the Jitterbug Flip, the Jitterbug Smart2 runs on service from GreatCall, part of the Verizon network. The display is bright, clear and easy to read, making it a great choice for seniors who have trouble with other modern phone screens. The interface focuses more on big words in clear fonts rather than ambiguous icons, so it’s easier to navigate than Android or iOS interfaces for most people. The phone has excellent battery life: 5 hours if you’re streaming video, 12 hours if you’re talking on the phone and 17 days if the phone is turned on but not being used. The phone runs a bit slowly, but this shouldn’t be a problem for people who aren’t techies. You can also use voice dictation on the Smart2.
The Smart2 comes with some optional additional features. For $34.99 a month, you can dial “0” and speak to a human operator who can talk you through how to use your phone. For $24.99 month, family members can have access to the GPS location of the Smart2 on their smartphones. Medical professionals can also be available immediately over the phone.
- Jitterbug Smart2 benefits
- The apps that come with the phone are easy to use and straightforward, such as phone, text, camera, Internet, email, maps and Lively, the medical alert app. If you’re unhappy with the phone, you can return it for free within 30 days. Plans are also customizable, depending on how much you plan to text, talk and use data.
- What to consider about Jitterbug Smart2
- The unlimited plan, at $49.99/mo, isn’t as much of a bargain as the cost of the phone. The other plans, though, are reasonable. The volume isn’t as loud as we’d like, either. This is surprising, considering how many other senior-friendly features the phone has. You can always test out the phone to see if the level is appropriate for you, but if you are hard of hearing, it might be best to consider another phone.
- Who Jitterbug Smart2 is best for
- The Jitterbug Smart 2 is best for seniors who want a smartphone but are buying on a budget. The phone is a deal considering its features.
Our favorite cell phone for seniors with hearing aids
iPad Mini by Apple
iPad Mini review
We chose the iPad Mini as the best cell phone for seniors with hearing aids because you can stream audio from the iPad Mini to compatible hearing aids. Even though the iPad Mini is a tablet, it can still work well as a cellphone, especially for seniors who don’t plan to take it with them on the go. A wide variety of apps are available on the iPad Mini - there’s no excuse to be bored while using it. You can also plug in headphones to listen to music if you wish. The display is bright, colorful and clear. This makes it great for sharing photos and videos of friends and family. The camera is solid and can take great photos both indoors and outdoors.
The iPad Mini supports use of the Apple Pencil, a stylus that lets you write and sketch on the tablet. The Apple Pencil costs $99. The Mini’s 64GB version with Wi-Fi is $399. For 256GB, expect to pay $549. The cellular version of the iPad Mini costs $529. The Mini only weighs 10.6 ounces, so it’s easy to carry around if needed. It has a 7.9” diagonal screen compared to the 9.7” diagonal screen on regular iPads. Seniors can use a touch ID to gain access to the Mini.
- iPad Mini benefits
- We love the battery life: 10 hours with continuous Wi-Fi surfing. Also, the display is excellent for watching movies and TV shows — you will be able to watch in high-definition and enjoy some of the best graphics around.
- What to consider about iPad Mini
- You cannot technically make cellular calls through the iPad Mini, unless you specifically buy the cellular version. However, you can still make calls through 3G or Wi-Fi. Plus, apps like Skype or Google Hangouts can allow you to speak to loved ones face-to-face.
- Who iPad Mini is best for
- If you’re looking for a small tablet to function as a cellphone and entertainment device, the iPad Mini is easily the best choice.
Our favorite prepaid phone for seniors
Moto G7 Play by Motorola
Moto G7 Play review
The Moto G7 Play is a smartphone with some impressive capabilities, but not so much it’s overwhelming for seniors looking for a straightforward cellphone experience. You can get a prepaid plan for the Moto G7 Play through companies like Republic Wireless or Ting. With a prepaid plan you pay based on how much you use the phone instead of paying a set monthly fee. The phone is unlocked, meaning it doesn’t require a specific carrier. Some compatible carriers include Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile and AT&T. The Moto G7 Play runs on the Android operating system.
The display can’t compare to more expensive smartphones, but it’s good for the price and is clear and easy-to-read. The 13 MP camera means it’s easy to take great photos and videos. The volume on the phone is loud - the speakerphone can turn up to 78 decibels. Its streaming video sound peaks at 88 decibels, which is loud enough to hear on a busy street. The voice quality on calls is very good - it should be easy for seniors who are hard of hearing to understand people on a call.
- Moto G7 Play benefits
- Although it’s a cheap smartphone, it still has impressive features like facial recognition unlock and fingerprint sensor unlock. The phone is water repellant, protecting it from light rain, sweat and some spills. The phone also has a headphone jack if you want to listen to music, and a microSD card slot lets you store additional photos and audio.
- What to consider about Moto G7 Play
- The phone is decently durable, but it does have a glass display, meaning it’s prone to breakage. Make sure to buy a sturdy, waterproof case for it.
- Who Moto G7 Play is best for
- The Moto G7 is best for those who want a prepaid smartphone with clear, loud audio. The prepaid option allows seniors to pay just for the minutes and texts they use instead of a set monthly plan.
Our favorite cell phone for hard of hearing seniors
LG Exalt VN220 by Verizon
LG Exalt review
The LG Exalt VN220 flip phone is our top cell phone pick for seniors who are hard of hearing. The phone has a high-fidelity speaker and HD Voice, which enables high-resolution sound, making it an excellent choice for seniors who are hard of hearing. The phone is sturdy and has large, tactile buttons. It weighs just 4.59 ounces and has Bluetooth capability. The 5 MP camera means you can take good photos and decent videos for a flip phone. The phone has a basic browser. It’s not ideal, but it works in a pinch if you need to look something up. The phone also has a calculator, timer, alarm clock and voice recorder. The phone uses Verizon’s network to make calls. If there’s no Verizon service, then it makes calls over Wi-Fi.
The buttons have some space between them, which helps if you have big fingers and tend to press the wrong button. A text-to-speech function can read out texts for convenience or for those who have trouble reading the screen.
- LG Exalt benefits
- The high-fidelity audio is the standout feature of the LG Exalt. We also love that it’s a straightforward flip phone with basic features at a good price. You can also call people using Wi-Fi on the LG Exalt. This is great in case your reception is spotty.
- What to consider about LG Exalt
- There’s nothing like an App Store for this phone, and the phone does not support apps. There’s no front-facing camera, so video calls aren’t possible. The phone also does not have a magnifier or flashlight.
- Who LG Exalt is best for
- The LG Exalt is best for seniors who want clear audio and loud speakers for the best hearing experience possible.
Easiest cell phone for seniors
Nokia 3310 by Nokia
Nokia 3310 review
The Nokia 3310 is one of the most straightforward yet attractive phones out there. It’s a great choice for those who want a basic cell phone without the distractions of a smartphone. The phone comes in red, yellow, dark blue and gray, making the phone easy to spot in a room. The Nokia 3310 is durable and built to withstand abuse — the body is made of stiff plastic and doesn’t necessarily require a case.
The phone comes with a simple camera that can take basic photos. The display window is curved and has a polarized layer, making it easier to read in the sunlight. The phone has big buttons and a simple, clear interface. There is also a headphone jack if you want to listen to music with earbuds. The Nokia 3310 features an updated version of the classic game Snake.
- Nokia 3310 benefits
- The battery life is excellent - you can talk on the phone for almost 24 hours before the battery gives out. The phone will last on standby for a month. The phone also has FM radio and can play MP3 files.
- What to consider about Nokia 3310
- This phone does not connect to Wi-Fi or have the usual apps you might expect on a smartphone. The 2MP flash camera is simple and can take decent photos, but don’t expect them to be Instagram-worthy. Also, the texting method is a throwback that might resonate with some people, but some seniors won’t have any familiarity with texting using a number pad. Keep this in mind if you want to text often on the phone.
- Who Nokia 3310 is best for
- This simple, straightforward phone is a great option for those who either want a cheap phone just for calls and text or for someone who wants one in the case of an emergency.
Senior cell phone questions
Read below to see the most commonly asked questions about cell phones for seniors.
- Should I get a basic phone or smartphone?
- If you only need to text and call from your phone, a flip phone will do the job. If you can’t imagine living without apps, then it’s better to pay a bit more money for a smartphone with additional functionality. There are also block or slider phones. They typically have a full keyboard separate from the screen and have more functionality than flip phones.
- What type of plan should I get?
- Popular cell phone plans for seniors include:
- Pay as you go: This type of plan is exactly what it sounds like: instead of signing a contract, you just pay for what you use. These types of plans are easier to cancel than regular plans.
- Flexible: Flexible plans typically have a small base rate to start with. Text and call usage adds to the bill. This works well for seniors who want to have a phone but don’t intend on using it often.
- Unlimited: This type of plan allows seniors to call and text as much as they want. If price isn’t a big issue and you want to have free reign over your cell usage, unlimited plans are the way to go.
- Senior-specific: Several providers have special benefits for seniors. These might include discounts on regular monthly plans or additional senior-specific features like medication reminders or doctor check-in apps.
- Low-cost: Some cell phone companies offer perks to seniors. Seniors on a fixed income and those eligible for government programs can also benefit from low-cost cell phone plans.
- What are the pros of having a smartphone?
- A smartphone can do far more than a flip phone. The screens are much larger and easier to read, you can use voice capabilities to tell your phone what to do and convenient apps help with fitness tracking and medication reminders.
- What are the cons of having a smartphone?
- There’s always a learning curve for seniors who have never used a smartphone before. If you get a smartphone that’s overly complex, it can become confusing and tedious to use. Smartphones can also be difficult to set up, and because they are expensive, there is the potential for theft.
- Can I test out a phone?
- Some phone companies will either let you test out their phones before buying or provide a money-back guarantee for a limited time. It’s great to test a phone to make sure it’s loud enough, the buttons are big enough and the screen is readable.
- What’s an “unlocked” phone?
- Most phones are “locked,” meaning they are tied to a specific network. Unlocked phones are not tied to any specific network, so you can buy the phone and then choose the network you want.
- What’s a “prepaid” phone?
- A prepaid phone is a pay-as-you-go phone. You don’t have to subscribe to a monthly plan. Instead, you just pay for what you use.
- Should I get a protection plan?
- If you have a flip phone, you might not need one, because flip phones are made to be durable. Dropping one in water, though, might destroy it. Protection plans are best for pricier smartphones that will cost a lot to repair.
- Should I get a protective case?
- Flip phones don’t require protective cases. Smartphones usually do require one, unless the phone is especially durable. Waterproof cases are available.