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Smartphones for Seniors: 4 to Try, from iPhone to Jitterbug

Most seniors can attest: Your dexterity, hearing and eyesight decline with age, and that can make using a smartphone more difficult. You squint to read the tiny keypad; your fingers fumble taking a photo or sending a text. Luckily, today’s mobile phone manufacturers offer smartphones that are larger and easier to use. Check out our suggestions for some of the best smartphones for seniors – and even some not-so-smart ones.

(A note about prices cited here: These costs are for the phone only in most cases. Service plans will cost more, usually a monthly fee. You may get the phone cheaper if you commit to a service plan. Be sure to lock down a service-plan price from your provider and factor that into your budget.) 

Apple iPhone 7 Plus

iPhone 7 Plus

The iPhone 7 Plus. Image courtesy of Apple.

You might think: Do I really need an iPhone? Those things are expensive. True, but the iPhone epitomizes the versatility of smartphones. With one device, you have a camera, a video recorder, a web browser, an email reader, a book library, and – oh, yeah – a phone.

To that lineup, the Apple iPhone 7 Plus adds something of interest to seniors: size. The iPhone 7 Plus is one of the largest phones you can buy, with a 5.5-inch screen. That’s large enough to browse family photos, watch a video of your grandchild’s school play, and read an eBook. To ease strain on your eyes, the text size can be increased and the background light can be adjusted.

The iPhone 7 Plus includes a fingerprint reader so you won’t have to remember as many passwords. And the phone has features to help users with visual and hearing impairments. Last, the iPhone 7 Plus is water resistant, so you can take it into the bathroom or out poolside without any worries.

If you’re still concerned about technological hurdles, you might want to get a copy of AARP’s “My iPhone for Seniors” book.

Price: $769 for 32GB model

Learn more from Apple.

LG G6

A post shared by LG USA Mobile (@lgusamobile) on

Also dominating in screen size is the 5.7-inch LG G6. This sleek Android smartphone is 80% screen and boasts a clear, bright display that makes reading anything on the screen a piece of cake. The LG G6 was developed with Google Assistant built right in, so you can set up appointments, get reminders, look up emails, and ask questions with voice commands or text.

The LG G6 is water and dust resistant. It can be submerged in 1.5 meters of liquid for up to 30 minutes (not that we suggest trying that!). An added perk to the LG G6 is its upgraded front- and rear-facing cameras, perfect for capturing and keeping the smiles of your grandkids.

Price: $550 to $720, depending on your carrier and service plan.

Learn more from LG.

An “Easy” Android alternative: Samsung Galaxy

If you want the latest and greatest, the Samsung Galaxy S8 line just hit the market in April 2017. The S8+ boasts a giant 6.2-inch screen. But this is a complicated device for smartphone newbies. To simplify things, you can switch your Samsung Galaxy phone into Easy Mode. This implements a simpler layout, downplayed features and larger fonts that might work better for some seniors.

Jitterbug Smart

The Jitterbug Smart. Image courtesy of GreatCall.

The Jitterbug Smart. Image courtesy of GreatCall.

Jitterbug Smart is from GreatCall, which makes phones and medical-alert devices for seniors. The Jitterbug Smart is designed specifically for seniors, making it easy for them to call, text, email, and browse the Internet. It has a bright 5.5-inch screen, with large icons and text. It has a simple menu with everything organized in a single list.

For those with dexterity issues, the Jitterbug Smart offers voice typing, which makes writing texts and emails easier. This phone also has a built-in camera with a flash, though note that PC Magazine rated the camera quality as poor. The Jitterbug also is hearing-aid compatible.

Senior-specific features of Jitterbug phones are the optional health and safety packages. The 5Star Service, for instance, allows you to get help in an emergency with the push of a button. More expensive services add urgent-care consultation and an app that helps family or caregivers keep tabs on the Jitterbug’s user.

Price: $150 for the phone. Health and safety packages cost $20 to $35 a month. Jitterbug phones only work on GreatCall’s network; service plans range from $15 to $50 a month.

Note: If you like the idea of GreatCall’s health and safety packages, but you don’t want a phone with Internet access, you might consider the Jitterbug Flip. The basic Flip costs $75.

Learn more from Jitterbug.

Doro 824 SmartEasy

The Doro 824 SmartEasy is very similar to the Jitterbug Smart, in that it’s an Android smartphone designed with seniors in mind. The 5-inch display has large icons, buttons and fonts for easy use.

Service plans for talking, texting and web browsing are provided only through Consumer Cellular. For seniors, however, Consumer Cellular offers 5% off monthly rates for AARP members.

Like, the Jitterbug, the Doro has senior-friendly features, including an emergency call button and hearing-aid compatibility. But perhaps the most interesting feature is the My Doro Manager. This lets approved “helpers” remotely access your phone to change settings or add contacts. In essence, you get tech support from a trusted family member or friend.

Price: $200

Note: Like Jitterbug, Doro also offers a senior-friendly flip phone, the Doro PhoneEasy 626.

Learn more from Consumer Cellular or Doro.

Not A Smartphone But Worth Considering

Snapfon ezTWO3G

Like with the Jitterbug Flip and Doro PhoneEasy mentioned above, you won’t be browsing the Internet on the Snapfon ezTWO. But it’s worth considering if you just want a simple cell phone for seniors.

The Snapfon ezTWO combines the basics of a standard phone with large buttons and fonts, a bright screen, an easy-to-navigate menu, and enhanced sounds and rings. It also includes a low-grade camera, an LED flashlight, and hearing-aid compatibility.

What makes this phone unique is its SOS emergency alert button and SOSPlus 24/7 mobile monitoring service. You can’t miss the big red button on the back. Holding the button can alert up to five people by phone and sound a siren. The phone automatically switches to speaker mode when an emergency call is made. The optional monitoring service, which can dispatch emergency crews or alert family and friends, carries an additional charge per month.

Price: $80 for the phone alone, or $30 with a Snapfon service plan. The SOSPlus Mobile Monitoring Service is $15 a month. If you provide your own service, the Snapfon is not compatible with Verizon or Sprint.

Learn more from Snapfon.

Other Smartphone Features to Consider

Of course, you should consider more than just the type of smartphone when purchasing one for yourself or a senior relative. For any Android smartphone, for instance, senior-friendly launcher apps can simplify the interface. Other features to consider when choosing a smartphone are:

  •  Operating system: Look for a user-friendly and well-designed system that makes using the smartphone fun. The two main operating systems are Apple iOS and Google Android.
  •  Phone service provider: Make sure your location is part of the provider’s coverage area and has good reception. Look for a plan that is affordable and meets your needs without exceeding them. If you plan to use your smartphone to browse the Internet a lot, or download apps and music, consider getting a wifi network at home.
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