Us young punks love our fancy mobile phones. We text, we visit websites, and we view video – all on a device that uses small text and is fragile if dropped. The HTC SuperMan FullThrottle XIV may be lusted after by those of us with great vision, but recommending it to someone over 60 usually isn’t the best idea.
So what are the best cell phones for senior citizens? There aren’t many, but some do stand out from the crowd.
Snapfon Ez One
Of all the phones that I researched for this article, this is the only one that’s explicitly made with seniors in mind. Visiting the website shows that its tag line is “the cell phone for seniors” so obviously the designers knew there was a market for this kind of device.
The most obvious distinguishing characteristic is the huge buttons on the face of the phone. They’re large, easy to read and easy to activate. This, combined with a simple large-print LCD screen and high earpiece volume, make the Snapfon Ez an obvious choice.
There’s more to it than big buttons, however. It also includes an SOS button which can be used to automatically connect with an emergency phone number. This makes the Snapfon a particularly good choice for seniors that have difficulty with movement. Rather than trying to reach an emergency phone, help can be contacted by pressing a single button.
Snapfon is a GSM world phone, so it will work with most carriers. There’s also a plan available direct through the phone’s manufacturer. Though the plan lacks features like mobile data, the phone only supports voice and text communication, so the plan fits well with the device.
You can buy the Snapfon Ex One-C, the latest version, for $59.99 on Amazon or on Snapfon’s website.
Another phone that is built with seniors in mind, the Doro 410 is a somewhat smaller, sleeker device than the Snapfon Ez One. It uses a flip-phone design and has smooth edges that make it easier to slip in and out of a pocket or bag. In other words, it looks like a fairly normal phone.
That doesn’t mean you lose functionality. The keys are larger than normal and the small display is configured to display large text. An emergency SOS button similar to the Snapfon’s is included, although it’s not as large and easy to use.
The Doro 410 also includes Bluetooth, a feature not found on the Snapfon. This could be a boon to seniors who want something easy to use but also want to talk with both hands free.
You’ll have to pay $69.99 for the Doro. Although it is technically a GSM world phone, it ships locked to the Consumer Cellular network, which is apparently associated with AT&T. You can potentially unlock it, but doing so may take some effort.
The Jitterbug is Samsung’s entry into the easy-to-use phone market. It’s been around for some time and generally received good reviews over its life. While the exterior features a jelly-bean like design, flipping it open reveals an interior that has large buttons and an LCD with big, high-contrast text.
Jitterbug’s most unusual feature is its close tie-in with the carrier, named GreatCall. The company boasts that Jitterbug users can call GreatCall and use them as a personal operator. If you want to enter a calendar event, you don’t have to do it yourself – you can call the operator, tell them the information, and they’ll enter the event for you.
Other features include Bluetooth, voice dialing and an SOS-like feature that uses a keypad combination rather than an SOS button. Overall, this phone is not as easy to use as the others, but it’s also more stylish and has features the others don’t.
You can pick up the Jitterbug for about $65 through Amazon. You’ll need to sign up with GreatCall, which offers plans for as little as $14.99 or as much as $79.99 (for the unlimited talk + text plan and access to all GreatCall apps).
Though not designed for seniors, the Nokia C2-01.5 has many features that will appeal to them. It is a simple, basic phone with an easy to use layout. It doesn’t have large keys or a display that only uses large text, but this also means that if offers more functionality. Unlike the pure-breed senior phones we’ve already discussed, this one has an okay camera, can use apps and can even access the Internet if you pay for a mobile data package.
The Nokia C2-01.5 also nails the basics. It gets good reception. It is relatively loud and call quality is excellent. Bluetooth works well and basic text messaging is easy to use and understand. In other words, the Nokia C2-01.5 is a good phone – a much better one, in fact, than many smartphones costing two or three times as much.
Speaking of which, you can buy this phone unlocked for a little over $90. It’s a GSM phone, so it will work with a number of carriers worldwide. It’s a great phone for people who are not tech-savvy but are otherwise mobile and don’t need oversized buttons or text to properly use a phone.
Samsung Galaxy Note
The Galaxy Note is Samsung’s “phablet” – a bit bigger than a phone, a bit smaller than a tablet. It’s not designed with seniors in mind, but then again, not all seniors are technophobes. If you‘re a senior who wants to check out smartphones the Note is a good pick.
The Note’s distinguishing feature is its 5.3″ display. This makes the phone much larger than others, which in turn makes the display easier to read when the user zooms in on text. The fact the display is a bright AMOLED helps – a lot of smartphones cause problems for older users because reflections destroy the perceived contrast of a glossy display. The Galaxy Note can’t escape this problem entirely, but it handles it better than most.
Even the Stylus can be handy, as it allows for more precise input in certain apps. Its old-fashioned feel is exactly what might appeal to some seniors.
The Samsung Galaxy Note can be purchased for $550 on Amazon if you want it unlocked. Otherwise, you can buy it for $299 through AT&T.