For seniors, smartphones are not only impractical they are also difficult to use.
The touchscreen can be frustrating to operate and especially the tiny keys used in virtual keyboards. A smartphone is also likely to break quickly from repeated falls.
Instead of a smartphone, I recommend getting a mobile phone specifically designed for the elderly.
It will be easier to use, it’ll have more practical features and some of the functions are actually essential for their safety and health.
What to consider when buying a mobile phone for an elderly
Here are the most important features to look for when buying a mobile phone for a senior.
a. Ease of use
One of the first things to check is whether the keys are large, clearly-labelled and easy to press. This makes the phone easier to operate by seniors with weak or shaky hands and poor eyesight.
The font on the screen should also be large and easy to read.
Other thoughtful features that come in handy include:
- A charging dock or station. Much easier to deal with compared to connecting a USB cable.
- An easy interface that is easy to navigate. They shouldn’t have any trouble finding the right number to call or going to the message menu. A speed dial is a must-have feature.
- Brightly lit screen for easy viewing even in sunlight and at night.
- Talking numbers for those with poor eyesight.
b. Emergency features
A mobile phone can be a lifesaver in emergency situations. They can use it to call a family member or emergency services in case they fall or they are stranded somewhere.
Speed dial buttons are the most basic emergency feature. They can quickly dial someone without having to navigate to the phonebook or enter their contact number.
Most mobile phones for the elderly also come with a dedicated SOS button that can be used during emergencies. The button can be programmed to automatically call or text certain contacts.
A vibration alert may be good enough for you but for your elderly parent, their aging ears need something louder.
So make sure the message and call alerts can be set to a loud volume that is easy to hear even from another room.
The phone should be able to survive frequent drops without any damage. Look for mobile phones with a hardy body and a hard-to-crack screen.
e. Extra features
These features are not must-have but can prove useful in some situations. They’ll only be in some mobile phones.
- Bluetooth. A handy feature if you need to connect the phone to a loud speaker.
- Useful functions like alarms and reminders.
Best mobile phone for the elderly reviews
The ARTFONE C1-01 makes things as simple as possible. Only practical functions are included – messages, calling, settings, FM radio and others – and the interface is very easy to navigate.
The buttons are large and labelled with big numbers and letters. The green button for calling and the red one for cutting calls are clearly visible.
The screen is not very big but it displays everything in a large easy-to-read font. The display is coloured and the backlight is bright for easy viewing in all light conditions.
The alarm and call alerts are loud enough and you can make them even louder in settings. The speaker is also loud and clear for easy hearing during calls. There’s also a setting to activate the loudspeaker during calls.
The phone itself is designed to be easy to hold in one hand. Grooves on either side provide a strong grip even for those with weak hands.
The hardy body is designed to withstand many falls.
At the back, the phone has a red SOS button which can be programmed to contact up to 5 family members and friends when it is pressed.
A flashlight at the top comes in handy when it’s dark. It is bright enough to illuminate a distance of up to 10m.
Other extra features include an MP3 player, an SD card slot (32GB max), a desk stand, extra sim slot (dual sim) and calculator.
What we like about it:
- Plenty of practical features.
- SOS button included for emergency situations.
- Easy to use – large buttons, large font and easy menu navigation.
If you are looking for a simple affordable phone for a senior, this one by Binatone is a great choice.
It consists of a 1.8” colour LCD screen and a big-button keyboard.
There are several thoughtful features that make it easy to use for the elderly.
One of them is the backlit keyboard.
Large numbers may be easy to see during the day but what about when they are in a low-light place?
That’s where the backlit keys come in handy.
Another is the colour display LCD screen. It is bright and vivid for easy use in different light conditions. Numbers, letters and icons are shown in a large font on the screen.
The Binatone mobile phone also comes with talking numbers which are convenient for those with deteriorating eyesight. As you enter numbers to dial, the phone says them out loud.
Making and answering calls is easy. The red and green call buttons are clearly marked and you can use the speakerphone for hands-free talking.
For quick dealing, you can set up to 5 speed dial emergency numbers.
If the speed dial function is not accessible during an emergency, the SOS button at the back can also be used to automatically contact pre-programmed emergency numbers.
Extra features include an integrated LED torch, an FM radio and alarms.
What we like about it:
- A good quality and affordable mobile phone with all the essential features.
- Dedicated SOS button.
- Easy to use – large keys, large font, easy menu interface and bright coloured screen.
This is another good option for those who are looking for a low-cost mobile phone for their elderly parent or friend.
It’s designed to be easy to use, helpful during emergency situations and durable.
The convex keys are widely spaced to make it easier to type in numbers or write a text message.
The LCD screen is sufficiently bright and uses large fonts to display numbers and letters. Even icons for ‘new message’ and battery are large and easy to read in any light.
I love that it comes with a dedicated button for messages. You can go directly to messages rather than navigating through the menu.
Alerts for calls and new messages are loud and clear and there’s even a vibrating ringer.
There’s a one-touch emergency/SOS button at the back that can be programmed to call up to 3 numbers.
The Doro mobile phone also comes with Bluetooth, an LED torch and predictive text for messaging.
What we like about it:
- SOS button for emergency calling.
- Easy to use.
One of the best features of this mobile phone is the desktop charging cradle. There’s no need to fiddle around with a tiny cable trying to insert it into the charging port.
That’s very thoughtful and convenient especially for seniors who might forget to charge the phone. They simply place it on the cradle and the battery stays charged.
The phone itself is very easy to use. The keys are large and are backlit for easy viewing whether it’s day or night.
The colour LCD screen is easy to see in all light conditions. Numbers, letters and icons are displayed in large fonts.
The menu is easy to navigate. Basic functions like phonebook, messaging, clock and calendar take just a couple of seconds to access.
They’ve made it even easier to call emergency numbers by including 3 emergency call buttons on the keypad. Just set each key to a certain number and it will contact that number when pressed.
The SOS key at the back provides an easy alternative to the speed dial buttons. It can be programmed to contact and text up to 5 family members.
Extra features available in the phone include Bluetooth, alarm clock, calendar, torch and FM radio.
What we like about it:
- Easy to use.
- Includes SOS button and speed dial buttons.
- Comes with Bluetooth for connecting to headsets or a loudspeaker.
The buttons on this mobile phone are extra-large with big numbers that are easy to see. The keys are spaced widely apart for easy dialling.
The colour LCD screen uses a similarly large font for letter and icons.
The menu is very basic with only the most essential functions included. These include calling, messaging and alarms.
The phone also comes with Bluetooth, FM radio and a torch.
Dialling numbers is easy even for those with poor eyesight. You can activate the talking numbers feature which will read the numbers pressed out loud.
There’s also an SOS button at the back for making emergency calls.
The ringing is extra-loud for those who are hard of hearing. The speaker is loud and clear as well for easy conversations with friends and family.
What we like about it:
- Extra-large keys.
- Easy to use menu.
- SOS button.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What are the essential mobile apps for the elderly?
When looking for the best apps to download on your elderly family member’s phone, focus on those that improve their safety, health, mobility, communication and independent living. A few entertainment apps can also help reduce boredom and loneliness.
For communication, recommendations include WhatsApp (you can send instant text messages and make video/audio calls), Skype and Facebook.
For mobility, a ride-hailing app like Uber, Hailo or Lyft is a must-have.
For safety and health, we recommend apps that can detect falls (though a personal alarm is better), provide medication reminders and track location (some apps work in tandem with a separate GPS tracker).
For entertainment, there’s TuneIn for radio and podcasts, Spotify for music and BBC iPlayer for streaming news and TV shows.
Other helpful apps include Google Maps, games and puzzle apps and text magnification apps.
Q: How often do you need to buy a new mobile phone for seniors?
Seniors don’t need the latest cutting edge mobile phone technology such as fancy cameras or high-end displays. As long as their mobile phone is in good condition, they can keep using it.
As long as you buy a good quality mobile phone, you probably won’t need to replace it any time soon unless it breaks or starts experiencing problems that affect communication and usage.
Q: Where to buy a mobile phone for the elderly?
As with most products, Amazon offers a wide range of mobile phones specially designed for the elderly. Search for ‘mobile phones for elderly’ or ‘big button mobile phones’ to see what’s in stock.
Other major UK retailers like Argos and Tesco also carry mobile phones for the elderly.
Another place to check is online and physical stores that specialize in mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets.