We have the scoop on the best senior cell phones and cell phone plans.
In the market for a new cell phone? Whether you're brand new to the world of cell phones or you're a smartphone wiz, you're in the right place. In this guide, we'll cover everything you need to know before purchasing a new cell phone, including how to choose the right device for your needs, the best cell phone providers for seniors, and more!
Whether you're looking for an affordable cell phone, a smartphone with all the bells and whistles, or a simple flip phone, we've got you covered with the best cell phones for your needs and budget.
Check out our latest cell phone carrier reviews to learn everything you need to know about the industry's top providers for older adults.
To learn more about cell phone costs and ways to get the best deal, visit our cell phone pricing pages.
The rapidly evolving world of cell phone technology is keeping most of our world connected. Access to text messages, handheld social media access, phone calls, and video chats open up a world of possibilities and ways to stay connected for older adults.
While older adults aged 65 and older were a little slower to adopt widespread use of cell phones, more than 85 percent are now connected with a cell phone.1 A Pew Research study found that 46 percent of senior citizens have made the jump to smartphones, while an additional 40 percent are at least using a traditional cellular phone. It's clear that many seniors are using cell phones these days, but you might be wondering, why do seniors need a cell phone? Phones offer a wide range of benefits to older adults, from staying connected to calling for help during an emergency to keeping track of important appointments and refilling prescriptions. Below are just a few of the ways that cell phones can benefit older adults.
How cell phones help older adults day-to-day:
Other benefits of using a cell phone:
There is a wide variety of cell phones, plans, and features available to seniors. Just because a cell phone can offer benefits to most older adults, does not mean that every senior needs all of the available features. Here are some important topics to consider before committing to a phone.
Cell phones come in three basic types. A smartphone is essentially a handheld computer that fits in your pocket and can make phone calls. A brick-style phone which has limited technology features comparable to a slimmed-down version of a smartphone. And, yes, a traditional flip phone which is as close as you can get to a plain old phone in the world of cellular technology. You'll need to decide what level of technology best fits your needs and which design you like best.
While you might feel pressured to get a smartphone like an iPhone just because everyone else seems to have one, it’s important to consider if you really need and want one. Between a higher price for the device and month-to-month costs for data plans, smartphones are a more expensive option than traditional flip or basic cell phones. As a senior, the type of phone you need depends on how you plan to use it, along with your budget. If FaceTiming, watching shows on your phone, and looking at pictures on Facebook is important to you, then yes, we'd recommend a smartphone! If you just want to make calls and send texts to stay connected or you're on a tight budget, you'll likely be better off with a simple flip phone.
Let's say you decide to go the smartphone route. You'll then need to decide if you want to go with one of the major smartphone providers: Apple or Android. These terms refer to the operating system that the phone uses. Apple has an occult following with the iPhone, and if you are already accustomed to their technology or your family uses Apple, then it may be the best choice for you. However, Android is generally considered more user-friendly.2 Several Android devices even have an “easy mode” that makes them simpler to use for less tech-savvy individuals.
Aside from Android and Apple, some companies also offer more simple and affordable smartphone options designed specifically for seniors. We'll get into some of our favorites a little later on!
Most cell phone companies offer different versions of pay-as-you-go, month-to-month, and contract-based phone plans. Sometimes the commitment of a contract can earn you additional discounts, but they are less flexible. Other times you can save more money on a pay-as-you-go plan; it just depends on the carrier and type of promotions that they run!
When choosing a plan, you'll also want to consider how many minutes of talk, the number of texts, and how much data you plan to use when comparing plans. If you're more of an advanced user or you're getting a smartphone, you may want an unlimited data plan to enjoy all that the phone has to offer. On the other hand, if you just want to be able to make a few calls and send the occasional text, you'll be better off with a simpler text and talk plan.
Did You Know: You can listen to podcasts, read articles, and read (or listen to) books straight from your phone! Check out our top picks for books, articles, and podcasts for seniors to find your next great listen or read.
From flip phones that are compatible with hearing aids to smartphones that have features specifically designed for older users, those in their golden years have a unique set of needs that phones can address. The available features vary from one phone model to the next, and sometimes even between carriers.
Some helpful features to look for include:
Today, the cost of a cell phone varies widely depending on how many features they have and the provider. Flip phones are reasonably priced, typically ranging from $30 to $100 depending on the carrier. A brick phone can be purchased for $100-$200. Smartphones are normally the most expensive of the bunch, starting at a few hundred dollars, though they can go up to well over $1000 depending on the model and features. With all those options, you're sure to find a phone that fits both your budget and lifestyle.
Many carriers like Verizon and AT&T make expensive phones more affordable by offering monthly payment plans, so you can pay off your phone over time instead of forking out all the money upfront. Users can add anywhere from $5 – $25 per month on their monthly bill to cover the cost of the device. If you decide to go this route, just make sure you know exactly what you're signing up for. Some providers simply rent the phone to you for the monthly payment, so you'll have to return the device after a certain period of time.
If you decide that a cell phone is right for you, we've outlined a few of our top picks to help you easily compare popular cell phones.
Lively Flip: For seniors who want to stick to the basics, like making phone calls and sending texts, the Lively Flip is a simple flip phone option. It features a large-faced keypad, bright screen, and powerful speakers to accommodate older eyes and ears. The Lively Flip also has a Bluetooth interface that is good for Bluetooth hearing aids or headphones. It also has a simplified menu, magnifier tool, and 5Star Emergency Response button. One of Lively's features that's unique among standard flip phones is the built-in Amazon Alexa assistant. With just the sound of your voice, you can ask Alexa to make calls, write texts, set reminders, and much more. This is great for older adults who struggle with typing on a keypad or have difficulty reading fonts on a small phone screen.
Lively Smart: The Lively Smart is a smartphone with a large screen and a simple, list-based menu. It has front-facing speakers which make it easier to hear, and it is equipped with 5Star Emergency Response. The Lively Smart is voice-enabled and features mobile internet access, so it's great for those who want to use their phone to check social media or online shop. This is one of the more affordable, simple, senior-friendly smartphones on the market, retailing for $149.99, so it's great for those who just want to dip their toe in the water with a smartphone.
Snapfon ez4G: Snapfon ez4G is a brick-style phone with a large-text screen display and easy-to-push buttons. It features an SOS button that will easily connect to an operator-based system to assist with emergencies. The phone also offers fall detection, an excellent feature for older adults. This phone is hearing aid compatible and voice-command enabled. At just $39.99, it's one of the most affordable cell phone options around.
Consumer Cellular Link II: The Consumer Cellular Link II is a flip phone with a traditional 12-key keypad. It has an extra bright main display and a secondary display. This flip phone is Bluetooth-enabled and can pair with hearing aid devices. This is another inexpensive option at just $35.
iPhone 8: For seniors looking for a full-featured smartphone, the iPhone 8 offers a large, vibrant LCD display. If your friends and family are already on iOS devices, this phone will make video chatting a breeze. Plus, you can download additional apps to help with magnifying and health tracking from the Apple app store. It also has a touch lock button, so the phone can only be unlocked with your unique fingerprint for added security. Because this isn't the latest iPhone model, it won't be as pricey, but it's recent enough that you'll have most of the latest and greatest features.
Quick Tip: Check out our list of the best mobile apps for seniors to get the most out of your cell phone. From medication reminders to retirement planning, there are plenty of great apps for older adults!
Now that we've covered some of our top cell phone picks for seniors, let's take a look at our favorite cell phone carriers that offer deals for seniors on talk, text, and data plans.
For over five years, Taylor has been writing, editing, and researching products and services covering topics such as senior care and technology, Internet and the digital divide, TV, and entertainment, and education. Her research on media consumption and consumer behavior has been… Learn More About Taylor Shuman
Aging In Place. (2020). Cellphone Guide For Seniors.