SeniorLiving.org is compensated by some providers on this site. This helps us keep our content free. Read more
We earn commission from some links. Read more

Medicare Annual Enrollment is Happening Now! Everything You Need to Know

Read Our Guide

Best Cell Phones for Seniors in 2021

Our experts tested and researched 15 senior cell phones and narrowed the list to their Top 10 recommendations.

Best battery life
Call for best price:
(844) 405-0980
Best smartphone
Call for best price:
844-618-9676
Best technology
Scroll right for more options

How We Chose the Best Cell Phones for Seniors

Did you know 92 percent of adults ages 65 and older own a cell phone in the U.S.?1 If you’re in the market for a new or upgraded phone, we can help! If you’ve ever shopped for a phone, you know just how many options there are on the market; it can feel endless. To make it easier for you, our team started by narrowing down the search to 25 phones by cutting out the options that didn’t meet our standard criteria. After over 300 hours of research, online shopping, conversations with customer service, and hands-on testing of more than 25 phones, we arrived at nine finalists that we’re calling the best cell phones for seniors. Each phone was ranked using over 30 metrics, including price, senior-friendly features, battery life, durability, sound quality, appearance, ease of use, and provider perks. The three most influential metrics in our evaluation were:

  • Senior-Friendly Features: All of the phones that made the cut have features that meet the specific needs and lifestyle of seniors. While these features vary by phone, they include things like big buttons or icons, bright screens, loud, adjustable speakers, hearing aid compatibility, and an easy-to-grip design
  • No Long-Term Contracts: Long gone are the days of cell phone plans that trap you for years to come. All of the cell phone models and carriers on our list offer month-to-month options so you can cancel your service at any time without hassle.
  • Price vs. Quality: We know that every budget is different. While some of the cell phones on our list are more expensive than others, we’ve only included phones where we believe the quality either matches or surpasses the price. We’ve made sure to include budget-friendly cell phones on our list, along with somewhat pricier high-tech devices so you can find the phone that’s right for both your wallet and your needs

Using the above criteria, along with our research, testing, and rankings, we created this year’s best cell phone list to help you choose the best senior-friendly cell phone.

Why Do Seniors Need a Cell Phone?

A reliable cell phone provides numerous benefits to older adults. They allow seniors to stay connected with friends and family, receive help during an emergency, get some entertainment, capture special moments through photos, and so much more.

Cell phones can also positively impact a person’s health and wellbeing. Older adults may find themselves spending more time alone, which can lead to cognitive decline along with feelings of isolation or depression.2 Cell phones are a fantastic way for seniors to stay social, no matter where they’re located. Today, older adults are embracing technology more than ever, with the vast majority of older adults owning a cell phone and more than 60 percent owning a smartphone.3

From the Pros: Our cell phone for seniors buyer’s guide shares important factors to consider before your big purchase.

When you think about a cell phone or smartphone, your first thought might be that they’re too complicated or expensive. However, more and more cell phone providers are stepping up to the plate to build affordable, senior-friendly phones that allow older adults to enjoy all the perks of a phone without any confusion or frustration. Now, let’s get into all the details for this year’s best senior-friendly cell phones.

Cell Phone Carriers for Seniors

While most popular carriers offer phones that may be suitable for older adults, there are two main providers that focus solely on designing the best cellular plans and phones for seniors: Lively and Consumer Cellular. Check out the chart below for more details on these providers’ plans, phones, and pricing.

Phone Carrier Cell phones starting at Talk, text, and data plans starting at Built-in medical alert features? Add-on medical alert packages Best for
Consumer Cellular $35 $20 per month Yes, for some models Not available Those who want affordable, senior-friendly phones and plans
Lively $99.99 $14.99 per month Yes, with all models Yes, starting at $19.99 per month Those who need extra, customizable medical alert features

Lively’s lineup consists of a flip phone, smartphone, and two medical alert devices, all of which have built-in medical alert capabilities. These features can be activated by adding on one of their Health and Safety Packages.

Buyer's Tip: If you’re interested in a prepaid plan, visit our list of the best prepaid phone plans for older adults.

Consumer Cellular offers their own flip phones and a tablet with varying features and medical alert capabilities. This provider also sells popular phones from other brands, like iPhones and Android phones, so if you’re looking for a smartphone from another provider with a senior-friendly talk, text, and data plan this is a good option as well.

Cell Phone for Seniors Buying Guide

  • Do I want a basic phone or a smartphone?

    The answer to this question will depend on the level of technology and advanced features that you’re comfortable with. If you’re worried that a cell phone will be too confusing or have lots of complicated bells and whistles, a basic phone will be your best bet. Basic options like flip phones and slide phones allow you to send texts, make calls, and take pictures, and you can add a few extra features if you like. There’s no pressure to get a smartphone just because it’s what your grandkids or friends have, especially if you’re on a tight budget. On the other hand, if you want a phone with all the latest features like mobile apps, video chatting, internet access, GPS tracking, and a touchscreen, you’ll want a smartphone.

    Quick Tip: If you’re looking for a flip phone, check out our best flip phones for seniors review.

  • What is my budget?

    When choosing a cell phone, you’ll need to account for any upfront device costs in your budget, as well as the monthly price for a talk, text, and/or data plan. Also check if the provider charges extra fees for things like activation or shipping. If you want a smartphone with all of the latest features but your budget is only $50 for a device, you’ll need to reconsider. Basic flip phones start at about $30 and range up to around $100 depending on the provider and features. Basic smartphones begin at around $150 and may cost up to $1,000 for advanced options like the latest iPhone. Many providers will allow you to pay off your phone in monthly installments, so if that’s better for your budget it’s an option.

  • Do I need medical alert capabilities?

    You’ll need to decide if you just want a senior-friendly phone that comes with your standard calling, texting, and internet access, or one that’s designed with medical alert features. These features can include fall detection, an emergency help button, 24/7 monitoring, location tracking, and other health and safety add ons. If you just want a phone that’s easy to use and you’re not concerned about medical alert capabilities, there’s no need to purchase a phone with these features or monthly monitoring charges. However, if you’re looking for the added protection that a medical alert device offers, you may want a phone with these features.

  • Do I want a phone with data?

    The more basic cell phones only offer texting and calling, while more advanced options allow you to add a data plan and internet access for a monthly fee. If you want to surf the web, use social media and other mobile apps, or watch shows on your phone, you’ll need to look for a phone that offers data. On the other hand, if you just want to stick to the basics like texting and calling, there’s no need to pay for a data plan that you won’t use.

    Did You Know: There are plenty of senior discounts for phone and internet service. Our senior discount page has over 100 discounts to explore.

  • What features are most important to me?

    The features that cell phones for seniors offer are endless, so it’s important to establish what exactly you’re looking for upfront. Do you want a phone that features a high-quality camera, medical alert capabilities, and touchscreen? Or maybe you’re looking for a flip phone with internet access and hearing aid compatibility. Whatever it is you want, make a list before starting your search to narrow down your options.

Written By

Taylor Shuman

Senior Tech Expert & Editor

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

Citations
  1. Pew Research Center. (2021). Mobile Fact Sheet.

  2. National Institute on Aging. (2021). Loneliness and Social Isolation — Tips for Staying Connected.

  3. Pew Research Center. (2021). Mobile Fact Sheet.

  4. NIDCD. (2018). Hearing Loss and Older Adults.

  5. National Council on Aging. (2021). Get the Facts on Healthy Aging.