|The 3 Best Brands|
|Accolades||Best Battery Life||Best Smartphone||Best Technology|
|Unlimited Data||$27.50 per month||$59.99 per month||$20.00 per month|
|Unlimited Talk & Text||$27.50 per month||$39.99 per month||$60.00 per month|
|How to Order||
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There are 39 million seniors in America who own a cell phone,1 and 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 eight 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, provider perks, and the list goes on. The three most important metrics in our evaluation were:
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.
A reliable cell phone provides numerous benefits to users in their golden years. They allow seniors to stay connected with friends and family, receive help during an emergency, get some entertainment, capture important moments through photos, and so much more. Especially in the year 2021 as we face a global pandemic, it’s more important than ever for seniors to feel connected and avoid isolation, and cell phones can help them do just that.
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. With 80 percent of older adults owning a cell phone today, which has doubled since 2013,2 we can see that seniors are embracing technology more than ever before. Now, let’s get into all the details for this year’s best senior-friendly cell phones.
The Galaxy A11 from T-Mobile has an ultra long-lasting battery life. Seniors already have enough on their plate to remember, whether it’s taking medications every day, doctor’s appointments, book club meetings, or planning visits with the family. The last thing you need to add to that list is remembering to constantly charge your phone. With the Galaxy A11, you’ll have a full 30 hours of talk time, or 17 hours of standby time when you’re not actively using your phone. Depending on how much you use your phone and the types of activities you use it for, that means your battery will last at least a full day, if not more. You won’t have to worry about a dead battery while you’re out and about and you need to make an important call. It also has fast charging capabilities, so you won’t have to sit around waiting for hours for the device to fully charge.
Aside from the battery life, there are several other things to love about this phone. The Galaxy A11 has a 13MP triple camera, so all of those vacation and family photos will come out crystal clear. It comes with a fingerprint sensor, so you can unlock your phone using your unique fingerprint. You’ll never have to worry about remembering your password, and this feature also ups the security on your phone so no one else can access it. At just $180, this is one of the most affordable high-tech smartphones on the market. Plus, some new T-Mobile customers can even qualify for a free Galaxy A11 when they sign up!
There are a few Galaxy models that offer slightly longer battery life than the Galaxy A11; however, this model offers the most bang for your buck. At only $180 for the device, it’s around $300-$400 cheaper than other Galaxy models. If your main concern is battery life, the few extra hours of talk time you’ll be getting with a more expensive model really aren’t worth a several hundred dollars. Plus, if you are looking for a phone just for emergencies or to make a few quick calls every day, the Galaxy A11 has one of the longest standby battery lives of other models, so you can leave it on when you’re not using it, and you won’t have to worry about it dying.
|Price Range for Talk, Text, & Data Plans||$27.50 to $45 per line*|
|Money-Back Guarantee||Within 14 days of purchase or lease|
* Starting prices per line for Unlimited 55+ plans
Lively’s Lively Smart offers the right balance between the latest smartphone features and ease of use, which is why it’s our top smartphone pick for seniors. With more than 40 percent of US seniors owning a smartphone,3 it’s important to find one that meets the needs of older adults. While some smartphones overcomplicate things for seniors, making it feel like solving a puzzle just to find what you need, the Lively Smart keeps it simple. With a basic list-style menu, large touchscreen, and long battery life, you’ll be able to find what you need with just a few taps. Plus, the Lively Smart still offers all of the features you look for in a smartphone, like GPS navigation, video chatting, a built-in camera, and mobile apps. This Lively phone is also hearing aid compatible and comes with built-in medical alert capabilities for those who want the extra layer of protection that comes with a medical alert device. These features can be added on for a monthly fee if desired, and they range from 24/7 monitoring to urgent care consultations and health updates for caregivers and family members.
If you’re on a tight budget, it’s important to note that Lively does charge both a product and an activation fee upfront. Their text, talk, and data plans tend to be on the pricier end as well. However, compared to other smartphones on the market the Smart2 is very affordable, and new customers typically receive big discounts on upfront fees. If you sign up for one of Lively’s add-on Health and Safety packages you’ll also get a discount on talk, text, and data plans. Lively offers a 30-day trial period to return your device for a full refund, minus a $10 restocking fee.
|Device Cost||$2.49 to $59.99 per month|
|Price Range for Talk, Text, & Data Plans||$149.99 before discounts|
|Add-On Health & Safety Packages (optional)||$19.99 to $34.99 per month|
|Money-Back Guarantee||30 days (requires a $10 restocking fee for returns)|
For seniors who want a smartphone with all the latest and greatest features, the iPhone SE from T-Mobile offers that extra “umph.” With everything from a large retina HD touchscreen to the Apple Store with thousands of mobile apps to high-quality 12MP and 7MP cameras, the iPhone SE has all those advanced features you’re looking for. You can watch videos in 4K quality, FaceTime with friends and family, and store up to 256 GB of data, photos, and more. If you’re worried about security, all of the iPhone’s data is encrypted and the homescreen features Touch ID, which uses your unique fingerprint to unlock the phone. The iPhone SE is also hearing aid compatible, features a bright screen, and is wide and easy to grip, all of which are great features for older eyes, ears, and hands.
While the iPhone SE is available from several cell phone carriers, we’d recommend going with T-Mobile. They’re always offering discounts and extra perks for new customers who purchase an iPhone, so you can get the best deal possible. Plus, T-Mobile offers three different senior plans that provide steep discounts on talk, text, and data. These plans are available for anyone aged 55 years or older, while many senior plans from other providers are only available to those 65 and up.
The iPhone SE starts at $399, making it the most expensive phone on our list. However, it’s one of the most affordable iPhone models, so if you’ve had your eye on an Apple phone, it’s a good option. Plus, the iPhone offers several advanced features that other phones don’t, so if you’re more concerned about tech than price, you’ll be set. Also remember that this is our pick for the best advanced smartphone, which means it won’t be great for technology-averse seniors or those who are easily overwhelmed by extra bells and whistles. With a little persistence and patience (or possibly help from a grandchild), we believe most seniors can get the hang of an iPhone, but we know this high-tech phone won’t be for everyone.
|Device Cost||$399.99 to $549.99 (depends on storage size)|
|T-Mobile Price Range for Talk, Text, and Data Plans||$20 to $85 per month*|
|T-Mobile Contracts||No contracts|
|T-Mobile Money-Back Guarantee||30 days after service begins|
*All prices are for one line. Customers can receive large discounts per line when more lines are added. Discounts may also be available for 55+ customers.
For older adults with unsteady hands or health conditions that make them more prone to falls and accidents, the Sonim XP3 offers industry-leading durability, so you won’t have to worry about it breaking due to a drop on the ground or in water. This flip phone is MIL-STD-810G and IP68 certified; all those letters and numbers just mean that this military-tested phone won’t be damaged by dust, extreme temperatures, or weather, being dropped (within reason), or being submerged in water for a short period of time. If you struggle with grip or find yourself dropping or damaging your phone often for whatever reason, the Sonim XP3 is a great solution. Unlike some phones that shatter or malfunction easily, this phone is built to withstand it all. In addition to its durability, the Sonim XP3 also comes with all the basics, like talk, text, internet access, and a camera. While this phone is not exclusive to AT&T (it’s also sold by Sprint), we’d recommend going with AT&T as the phone is around $50 cheaper than Sprint.
We wouldn’t be surprised if you experience sticker shock when you see the price for this phone. At $189.99, the Sonim XP3 is one of the more expensive flip phones on the market, but it’s also one of the most durable. If you have an older family member who’s a bit harsh on their devices and you want them to have a reliable phone that will last and won’t break easily, it might be worth the cost. Plus, the phone comes with a three-year warranty, so you’ll be covered in the unlikely event that it gets damaged.
|AT&T Price Range for Talk, Text, and Data Plans||$35 to $85 per month for one line*|
|AT&T Contracts||No contract|
|AT&T Money-Back Guarantee||30 days after device is shipped|
Verizon’s Kyocera DuraXV Extreme features M4/T4 hearing aid compatibility, which is the highest rating a phone can receive and makes it our top pick for seniors with hearing loss. One-in-three seniors over the age of 65 have hearing loss, and those numbers continue to increase with age. For the many older adults who are hard of hearing, it’s important to find a cell phone that’s compatible with hearing aids and that offers loud, high-quality sound. The Kyocera’s M4/T4 rating is the best on the market, and it means that users with hearing aids will experience as little background noise and feedback as possible. It’s even suitable for those with severe hearing loss thanks to the T4 telecoil rating. The phone also features Bluetooth technology for those with Bluetooth enabled hearing aids. If you have minimal hearing loss and don’t yet need hearing aids, the phone’s 100dB+ dual speakers with noise cancellation will provide loud and clear sound.
In addition to its top-of-the-line features for those with hearing loss, Verizon’s Kyocera DuraXV Extreme offers all the essential flip phone features like texting, calls, internet access, and a 5MP camera. It’s highly durable and resistant to water, dust, extreme temperatures, and drops, so it’s also great for those who struggle with grip, are hard on their devices, or live in areas with intense weather.
At $240, the Kyocera DuraXV Extreme is a fairly expensive flip phone. However, if you have hearing loss, its powerful speaker and M4/T4 hearing aid compatibility may be totally worth the price. Plus, you can pay off your phone in monthly installments if you don’t want to pay the full amount upfront. Also keep in mind that this is a basic cell phone, so its capabilities will be more limited than smartphone options. You’ll still be able to send texts, make calls to friends and family, and take pictures, so if you’re just concerned with the basics, it’s a solid choice.
|Verizon Price Range for Talk, Text, and Data Plans||$30 to $90*|
|Verizon Contracts||No contracts|
|Verizon Money-Back Guarantee||14 days after activation (may require a $50 restocking fee in some cases)|
*All prices listed are for one line. Customers may be eligible for large discounts per line when more lines are added. Seniors in some states may also be eligible for a discount.
The Lively Flip is built with all of Lively’s top-of-the-line health and safety features, so you can turn your phone into a medical alert device at any time. These features can be added to your device for a monthly monitoring fee, and you can choose exactly which features work best for you, so you won’t overpay for things you don’t need. Around 77 percent of American seniors have at least two chronic health so these medical alert features offer added safety and peace of mind for those who are more at risk of a health emergency.
The Flip comes with a 5Star Urgent Response button that users can press at any time for any kind of emergency. Whether you need medical assistance or you have a flat tire, a highly trained agent will be there to help 24/7. Other health and safety features include brain games to keep you sharp, urgent care assistance from board-certified doctors and nurses, and an app for caregiver and family monitoring. Lively even offers concierge services like a personal operator who can look up an address or phone number for you or order you a Lyft ride.
Along with these medical alert capabilities, the Lively Flip also comes with easy-to-use flip phone features like large buttons for texting and making calls, a powerful speaker, and simplified menu and navigation. For seniors who struggle with small screens or typing with phone buttons, the Lively Flip offers voice-activated assistance from Amazon Alexa. You can navigate your phone, draft text messages, make calls, and set timers with just the sound of your voice. If you’re looking for a simple phone without too many bells and whistles, the Lively Flip is for you. Because the health and safety features are optional, you can use your Flip as a normal cell phone if that better suits your needs.
Just remember that this is a basic cell phone. If you’re looking for more advanced features like video chatting, a high-quality camera, or internet access, you may want to consider the Lively Smart or another smartphone. However, if you want a simple, straightforward cell phone with all of the essential features to keep you connected, the Lively Flip is a great choice. Also keep in mind that Lively charges upfront equipment and activation costs, but again, you can typically get a discount on these fees as a new customer.
|Device Cost||$99 (before discounts)|
|Price Range for Talk & Text (No data plans available)||$3 to $39.99 per month|
|Add-On Health & Safety Packages (optional)||$19.99 to $34.99 per month|
|Money-Back Guarantee||30 days (requires a $10 restocking fee for returns)|
Consumer Cellular’s GrandPad is a senior-friendly tablet with all the right features to keep older adults connected and entertained, which is why it made this year’s list. While it’s not a traditional cell phone, the Grandpad can be used to make calls, send texts, video chat, take pictures, play games, and access mobile apps. It’s a great option for seniors who spend a lot of time at home, want a very large screen, or are technology-averse. The tablet runs on Consumer Cellular’s 4G LTE connection, so you won’t have to worry about connecting to WiFi. The GrandPad’s large screen is easy to grip and the buttons are large and easy to see. It also has a companion mobile app that allows family members to add, personalize, or restrict features and contacts to keep their loved ones safe and make the user experience as simple as possible. Family members can also upload photos to the GrandPad, send messages, and video chat through the mobile app. Overall, the GrandPad provides a unique way to stay connected for those who don’t want a traditional cell phone.
The GrandPad is much larger than a cell phone, so it’s not as portable as the other phones on our list. If you spend a lot of time on the go or you just don’t want a large device, the GrandPad won’t be a great fit for you. However, if you spend a lot of time at home and want a larger screen that’s easy to grip and use for things like reading, video chatting, and playing games, it’s a solid option. Also, keep in mind that the GrandPad tablet is more expensive than many of the cell phones on our list. On the plus side, you can pay off your device in affordable monthly installments if that works better for your budget.
|Price Range for Talk, Text, and Data||$15 to $37.50 per month|
|Money-Back Guarantee||30 days|
The Snapfon ezTWO is built for the ultimate simplicity and usability, which is why it made our list as the easiest to use cell phone for seniors. With large keys for sending texts and making calls, simplified menus, and no extra buttons or unnecessary frills, this phone is about as straightforward as it gets. The Snapfon ezTWO also features an emergency button with 24/7 monitoring that can be added to any plan for an extra monthly fee. During an emergency, just press the button to be connected to a live operator who will get you to the help that you need. If you’re looking for a cell phone with basic medical alert capabilities, this is a great feature. At just $29.99 for the device and monthly plans starting at $10, the ezTWO is an affordable cell phone for seniors who just want to stay connected.
Because the Snapfon ezTWO keeps things as simple as possible, it only has basic cell phone capabilities. For instance, the camera won’t be winning any awards for quality, and you won’t be able to video chat or watch videos in HD. But, if your main concern is the ease of use, none of this will really matter to you. The Snapfon ezTWO is a good fit for technophobes or those who just don’t want any unnecessary features.
|Price Range for Talk, Text, and Data Plans||$10 to $40 per month|
|sosPlus 24/7 Monitoring||$19.99 per month|
|Money-Back Guarantee||30 days|
While most popular cell phone carriers offer phones that may be suitable for seniors, there are two main senior-specific phone providers that focus solely on designing 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||$30||$20 per month||Yes, for some models||Not available||Those who want affordable, senior-friendly phones and plans|
|Lively||$99.99||– Talk: $14.99 per month
– Text: $3 per month
– Data: $2.49 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.
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.
For more info on our favorite Consumer Cellular and Lively phones, head back up to our list of this year’s best senior-friendly cell phones.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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