Best Cell Phones & Cell Phone Plans for Seniors in 2018

Our experts have researched 14 cell phone companies and recommend 6 of them (for seniors)

Last Updated On: March 4, 2019
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Top Cell Phones and Cell Phone Plans for the Elderly

Cell phones have become a vital part of everyday life. Cell phones allow seniors to connect with their loved ones and stay in touch with friends and family. Nowadays, seniors can easily find less complicated cell phones and cell phone plans so that they can stay in touch with those that matter most. For the more tech savy senior, smartphones provide tools, safety and entertainment on top of the standard communication functionality. Seniors can access their Facebook, pay bills online, text their friends and do so much more with a senior cell phone plan!
  • Jitterbug- The most recognizable senior cell phone brand name. Now owned by Best Buy, the Jitterbug is our top pick.
  • Consumer Cellular- Consumer Cellular is another easy to use and senior friendly cell phone plan. They offer low cost, pay as you go plans for those who are looking for the basics.
  • T-Mobile- T-Mobile is a well known cell phone provider, but also offers their T-Mobile One Unlimited 55 plan tailored specifically for seniors.
  • Verizon- Verizon offers both the 55 Plus plan and the Nationwide 65 Plus plans for seniors.
  • AT&T- AT&T doesn't offer any specific plans for seniors, but they do offer specials for seniors who sign up for their cell phone plans.
  • Sprint- Sprint has the Unlimited 55+ plan this is great for seniors who are looking to utilize smartphones and data usage.

How We Chose Our Top List

There are a lot of cell phone providers out there. You probably see commercials constantly for all of the different providers. It could make it difficult to determine which provider is the best since they all seem to be so popular. Luckily, we did all of that work for you. We looked through the 20 most well known cell phone providers and picked the top 6 providers that offered the best solutions for seniors. We looked at everything from features, to customer service, to ease of use and overall cost. See who we picked as our favorites.

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Products considered
05
Experts consulted
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Products selected
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Hours of research
1. Jitterbug
Ease of useExcellent
EquipmentExcellent
Service & ResponseExcellent
Features & TechExcellent
Pricing

Overview

Whether you intend to use your phone occasionally or frequently, Jitterbug offers affordable and dependable cell phone plans you can use. Their plans are affordable for those who want to use the phone mostly for emergencies. Those same plans are a bargain for someone who likes to stay well connected.

Pros
  • No contracts
  • No cancellation fees
  • No U.S. long distance fees
  • You can carry over unused Anytime Minutes for up to 60 days
  • You get to speak with U.S.-based customer service representatives and
    operators (They’ll even dial a number for you! Just like operators used to do)
  • Additional add-on services are available
  • 5-star Urgent Response Service
Cons
  • Not as feature driven as other cell phone providers
  • Limited line of cell phones

Jitterbug Cell Phones

Jitterbug offers two cell phones that have been specially designed for seniors, the Jitterbug Smart2 and the Jitterbug Flip. Both come with GreatCall’s award-winning health and safety apps. It’s a great option for older adults and for individuals with medical conditions. Whether you need urgent assistance or medical advice, GreatCall gives you peace of mind. With its 5-star urgent response button, you’re immediately connected to a highly trained response agent who is there to get you help, 24/7 with the push of a button. Both cell phones offer Urgent Care which enables you to speak with a registered nurse or board-certified doctor to receive qualified medical advice anytime (no insurance required).

Jitterbug Smart2

The Jitterbug Smart2 is a basic Android smartphone designed specifically for older adults. Among other benefits, it comes with a large screen and single list navigation. The Jitterbug Smart2 has one of the largest screens in the industry. With its simple list-based navigation menu and large easy-to-read letters and numbers, it’s easy for seniors to see and use. Its 5-star urgent response integration gives its users peace of mind; and with a built-in 13 MP camera that has a flash, users will enjoy high-quality pictures. Users will also appreciate that the Jitterbug Smart2 combines 3G and 4G LTE for maximum voice coverage and allows mobile internet access.

Jitterbug Flip

The Jitterbug Flip phone is compact and has many features that make it great for older adults and people with special health needs including a large bright display, a loud, powerful speaker that makes it easy to talk hands-free, is hearing aid compatible and has a built-in magnifier and flashlight. Its simplicity, ease of use and safety features make it obvious to see that the Jitterbug Flip was designed for the older adult.

In addition to its 5-star urgent response and its Urgent Care, the Jitterbug Flip also offers GreatCall Link. This premier tool lets you keep friends and family updated, alerting them when you use the 5-star urgent response system (with the download of a free app). This feature offers peace of mind to you and those who love you.

The cons of the Jitterbug Flip include a low-end screen, a 2 MP camera, a 200 contact phone number limit, no internet and no email access.

2. Consumer Cellular
Ease of useExcellent
EquipmentExcellent
Service & ResponseAbove Average
Features & TechExcellent
Pricing

Overview

Consumer Cellular’s motto: Get what you need. Nothing more. Nothing less. They accomplish this by offering flexible, no-frills plans designed specifically to meet the needs of older adults who don’t use their phone often. In recent a Consumer Reports wireless survey, Consumer Cellular beat all other postpaid carriers, including Sprint, AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile.

Consumer Cellular offers no-contract Talk and Connect plans that are affordable and straightforward. Consumer Cellular has plans to meet everyone’s needs, from the occasional to heavy-duty cell phone user. Services included in every plan include:

  • Calling features
  • Add family or friends for just $15 per line, per month
  • Can change your plan anytime without a fee for switching
  • Connect plans include unlimited text messaging
  • Web browsing
Pros
  • Very senior friendly
  • No contracts
  • Great customer service
  • Nationwide coverage
  • AARP member benefits
  • Risk free guarantee
Cons
  • Slightly limited line of phones
  • Less features than the major phone plan providers

Consumer Cellular Phones

Consumer Cellular offers two phones that are ideal for mature users, the Doro 7050 and Alcatel Go Flip. Both of these phones have senior-friendly features, basic camera and video, and an external caller ID display that lets you see who’s calling without having to open the phone. Let’s take a look at each of them a little more closely.

Doro 7050

The Doro 7050 is a reliable, high-quality senior-friendly flip phone that has basic, easy-to-use features that support text messaging and web data. The Doro 7050 has a speakerphone, is hearing aid compatible, has large, raised high-contrast keys and includes a conveniently located “Assistance Button” that immediately dials an emergency contact of your choosing. The well-lit main display screen is clear and easy to read. The Doro 7050 is durable, lightweight and compact. With both 3G and 4G LTE voice coverage, the Doro 7050 has better coverage than almost any other flip phone on the market.

Some of the Doro 7050’s drawbacks is that it has no contact or calendar syncing and a mere 2.0 MP digital camera.

Alcatel Go Flip

The Alcatel Go Flip cell phone offers classic flip phone convenience, making it an economical and handy way to stay in touch with friends and family. It’s lightweight and compact, has large keypad buttons and HD video capabilities. The Alcatel Go Flip has a memory card slot allowing you to expand its 4GB internal memory up to 32GB more. Its battery is stronger than that of many of its competitors.

Many reviewers indicate that the volume cannot be adjusted enough for users to adequately hear their calls. Additionally, it’s bulky, has a camera that is only 2.0 MP and no HDMI port to watch HP videos although it has the ability to produce them.

3. T-Mobile
Ease of useExcellent
EquipmentExcellent
Service & ResponseAbove Average
Features & TechExcellent
Pricing

Overview

T-Mobile has two cell phone plans targeted to seniors, Unlimited 55+ Plan and their Pay As You Go plan.

Pros
  • Unlimited talk, text and data
  • International texting and data offering
  • Mobile hotspot data included (3G)
  • Low cost
  • In-flight data and text on Gogo enabled flights
  • Taxes and fees included in monthly plans
Cons
  • Less senior friendly phone offering
  • Reduced speeds over 50GB of monthly data usage

T-Mobile Unlimited 55+ Plan

The T-Mobile Unlimited 55+ Plan is a great plan for seniors who want to talk, text and stream videos. This plan gives you two lines with unlimited talk, text and LTE data. Only the primary account holder must be 55+ years of age; the other subscriber can be younger. Visit one of their stores and they’ll walk you through getting out of your current contract and let you keep your current phone and number.

T-Mobile Unlimited 55+ Plan offers:

  • Unlimited talk, text and data
  • Stream unlimited entertainment – DVD-quality, 480p
  • Taxes and fees included
  • Mobile hotspot data included
  • In-flight texting + 1 hour of data
  • Unlimited talk, text and up to 5GB of 4G LTE data in Mexico and Canada
  • Texting and data abroad in 210+ countries and destinations
  • T-Mobile Tuesdays

T-Mobile Pay As You Go Plan

If you want a cell phone for emergency use only, you’ll love T-Mobile’s Pay As You Go plan. It’s simple – $3 per month for any combination of 30 minutes of phone time or 30 text messages (or any combination of 30) with a $10 upfront fee for SIM starter kit.

Things to know about the T-Mobile Pay As You Go Plan:

  • You can bring your own phone (GSM Network)
  • Can be used only in the U.S.
  • You pay 10 cents extra for every additional minute or message (sending and receiving).
  • No long-distance or roaming charges in the U.S.

With the addition of SCORE! (an upgrade option) and an additional $5.00 per month, you can get 500MB of 4G LTE data ($10.00 for 1 GB of $G LTE data). Plus, there is no contract and no credit check.

T-Mobile Cell Phones

You can use any GSM-capable phone that supports Band II (1900 MHz) or IV (1700/21 MHz) are compatible with T-Mobile’s network. CDMA phones are not. Phones may need to be unlocked to operate on T-Mobile’s network.

4. Verizon
Ease of useAverage
EquipmentExcellent
Service & ResponseAbove Average
Features & TechExcellent
Pricing

Overview

Verizon, the company that is known for its solid coverage, has created a plan specifically for older adults – their 55 Plus Go Unlimited Plan. It offers:

  • Unlimited talk and text
  • Unlimited 4G LTE data
  • No contract
  • DVD-quality streaming
  • Unlimited mobile hotspot (600Kbps)
  • Talk, text and data to and from Canada and Mexico

Existing customers can take advantage of Verizon’s Nationwide 65 Plus Plans.

Pros
  • Large selection of phones
  • Great add-on service features such as data backups and cloud storage
  • Excellent service and coverage
Cons
  • Less straight forward senior plan offering
  • More expensive than other senior plans
  • Discount requires AutoPay enrollment

Verizon Cell Phones

Verizon suggests three different cell phones for use by older adults, the LG Exalt LTE, the DuraXV LTE by Kyocera and the Samsung Galaxy J# V 3rd Gen.

LG Exalt LTE

The LG Exalt LTE, also known as the LG VN220, is a basic, simple flip phone that has a few advanced capabilities, including a high-speed processor, web browsing capabilities and a text to speech function. It’s compact, has a camera with auto-focus and a 3-inch color LCD screen and menu with a large font size.

Cons for the LG Exalt LTE include short battery life, low resolution on its 3-inch screen, and no selfie camera which translates into an inability to do video calling.

DuraXV LTE by Kyocera

The rugged DuraXV LTE by Kyocera is the perfect flip phone for seniors who enjoy the great outdoors. Although this flip phone is not the best in terms of display and stamina, its ultra-rugged features and generous memory make it a viable option for seniors who enjoy lots of outdoor activities. The DuraXV LTE by Kyocera is durable, meeting U.S. military standards for extreme conditions and is also impervious to dust and water. It has a native resistance to vibration, accidental drops, extreme temperatures and solar radiation. The DuraXV LTE has 16GB of memory that is expandable up to 64GB. It also has web browsing and HD video recording capabilities and a dual-microphone setup with noise cancellation.

Due to its rugged nature, it’s heavier than most other flip phones, has a low pixel display and does not support automatic screen brightness.

Samsung Galaxy J3 V 3rd Gen and Samsung Galaxy J3 3rd Gen
For seniors interested in the advantages of a smartphone, the sleek Samsung Galaxy J3 V 3rd Gen and Galaxy J3 3rd Gen is a great choice for beginners. These two smartphones are one and the same device (and will hereby be referred to as the Galaxy J3 in this article for simplicities’ sake). The former is prepaid while the latter is sold to qualified customers with a 24-month contract. Whichever you choose, you’re sure to enjoy the benefits of owning a Galaxy J3.

The Galaxy J3’s “Easy Mode” simplifies its home screen making it easier and faster to navigate. Its 5-inch HD display makes it easier to surf the web, read your emails and to see and take pictures. It also offers Bixby Home. Enlarged fonts increase text readability, while a reduced number of icons per screen trims down your most essential selections. It has a 5 MP front-facing camera and an 8 MP rear-facing camera. The Galaxy J3 has a long-lasting battery and an Octa-core Exynos 7884A processor. Add Wi-Fi calling and video calling to this phone and you have a phone that is sure to please.

5. AT&T
Ease of useAbove Average
EquipmentAbove Average
Service & ResponseAbove Average
Features & TechAbove Average
Pricing

Overview

If you have a basic phone and are 65 and older, AT&T’s Senior Nation Plan is available to you. It provides 200 anytime minutes, unlimited mobile to mobile minutes, and 500 nights and weekend minutes, all without roaming and long distance charges. Additionally, the Roam North American feature allows data, talk and text usage and domestic plan data usage in Mexico/Canada.

Pros
  • DirecTV and HBO service options
  • 10% AARP member discount
  • Nationwide coverage
  • Great selection of cell phones
Cons
  • Plan can’t be purchased online
  • Text, call and data limitations with senior plan

AT&T’s GoPhone Daily is another option for seniors who want a phone for sporadic use and prefer AT&T’s coverage. You pay two dollars a day only for the days you use your phone. On the days you don’t use your phone, you pay nothing. On the day the phone is used, you receive:

  • Unlimited nationwide calling
  • Unlimited nationwide text, picture and video messaging
  • Calling or texts from the U.S. to Mexico, Canada and over 100 other countries.

AT&T allows you to use your current phone and phone number as long as the phone you have is compatible with the AT&T network and as long as your number is eligible for transfer to AT&T.

AT&T Cell Phones

Just like T-Mobile, AT&T does not offer phones designed specifically for seniors. On their website, however, they do recommend two smartphones, the iPhone 8 and the Samsung Galaxy S9. Although not specifically designed for seniors, these phones can be used by seniors who want a high-end phone that is eligible for use with AT&Ts senior phone service plans. AT&T offers discounts on these phones when you sign up for one of their senior phone service plans. Both phones also have accessibility features to make them a bit more senior-friendly.

6. Sprint
Ease of useAbove Average
EquipmentAbove Average
Service & ResponseAverage
Features & TechAbove Average
Pricing

Overview

Customers meeting the age qualifications of Sprint’s Unlimited 55+ plan receive the same perks as customers of the regular Sprint Unlimited plan and are allowed to have up to two lines on the plan. This plan is designed to attract older customers who want and need cell service to stay in touch with family and friends.

Pros
  • Unlimited talk, text and data senior plan
  • Low cost for multiple lines
  • Unlimited mobile hotspot
  • Roaming service in 200+ international destinations
Cons
  • Data slow downs during peak usage times
  • Standard definition streaming quality

Smartphones used on the plan may be leased, purchased in monthly installments, purchased at full price or you may use your own phone. Things you need to know:

  • Unlimited talk, text and data
  • Mobile hot spot (limited to 3G speeds)
  • International texting and data
  • Global roaming in 185+ destinations
  • DVD-quality video streaming
  • Plan available only to new customers

Sprint Cell Phones

Sprint’s stated goal “is to offer solutions that allow customers to stay connected as well as feel safe and secure.” With this in mind and to meet the needs of seniors, Sprint offers several easy-to-use phones, the Kyocera Verve, the Alcatel OneTouch Retro® and the Kyocera Cadence LTE.

The Kyocera Verve and the Alcatel OneTouch Retro® offer a long list of accessibility features making it possible for seniors and those with handicaps to use these phones. (See pros for specifics to each device.) They also come with these additional Smartphone Features:

Accessible Now – Offers voice guidance to help you set up the phone, straight out of the box. This is especially helpful for blind and visually impaired users.
Google TalkBack – helps low vision and blind users interact with these Android devices more easily. This app adds vibration, audible and spoken feedback to your phone. It comes pre-installed on most devices and is updated when the service is improved.
Easy Mode – In addition to Standard Mode, some Samsung smartphones also offer easy mode which configures your Home screen to provide an easier experience. This includes larger fonts and a simpler layout. Standard Mode, on the other hand, configures your Home screen with all conventional functions. Select LG devices have a similar mode – Easy Home.

With a simple, straightforward user-friendly interface, the Kyocera Verve is a simple solution for talking, texting and taking photos. It’s a compact, easy-to-use feature phone with a slide-out QWERTY keypad. The Kyocera Verve is the perfect choice for those who want to say in touch but don’t want the high cost of smartphone data plans. The Kyocera Verve has a wide variety of accessibility features. It’s hearing aid compatible, has an “In Case of Emergency” (ICE) shortcut and a “911” shortcut.

The Kyocera Verve has a slide-out Qwerty keypad that messaging enthusiasts can appreciate, although the keys are very small, maybe too small for some senior users. Additionally, the Kyocera Verve provides a slow web experience and the call volume on the handset is too low for some.

The Alcatel OneTouch Retro™ flip phone, also known as the Alcatel Retro, Alcatel Fling and Alcatel Speakeasy, is both easy to use and affordable. Its accessibility features make it an exceptional phone for the blind, visually impaired, the deaf or hard of hearing. These features include variable speed text-to-speech, verbally described user interface and verbally described web browsing. It’s a practical flip phone targeted to older adults, including those with disabilities. It comes with multiple font sizes, has a large, tactile keypad with well-defined buttons and is hearing aid compatible. Battery life falls short of many of its competitors.

The Kyocera Cadence LTE is a simple flip phone with a bright display, large ergonomic keypad, high-quality voice and VoWiFi (voice over Wi-Fi). The Kyocera Cadence has several features that are surprising for a flip type phone including the fact that it operates on a Quad-core M.1GHz processor with 2 GB of RAM – a setup many entry-level Androids rely on. This has a positive impact on its performance when compared to many other flip phones. It comes with a dual-microphone noise cancellation system and a hotspot mode. Cons of Kyocera Cadence LTE does not offer video recording or playback or global roaming. Its battery capacity falls short of some competitors.

Finding the Best Cell Phones for Seniors

Cell phones have become so much more than a mere phone. They have so many uses, often limited only by the apps you choose to load onto them. You can use them to take and store pictures and videos, to calculate an equation, to see what the weather is like anywhere in the world, and to give you step-by-step driving directions to wherever you want to go. It can serve as a flashlight, tell you what time it is, serve as a stopwatch or timer, become your own personal portable library and act as a PDA or calendar. Cell phones occupy our time with an unending supply of games. The list of what cell phones can do goes on and on. With the addition of an app, a cell phone can do almost anything. They are essentially small computers, which means you have the world wide web at your disposal anytime and anywhere which can certainly be a huge benefit. Whether you want to check local movie schedules, look up the address of a store you want to visit, or check out some odd bit of trivia, all you need to do is whip out your cell phone and the world wide web is at your fingertips.

The very first cell phone call was made in 1973. Back then, cell phones were bulky (even requiring a base unit that resembled a briefcase to be carried around with it) and expensive. Reception was an issue and the locations in which a call could be made were very limited.

We have seen many advancements since then. Cell phones are smaller, more versatile and, due to the use of satellites and wireless services, reception is much improved. In fact, cell phone service is available worldwide, even in remote areas.

Cells phones are an excellent way to stay connected with family and friends and provide users with a sense of security. Cell phones even go beyond having the ability to call for assistance. Since most cell phones are equipped with GPS technology, the phone (and its user) can be located in the event of an emergency (as long as the GPS capability is available and turned on).

Why Do Seniors Need a Cell Phone

Cell phones are no longer a luxury item, especially for older adults. Despite the tremendous benefits seniors receive from owning a cell phone, nearly one-quarter of all seniors sixty-five and over still don’t own one. This is unfortunate. From having the ability to connect with those they love to being able to get assistance with emergencies to the enjoyment of apps that are easily loaded onto a phone, a cell phone can greatly enhance the life of a senior.

Benefits of cell phone ownership include:

  • Helps You Maintain Social Connections: Whether you’re calling, texting, using Skype or FaceTime, cell phones make it easy to stay connected to friends and family.
  • Provides Emergency Assistance: From trips and falls to strokes or heart attacks, seniors are more likely to be faced with a medical emergency than any other segment of the population. With a cell phone, a person has instant and easy access to lifesaving assistance wherever and whenever it is needed.
  • Gives You Peace of Mind: Knowing you have a way to connect with friends and family when you need to or want to can’t help but give you peace of mind. When driving alone in a remote area and your car breaks down, when you’ve fallen and need assistance, when you’re running late and need to let someone know, and many other scenarios just like these, it’s nice to know you have a phone and can do what you need to do, especially when you need help or assistance.
  • Monitors Everyday Health: There are lots of easy-to-use apps that make it simple to monitor your health conveniently on your cell phone. Plus, these tools enable seniors to keep current on their medical needs, all in one convenient location.
    With this many choices, you are sure to find the app that meets your needs and makes it easy to monitor your health wherever you are.
  • Unending Entertainment options: Cell phones are so much more than a calling device. From music to games to movies, nearly every cell phone on the market offers options for entertainment. With just a few keystrokes, you can find everything from cognitive training to mindless entertainment to music and videos and everything in between. Check out the Google play store to find a zillion ways to entertain yourself and keep your boredom at bay.

Choosing the Right Cell Phone

With so many choices, finding the right cell phone for you can seem like a daunting task. Here are a few easy tips to help you find the perfect cell phone:

  • Smart vs. Basic: When it comes to cell phones, you essentially have two options – a smartphone or a basic flip phone. Your choice between these two will depend on how you intend to use your phone. If you want to be able to have apps, games and video capabilities, then you will want to choose a smartphone. If you want to have a simple, straightforward, easy to use cell phone for voice calling and text messaging capabilities only, then a basic flip-phone will easily meet those needs and do so with a much cheaper price tag.
  • Create a list of all the features you want or need, such as large buttons, ability to take good-quality pictures or videos and voice command. Here’s an article you might find useful, 10 smartphone must-have features. You may not find a phone that has everything you’re looking for, but you’re more likely to find what works best for you in the end if you have a good idea of what you are looking for.
  • Read reviews of the cell phones you are considering. Make sure reviews meet your standards.
  • Visit stores and check out the phones. Try out phones in person to make sure the buttons and displays are what you need. Make sure they are large enough if you have vision problems. Those with hearing issues need to make sure the phone’s volume is adequate, both call volume and the ringer. Be sure to see what others are saying about concerns such as these when you read the reviews.
  • Take advantage of the return policy. Be prepared to return the phone if it does not meet your needs. Almost every carrier allows no questions asked returns during a 14- to a 30-day trial period.
    There are quite a few cell phones that are specifically designed for seniors. We will be discussing them later in this article. After reading the reviews and trying one out for yourself, you can determine if a certain phone meets your needs.

Cell Phone Service Plans

A cell phone service plan is a paid agreement between you and a mobile carrier that allows your cell phone to use their network for calls, text messages and internet access (also called mobile data).

There are five major mobile phone service carriers in the U.S.– Sprint, AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile and U.S. Cellular (only provides regional coverage). Each of these companies is classified as a Mobile Network Operator (MNO).

Other carriers, like Cricket, Straight Talk Wireless and Boost Mobile are resellers, also referred to as Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNO). Mobile Virtual Network Operators purchase network access from one of the major carriers, the MNOs, and resell that access to their own customers, often at a lower rate because they don’t have to pay to maintain the network infrastructure and licensing. MVNOs primarily offer pre-paid/no contract plans and services.

Benefits of Using an MNO

Why would you choose an MNO when you can use the same network for less by choosing an MVNO?

  • Ability to purchase cell through a monthly payment plan, rather than paying for the total cost up front. This does require a credit check.
  • Offers a larger selection of cell phone brands and models.
  • Option to post-pay for services at the end of the service month instead of paying before you use the service.
  • When mobile traffic is high, MNOs prioritize their customer’s network access ahead of that of MVNO customers. In areas with spotty service/less coverage, MNO customers have fewer service disruptions and dropped calls.
  • When new advancements in technology are made, MNO customers are the first to benefit.

Benefits of Using an MVNO

Besides being able to pay cheaper rates, MVNO customers have other benefits to consider as well:

  • Since almost all of the plans are prepaid, they generally don’t do credit checks. This can be a big bonus if your credit is less than stellar. Not all MVNO plans are prepaid.
  • By paying in advance, you are never surprised with extra unexpected fees and overages.
  • You have the option to use your own existing phone rather than buying a new one as long as the phone you intend to use is configured to work on the network you choose.

How to Choose a Cell Phone Plan

Mobile carriers offer various types of plans that cover talk time, messaging and mobile data. To determine which plan is right for you, consider the following:

  • Which cell phone carrier provides good signal strength where you live? Ask others who live in the area and those who visit, which carriers they use and if they are satisfied with the service they receive.
  • How much data do you typically use? Taking the amount of talk time, the number of texts and mobile data you typically use into consideration, will the plan you are considering work for you?
  • Do you have a phone you would like to continue using? Will the plan and carrier you are considering allow you to do so? Will they allow you to keep your number as well?
  • How many lines do you want or need?
  • Are you able to piggyback onto a spouse’s or other family member’s plan for $10-$20 per month extra (instead of getting a plan of your own)?
  • Many carriers offer discounts to veterans, seniors, and persons who are low income. Ask the carrier if you qualify for one of these discounts. See how low-income seniors can even qualify for a low cost or free phone later in this article.
  • Even if you already have a plan, consider checking into others, especially if you’ve been on the same plan for a long time. You may be able to find a plan that can save you money every month just by switching. Be aware that switching may cause you to pay early termination fees. Some carriers are now willing to pay all or part of those fees for you if you switch. Be sure to ask before you switch and reread your current phone plan and compare it to your new proposed plan.
  • How important is cost? Know how much you’re willing to pay and how much your budget can withstand. Costs range from plans going for $20 a month with a $60 flip phone to a $100+ a month plan with a $1100+ iPhone. So, it’s important to narrow this down a bit or you’re liable to be overwhelmed with choices.

Types of Cell Phone Plans

There are several categories of cell phone plans:

  • Inexpensive (cheap) cell phone plans with limited minutes for talk and text. Overages can add up quickly on inexpensive post-paid plans.
  • Family mobile phone plans allow for multiple lines. There are two types of family plans. One, where all users share an allotment of mobile data and, the other, where each line has their own allotment.
  • Pre-paid cell phone plans where you pay in advance, refilling as you use up the data. You never have an overage with pre-paid plans, but if your phone runs out and you run into an emergency before you refill it, you’re out of luck.
  • Unlimited data phone plans offer unlimited data; however, they intentionally slow down your data speeds when certain scenarios come into play. For instance, when you reach certain limits, service drops from 4G to 3G services.
  • Senior cell phone plans generally offer discounts to older adults, different carriers offer this discount at differing ages. Some also offer medical assistance/advice or the ability to call for emergency help with the push of a button.

Best Cell Phones and Cell Phone Plans for Seniors

Now that you understand the importance of having a cell phone, let’s take a look at various top-rated cell phones and cell phone plans. You’re sure to find one that meets your needs at a price that fits within your budget.

Senior cell phone usage patterns generally fall into two different groups:

  • Individuals who simply want a phone for the occasional call and for emergencies
  • Individuals who want a phone to chat with friends and family frequently

Knowing how you intend to use your phone will help you select the best cell phone and cell phone plan for you.

Cost

Cell phone manufacturers have designed a variety of phones that sell for a wide range of prices. Some of the phones themselves are priced well under $100 while others go for more than $1000. For example, the iPhone X, which came out in the fall of 2017 with facial recognition, a studio-quality camera and animated poop emojis (you heard that right!) came in at just over $1000. Options range from the basic cell phone that is used only to make phone calls to a complex, technologically advanced piece of equipment that can perform more tasks than the basic home computer. Over the last ten years, cells phones have become more and more a necessity for people the world over. Satellites have made it possible for even the most remote and underdeveloped countries to have access to some amount of wireless services and cell phone technology.

Cell phone prices span a wide range of dollar amounts. Cell phones designed for seniors, tend to be more basic with very few bells and whistles. Some cell phones can be purchased outright, like the Alcatel Go Flip with Consumer Cellular, which sells for $30.00 plus a monthly plan with free activation. The Jitterbug Smart2 with GreatCall regularly sells for $149.99 plus monthly plan and activation. Plans using the Jitterbug Flip cell phone are available for as low as $14.99 per month. The Kyocera Verve goes for $19.99 per month on-contract. The Kyocera Cadence LTE retails for $120.00 and can be purchased for $5.00/month in 24 monthly payments with a contract. These are just a few examples from phones previously discussed in this article. Prices vary depending upon the method of purchase, from an outright purchase to being paid out as part of a purchase plan and contract.

Some phone plans have a one-time activation fee while others wave this fee.

Since 2011, when smartphones reached the global average price of $348, the average global price has steadily declined to an average of $229 in 2018. It’s expected to drop even further to $214 by the end of 2019.

The average price varies around the world with North American paying the highest average price. In 2013, North American consumers paid an average of $531 compared to the $306 global average. In 2017, the average North American selling price was $567, up from the 2013 price, although globally the price continued to drop.

The average selling price for a smartphone also differs between vendors and the phone’s operating system. Apple’s iPhone has the highest average selling price. Smartphones using an Android operating system pay substantially less, almost two-thirds less.

Although worldwide average cell phone prices continue to drop, the trend for higher priced cell phones in theU.S.is expected to continue to rise. As processing power, internet data speeds, camera technology and battery life continue to improve, the value people attach to their phone continues to increase as well. Consumers who consider a mobile phone to be the most important product in their lives are prepared to pay a premium; and, mobile phone suppliers are prepared to take advantage of this fact.

Basically, you can obtain a plan and pay less than $20 per month and pair that with a $60 flip phone. Or, you can get a $100+ per month plan to use with your $1000+ cell phone. There are many more options in between. As you shop for a cell phone, you need to determine how much you’re willing to pay and find the phone and plan that stays within your budget. Be sure to ask the salesperson to total up all the taxes and fees so you know exactly what to expect when you receive your bill each month.

Accessibility Apps for Seniors

If you have a phone that allows you to load additional apps onto it, you might find the following apps helpful if you have accessibility issues.

The app, Android Accessibility Suite, offers a collection of accessibility services that will enable you to use your Android device eyes-free or with a switch device. Android Accessibility Suite includes such features as Accessibility Menu, Select to Speak, Switch Access and a TalkBack screen reader. For more information about Android Accessibility Suite and other accessibility options, click here.

If you are interested in other third-party applications, there are a variety of options that can be used to make your phone even more accessible to meet your needs. These two links, Android third-party accessibility apps and iPhone third-party accessibility apps, will provide you with a great start in finding an app to fit your needs.

Free to Low-Cost Cell Phones and Phone Plans for Seniors

Many seniors on a fixed income sourced entirely from Social Security often find it difficult to make ends meet. Given their low income, cell phones often fall low on the list of things they can afford to purchase. Understanding that having a cell phone is important for seniors, especially when faced with an emergency, Lifeline, a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) program, was created to make free to low cost cell phones or home phone service available to anyone who qualifies.

Lifeline subscribers can purchase discounted monthly phone service and broadband services from participating providers. Subscribers have several options from which to choose – voice only, stand-alone broadband or a bundled voice-broadband package. Lifeline helps ensure that low-income seniors can afford 21st-century technology. FCC rules prohibit more than one Lifeline service per household.

Best Cell Phone for You

With so many options and choices, only you can determine which cell phone and cell phone service plans are right for you. Do you want a Smartphone, or will a flip phone serve your needs? Do you travel and need to have a plan that enables you to stay connected with family and friends even when you’re out of the country? Or perhaps, you have friends and family who live outside the country with whom you want to stay connected. Is having access to the internet important? What does your budget allow? Once you have answers to these questions and many others like them, you’re more prepared to choose the best cell phone to meet your needs.