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The Apple iPhone 13 offers state-of-the-art features, a durable design, and stellar storage capacity (starting at 128 GB). It earns bonus points for seamlessly integrating with other Apple products such as the Apple Watch. It’s essential to keep in mind that the iPhone is a high-tech smartphone. Older adults who don’t need all the bells and whistles might want to consider a senior-friendly flip phone or an easy-to-use big-button cell phone.
The carrier you choose is just as important as picking the right phone. In addition to a free phone, we found that T-Mobile has competitive plan pricing and perks. Save some extra cash by bundling T-Mobile’s high-speed internet service with your phone plan. T-Mobile makes it easy to power up at home and on the go, and that’s a win for us!
FYI: We awarded T-Mobile’s senior-specific phone plan 4.7 out of 5 stars. For more details, check out our T-Mobile Unlimited 55+ review.
The Samsung Galaxy A12 is excellent for older adults who want a user-friendly smartphone with a large enough screen to combat eye strain or fatigue. Individuals struggling with low vision can make the most of the virtual assistant feature. With a simple voice command, the assistant can do it all, from reading texts and notifications to sending messages and setting reminders. While Cricket’s network is 5G, the Samsung A12 is not, so this means you won’t have the highest speeds. You’ll need a 5G-capable phone to make the most of a 5G network.
Cricket is part of the AT&T network, covering over 99 percent of Americans. A free phone is just one of the many perks of this carrier. Save even more on your wireless costs by earning a $25 credit for every friend you refer. Don’t forget to sign up for autopay to save up to $60 a year. Your wallet will thank you!
Buyer’s Tip: Budget-conscious shoppers will love Cricket’s multi-line deep discount. Get the facts by heading over to our Cricket Wireless review.
The Motorola moto power g is a solid smartphone choice. The battery is mighty, and even the advanced dual-camera system and virtual assistant tech won’t cause significant battery drain. Android lovers will enjoy the Google interface featuring voice assistance and control. As you shop for your free phone, consider how and where you’ll use it. If you’re looking for a cell phone with a lightning-fast connection, the moto power g might not be the best fit, as you may experience a bit of lag.
Your free phone is only as good as the network it’s on. Verizon has received over 170 J.D. Power awards for network quality during the past 17 years (voted America’s best network 27 times in a row).3 Talk about reliable service! Learn more about their customer service and buying experience in our in-depth Verizon review.
FYI: Verizon has several unlimited talk, text, and data phone plans, including the Verizon senior-only 55+ plan.
Not all carriers offer the same free phone. The variety of brands and models to choose from can make your head spin. After extensive research, our team zeroed in on the best free phones for seniors. The criteria used to evaluate which no-cost phones made it onto our list include the availability of senior-friendly features, customer perks, and carrier reputation and reliability.
Pro Tip: Having a hard time deciding the type of phone that meets your needs? Head over to our best cell phones for seniors list for the lowdown on the pros and cons for various makes and models.
According to the Center for Social and Demographic Research on Aging at UMass Boston, approximately 50 percent of older adults living alone and 23 percent of older couples have annual incomes that fall below the amount necessary to meet their basic needs.4 There are multiple government assistance programs that provide seniors with free or discounted phones, internet service, and computers. Let’s take a look at the options and how to qualify.
Assurance Wireless is part of the federal Lifeline phone assistance program. Qualifying households receive a free smartphone and accompanying benefits each month. Assurance Wireless is part of the T-Mobile network, covering 99 percent of Americans. The Assurance Wireless Lifeline service is free to qualified consumers, and extra voice minutes, data, international calling, and international texting may be purchased for an additional fee.
If your household is eligible, you can receive:5
Eligibility requirements for Assurance Wireless Unlimited are based on federal or state-specific eligibility criteria. Qualifications may be based on household income or participation in a government assistance program, such as Medicaid, Veterans and Survivors Pension Program, and Supplemental Security Income.
Lifeline is a program offered by the Federal Communications Commission for low-income consumers. Qualifying individuals receive discounts on phone, broadband internet, or bundled voice-broadband packages from participating providers. The Lifeline discount is available in every state, territory, and commonwealth, as well as on tribal lands.
If your household is eligible, you can receive:6
Participation in the Lifeline program is based upon income or enrollment in federal assistance programs, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Supplemental Security Income, Medicaid, federal public housing assistance, and Veterans and Survivors Pension Program.
Benefits Tip: Lifeline subscribers must recertify their eligibility every year. If you fail to recertify, you’ll be unenrolled in the program and lose your discount.
The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) helps low-income households pay for broadband service and internet-connected devices. One monthly service discount and one device discount are available per household.
If your household is eligible, you can receive:7
In order to be eligible for ACP, individuals must meet the income requirements or participate in a government assistance program such as Supplemental Security Income, Medicaid, or federal public housing. If you already receive the Lifeline benefit, you’re automatically eligible for the ACP. It is possible to receive both Lifeline and ACP benefits at the same time.
Quick Tip: The choice of internet providers is based on where you live. The Federal Communications Commission provides a list of participating providers by state.
If you’re not able to snag a free cell phone, don’t despair! There are plenty of ways to cash in on carrier deals, perks, and discounts. Unsure where to begin? Our 2022 cell phones for seniors buyer’s guide covers everything you need to know about cell phone brands, carriers, and how to get the best deal.
If you’re on a limited income, paying full price for a phone out of pocket isn’t easy. The great news is that many cell phone carriers offer low-cost monthly payment plans. Consumer Cellular is a fine example, with their senior-friendly flip phone at just $2 per month for 24 months. We’d be remiss if we didn’t cover Consumer Cellular’s phone plan affordability (plans start at just $15 per month). Check out our Consumer Cellular review for an in-depth look at plans and pricing.
From the Experts: Head over to our cheapest cell phones for seniors list, and check out our top wallet-friendly picks to find the right cell phone for your budget.
Don’t forget to take advantage of your AARP membership perks! AT&T and Consumer Cellular have partnered with AARP to offer senior discounts on cell phone plans, accessories, and upgrades. Considering AT&T? Before you lock in, learn more about the AT&T Unlimited 55+ plan pricing and value.
Money-Saving Tip: From retail and grocery to travel and leisure, there are plenty of discounts to be had. Our complete list of senior discounts details over 100 deals to claim.
Veterans who don’t qualify for federal phone programs such as Lifeline or Assurance Wireless have other cost-saving options to make the most of. Many cell phone providers, including Verizon, T-Mobile, and AT&T, offer special discounts to military and veteran families.
Did You Know: Monetary and medical benefits may be available to qualifying veterans, surviving spouses, and dependents.
Pair your no-cost or low-cost cell phone with an affordable phone plan. From time to time, providers offer free lines, waived fees, and monthly freebies. For example, Mint Mobile is the cheapest prepaid mobile carrier we’ve tested, and their new customer offer lets you try them out for three months at their lowest possible price (plans start at $15 per month). And if your carrier isn’t offering any current deals, don’t be afraid to ask!
From the Pros: There are plenty of economical phone plans to choose from. Check out our list of the best cell phone plans for seniors to find out which cell phone providers dominated the competition.
Complete the Lifeline qualification questionnaire to determine if you meet the eligibility requirements.
Important factors to consider include cell phone features, ease of use, and compatibility with medical devices such as hearing aids or medical alert systems.
No. Every carrier has different deals and discounts.
Yes. You can get Lifeline if you or someone in your household participates in Medicaid.
Maureen joined SeniorLiving.org with more than 10 years of experience writing in health, lifestyle, and nutrition for premium brands like General Mills, Westinghouse, and Bristol Myers Squibb. Her passion for empowering older adults is evident in coverage of topics like retirement, health… Learn More About Maureen Stanley
T-Mobile. (2022). America’s largest, fastest, and most reliable 5G network.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2022). Fast Facts of Common Eye Disorders.
Verizon. (2021). Verizon still number one in Network Quality according to J.D. Power.
UMass Boston News. (2019). UMass Boston Research Finds Nearly One Third Live “In the Gap” Between Poverty, Economic Security.
assurance wireless. (2022). What is the Emergency Broadband Benefit and its successor, the Affordable Connectivity Program?
USAC Lifeline Support. (2022). Get Connected to Phone or Internet Service.
USAC Lifeline Support. (2022). Stay Connected.