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The Best Free Phones for Seniors

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  • 1. Apple iPhone 13 from T-Mobile

    Overview

    The iPhone 13 is a pocket-sized powerhouse. With its top-notch camera and ample storage, go ahead and snap as many vacation or family pics as you like! We’re all about technology that supports the needs of older adults, and the iPhone doesn’t disappoint. The iPhone 13’s straightforward accessibility features are an asset to those with vision or hearing loss. With an M3/T4 hearing aid compatibility rating, it’s no surprise the iPhone made it onto our list of best cell phones for seniors with hearing loss.

    You won’t have to shell out big bucks for the iPhone at T-Mobile, as customers can score a free iPhone 13. Simply trade in an eligible device on a Magenta MAX line. You’ll receive 24 monthly bill credits for your trade-in along with a year of Apple TV+ for free.

    What makes T-Mobile’s coverage stand out? T-Mobile is America’s leader in 5G, covering more of the U.S. — nearly twice the 5G coverage area of AT&T and four times that of Verizon.1 If you have the need for speed, T-Mobile has you covered.

    Apple iPhone 13

    Apple iPhone 13

    Pros
    • Edge-to-edge HDR screen
    • Water- and dust-resistant
    • Facial recognition
    • Siri virtual assistant
    • Siri virtual assistant
    • Wireless charging
    • M3/T4 hearing aid compatible
    • Advanced dual camera
    Cons
    • Heavier weight (6.14 ounces)
    • No fingerprint ID

    The Bottom Line

    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.

  • 2. Samsung Galaxy A03 from Cricket Wireless

    Overview

    The Samsung Galaxy A03 smartphone delivers cutting-edge tech with a senior-friendly design. As we move toward our golden years, some of us may experience age-related eye disorders (around 12 million people in the U.S. ages 40 and older have a vision impairment2). You won’t have to squint at a small screen with the A03; its large edge-to-edge display is easy on the eyes. Not tech-savvy? No worries. Samsung’s Setup Wizard guides you through the basics of setting up your device.

    It’s simple for new customers to cash in on Cricket Wireless’ free phone offer. All you need to do is bring your number and activate a $60-per-month plan. Shopping for a free phone at Cricket Wireless is a breeze because there’s more than one model to choose from. Options include models from Samsung, iPhone, and Cricket’s own cell phone line. In addition to scoring a free cell phone, we’re big fans of Cricket Wireless’ no annual contracts, no credit check, and no hidden fees.

    Samsung Galaxy A03

    Samsung Galaxy A03

    Pros
    • Large, 6.5-inch edge-to-edge HD+ screen
    • Face- and fingerprint-recognition unlock
    • High-quality multi-lens camera system
    • Virtual assistant
    • M3/T3 hearing aid compatible
    Cons
    • Not 5G capable
    • No wireless charging

    The Bottom Line

    The Samsung Galaxy A03 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 A03 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.

  • 3. Motorola moto g pure from Verizon

    Overview

    The Motorola moto g pure is a low-maintenance smartphone. One of our favorite things about the moto g pure is the extra-long battery life. You won’t have to worry about constantly charging your phone, as this phone boasts up to two days of battery life (standby time 18 days). When you’re low on power, the rapid charging option gets your battery fully replenished in no time. The Motorola moto g pure is built to last and can withstand accidental spills, splashes, or light rain.

    New and current customers can cash in on Verizon’s free phone offer. You’ll receive a free phone when you switch to Verizon, add a new line, or upgrade an existing line. Verizon keeps it uncomplicated, with no trade-in required. Like Cricket Wireless, Verizon offers a variety of free phones from Apple, Samsung, Motorola, and Orbic. Now that’s what we call a deal!

    Motorola moto g pure

    Motorola moto g pure

    Pros
    • Max Vision HD+ display
    • Long battery life
    • Water-repellent design
    • Google virtual assistant
    • Fingerprint reader and face unlock
    Cons
    • Slower processing speed
    • Not 5G capable

    The Bottom Line

    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.

How We Chose the Best Free Phones for Seniors

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.

Free Government Cell Phones for Seniors

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

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

  • A free Android smartphone
  • Free unlimited data
  • Free unlimited texts
  • Free unlimited minutes
  • Free 10 GB of mobile hotspot data

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

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

  • Up to a $9.25 monthly discount for eligible subscribers
  • Up to $34.25 per month for eligible subscribers on tribal lands

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.

Affordable Connectivity Program

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

  • Up to a $30-per-month discount on your internet service
  • Up to a $75-per-month discount if your household is on qualifying tribal lands
  • A one-time discount of up to $100 for a laptop, tablet, or desktop computer (with a copayment of more than $10 but less than $50)

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.

Other Ways to Save on a Cell Phone

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.

Choose a Low-Cost Cell Phone

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.

Capitalize on Senior Discounts

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.

Tap Into Veteran Cell Phone Discounts

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.

Check for Phone Plan Deals

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.

Frequently Asked Questions About Free Phones for Seniors

Written By

Maureen Stanley

Writer & Editor

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