Finding a smartphone—or any phone—can take a lot of time. It’s a big decision, especially for seniors planning to invest in a phone. If you’re in the market for your first smartphone or a new smartphone, we can help you. We’ve spent more than 300 hours researching, asking questions, and testing out various phones to create a list of the best cell phones for seniors.
Of course, we knew creating just one list wouldn’t do because some seniors—like you—have their hearts set on a smartphone. Smartphones have many more features than a regular cell phone, so we had to develop a list of criteria to help us rank the phones. The four most important criteria we looked at were:
|Top 5 Phones||Lively Smart||REVVL 4 from T-Mobile||Moto G Power from Consumer Cellular||iPhone 11 Pro from Verizon||Galaxy Note20 5G from AT&T|
|Battery Life||12 hours talk time||19 hours talk time||72 hours talk time||16 hours talk time||34 hours talk time|
|Hearing Aid Compatibility||M4/T4||M3/T3||M3/T3||M3/T4||M3/T3|
-Built-in GPS and navigation
-Voice typing for sending text messages
-Facial and fingerprint unlock
-Built-in scam-blocking protection
Dual Dolby speakers
-Secure Face ID
-Includes a pair of Apple EarPods
-S Pen for touch-free operation of the phone
More seniors end up answering “yes” to that question than not. An impressive 61 percent of seniors age 65+ own smartphones, while only 29 percent own regular cell phones.1 Why do so many seniors use smartphones? For one, the majority of seniors associate smartphones with a sense of freedom.2 Smartphones also help older adults feel connected. Because smartphones offer many features and access to thousands of mobile apps, they can keep seniors connected, entertained, and protected on a whole new level.
Of course, how you answer the question for yourself depends on a few things: What you do, how comfortable you are with technology, and why you’re looking for a new phone in the first place.
A smartphone lets you access the Internet, video chat with loved ones, watch movies and TV shows, stream music, download mobile apps, and so much more. Many mobile apps even make life easier for seniors. You can find apps for brain games, medication reminders, exercise routines, your pharmacy, and telehealth appointments.
Flip phones are a whole lot simpler. Most let you send texts, make calls, and surf the web. Since they lack so many of the features smartphones have, they also lack some of the benefits. While we’ve found some great flip phones for seniors, they’re best for those who want to keep things basic. However, if you simply want to stay connected and don’t care about the bells and whistles like a high-quality camera, touchscreen, or mobile apps, a flip phone will be a better fit for you. Plus, traditional cell phones tend to be the more inexpensive option for those on a tight budget.
Any older adult willing to learn how to use a smartphone has a lot to gain from one. But we’d say smartphones are best for those who:
If you feel like a smartphone is right for you, read on as we get into our top picks!
Pro Tip: Start your smartphone search by reading our cell phones for seniors buyer’s guide. We cover top brands, pricing, how to choose the right phone for your needs, and more!
Know that the Lively Smart won’t be as fast as some other smartphones out there. It’s not intended to be. And that’s one of the reasons it’s so affordable at just $149.99. You’ll have no trouble using it for texts, calls, reading ebooks, surfing the web, and playing music, but larger apps like Gmail might take a little longer to load. This makes the Lively Smart an excellent starter smartphone for seniors. Lively’s senior plan pricing includes value and unlimited phone plan options.
From the Pros: We put the Lively Smart to the test! Find out how the Smart ranked in our Lively phone review.
You can save money per line on T-Mobile’s 55+ unlimited plans if you purchase two lines. So, now might be the time to get your spouse a new phone too! Their Essentials Unlimited 55 Plan comes with unlimited talk, text, and data for just $40 a month for one line or $55 per month for two lines. Just make sure T-Mobile offers reliable coverage in your area!
Pricing for Consumer Cellular plans are based on talk, text, and data. Make sure you choose the Consumer Cellular plan that’s right for you. With an unlimited plan, you don’t need to track your data, texts, or minute usage. That’s nice, but it can get pricey. You’ll also save when you sign up for two or three lines instead of just one. AARP members also get a five percent discount on service. If you don’t need unlimited, Consumer Cellular has other plans starting at just $20 per month.
Quick Tip: AARP members save 5 percent on monthly service and usage charges and 30 percent on accessories. Check out our AARP membership guide for more information.
You should know that the Moto G Power is a little heavier than other smartphones of its size because of its long-lasting battery. It weighs over 1.5 ounces more than the first two phones on our list. If you experience hand weakness, this phone might be uncomfortable to use.
The $999.99 price tag may seem intimidating, but you might be able to knock the cost down. Verizon frequently offers trade-in deals and seasonal promotions, so make sure to check for deals before you buy!
Verizon offers several unlimited plans for the iPhone 11 Pro too. Live in Florida? You might be eligible for the wallet-friendly Verizon 55+ Unlimited plan. If not, our next best pick is the Prepaid 5 GB plan with unlimited talk, unlimited text, and 5 GB of data. You can’t beat Verizon’s prices for this plan. In our latest Verizon review, we found that you’ll only pay $35 per month with loyalty and AutoPay discounts.
The Galaxy Note20 5G might seem pretty pricey, but you do get what you pay for. Don’t forget to take advantage of AT&T’s perks and discounts including trading in your old smartphone for up to $200 in credit toward monthly installments. Financing the phone costs $27.78 per month for 36 months. Only certain postpaid phone plans are eligible, though.
If you can buy the phone outright, we’d recommend it. You can then save money on your service with either the prepaid unlimited or prepaid 8 GB plans. Both get you unlimited text, unlimited talk, and fast data.
Inside Tip: Wondering how AT&T ranks as a service provider? Our hands-on AT&T review has the inside scoop.
Even after looking at our top picks, you still might need help deciding on a smartphone. Here are some factors you should consider.
It’s easy to get distracted by the fancier smartphone models like the iPhone 11 Pro. It’s a great phone, which is why we put it on our list, but only if you can afford it. Make sure you narrow your search down to phones within your price range. Sure, you can finance a phone to avoid a steep upfront cost, but that locks you in with the carrier. There are plenty of other affordable smartphones with great features on our list!
Money-Saving Tip: If you’re on a budget and on the fence about using a smartphone, check out our cheapest cell phones for seniors list.
Do you want your phone to double as a medical alert device? If so, there’s a simple solution to your smartphone search: The Lively Smart. It’s one of the best cell phones for seniors because of Lively’s Health & Safety Packages. Help will be just a press of a button away. And, compared to the other smartphone options, you can’t beat the price.
Smartphones work great for older adults, but only when they’re charged. If you’re forgetful or just don’t want to be bothered to charge your phone every day, look for a smartphone with long battery life. The Moto G Power has the longest battery life of our top picks, with up to three days of talk time.
Talk to your family about their smartphones. Knowing what they use or are familiar with can help you decide. For example, if your loved ones use iPhones, going with the iPhone 11 Pro or another iPhone is a smart choice. Your family already knows Apple products and can help you learn how to use them. Plus, you’d be able to FaceTime them and send iMessages.
You can also ask them what carrier they have. Sometimes bundling with your family’s phone plan can lower the price per line. Of course, prepaid phone plans for seniors are another way to cut service costs too.
The iPhone 11 Pro is best for older adults because of its premium features. If you want a budget-friendly iPhone, the iPhone SE is a good choice too.
The easiest way for seniors to learn how to use smartphones is by asking a family member, friend, or neighbor for help. Some senior centers and libraries offer technology classes for seniors too. If they can’t find in-person help, seniors can look for videos online to help also.
An estimated 21.2 million U.S. adults aged 65+ use smartphones.4
Some seniors might find smartphones intimidating, but seeing as 61 percent of seniors own smartphones, most don’t!1 Senior-friendly smartphones like the Lively Smart and help from family and friends make smartphones more approachable too.
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
Pew Research Center. (2020). Mobile Fact Sheet.
Pew Research Center. (2015). For vast majority of seniors who own one, a smartphone equals ‘freedom’.
Federal Trade Commission. (2019). Protecting Older Consumers.
Institute on Aging. (2020). Our Mission & History.