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Best Smartphones for Seniors

After researching and testing out the best smartphones on the market, we've narrowed our list down to the top five smartphones for seniors.

The 3 Best Brands
Accolades Best smartphone overall Most affordable smartphone Best smartphone battery life
Contracts No No No
Device cost $149.99 $120 $150
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How Did We Choose the Best Smartphones for Seniors?

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.

Back of Lively Smart

Back of Lively Smart

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:

  • Senior-friendliness: This is a list for seniors, after all. We look for senior-friendly features, including large screen size, simple navigation, medical alert capabilities, bright screens, adjustable speakers, and hearing aid compatibility. Of course, not every phone has it all, but each offers a good mix of senior-friendly features.
  • Value: We don’t know your budget, but we did try to include various budget-friendly and higher-end smartphone models. Our pricier picks certainly have the high-tech features to justify the cost. Our low-end picks still get the job down without breaking the bank.
  • Camera quality: All of our top picks have excellent cameras, so you can video call loved ones, take gorgeous pictures of your garden or grandkids, and get your selfie game on. We wanted models with rear and front-facing cameras too.
  • Usability: A phone is no good if you aren’t able to use it. Each phone on the list is easy to use. Compared to a flip phone, figuring out your smartphone will require some extra effort, but not as much as you’d expect with the right help.

Overview of the Best Smartphones for Seniors

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
Device Cost $149.99 $120 $150 $999.99 $999.99
Financing Available? No Yes Yes Yes Yes
Contract Required? No No No No No
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
Screen Size 6.2-inch 6.22-inch 6.6-inch 5.8-inch 6.7-inch
Other Features -Built-in GPS and navigation
-Voice typing for sending text messages
-Facial and fingerprint unlock
-Built-in scam-blocking protection
Voice recognition
Dual Dolby speakers
-Secure Face ID
-Includes a pair of Apple EarPods
-S Pen for touch-free operation of the phone
-Fingerprint ID

Do I Need a Smartphone?

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.

Our Editor's grandma testing out the iPhone 11 Pro

Our Editor’s grandma testing out the iPhone 11 Pro

How Do Smartphones Compare to Flip Phones?

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.

Types of Seniors Smartphones Are Best For

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:

  • Love new technology
  • Want to video chat with their friends and families
  • Want to add smart devices to their homes like smart bulbs or a home security system
  • Need mobile apps and internet access
  • Enjoy taking high-quality pictures and video
  • Volunteer or work and need to access emails and use the web on the go
  • Aren’t satisfied with their current block-style phone or flip phone

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!

  • 1. Lively Smart

    Choosing the Lively Smart as our overall best smartphone for seniors was easy. It truly is “the simplest smartphone ever.” Its large 6.2-inch screen is easy to see, and the list-based menu is easy to navigate. Need to check your email, send a text, or take a pic? What about looking up directions to your grandkid’s soccer game? No problem at all. The Lively Smart can do that and more.

    By more, we mean to keep you safer. It’s all thanks to Lively’s add-on Health & Safety Packages. Just press the smartphone’s Urgent Response button to get in touch with an IAED-certified agent. If you fall, get locked out of your house, lose track of where you are, or experience a medical emergency, Urgent Response has your back.

    Your family and caregivers will love the Lively Link app too. They can download the app to stay connected with you and monitor your activity, phone battery level, and receive notifications if a call is made to Urgent Response.

    Lively Smart

    Lively Smart

    Top Features

    • Simple list-based menu and large touch screen
    • Built-in GPS and navigation
    • Voice typing for sending text messages
    • Urgent Response available for emergencies
    • 13MP camera with flash
    • Optional 24/7 monitoring available
    Pros
    • Large 6.2” screen
    • Voice typing
    • Video chat capabilities
    • 13 MP camera for clearer photos
    • 5Start Urgent Response
    • Internet access
    • Simple list-style menu
    Cons
    • Urgent Response and safety packages cost extra
    • $35 additional activation fee

    Things to Know Before You Buy

    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.

  • 2. REVVL 4 from T-Mobile

    If you’re budget-conscious like us, say hello to the REVVL 4 from T-Mobile. At just $120, it’s the most affordable smartphone for seniors on our list. You can’t really tell, though. It’s simple to navigate yet still has high-tech features like facial and fingerprint unlock—no more passwords to remember. That’s a win for us!

    Do you ever get spam calls? We certainly do! Well, guess what? T-Mobile and the REVVL 4 help stop spam calls in their tracks with built-in five-layer scam-blocking protection. That feature could save you from a lot of stress down the road. Phone scams are more costly to seniors than any other scam type—even internet scams.3 T-Mobile also offers some of our favorite unlimited cell phone plans for seniors.

    For more details, head over to our latest T-Mobile Unlimited 55+ plan review.

    REVVL 4

    REVVL 4 from T-Mobile

    Top Features

    • Facial and fingerprint unlock
    • Built-in scam-blocking protection
    • Battery lasts all day
    • Large 6.22-inch HD+ screen
    • High-resolution 13MP camera

    Things to Know Before You Buy

    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!

  • 3. Moto G Power from Consumer Cellular

    Motorola packs many features into the budget-friendly Moto G Power, our favorite of which is the long battery life. It didn’t take long for us to see why it got the name Power. That battery lasts up to three days on a single charge! No need to worry about mom or dad forgetting to charge it. Plus, even if they do, it has 10W rapid charging. Now that’s something we can get behind!

    In addition to the solid battery, the Moto G Power comes with triple rear-facing cameras with digital zoom (your fur baby and grandkids have never looked so good!), high-quality Dolby speakers, and a large 6.6-inch screen that’s perfect for video calls. This phone works with most hearing aids too. Plus, Consumer Cellular offers a variety of senior-friendly mobile plans to go with this phone, so you can find the one that’s right for your budget and needs. Our Consumer Cellular phone plan review has all the important details.

    Moto G Power

    Moto G Power

    Top Features

    • Battery lasts up to 72 hours
    • Charges rapidly
    • Large 6.6-inch full high-definition display
    • Triple camera with digital zoom
    • Crystal clear surround sound speakers from Dolby
    • Voice recognition

    Things to Know Before You Buy

    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.

  • 4. iPhone 11 Pro from Verizon

    We named the iPhone 11 Pro from Verizon as the best Apple smartphone for older adults for a good reason. Its Face ID system protects your privacy. It also means you don’t need to remember any passwords, which is a big win for seniors with memory troubles. All you’ll need to do to unlock your phone is hold it up and look at it. No, really, it’s that simple!

    If you’re one to take photos, you’ll love the phone’s three rear camera sensors. Shoot better images while you’re zoomed in, at night, and with a wider angle. Your kids or grandkids will certainly be impressed with your newfound photography skills.

    We’d recommend the iPhone 11 Pro for seniors with family members or friends who also have Apple phones. Sending iMessages and video chatting between iPhones makes staying in touch a breeze. Plus, if your loved ones are already familiar with Apple products, they can help you learn how to use and navigate your shiny new iPhone. Easy peasy!

    iPhone 11 from T-Mobile

    iPhone 11 from T-Mobile

    Top Features

    • Secure Face ID ensures your privacy
    • Includes a pair of Apple EarPods
    • Fast, high-performing device
    • Shoot and edit 4K video
    • Tough glass screen
    • 13MP front and rear cameras

    Things to Know Before You Buy

    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.

  • 5. Galaxy Note20 5G from AT&T

    We finished off the list with our top Android pick for seniors, the Galaxy Note20 5G from AT&T. It offers the best in new technology with an old school way of navigation. The included S Pen is perfect for jotting down notes, navigating between screens, and more. When you write your grocery list on your phone, it feels just like using a real pen!

    The high-tech Galaxy Note20 5G lets you take and send amazing pictures too. What a great way to stay in touch with family! Of course, our favorite senior-friendly features have to be its durable glass screen and battery life. If your loved one is hard on technology, fear not. Its Gorilla Glass 5 screen can take it, delivering superior shatter and scratch resistance.

    Don’t fret about whether your loved one will remember to charge their phone either. This phone has up to 34 hours of talk time. And if the phone dies, they won’t be without power for long. Charging to 50 percent capacity only takes up to 30 minutes.

    Galaxy Note20

    Galaxy Note20

    Top Features

    • S Pen for touch-free operation of the phone
    • Charges 100 percent in 75 minutes or less
    • Intelligent battery conserves battery life
    • Super durable Gorilla Glass 5 screen
    • Stream music via YouTube music
    • Triple rear camera with 10MP front camera

    Things to Know Before You Buy

    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.

A Senior’s Guide to Choosing a Smartphone

Even after looking at our top picks, you still might need help deciding on a smartphone. Here are some factors you should consider.

Price

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.

Medical Alert Capabilities

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.

Battery Life

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.

Consider Your Loved Ones’ Phones

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.

Smartphones for Seniors FAQs

  • Which iPhone is best for seniors?

    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.

  • How can seniors learn how to use smartphones?

    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.

  • How many seniors use smartphones?

    An estimated 21.2 million U.S. adults aged 65+ use smartphones.4

  • Are smartphones intimidating for senior citizens?

    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.

Written By

Taylor Shuman

Senior Tech Expert & Editor

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

Citations
  1. Pew Research Center. (2020). Mobile Fact Sheet.

  2. Pew Research Center. (2015). For vast majority of seniors who own one, a smartphone equals ‘freedom’.

  3. Federal Trade Commission. (2019). Protecting Older Consumers.

  4. Institute on Aging. (2020). Our Mission & History.