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The Best Cell Phones for Visually Impaired Seniors

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Did you know over 12 million Americans aged 40 years and over experience vision impairment, and that number is expected to double by 2050 as our population ages?1 Vision loss doesn’t have to put a damper on cell phone use. Many cell phones now include accessibility tools, and older adults with low vision are tapping into this assistive tech. In this article, we’ll cover the best cell phones for visually impaired seniors and the key features to consider. Since choosing the right service provider is also a high priority, we reviewed plan pricing, perks, and availability for multiple carriers.

  • 1. Apple iPhone 13 from AT&T
    Apple iPhone 13

    Apple iPhone 13

    Overview

    The Apple iPhone 13 outshines its tough competition, earning our best overall cell phone for visually impaired seniors. For such an advanced smartphone, the user interface is straightforward, making setting up (and using) the iPhone a stress-free experience. The crystal-clear 6.1-inch Super Retina XDR display, state-of-the-art accessibility tech, and easy integration with other Apple products makes the iPhone 13 a fantastic choice for both newbie and tech-savvy smartphone users.

    Apple certainly has its finger on the pulse of individuals with vision loss! With an impressive number of resources, including Apple’s accessibility support communities, AppleVis (an online resource for blind and low-vision users of Apple products), and technical help dedicated to accessibility assistance, Apple guides users through customizing accessibility features based on their individual needs. Talk about top-notch customer service and support!

    Pros
    • Siri digital assistant
    • VoiceOver screen reader
    • Display and text size adjustment
    • Magnifier and zoom
    • Speak Screen
    • Sensory alerts
    • Dictation text entry
    • Contrast and color customization
    • FaceTime
    • Built-in Braille keyboard
    Cons
    • No headphone jack
    • More expensive than the competition

    The Bottom Line

    With a retail price of $799 (or an installment plan with payments of under $25 a month), the iPhone 13 delivers cutting-edge technology and exceptional accessibility features. Since smartphones can go hand in hand with a learning curve (especially when using accessibility features), we were thoroughly impressed with Apple’s all-inclusive support for its visually impaired users.

    Inside Tip: Do you have low vision and hearing loss? Apple works with top hearing aid manufacturers to create what it calls “Made for iPhone,” or MFi, hearing aids that make pairing your hearing aids with your iPhone oh-so-simple!

    AT&T is a one-stop shop for your new iPhone and phone plan. We found that AT&T has competitive plan pricing and perks, a wide variety of cell phone models, and a smooth buying experience. Residents of Florida aged 55 and over may benefit from AT&T’s Unlimited 55+ plan. For more details, head to our review of AT&T’s senior-friendly phone plans.

  • 2. Motorola Moto G Power 2021 from Mint Mobile
    Motorola G Power 2021

    Motorola G Power 2021

    Overview

    Our most affordable cell phone accolade goes to the Motorola Moto G Power 2021 from Mint Mobile. It’s a solid choice for active older adults looking for accessibility features on the go without breaking their budget. Don’t want to be locked into a cell phone contract? You’re in luck! The Moto G Power 2021 also made it onto our best unlocked cell phones for seniors list.

    The ultra-wide 6.6-inch Max Vision HD+ screen goes easy on the eyes and makes reading texts, sending emails, and video chatting a breeze. We were impressed with the Moto G Power’s intuitive design and plentiful built-in accessibility assistance. This Android phone comes with Google TalkBack, a powerful accessibility feature offering voice control and audio descriptions. Speaking of power, the Moto G Power 2021’s battery can go up to three days on a single charge!

    Please scroll to the right for more info.
    Pros
    • Google TalkBack
    • Screen magnification
    • Brightly backlit displays and high contrast
    • Voice dialing
    • Keypad depression feedback (haptics for touchscreen)
    • Built-in Braille keyboard
    Cons
    • No traditional headphone jack
    • Sound quality could be improved

    The Bottom Line

    Motorola understands the needs of individuals with vision, hearing, dexterity, or speech loss. In addition to offering cell phones with built-in accessibility tech, they also work with assistive device companies on Motorola-compatible products.

    FYI: Want to avoid the hassle of complicated cell phone contracts? Mint Mobile offers cheap prepaid phone plans that pair perfectly with your unlocked Moto G phone. Head to our Mint Mobile review for more details.

    Priced at $179.99, the Moto G Power 2021 packs quite a punch for the price. Keep in mind, though, there may be a bit of a learning curve for users new to Android products. Motorola has its customers covered with call center employees and a special task force to help with accessibility questions and needs.

  • 3. Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G From T-Mobile
    Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G

    Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G

    Overview

    The Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G from T-Mobile is an excellent choice for tech-savvy older adults with vision impairment. This Android smartphone provides valuable accessibility features and voice commands to help users with limited vision make the most out of their phone (just like the Motorola Moto G Power 2021).

    Samsung’s Voice Assistant can act as your eyes when you’re using your phone. For example, it describes what you touch, select, and activate.2 Use the TalkBack screen reader to hear notifications, check how much battery life is left, and receive texts. With lightning-fast charging (wireless and plug in) and a large 6.5-inch infinity display screen, the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G doesn’t disappoint.

    Please scroll to the right for more info.
    Pros
    • Voice Assistant
    • Google TalkBack
    • Text and icon magnification
    • Color contrast correction
    • Lookout camera identification
    • Built-in Braille keyboard
    Cons
    • Lacking internal storage space
    • No traditional headphone jack

    The Bottom Line

    The Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G is jampacked with enhanced accessibility features and earns high praise for its voice control. Priced at $699, it’s comparable in cost and features to other high-end smartphones.

    Quick Tip: Make the most of your phone by pairing it with a solid phone plan! After hours of in-depth research, our experts uncovered the best cell phone plans for seniors.

    Buying a cell phone optimized for vision impairment is just part of the process! You’ll also need a carrier that provides outstanding customer support and competitive plan pricing. So why not snag your phone and phone plan through T-Mobile? T-Mobile’s plans and pricing are competitive, with customer discounts and perks. If you’re 55 or older, check out our review of T-Mobile’s Unlimited 55+ plans.

  • 4. Google Pixel 6 from Verizon
    Google Pixel 6

    Google Pixel 6

    Overview

    We awarded the Google Pixel 6 the best technology accolade for good reason. The Pixel 6’s virtual assistant, screen reader, and adjustable font size make for a powerful yet pleasant user experience for visually impaired seniors. In an emergency, the Pixel can call for help automatically, record a video, or share your location. It can also detect if you may have been in a car accident and call for help if you’re unable to respond.3

    The full-screen 6.4-inch FHD+ smooth display delivers a large viewing area and minimizes constant scrolling. We know accidental cell phone drops happen to everyone, so we are huge fans of the Pixel 6’s scratch-resistant Corning Gorilla Glass. Gone is the worry of constantly charging your battery, since the impressive 24-hour-plus battery life can be extended up to 48 hours by using “extreme battery saver” mode.

    Please scroll to the right for more info.
    Pros
    • TalkBack screen reader
    • Adjustable display and font size
    • Magnification mode
    • Contrast and color options
    • Select to Speak
    • Lookout computer vision
    • Voice Access
    • Built-in Braille keyboard
    • Google Assistant
    Cons
    • Limited storage
    • Will not pair with Apple products

    The Bottom Line

    The Google Pixel 6 comes in at $699, in line with the Samsung Galaxy S20 FE 5G. The emergency features, including emergency auto call and car crash detection, aren’t a substitute for a comprehensive medical alert system, but the Pixel offers safety features beyond the other phones on our list.

    Shopping Tip: Cell phone quality, features, pricing, and perks are important factors to consider. Check out our best cell phones for seniors guide for the inside scoop on the top-ranked senior-friendly phones.

    Verizon is a standout cell phone provider for the Google Pixel 6. Snag unlimited talk, text, and data, as well as solid bundling discounts, with a Verizon 55+ Unlimited plan. Verizon is one of the largest wireless carriers, and it offers reliable network coverage. Learn more about Verizon’s service in our Verizon senior cell phone plan review.

How We Chose the Best Cell Phones for Blind or Visually Impaired Seniors

Cell phones have become an integral part of our everyday lives. According to Pew Research Center, 92 percent of adults aged 65 and over own a cell phone.4 Our team researched the accessibility needs of people with vision impairment and the phones that are most useful to them.

From the Pros: Our cell phone buyer’s guide has everything you need to know before purchasing a new phone, including how to get the best deal with top cell phone providers.

To determine the best cell phones for visually impaired seniors, we examined the number of accessibility features (such as virtual assistants and text magnification), price, ease of use, screen size, and battery life. Your cell phone is only as good as the network it’s on, so we paired our best cell phones for blind or visually impaired seniors with a top-notch carrier.

A Guide to Choosing a Cell Phone for Visually Impaired Seniors

Now that we’ve covered the best cell phone models (and carriers) for visually impaired older adults, let’s dive into accessibility features. Since everyone’s vision limitations and needs are unique, we’ve compiled the top accessibility options to consider to optimize your cell phone experience.

  1. Screen reader: Users hear what is on their smartphone screen through an intuitive screen reader. The synthesized voice reads the content and any elements found on the screen.
  2. Voice to text: There’s no need to contend with a hard-to-see keyboard. Send a text, make a call, or write a note through voice commands instead of typing.
  3. Audible alerts: Audio alerts for missed calls, text messages, and low battery help reduce difficult-to-view on-screen notifications.
  4. Backlit keypad: Bright, backlit buttons make it easier to see when in a dim lighting environment. Backlit buttons can be found on some of the best flip phones and brick-style cell phones.
  5. Built-in accessibility features: Preloaded accessibility features such as screen contrast, text size, and magnification help streamline the setup process so users can focus on getting comfortable with their phone.
  6. Big buttons: Large tactile buttons help users navigate their cell phone without the frustration of pushing the wrong keys when making calls or sending texts. Check out our five best big-button cell phones for seniors for more details.
  7. Audio descriptions: Video streaming may be a struggle for the vision impaired. Audio description provides a narration of the video’s key visual elements.
  8. Emergency SOS or integrated help service: Cell phones with health and safety features add an extra level of protection for older adults with low vision. Lively’s Jitterbug Flip2 cell phone with 24/7 emergency response received high marks in our Jitterbug cell phone review.
  9. Large screen: Cell phones with a generous screen size provide visually impaired seniors with a larger viewing area when browsing and making video calls.
  10. Vision aid app capability: In addition to built-in accessibility features, there is a wide range of downloadable apps (including text and facial recognition) to assist people with visual impairment.

Quick Tip: Think about the type of phone you’ll be most comfortable using. Even the best smartphones for seniors will fall short if you’d prefer a no-frills, easy-to-use cell phone.

Frequently Asked Questions About Cell Phones for Visually Impaired 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

Citations
  1. Centers for Disease Control. (2021). Vision Impairment and Older Adult Falls.

  2. Samsung. (2021). Galaxy Mobile Accessibility.

  3. Google. (2021). Pixel 6.

  4. Pew Research Center. (2021). Mobile Fact Sheet.