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Through months of research and hands-on testing, our team has come up with a list of the six best phones for aging adults, from simple flip phones to the top smartphones for seniors. No matter which network you currently use — from Verizon to Boost Mobile — one of these phones will be compatible.
If you’re looking for an easy way to make calls, surf the web, and connect with family, then this list is for you. Best of all, every phone on this list can be found for under $400.
Did You Know? A good cell phone is nothing without a good network. To find out which are our favorites, check out our list of the best senior cell phone plans.
Of course, older adults are not a monolith. While some may prefer a flip phone, others might want the latest smartphones from Samsung and Apple. That said, when choosing our favorite phones for seniors, here’s how we evaluated them.
Affordability: Modern cell phones can cost upwards of $1,000, but we looked for devices that cost $400 or less. In fact, most of the phones on this list cost under $200.
Ease of Use: In our tests, we looked for cell phones with menus and features that are easy to navigate. Particularly for smartphones, it’s essential that the interface is intuitive, allowing anyone to pick it up and use it.
Safety features: Some phones for seniors have safety features like SOS buttons, nurse hotlines, and even fall detection. We gave extra points to devices that could not only connect but also protect their users.
Call quality: Apps and safety features aside, we conducted over 100 test calls with each of these phones to ensure that speech came through clearly on both ends.
Accessibility: All the phones on this list have adjustable font sizes, making them ideal for people with vision impairment. Additionally, we tested each phone to make sure it worked with hearing aids.
Lively’s Jitterbug Flip2 isn’t quite a smartphone, but with its Alexa compatibility, dual camera design, and safety features, it redefines how modern flip phones can work. Its simple navigation menu, large backlit keypad, and built-in urgent response button make it stand out as one of our favorite flip phones.
Hands down, we found the Jitterbug Flip2 to be the easiest phone to use on this list. A simple list-based menu made it easy to navigate the phone’s features, including phone calls, messages, the camera, and Alexa.
One of my favorite Flip2 features is its Alexa functionality. Simply by using my voice, we could call contacts, send messages, and even ask questions. For example, I asked my Flip2: “How many teaspoons are in a cup?” My phone responded: “There are 48 teaspoons in a cup.” For any queries related to weather or current events, this feature was highly useful. It could also be used to make calls to my contacts, as well as dictate text messages.
The call quality on the Jitterbug Flip2 is excellent. The audio is clear and loud, and we had no trouble hearing or being heard on either end of the call. The phone also has a loud speakerphone feature, which comes in handy for hands-free calling.
We tested the call quality in a variety of environments, including indoors, outdoors, and in noisy areas. The phone performed well in all conditions, and I was able to make and receive calls without any problems. In particular, I’d like to give a shoutout to this phone’s ability to provide crystal-clear audio, even when I took it on a windy walk.
Additionally, the Jitterbug Flip2 was rated M4/T4 in terms of hearing aid compatibility. When using the phone with hearing aids, we noticed no audio interference.
FYI: Hearing aid compatibility (HAC) is noted by M and T ratings, with M4/T4 being the highest ratings possible. Generally, anything with an M3/T3 rating or greater is suitable for use with hearing aids.
The Jitterbug Flip2 has a number of safety features that make it a good choice for seniors. First and foremost was the dedicated urgent response button located at the bottom of the keypad. When pressed, this button automatically contacted Lively’s urgent response call center that, in the event of an emergency, would have been able to contact first responders, much like a medical alert system.
Since we subscribed to Lively’s premium plan, we also had access to the “Nurse-on-Call” feature. This gave us 24/7 access to a hotline staffed by nurses and doctors. In our experience, they were able to provide solid medical advice, and they even informed us that they could refill common prescriptions over the phone.
We could see this feature being very useful for seniors who’d like to skip the in-person visit to the doctor.
The one caveat to the Jitterbug Flip2 would be its network compatibility. Unlike the other phones on this list, the Jitterbug Flip2 is only compatible with Lively’s plans. That said, Jitterbug phone plans start at $19.99 per month for unlimited talk and text. Higher tiers of plans also include urgent response functionality, turning the phone into a full-fledged medical alert system.
While the iPhone SE is not designed specifically for seniors, it’s the ideal option for someone looking to transition from a flip phone to a smartphone. If you’re looking for a phone with internet access and stellar camera quality — and you don’t mind a slight learning curve — then the iPhone SE is a great place to start.
Additionally, the iPhone SE also has the best camera of the phones on this list. All of our test photos came through with a high level of definition, and they were easy to message to friends or post on social media. Newer iterations of the iPhone have higher-quality cameras, but the SE certainly does the job — and it costs less than half the price of the iPhone 15.
Ease of Use
If you’ve never used a smartphone, then the iPhone SE might seem intimidating; however, in our experience, most people are able to quickly understand how to navigate this device. Its large, bright screen made it easy to read text, and its touch controls were responsive. Even when I gave this phone to my father (who still uses a Cingular Flip), he was able to make calls and send texts with little struggle.
The iPhone SE also impressed us with its built-in voice assistant, Siri. With Siri, we could make calls, send messages, and even browse the web simply by using our voices. And while this iPhone’s many features may intimidate the uninitiated, Siri can also be used to guide you through phone commands. For example, when I asked, “How do I download apps?” Siri opened the app store. Similarly, we used Siri to set timers, check the weather, and look up other information online.
In most cases, Siri works almost identically to Alexa and Google Assistant voice commands; however, in some cases, we noticed that Siri had better voice recognition capabilities. For example, my grandmother, who has a thick Italian accent, was often misunderstood by Alexa and Google Assistant. With Siri, however, it could understand which specific contacts she was trying to call.
The iPhone SE excels in basic phone features. All of our test calls worked exceptionally well, even when using hearing aids. The iPhone SE also appeared to have the highest-quality microphone on this list. In my test calls, team members on the other end of the line noted the clarity with which my voice came through. During an outdoor call, one colleague could even note my belabored breathing as I walked up a hill.
The iPhone SE is rated M3/T4 in terms of hearing aid compatibility, slightly lower than the Jitterbug Flip2; however, we noticed equally clear audio with this phone, even while using hearing aids.
The iPhone SE also has a number of safety features that make it a good choice for users of all ages. The phone has a built-in emergency SOS feature that can be activated by pressing the power button five times quickly. We could also customize this feature to contact a list of emergency contacts instead of 911. In order to avoid “test” calling 911, I programmed in my mother’s phone number, so when I pressed the power button five times, the phone would immediately call her.
Another feature unique to this phone (as well as other iPhones) is the “Find My” feature. This allowed us to track the location of our phone even when we weren’t using it. For example, I left my iPhone at a friend’s house and used my laptop to track down its location. This same feature could also be used to share one’s location with contacts. We could see this feature being useful for just about anyone. Personally, I have all my close friends share their iPhone locations with me. This way, we can keep track of one another.
The primary drawback to the iPhone SE would have to be its cost. At roughly $400, depending on where you purchase it, it is the most expensive device on this list; however, it can be paired with just about any cellular carrier. This can help offset some of the costs.
Consumer Cellular, for example, currently offers the iPhone SE for $399. Their unlimited talk and text plans also cost as low as $20 per month.
If, however, you don’t mind paying more for a more advanced iPhone, then check out our guide to the best iPhones for seniors.
For those who just want a simple phone for talking, texting, and simple voice commands, then the Iris Flip is a great option that costs under $70. Additionally, with a plan from Consumer Cellular, you can get unlimited talk and text for $20 per month.
Ease of Use
In our Consumer Cellular tests, we found the Iris Flip to be very easy to use. It had a large, bright screen with clear, legible buttons. The menus were simple and straightforward, and there were no unnecessary features to clutter things up.
One of the things we appreciated most about the Iris Flip was its voice commands. While its buttons were large and well-spaced, making them easy to press, texting on this phone was a bit difficult. Luckily, with this phone’s voice commands, we could dictate text messages.
Another useful feature was the Favorites button. This button allowed us to instantly access our most frequently called contacts. Pressing the favorites buttons opened up a new screen, wherein I could view my family’s names and contact info. This would be very helpful for those who may have difficulty remembering phone numbers.
The call quality on the Consumer Cellular Iris Flip is good. In all of our test calls, the audio was clear and loud, and I had no trouble hearing or being heard on either end of the call. I will say, however, that when I took the phone outdoors, my colleagues complained that there was a lot of wind noise interfering with the sound on their end.
While the phone was rated M3/T3 in terms of hearing aid compatibility, we noticed calls came through with clarity, even while we used hearing aids.
The Iris Flip offers no SOS buttons, fall detection, or other safety features. The closest thing to this you might find is Consumer Cellular’s optional roadside assistance, which costs an extra $3 per month.
In my opinion, while I do appreciate the option to enable safety features, not everyone needs them. Just be aware that if you want access to nurse hotlines or urgent response monitoring centers, you’ll likely want to opt for a Jitterbug phone.
The main drawback of the Consumer Cellular Iris Flip is that it’s a basic phone. It does not have many of the features that are found on smartphones, such as a high-quality camera or social media apps (although it can support the digital Quran!). However, this is not necessarily a drawback for seniors, as many seniors do not need or want these features.
And sure, the photos taken with the Iris Flip’s 5MP camera don’t compete with the smartphones on this list, but they’ll get the job done. The battery on this phone was also particularly impressive. In our tests, it lasted roughly two weeks on a single charge and two days with heavy use.
While you won’t find apps, an internet browser, or safety features on this phone, its simplicity would be ideal for someone who only needs to talk and text.
A roundup of senior-friendly smartphones wouldn’t be complete without the popular Jitterbug Smart4 from Lively. If an iPhone is a bit too complicated for you or your loved one, then the Jitterbug Smart4 is likely the best option.
Technically speaking, the Jitterbug Smart4 is an Android phone (running on Android 13, to be specific). This means that it can perform any task that you can imagine from a smartphone, from placing video calls to utilizing any number of apps from the Google Play Store. The Smart4, however, keeps things simple with its interface.
Ease of Use
Although the Smart4 has every Android feature, we really appreciated how everything was laid out in list-based menus. For those unfamiliar with smartphones, this helps mitigate navigational confusion. Additionally, unlike most smartphones, the Jitterbug Smart4 has dedicated “back” and “home” buttons at the bottom of the screen. This meant that no matter where we navigated on the phone, getting back to the home screen was a breeze.
Much like other Android phones, the Smart4 also supports Google Assistant voice commands. At any point, we could say, “Hey Google,” to activate Google Assistant. Once activated, we could ask Google to check the weather, call one of our contacts, or run a Google search.
The call quality on the Smart4 was exceptional. In all of our test calls—indoors, outdoors, and in crowded cafes—we found calls came through volubly and clearly. The Smart4, rated M4/T4 in terms of hearing aid compatibility, kept up the stellar audio even while testing it with hearing aids. Its call quality was right up there with the iPhone SE’s in terms of volume and clarity.
Similar to the Jitterbug Flip2, the Smart4 also supports the safety features of Lively’s plans, including urgent response calling and nurse hotlines. While these features will cost a bit more on your monthly bill, plans on the Jitterbug Smart4 start at $24.99 per month for unlimited talk, unlimited text, and 1GB of data.
Made for people with dementia, Alzheimer’s, or an intellectual disability, the RAZ Memory Phone is a great option with simplified functionality. Through its picture-based contact list, the Memory Phone allowed us to easily make and receive calls with minimal confusion.
Ease of Use
Despite the RAZ Memory Phone’s large touch screen, it has only one menu. It displays the contact info and photos for up to six contacts, in addition to a dedicated 911 button. The simplified menu may not work for everyone, but it can drastically cut down on confusion caused by endless menus and notifications.
For example, with a normal smartphone, it’s easy to unintentionally navigate through various apps and menus. With the Memory Cell Phone, we could either press one of six contact photos (triggering a call) or press the 911 button. For example, when I wanted to call my Editor-in-Chief, Amie Clark, I pressed and held the icon that contained her photo. This triggered a phone call.
The call quality on the RAZ Memory Cell Phone was good. The audio is clear and loud, and I had no trouble hearing or being heard on either end of the call. The Memory Cell Phone is also rated M4/T3 in terms of hearing aid compatibility (not quite as good as the Jitterbug Flip2 or the Alcatel Go Flip 4), and in our experience, calls came through equally clearly while wearing hearing aids.
With the Memory Phone, loved ones can keep track of a device through the RAZ online portal. Using this portal, we could create and edit contacts, check the phone’s battery life, and even see its location. This information can be vital for people caring for a loved one with a degenerative condition.
The main drawback to the Memory Cell Phone would be its simplicity which, ironically, is also its strength. Essentially, the phone can only make and receive calls. The other controls—like adjusting the volume—must all be updated through the RAZ caregiver portal. If a person wants a more feature-rich experience, then we’d recommend the Jitterbug Flip2.
After testing this phone for days, we have to say that the Memory Phone is certainly not for everyone, specifically people who need a phone for more than phone calls. That said, for people with cognitive impairment, it can provide a much-needed means of contact for people with Alzheimer’s or dementia.
The first thing you’ll notice about the Alcatel Go Flip 4 is its simple clamshell design. Like past Alcatel phones, it features a small outer screen displaying the date and time and a larger internal display that enables you to navigate the phone’s features. What separates the Go Flip 4, however, are its long battery life, call clarity, and app store compatibility.
The Go Flip 4 also lasted about two weeks on a single charge, making it a great option for people who sometimes forget to charge their devices. Another feature that impressed us was the phone’s app store. Normally confined to smartphones, the app store enabled us to download many free apps for seniors, including WhatsApp, Facebook, and a variety of games. The Go Flip 4 also featured voice commands, allowing me to dictate text messages and look up info online through speech.
Since I’m always in the kitchen, and I’m always making half portions of recipes, these voice commands came in handy. For example, I could ask, “What is one half of three-quarters of a cup?” In response, my Go Flip would tell me that the answer was 0.375 cups.
Ease of Use
The Alcatel Go Flip 4 was very easy to use. Its large, bright screen made it easy to read text, and the buttons were large and tactile. If you’ve ever used a flip phone, then this one will be a breeze.
Unfortunately, this phone did not incorporate any type of voice features, meaning everything must be controlled with the keypad. This was particularly annoying when typing out messages with the nine numbered keys. While some users may not mind the lack of voice commands, we would have appreciated the option, at least for text dictation.
Overall, the call quality on the Alcatel Go Flip 4 was good. In our test calls, the audio was clear and loud, and I had no trouble hearing or being heard on either end of the call, even while using hearing aids. This phone also had a speakerphone feature that worked well.
However, I did notice that the call quality was not quite as good as on some other phones on this list. This is likely due to the fact that the Alcatel Go Flip 4 is a basic phone and does not have some of the more advanced call quality features found in the Jitterbug Flip2 or iPhone SE.
The Alcatel Go Flip 4 had no safety features to speak of. If you’re looking for a phone that can keep you safe through urgent response call features, then we’d recommend checking out one of the Jitterbugs.
Lack of safety features aside, the Go Flip 4’s main drawback was its camera. At only 2 megapixels, most of the images we captured came out fuzzy compared to pictures from other phones on this list — even the other flip phones. While the iPhone SE rendered selfies, closeups, and landscape photos with great clarity, the Go Flip 4 lagged far behind, producing hazy images with strange contrast.
That said, this phone is highly affordable and compatible with a variety of networks. The Alcatel Go Flip 4 can be purchased through T-Mobile for a one-time charge of $96 or monthly $4 payments. You can also purchase the phone from big-box retailers and pair it with a network of your choosing, like Mint Mobile.
As previously mentioned, while some older adults want a simple flip phone, others may prefer to purchase the latest in cellular tech. Making matters even more complicated, the latest smartphones from Apple and Samsung are — in this expert’s opinion — incredibly intuitive. I’ve found that many seniors can quickly learn to use iPhones and Android.
That said, when buying a phone for your older loved one, be aware of the following factors:
Large buttons and display: Seniors may have difficulty seeing and manipulating small buttons and screens, so look for a phone with large buttons and a bright, clear display.
Hearing aid compatibility: If your loved one wears a hearing aid, make sure the phone you choose is compatible. This means the phone should be able to transmit audio directly to the hearing aid without interference.
Speakerphone: A speakerphone is essential for seniors who have difficulty hearing or manipulating the phone. Look for a phone with a loud and clear speakerphone, which makes it easy to place and receive calls.
Voice commands and voice typing: One way the best smartphones for seniors have increased accessibility is through voice commands. With voice commands, a person can place calls, dictate text, and activate various phone functions by solely using their voice.
Ease of use
Simple menu system: Many people have difficulty navigating complex menus, so look for a phone with a simple, easy-to-understand menu system.
SOS button: Some phones have a dedicated SOS button that can be used to call for help in an emergency. This can be a valuable feature for seniors who live alone or have chronic health conditions.
Emergency alerts: Some phones, like the Jitterbug series, can send emergency alerts to designated contacts if the user does not respond to calls or texts for a certain period of time. This can be a helpful safety feature for seniors.
Other features to consider
Battery life: Seniors may use their phones less frequently than younger people, but they may need to rely on their phones for longer periods of time in case of an emergency. Look for a phone with long battery life so your loved one doesn't have to worry about running out of power.
Camera: A camera can be a nice feature for seniors who want to take photos and videos of their family and friends. However, it is not essential.
Price: Cell phones can range in price from a few dollars to several hundred dollars. Choose a phone that fits your budget and your loved one's needs. You can also find a good selection of unlocked phones on Amazon.
There are two main types of cell phone plans available: postpaid and prepaid.
Postpaid plans are contracts between you and a cellular carrier. You typically sign a contract for one or two years and agree to pay a monthly fee for your service. Postpaid plans often include unlimited talk and text, as well as a certain amount of data each month. Some postpaid plans also include additional features, such as mobile hotspot data, international roaming, and streaming subscriptions.
In recent years, however, many postpaid providers like T-Mobile, Verizon, and AT&T have moved away from long-term contracts. Instead, they’ll offer you month-to-month service that is tied to the price of your phone. For example, with Verizon, you can buy the latest iPhone for $33 per month for three years, provided you lock into a three-year service agreement.
Prepaid plans do not require a contract. You simply pay for the service you use. Also, prepaid plans are often more affordable than postpaid plans, but they may not offer as many features. And prepaid plans typically include a certain amount of talk, text, and data, but you can usually purchase additional minutes or megabytes of data if needed.
Within these two main categories, there are a variety of different cell phone plans available. Some of the most common types of plans include:
Individual plans: Individual plans are designed for a single user. They typically include unlimited talk and text, as well as a certain amount of data each month.
Family plans: Family plans allow you to add multiple lines to a single account. This can be a cost-effective option if you have multiple family members who need cell phone service. Family plans typically offer a discount for each additional line.
Unlimited data plans: Unlimited data plans offer unlimited data usage each month. This is a good option for users who stream a lot of video and music or who need to use their phone for work or school.
Limited data plans: Limited data plans offer a smaller amount of data each month. This is a good option for users who do not need a lot of data or who are on a budget.
Pay-as-you-go plans: Pay-as-you-go plans allow you to pay for the service you use. You can purchase talk, text, and data as needed. This is a good option for users who do not need a lot of service, or who are on a tight budget.
Senior plans: Some cell phone providers offer specific plans and discounts for those over 55. These plans often include extra features such as medical alerts, medication reminders, and wellness check-ins. T-Mobile, Consumer Cellular, and Lively offer discounted cellular plans for seniors.
When choosing a cell phone plan, it is important to consider your individual needs and budget. Think about how much talk, text, and data you use each month, and what features are important to you. You should also compare prices from different carriers to find the best deal.
Our Favorite Cellular Provider for Seniors
Selecting a cellular provider that has the features you need is as important as choosing a phone. When checking out plans, try to find one with ample allowances for talk, text, and data.
I always recommend T-Mobile plans for seniors. T-Mobile’s trio of discounted unlimited plans for people 55 and up provide access to one of the largest cellular networks in the nation and do not require annual service contracts.
If you’re looking for a cell phone for yourself or a loved one, here are a few other helpful cellular guides to check out:
No two users are the same, but most seniors will likely appreciate simplified design, hearing aid compatibility, loud speakers, voice commands, and large displays. Jitterbug phones have all of these features.
Both T-Mobile and Lively are great options. T-Mobile offers unlimited talk, text, and data plans for as low as $27.50 per month per line. Lively offers the popular Jitterbug phones with talk and text plans for as low as $19.99 per month.
Although iPhones are much more advanced than flip phones, their controls are highly intuitive, making them a great option for seniors who aren’t afraid of a slight learning curve.
Amie has been writing about senior care products and services for the last decade. She is particularly passionate about new technologies that help improve the quality of life for seniors and their families. Seeing her parents and grandparents age made Amie ask herself, “Would this be good enough for my loved ones?” In her spare time, Amie enjoys outdoor adventures and spontaneous road trips. Learn more about Amie here