Using a cell phone can be challenging for seniors. From hearing the ringtone or the other person speaking to seeing the display, it’s not always easy for older adults to use a phone.
One particular problem that affects many people is the size of the buttons on a handset. Some phones have tiny little buttons that are hard to see and press, and of course, most smartphones have touch screens that can be difficult to use. Small buttons are difficult for seniors with vision impairments and hard to use for those with arthritic or unsteady hands. It all adds up to a frustrating experience.
Thankfully there are a few models out there with big buttons that make life much easier for seniors. Some were created especially with older adults in mind, while others just happen to be robust models with the right kind of buttons. Let’s take a look at four of the best.
Top Big Button Cell Phones for Seniors
LG Exalt LTE
The Exalt was designed to be easy to use, with big buttons and hearing support to make it easier to hear calls. This is a nice, sturdy, basic flip model for those who want to keep things simple.
Handset: The star of the show here is, of course, the big, tactile buttons! The handset also features a 5 MP camera and a 3” screen, plus a high fidelity speaker that comes with hearing assistance. The handset also features text to speech so it can read your texts out loud. Retails at $144, plus $40 activation fee.
Plans: Verizon offers a huge range of plans for different budgets and needs. For the Exalt, we think their basic single device plan is the best fit. The basic plan costs $30 monthly – bigger plans are available if you need them.
Anything else: The 5 MP camera isn’t amazing but it’s an improvement on the 2 MP cameras that usually feature on basic flip models! You can take short video clips, too.
Customers love: We read through many reviews of the Exalt, and noticed that a lot of customers get good sound quality with it. Plenty of people commented on the buttons too, noting that it’s an easy phone to handle.
Customers aren’t wild about: The handset doesn’t suit everyone – some people find it a bit cumbersome. The lack of an external display frustrated some customers too because it means flipping the phone open every time to see who’s calling.
Ideal for: Definitely a great choice for seniors who need big buttons, especially if they suffer from visual impairment, as the buttons have a nice tactile feel. Also great for those who prefer a camera and want something a little better than the usual 2 MP offerings on basic flip phones.
Our verdict: This is a good, solid flip phone that does everything you need with the minimum fuss. The cost is a little higher compared to similar phones of its caliber though, so seniors on a budget might prefer one of the other models from this list.
Cingular Flip 2
The Cingular Flip 2 is a budget flip phone that has all the basics covered. It also connects to the internet for basic browsing and email. It features a flip handset with big buttons and is perfect for those who want a basic phone that won’t break the bank.
Handset: The handset features large buttons that are easy to see and press, plus a 2.8” display. The outer body has an external clock, plus there’s a basic 2MP camera. Retails at $59.99 plus $30.00 activation fee.
Plans: AT&T has plenty of plans to offer. For the Cingular Flip 2, we think either a 3GB or 9GB shared plan is ideal.
Data: Choose from a 3GB data plan starting at $50 monthly, or a 9GB data plan starting at $60 monthly.
Anything else: Features a built-in FM radio app for listening on the go, plus an SD card slot so you can extend the 4GB internal memory. Calls and texts to Mexico are also included.
Customers love: Customers love that they can use the phone online if they need to, which makes it more flexible than most flip models which are not internet capable. Reviews show that many customers find the Cingular Flip easy to use, and an ideal alternative for those who don’t want a smartphone.
Customers aren’t wild about: It seems that some customers struggle with the ringer volume and find it hard to hear. The camera is very basic, which definitely lost points with some customers.
Ideal for: Seniors who want a basic phone, but also want the option to go online if they need to, though the Cingular Flip is really only suited to quick browsing and email sessions, nothing more complex.
Our verdict: A great phone for the money and perfect for those who want something easy to use.
We’d be remiss if we compiled this list without mentioning the Jitterbug Flip. GreatCall designed the Flip especially for seniors and incorporated medical alert features to keep seniors safe when out and about. This is more than a phone – just one button press connects seniors to the emergency call center when they need help.
Handset: As well as big buttons, the Flip features a backlit screen, a loudspeaker, and a magnifier and flashlight. The menu features intuitive yes/no navigation. Plus of course, the 5* button is right there, ready to connect seniors to the 5Star emergency response team. Retails at $99.99, plus shipping and activation fees.
Plans: Customers have two choices. They can have a basic talk and text plan if they only want basic phone features. Or, they can opt for a health and safety plan that includes 5Star emergency response plus a wealth of other features (see our Jitterbug Flip review here for details.)
Calls: Plans range from 200 minutes for $14.99 monthly with several tiers up to unlimited talk and text for $49.99 monthly for basic users. Health plan customers start at $5 for 50 minutes monthly with several tiers up to unlimited talk and text for $30 monthly.
Texts: All customers can start at $3 for 300 texts monthly with several tiers up to $15 for 2500 texts (or choose an unlimited talk and text plan.)
Data: Not applicable
Anything else: GreatCall plans are always flexible – there are no annual contracts to worry about and no cancellation fees. You also get a free wall and car charger with every purchase.
Customers love: The simple menus get a lot of praise from customers, and we saw many people mention how much they love the bigger buttons. Most customers find the Flip very straightforward to use.
Customers aren’t wild about: A few customers had issues with the sound quality, and although the menus are popular there are a few people who find them harder to use than standard phone menus.
Ideal for: Seniors who need an easy-to-use phone, both in terms of functionality, but also in terms of being easy to look at and press buttons on. Also ideal for those who need a little extra backup in the form of a medical alert.
Our verdict: This is a basic phone for calling and texting – but the extra features are far from basic! The health and safety options give seniors and their caregivers extra peace of mind.
This industrial strength and military grade phone takes talking and texting to rugged new heights! Designed to withstand extreme outdoor environments, the Sonim XP3 has the kind of durability that means seniors can take it anywhere and not worry too much about dropping it.
Handset: The lovely chunky handset features big buttons and a 100+ DB speaker for clear, loud sound. There’s also a push-to-talk feature, and a 5MP camera on board. Retails at $189.99 plus $30 activation fee.
Plans: AT&T offers plenty of plans to suit different needs – we think their Mobile Share Plus plan is perfect for this handset.
Data: Not applicable
Anything else: Each plan includes unlimited texting to more than 120 countries and unlimited talk and text to Mexico. Data rolls over from month to month, too, so you can save unused data and use it in the future.
Customers love: The sturdy handset attracts a lot of praise, and we noticed several customers mentioned the easy to use buttons.
Customers aren’t wild about: Although reviews were good overall, some people felt $189.99 is a lot to pay for a basic phone.
Ideal for: Seniors who are looking for something rugged and tactile that’s easy to use and robust enough not to worry about breaking it.
Our verdict: A good, sturdy, phone, but definitely a little pricey compared to other basic flip models.
Choosing a phone with big buttons can make all the difference for seniors who struggle with their eyesight or weak or painful hands. Whether you want something very basic, something a little sturdier, or the capability to connect to the internet, there’s something on this list of big button phones for every need.