Like a computer in the palm of your hand, a solid smartphone can do just about anything you can do with your desktop or laptop. From surfing the web to capturing professional-quality photographs, these devices continually impress with their wide range of functionality.
Despite their various features, modern smartphones often have simple menus and easy-to-read screens, so even if you’re accustomed to the traditional cell phones of yore, transitioning to a smartphone can be a simple process.
This brings us to this question: What is the best smartphone for seniors? More importantly, which one is best for you?
When choosing the best smartphones for seniors, we looked at the following criteria.
Ease of use: A smartphone should simplify your life, not complicate it. In my testing, I paid close attention to the actual process of using each phone, the way in which you navigate each of its features, and how smoothly it operated. Every phone on this list is a feature-rich device with a minimal learning curve.
Large screens: More than just a way to watch videos, a large and high-resolution screen can simplify using smartphones. A solid screen makes it easy to read text and view photos.
Speakers: Many older adults experience hearing impairment, so a phone needs to have speakers that relay audio both loudly and clearly. All of the phones on this list are compatible with hearing aids.
Battery life: Of course, we all want our devices to keep their charge for as long as possible. This is especially true when it comes to smartphones, as you’ll likely be using them for battery-draining tasks such as video calls and music streaming. Each phone on this list has a battery that’s powerful enough to get you through one day (and often more) on a single charge.
Cost: You’ll notice that many of the phones on this list are on the costlier side, at least compared to simple flip phones. With that said, every device on this list costs under $600.
Our Favorite Smartphones For Seniors
After hours of research and testing, we’ve narrowed the field down to five exceptionally simple phones. Here is our roundup of the best smartphones for seniors in 2022:
Available through Lively, the Jitterbug Smart3 is the only smartphone on this list designed specifically with seniors in mind. So not only can the Smart3 make calls, send messages, and surf the internet, but it also boasts features that cater to the older set. First, there’s its large screen, displaying text in crisp detail. Then there’s the speaker, rated M4/T4 in terms of hearing aid compatibility, the highest possible score.
What I appreciate most about this phone, however, are its capabilities as a medical alert device. Using one of Lively’s health and safety packages, you’ll have access to their 5Star Urgent Response feature. Using the dedicated 5Star button on the side of your phone, you’ll be immediately connected to a care specialist at a Lively monitoring center. This trained professional will assess your situation and plan an appropriate response, whether this means contacting a loved one or emergency services.
Odds are you’ve heard of the iPhone. Easily the most popular and sleek smartphone model on the market, the iPhone is widely known for its excellent cameras and wide range of functionality, as well as all the apps you can download from the Apple App Store. The iPhone SE, while costing less than half the price of the newest iPhone, still provides a feature-rich experience that’s ideal for the older set.
The 4.7-inch screen on this device is large enough to watch videos, yet small enough to fit in the palm of your hand. Additionally, you can easily make text larger on this device by pinching your screen to zoom. For those worried about damaging their smartphone, the iPhone SE is also water and dust resistant. The camera quality on this phone also proved to be excellent. Whether we were using the front-facing camera for video chatting or the rear camera to capture photos, every image was rendered beautifully on this iPhone.
What we love most about this iPhone, however, is the Apple App Store. Here, we were able to download many handy apps for seniors, including WhatsApp, medication reminders, and Lyft. Additionally, when you purchase this phone from T-Mobile, you won’t have to pay much for data, with T-Mobile’s senior plans starting at $27.50 per month.
Widely known for their Razr flip phones, Motorola now makes high-powered smartphones that don’t break the bank. For under $300, the Motorola G Power is one of our favorite Android phones, with its high-powered cameras, long battery life, and large screen.
While not as intuitive as Apple’s iPhones, Android phones are surprisingly easy to use. The Motorola G Power, with its built-in voice assistant, could easily be navigated simply by using our voice. This was particularly handy when it came to dictating messages. Simply by speaking, we were able to send out text messages. We could even have them read to us.
Similar to the iPhone, the Motorola G Power has access to an app store, Google Play, where we could download a variety of helpful apps. Additionally, this phone has four cameras, allowing us to capture high-quality photos, even in low lighting conditions.
When you purchase the Motorola G Power through Mint Mobile, you’ll get unlimited talk and text for as low as $15 per month. To learn more about their plans, take a look at our guide to Mint Mobile senior plans.
Large, bright screen
High-powered yet affordable
Google Play app store access
Long battery life
Steeper learning curve than other phones
Lower resolution screen
4. Samsung Galaxy S20 - Best Smartphone Battery Life
Cost: $359 when purchased through Cricket Wireless
Another popular manufacturer of smartphones, Samsung is widely known for creating high-powered cell phones. The Samsung Galaxy S20 impressed us with its specs, from its large, 6.5-inch screen to its high-resolution cameras.
Similar to the Motorola G Power, the Galaxy S20 also operates on the Android operating system. This means you’ll have full access to Google Assistant and Google Play. Another technically impressive aspect of this phone is its camera — or rather, cameras.
However, our favorite feature of this phone is its battery. In our tests, this phone lasted three days on a single charge, heavy use included. For a smartphone, this is almost unheard of.
For the person unafraid of a rich set of features, the Google Pixel 6 might be ideal. While it costs more than the other phones on this list, its camera, speed, and battery power rival those of phones that are double its price.
Among this phone’s advanced features is voice-powered typing. To browse the web or compose a text message, all you need to do is speak into it. Moreover, this phone has built-in robocall screening, which blocks telemarketing calls.
Another feature we appreciate is the built-in photo editing. While most smartphones allow you to edit pictures, this is the first one we’ve seen that allows you to erase people or objects from the background, something that normally requires a dedicated photo processor. Additionally, with AT&T, this phone can be paired with one of their affordable unlimited plans for seniors.
To learn more about this phone and how it works with AT&T, read our guide to AT&T for seniors.
For the uninitiated, the term “smartphone” might have many different meanings. Touchscreens, web browsing, video streaming — these are all likely features you associate with smartphones. Generally speaking, a smartphone is any mobile device with functionality beyond simply making phone calls and sending text messages.
With each of the phones on this list, you can surf the web, send emails, listen to music, share photos, and play games. Additionally, many of these phones give you access to an app store, a digital marketplace where you can download additional features and tools, many of which are free.
Even if you want a phone for simple functions only, a smartphone can fit the bill. Especially now, with the advent of 5G technology, a network primarily available on the latest smartphones, you’ll gain access to more reliable signals and faster data speeds. No matter your cellular needs, there’s a smartphone for you on this list.
Now, more than ever, smartphones are being designed with simplicity in mind. Their advanced features are being presented through intuitive menus, making them a great option for seniors.
To learn more about our favorite phones and providers, be sure to check out our helpful guides:
Due to a lack of fall detection and waterproofing, no smartphone can completely replace a medical alert system; however, the Jitterbug Smart3 has a dedicated urgent response button that can contact monitoring agents in an emergency.
The Jitterbug Smart 3, iPhone SE, and Motorola G Power all have built-in voice assistants that allow you to compose messages, make calls, and browse the web with your voice.
Ryan has years of experience researching and testing products that help people successfully age in place. After years of working for various publications such as Boston Magazine and The Believer, he has found his home at The Senior List, writing about all things related to caregiving and senior healthcare.