There are several smartphones that provide seniors a simpler, less intimidating smartphone experience. If you are purchasing a smartphone or looking to help a senior purchase one, here are my top three options.
Because of the quality and functionality of Apple products, an iPhone is a great choice for seniors who are inexperienced with technology. But, to make it easier to use, you will need to set it up and customize it to meet the users’ needs and preferences.
To set-up an iPhone and make it senior-friendly, start by cleaning-up/decluttering the home screen, which you can do by deleting the apps the user won’t use and hiding the apps they will rarely use in labeled folders or the App Library. The fewer options the better!
You’ll also want to set up a small number of contacts (with photos) to family and friends and possibly install some apps they would enjoy using.
And finally, iPhones have a wide variety of built-in accessibility features you can turn on depending on your needs. These features, which you access through the phone’s settings, can help users that have diminished vision, hearing impairment, hand dexterity problems or cognitive loss.
Some popular accessibility features among older iPhone users include larger text and icon display, zoom (screen magnification), magnifier (turns iPhone into a magnifying glass), increased volume and alerts, voice control, find my iPhone, and emergency SOS and medical ID set up. But there are dozens of other tweaks you can make to enhance your experience.
For a rundown of the different accessibility features and instructions on how to set them up, see Apple.com/accessibility.
If you’re interested in this option, the iPhone 12 (5G, 6.1-inch display screen, $800) or iPhone 12 mini (5G, 5.4-inch screen, $700) are excellent choices. Or, for a more budget-friendly phone consider the iPhone SE (4.7-inch screen, $400) that came out in 2020.
If you’re an android phone user and would like to get a phone that you’re familiar with, you should consider a Samsung.
All Samsung phones offer an “Easy Mode” feature in their settings that boosts the text and icon size, and simplifies the home-screen layout and contacts, which makes these phones a nice option for seniors or tech-newbies.
These phones also have a variety of accessibility features that can accommodate your needs.
The Samsung Galaxy S21 5G (6.2-inch screen, $800) or more moderately priced Galaxy A71 5G (6.7-inch screen, $600) are good choices to consider here.
Another less expensive option to consider is to purchase a smartphone that’s specifically designed for seniors. The best one available is the new Lively Smart offered by Best Buy.
This phone has a 6.2-inch screen, large text and a simple list-based menu that provides one-touch access to frequently used features like video chat, camera, email and more. It also offers a nice variety of optional health and safety features you can add on like:
- Urgent Response, which is a mobile medical alert service that would connect the user to a Lively agent in emergency situations, 24/7, who would confirm her location and get her the help they need.
- Urgent Care, which would let you speak to a registered nurse or board-certified doctor anytime.
- Lively Link, which is an app that sends alerts to family and friends if the user calls urgent response.
- Personal Operator Service, who can assist you with tasks like helping find addresses, setting up appointments booking Lively Rides through a partnership with Lyft and much more.
The Lively Smart is available online at Lively.com or at Best Buy stores for $150.
Jim Miller publishes the Savvy Senior, a nationally syndicated column that offers advice for Boomers and Seniors.